Wed, 09 Jul 2003

RI team to take on Japanese amateurs

Arya Abhiseka, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Indonesian soccer team is all set for a win against Japan in a friendly match at the Bung Karno stadium in South Jakarta on Friday, even without the services of star striker, Bambang Pamungkas, the coach says.

The national team head coach, Bulgarian Ivan Venkov Kolev, said on Tuesday that he would not opt to recruit another striker to replace Bambang for Friday's match, leaving Kurniawan D. Juliyanto of the PSPS Pekan Baru and Gendut Dony of Persikota Tangerang in the attack spots.

"We have enough (strikers) at the moment as we plan to give Elie Aiboy, who has been used as a midfielder by his club, a trial run as a striker," he told reporters through an interpreter while watching the team train at the stadium.

Kolev, who admits his fondness for Aiboy's style of play, said in the past that Aiboy, who currently plays for Persija Jakarta, could become an excellent striker because of his natural ability in getting past opponents.

Speaking further about other attack options, he said Deltras Sidoarjo's Budi Sudarsono was also an attacking midfielder who could also play as a striker.

Bambang, who was the top scorer in last year's South East Asian soccer tournament, the Tiger Cup, has been deemed to have lost form lately with his club in the Indonesian soccer league and has now been excluded from the national line-up.

Although he has managed to score 17 goals thus far and ranks seventh among the league's top scorers, many consider that he is far from playing at his true potential. He was the league's top scorer in 2000 with 24 goals.

Meanwhile, for Friday's match, Kolev hoped that his players would pile on the speed.

"I have observed that most of the teams in the league are applying a slow-paced style. That's why I have gathered the players today and told them to up the tempo," he said.

Kolev said that he had no knowledge of the Japanese team they would be facing, except that it comprised players from Japan's amateur league.

The Japanese team, which consists of 22 players, arrived in Jakarta on Monday and will take on Persija on Wednesday.

Friday's match is one of a series of tryouts planned for the national team before playing in the qualifying round of the 2004 Asian Cup in China.

The qualifying matches, in which Indonesia joins Group C with favorite Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bhutan, will be played between September and November.

Indonesia qualified for the previous two Asian Cups, but has yet to record a win.