The Jakarta Post
Multi Serie A champions Football Club Internazionale Milano, better known as Inter Milan, has arrived in Jakarta to prepare for two friendly matches against Indonesian teams.
“It has been a great welcome. We’re really happy,” Argentine-born captain Javier Zanetti told reporters through a translator in Jakarta on Wednesday. Inter landed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, earlier on Wednesday.
Despite a tough season following their sixth-place finish in the 2011-2012 Serie A, Zanetti said that the team would give its best for Inter’s fans in Indonesia.
“It was a tough season, but hopefully we can still make our fans happy, at least for the next few days. Afterward, we will focus on the next season with more energy.”
Incoming head coach Andrea Stramaccioni said that even though Inter had been in the Italian elite league for over 10 years, the club has had its bad seasons.
Inter is scheduled to face Liga Selection, comprising players from Indonesian Premier League clubs, on Thursday evening and to battle Indonesia’s Under-23 squad on Saturday evening.
On the upcoming two matches, Stramaccioni said that he acknowledged his team would face younger players. “We, however, don’t know the capability of each individual.”
Inter’s chief executive officer Ernesto Paolillo said that the club’s Indonesian tour was very important to soccer, as Indonesia has a growing economy and population.
“The upcoming friendly matches will be the start of our future cooperation,” he added.
On facing the soccer giants, Indonesian coach Aji Santoso said that he would not stop encouraging his boys to give an all-out performance.
“We will have a team that is a mixture of U-22 Indonesian players and five foreign players,” said Aji, adding that some U-22 players would also be sent to Rio de Janeiro in 2013 to participate in Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup.
“Our young players have limited experience in battling international players. Playing against such a big team like Inter will boost their morale in order to earn sufficient self-confidence in the future,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we all know that the friendlies are entertainment, so I also want my boys to have some good times on the pitch,” Aji added.
Attacking midfielder Andik Vermansyah, 20, will be among the promising Indonesian players going against Inter.
“I’m really honored to be picked again for an international friendly. This will be my second,” said the Persebaya 1927 soccer club player.
Andik previously played against the US-based LA Galaxy under British soccer star David Beckham in November, stealing the spotlight after the former Manchester United player fouled him. When the game ended, Andik swapped shirts with Beckham.
Up to 70,000 people are expected to throng the stadium, which can accommodate up to 80,000 spectators.
“The ticket sales are still ongoing. We expect 70,000 people will attend the match,” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Thursday.
The police will escort the Inter Milan players on their way to and from the stadium and the hotel where they are staying. They will also search all spectators, targeting sharp weapons, firecrackers, pebbles and other dangerous items.
Besides the friendlies, the “Nerazzuri”, the “Black and Blues”, are also set to give a coaching clinic and visit an orphanage on Friday, and to stop by the Roemah Djawa heritage landmark on Saturday.
The 38 Inter players and officials are due to fly back to Italy on Sunday.