Fri, 04 May 2001

RI soccer team prepares for hostile crowd

JAKARTA (JP): Playing only the second away match of its 2002 Wold Cup qualifying campaign on Sunday, the Indonesian soccer team is wary of host Maldives' supporters.

Coach Benny Dolo said his players were mentally prepared to face the excited home fans, whose spirits were boosted when their team held heavy favorite China to one goal in their second encounter on April 28.

The coach said his squad would have to be mentally tough during their Group Nine in Male, particularly given the fact that the spectators' seats were very close to the pitch.

"Captain Bima Sakti and his teammates gained enough experience in dealing with spectators when they played against Cambodia last week," Benny said from Singapore as quoted by Soccer Association of Indonesia spokesman Eddi Elison on Thursday.

Benny did say the stadium in Male was better than Lambert Stadium in Phnom Penh.

The Indonesian squad flew from its training camp in Singapore to Male on Thursday night. Benny said all of his players were fit enough to play except for Yaris Riyadi, who received six stitches on his temple following a collision during Indonesia's 2-0 victory over Cambodia in Phnom Penh last week.

He also said Eko Purjianto, who has been nursing a minor injury, would be available to play against Maldives.

"Yaris might not play on Sunday because of his injury. If I force him to play, I'm afraid the cut will reopen. He said, however, that he was ready if needed. I will replace him with Matheus Seta Nurdiyantara."

Benny said he would field the same starting lineup he successfully used against Cambodia.

"We don't want to take any risk of losing. There will be no significant changes from the lineup that faced Cambodia. We have also practiced playing in the 4-4-2 or 3-5-2 systems."

In the last week's match with Cambodia, Benny started strikers Bambang Pamungkas and Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, who was replaced by Gendut Doni Christiawan after spraining an ankle.

The midfield was occupied by Bima Sakti, Uston Nawawi, Isnan Ali, Yaris and Ismet Sofyan. Yaris was replaced by Seta after being injured in the 65th minute.

Aples Gideon Tecuari, Sugiantoro and Eko Purdjianto were in the defensive field, with Hendro Kartiko in the goal.

Team manager Irawadi D. Hanafi said China's decision to play a number of substitutes helped Maldives to hold the Asian powerhouse to one goal.

"I have prepared for Maldives. We have studied why China was only able to post a 1-0 victory at Male after crushing Maldives 10-1 at home. China fielded many substitutes while the Maldives played much better than they played in China and Jakarta.

"We have put in place a strategy to deal with the Maldivians' technical improvement and spirit," he said.

Indonesia tops Group Nine with three victories in three matches, setting the scene for an intriguing showdown when it meets heavily favored China in Kunming on May 13. China, which has also won all of its matches, will play Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Sunday. (ivy)