Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Questions raised over Nandar's absence in Tiger Cup tourney

JAKARTA (JP): The Soccer Association of Indonesia's (PSSI) official in charge of athletes development Nurdin Halid and national team manager Muhammad Zein agreed to discharge coach Nandar Iskandar from the team on Sunday evening, after Indonesia routed Myanmar 5-0 for a semifinal berth in the Tiger Cup match in Thailand.

PSSI spokesman Eddi Elison said on Monday that the association had yet to give its approval on the decision before receiving an official explanation on the matter.

"The appointment of Nurdin as chef de mission, Zein as national team manager and Nandar as coach were made by the association. Their contracts were signed by chairman Agum Gumelar. It is Pak Agum and his executive directors who will decide if they will sack Nandar and not those two persons," he said.

Nandar's absence in Sunday's match had raised questions in Chiang Mai, where the team finished the qualifying round. At home, his assistant, Dananjaya, has been taking over since then.

Eddi quoted Zein as saying that players were not satisfied with Nandar's coaching method.

"Nandar's training sessions are considered monotonous. He did not even give any special instructions to the players before playing Thailand," he said.

According to rumors Nandar had returned to Indonesia while the team left on Monday for Bangkok where the semifinals will take place on Thursday.

Nandar was quoted in Republika daily as saying on Sunday that he would be ready to withdraw from his post if PSSI decides he should withdraw.

"I will let PSSI decide. Maybe the best choice for me now is to withdraw from the team. But I will report to PSSI on our team's performance since the Asian Cup prequalifying round, Independence Cup, Asian Cup final and Tiger Cup," he said.

"If we fail again in the Tiger Cup, I think the whole team is responsible."

Nandar expressed hope that the incident would not affect the players' fighting spirit.

Many believe that Nandar's dismissal was a consequence of the team's poor performance against Thailand on Friday when Indonesia lost 1-4.

Yet his expulsion from the team was predicted by many when Nurdin independently decided to replace the Bandung-based coach with Dutchman Henk Wullems in August.

Nurdin's move was widely criticized. PSSI Secretary General Tri Goestoro finally announced in September that Nandar would still be coach until the end of his contract in December, while Wullems will likely coach the team for the 2001 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games and the 2002 World Cup pre-qualifying round.

Nurdin later argued that hiring a technical advisor for the national team had been on his agenda since January. He did not give any reason why he favored Wullems for the job, except for the fact that Wullems had helped Nurdin's soccer club, PSM Makassar, to win this year's Bank Mandiri national league title.

Wullems has also a proven track record with the national team. He helped the team to win the 1997 SEA Games silver.

Following Indonesia's poor performance in the Asian Cup final in Lebanon, Nurdin, Zein and Nandar had agreed to dismiss seven players and add three others to the 18-strong team. The three were picked from PSM. There are now seven PSM players in the team -- Hendro Kartiko, Bima Sakti, Aji Santoso, Suwandhi HS, Budiman, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto and Miro Baldo Bento.

Nandar replaced German coach Bernard Schumm last September after the Indonesian team only managed a bronze in the 1999 SEA Games. (ivy)