Persik stumbles to 2-1 loss in Asian Champions League
Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Kediri, East Java
Indonesian champion Persik Kediri put up a tough fight against South Korean champion and heavily favored Seongnam Ilhwa Chunwa before losing 2-1 in their first-leg match of the Asian Champions League here on Wednesday.
Seongnam's goals were delivered by Kim Do-hoon within a minute of each other in the first half, while Persik stole back a goal late in the second half through Chilean Juan Carlos Tapia.
Persik entertained its Korean counterpart, the winner of the K-League in 1993, 1994, 1995, 2001, 2002 and 2003, against the backdrop of its poor performance in the Indonesian League, where it has lost all five of its matches to find itself at the bottom of the 18-club standings after winning the league in 2003.
However, the hosts looked a different side against Seongnam until the 29th minute, when Kim Do-hoon got on the end of a pass from Brazilian Castillo Vallejo Harry and fired a low shot past the slow-reacting Wahyudi, to the dismay of the 15,000 supporters in the 20,000-capacity Brawijaya Stadium.
A minute later, Kim, last year's K-League top scorer with 28 goals, volleyed home a pass from leftwing midfielder Back Young-chul.
Leading by two goals, the Korean club opted for a game of ball control, shrugging off the possible effects of the scorching sun.
However, national midfielder Wawan Widiantoro showed hints of his superb individual skills, producing several dangerous passes, only to see them squandered by Nigerian striker Bamidele Frank Bob Manuel, who most of the time found himself without any help in front of Kim Hae-woon's goal.
The Indonesian side looked likely to concede more goals when Wahyudi had to be stretchered off the pitch in the 57th minute following a collision with Seongnam's Back.
But substitute keeper Ngadiono proved a reliable net keeper, turning away several attempts, including a powerful long-range shot from Seongnam defender Lee Ki-hyung.
Juan Carlos, the only player to receive a yellow card during the match from referee Saleem Ali of Maldives, scored a consolation goal for Persik in second-half injury time, giving the fans something to cheer about as they left the stadium.
Despite the defeat, the Persik camp looked relieved at having managed to avoid the big defeat many were predicting.
"Many predicted we would lose 3-0 or 4-0, but look, we manage to score a goal," said Persik manager Iwan Budianto.
While he was disappointed with the defeat, Iwan said Wednesday's match should give the squad a morale boost for league competition.
"The opponent has players with individual skills even better than our national squad," Iwan said.
Persik coach Jaya Hartono said his team finally played its best the Koreans.
"If we are consistent like we were today ... we will be able to excel against the league clubs," Jaya said.
Seongnam head coach Cha Kyung-bok, who had admitted to having no knowledge about the Persik squad, offered his compliments to the hosts, saying that Persik was a good team with fine teamwork.
"We were the favorites, but Persik showed a good game and made us play our best in this hot weather," said Cha, who was named last year's top coach by the Asian Football Confederation.
But Cha refused to talk about advancing to the next round, saying they still had to play another 90-minute match at home.
Persik: Wahyudi (Gk)/Ngadiono, Juan Carlos Tapia, Siswantoro, Joko Kuspito, Wawan Widiantoro, Harianto, Berta Yuwana/Ekene Ikenwa, Suswanto, Khusnul Yuli, Musikan/Johan Prasetyo, Bamidele Frank Bob Manuel.
Seongnam: Kim Hae Woon (Gk), Jasenko Sabitovic, Lee Ki-hyung, Seo Hyuk-su, Shin Tae-yong/Shin Dong-keun, Oh Seung- bum, Kim Do-hoon, Castillo Vallejo Harry, Back Young-chul/Cheon Kwang-jin, Lee Young-jin, Ricardo Irineu/Lee Seoung-woon.
Results of Asian Champions League soccer matches played on Wednesday:
Zob Ahan (Iri) 1 Pakhtakor (Uzb) 0
BEC Tero (Tha) 4 Shanghai Shenhua (Chn) 1
Chonbuk Motors (Kor) 1 Jubilo Iwata (Jpn) 2
Hoang Anh Gia Lai (Vie) 5 PSM Makassar (Ina) 1
Persik Kediri (Ina) 1 Seongnam Ilhwa (Kor) 2