Wed, 24 Mar 1999

PSIS and Persija improve their chances

JAKARTA (JP): PSIS Semarang and Persija Jakarta upped their chances of winning semifinal berths by moving to the top of their groups on the seventh day of the Indonesian Soccer League (Ligina) playoffs at Senayan soccer stadium in Central Jakarta on Tuesday.

PSIS Semarang, which appeared lax in its defense, tied 2-2 with Semen Padang in its Group I match. Persija won 1-0 after managing to wear down PSM Ujungpandang's defense in the second half of their Group II match.

PSIS Semarang, undefeated in two of three games, joined Persebaya to top Group I with seven points. Persija, which also has seven points, took control of Group II from PSMS Medan, which has five points from one win and two draws in three games.

Although Semen Padang and PSM each have one more match to play, they are out of contention for the semifinals. Semen Padang will meet Petrokimia Putra on Friday and PSM will play PSMS Medan on Thursday.

PSIS striker Tugiyo scored one goal in the second minute of the first half, but Semen Padang striker Kusdianto equalized in the 29th minute. Semen Padang captain Masykur Rauf extended his team's lead to 2-1 in the 58th minute.

Tugiyo added another goal in the 65th minute for the draw.

Semen Padang coach Jenniwardin told reporters after the match that his team failed to close ranks and strengthen its defense after leading 2-1.

"PSIS players have good skills and they move very quickly. I told our players to stay close to each other and strengthen our defense after we led, but they disregarded my instruction," he said.

He also asked his players to put pressure on Tugiyo as soon as he gained possession of the ball, but his skills outshone Semen Padang's players.

PSIS coach Edy Paryono admitted his team was kept on its heels, leaving it unable to develop its game.

"Semen Padang plays well. Our players were under constant pressure. They were nervous because the opponents could counter back. They could make through passes during which the ball fell behind our defenders."

Edy refused to bet on the result of the team's next encounter with Persebaya on Thursday. "Let's just see," he said.

PSM displayed its offensive play and brought down Persija captain Nur'alim, midfielder Luciano Leandro and goalie Mbeng Jean. Nur'alim and Jean suffered injuries to the knee and hip respectively.

"The tough play was tolerable," said Persija coach and former national player Herry Kiswanto.

Persija relied on striker Miro Baldo Bento from Cameroon to initiate attacks on PSM after getting the ball from midfielder Luciano, Dedi Umarella and Wahyu Teguh who secured the center field.

"We tried to block the players at center field to prevent PSM players from shattering our defense. We used this strategy to anticipate PSM who we believed would go all-out to attack our defense," Herry said.

Asked about preferred opponents if Persija made the semifinals, Herry said his team was prepared to face any team.

"PSIS or Persebaya are all OK for us. I once played in Surabaya, so I have a slight understanding of the team's style," he said.

Wednesday's game will feature Pupuk Kaltim against Pelita Bakrie and Petrokimia Putra meeting Persikota. (ivy)

Results: PSIS Semarang 2 Semen Padang 2 Persija Jakarta 1 PSM Ujungpandang 0