Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The Nonsense Continues

Tuesday’s dueling news conferences offered viewers a microcosm of the twisting tale that is Indonesian football.

Amid the hubbub over the sensational arrival of former national team coach Alfred Riedl, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) suddenly shifted course and said it would once again allow players from the breakaway Indonesian Super League to turn out for the Merah Putih.

“To build a great national team, we’ll need all the best players we have,” said Bernhard Limbong, a national team supervisor and PSSI executive committee member. “Starting [Wednesday], we’ll let the coach call up all the best players, even if they play in the ISL.”

Limbong claimed the PSSI had made the decision at its annual congress in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, on March 18 but was just waiting for the right time to announce it.

“This is part of our efforts for reconciliation. We want to show the ISL there is no discrimination in the national team,” he said. “Players from the ISL can be called up to senior team, Under-23, Under-21 and other levels.”

That would put the PSSI at odds with world governing body FIFA, which in December said players from non-sanctioned leagues were banned from competing for their national team.

In the wake of that decision, Indonesia fielded an inexperienced squad — mainly U-23 players from the Indonesian Premier League — for its final 2014 World Cup qualifier, a 10-0 loss at Bahrain on Feb. 29. It had used ISL players in its seven previous qualifiers despite the IPL being the officially sanctioned top flight.

The next national team events are a U-23 tournament in Palestine in May and U-22 Asian Cup qualifying in June.

Limbong acknowledged the potential issues but said the PSSI would try to avoid any sanctions.

“We’ll notify FIFA and the AFC [Asian Football Confederation] about this decision. We’ll make them understand that this is the best way to end the dispute,” he said. “We’ll explain to them that all PSSI members agree with the decision. We believe they will understand.”

He also rejected suggestions that the move was meant to curry favor with players after Riedl returned to Jakarta on Sunday.

Reports suggested the Austrian had arrived to coach the national team of the “shadow” PSSI formed by Indonesian Football Savior Committee (KPSI) members and chaired by La Nyalla Mattalitti, but Riedl denied that.

“There is no offer. I was invited by friends to come to Indonesia and I came here as we have to keep close with our friends,” said Riedl, who had 11 months left on his contract when he was sacked just days after a “pro-reform” group took over the PSSI last July and installed Djohar Arifin Husin as chairman.

However, La Nyalla’s deputy Rahim Soekasah said the shadow PSSI would decide on Friday whether to offer Riedl the job.

“Riedl is the one who started the national team’s rejuvenation and we think he’s the right person to head the national team,” Rahim said.

National team players said they just wanted the months of uncertainty to end soon.

“It’s great that the PSSI has opened the national team door for ISL players,” said Persisam Samarinda striker Yongki Aribowo, who has eight caps and two goals with the Merah Putih.

“I really want to wear the [national team] jersey again. But most of all, I want the problems to be settled first. I don’t want our country to be sanctioned by FIFA just because we [ISL players] play for the national team.”

Sriwijaya FC goalkeeper Ferry Rotinsulu said he had mixed feelings about the news.

“[The PSSI] kept us from playing for the national team because they said they didn’t want to break FIFA’s rules. Why are they willing to break the rules now?” Ferry said. “I just want one PSSI and one national team, period.”

SOURCE - The Jakarta Globe

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