Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Indonesian crowd inspires 2-1 win over Bahrain

Popular striker Bambang Pamungkas seized on a second-half rebound to give Indonesia a 2-1 victory over Bahrain in front of some 60,000 noisy fans in the host nation's first match of the AFC Asian Cup 2007. Budi Sudarsono had opened the scoring in the 14th minute when he slipped behind the Bahrain defense, chested the ball around the goalkeeper and fired into the bottom right-hand corner Bahrain, which reached the semifinal of the 2004 Asian Cup in China, pressed ahead and equalized 13 minutes later when Sayed Mahmood Jalal scored from close range after Indonesia's defense failed to clear a cross. Bambang' winning goal came in the 62 minute and was the best of the match.

"I want to thank all our players, they fought like soldiers on the pitch tonight. We played the ball along the ground, we had studied our opponents carefully. Our tactics were just right." said Indonesia's Coach, Ivan Kolev of Bulgaria about Indonesia's second only Asian Cup victory. "The fans were like a 12th player tonight, I thank them," he told AP. "We had four chances, but we did not score," said Bahrain's coach Milan Macala. "That was the reason we lost this game. If you want to win, you must score goals."

Macala complained about the quality of the training pitches in the Indonesian capital, which is hosting the Grand Final of this year's championship. The Czech called the practice fields a "disaster," and urged the AFC to examine them. Earlier Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos made the same complaint, AP reported.

Yesterday Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla paid a visit to the national team's final practice. "If you want people to remember you 25 years from now, you have to win this match," Kalla told the players when recalling Indonesia's shock 0-0 draw against heavyweight Soviet Union at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956. "We want you to win so that our children do not only know about Zidane or Italian league fixtures rather than those of the Football Association of Indonesia. That is shameful," Kalla said, referring to French great Zinedine Zidane, who just completed a three-day visit to Jakarta.

"Kalla also promised cash bonuses for the players should they deliver some points for Indonesia," Damar Harsanto, reported in the Jakarta Post.

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