Mon, 14 Jul 2003

Petrokimia Putra beats Samart 2-0 in opening of ASEAN Club C'ship

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

East Java-based Petrokimia Putra (Petro) of Gresik was off to a winning start in the opening matches of the inaugural LG Cup -- the ASEAN Club Championship -- with a 2-0 victory over Samart United from Cambodia.

The win ensured the host a top place in the quarterfinals from the two-team Group A, following the withdrawal of Finance and Revenue FC from Myanmar days before the start of the tournament due to political instability in its country.

Despite the loss, Samart still qualifies for the quarterfinals, to face the leader of Group B, whose matches are also being staged in Gresik.

The LG Cup, a soccer tournament among the champions in their respective countries in Southeast Asia, features 11 countries in its inaugural season with Indian East Bengal accepting an invitation to join.

As the host Indonesia is represented by 2002 champion Petro and runner-up Persita Tangerang, which plays at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.

The Jakarta matches, in Group C and D, will begin Monday.

In the second tie of the Gresik fixtures later in the evening, Perak FC of Malaysia beat Singapore Armed Force FC (SAFF) 2-0 to lead Group B.

Indra Putra opened the scoring for the Malaysian champions in the 19th minute and Liberian Frank Seator scored the other goal in injury time. The other team in Group B is DPMM FC of Brunei Darussalam.

The Petro-Samart game was watched by 10,000 spectators, mostly fanatic home supporters, Antara reported.

Petro played aggressively from the start, but it was after five minutes into the second half that the host was rewarded for its efforts, Brazilian Rivaldo Costa capitalizing on a skirmish in Samart's goal mouth.

Brazilian Danilo Fernando doubled Petro's lead with his 67th minute goal when he had his cross deflected by Samart's Leng Saknida past his own goal.

Samart also had its own share of ball possession and attack, orchestrated by Cambodian international veteran forward Hok Sochetra. He often sprung off-side traps, creating frights for the home fans.

After the game, Petro's coach, Belarusian Alexander Sikov, expressed his satisfaction, saying that his team's performance was the best all season.

In the ongoing Indonesian League, Petro does not look the side which won the 2002 championship, currently struggling in the relegation zone.

It grimly holds on to 15th in the 20-team premier league of Indonesia, with 34 points from 28 games. The lowest-ranked six teams will be relegated to the first division next year.