Persib beats Sriwijaya to win President's Cup
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Persib Bandung emerged the champion of the inaugural President's Cup after defeating Sriwijaya FC 2-0 at Bung Karno Stadium on Sunday in a final overshadowed by threats of clashes between fans.
Ahmad Jufriyanto and Makan Konate scored early and at the end of the first half, respectively, to give Persib its second national honor in two years.
The trophy was presented by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who watched the game from the VVIP box along with Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan, Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil and South Sumatra Governor Alex Nurdin.
As the champion, Persib also received Rp 4.2 billion (US$311,595) while runner-up Sriwijaya took home Rp 3.2 billion.
Security measures were tightened in the buildup to the match out of fears of clashes because of notorious hostility between Bobotoh, the nickname of Persib fans, and Jakmania, the fans of Persija Jakarta.
The Jakarta Police, assisted by military officers, deployed more than 10,000 personnel, the majority of whom were posted around the venue from Saturday.
On Sunday morning, the police detained 12 boys for attempting to trigger a riot by throwing stones toward a crowd of people.
Around 70,000 supporters of both teams began to pack the stadium from morning. Some of them had arrived in Jakarta on Saturday to ensure they got tickets for the game.
'I came here on Saturday by plane and to support Sriwijaya FC,' said Tofik, 32, from Palembang.
Persib's supporters flocked to Jakarta on dozens of Army trucks and buses, accompanied by hundreds of Bandung Police officers to anticipate hostility from local fans.
'I'm enthusiastic about Persib.
I hope they can become the champions. I hope all supporters can watch safely without resorting to hostility if their team loses the game,' said Hafidz, 20, in a blue Persib jersey.
'Persib became the champion in last year's Indonesia Super League [ISL]. I am sure they will become the champions again this time,' said fellow fan, Firman.
During the match, the two teams showed their aggressive game from the kickoff.
In the sixth minute, Persib opened the scoring through a free kick by Jufriyanto following a foul on Montenegro's Ilija Spasojevic.
Sriwijaya tried to equalize by stepping up its offensive through the wings but failed to convert any of the chances. The team also drilled its moves through the middle area, but to no avail with Persib showing solid coordination at the back.
As the first-half clock was ticking down, Kanote made the best of captain Atep's cross. He trickily beat one defender before sending a blistering shot. The ball hit the bar, but it bounced off the keeper's palm back into the net.
The game got tighter in the second half with Sriwijaya stepping up its efforts to overcome the deficit. Patrich Wanggai at the front and midfielder Yu Hyun-koo were prominent in their team's aggressiveness but Persib's goal keeper I Made Wirawan was resolute at his post to snuff out the danger.
On Saturday, Arema Cronus snatched third place after defeating Mitra Kukar of East Kalimantan with 2-0 in Gianyar, Bali.
The President's Cup, which officially kicked off in Gianyar on Aug. 30 featuring 16 clubs split into four groups, was initiated by President Jokowi following a halt in all domestic tournaments, including the ISL, because of a crisis resulting from altercations between the Soccer Association of Indonesia (PSSI) and the sports ministry.
The PSSI rejected the ministry's call to exclude two 'legally flawed' clubs from the ISL.
The conflict led to the suspension of the PSSI by the ministry, a move that world soccer governing body FIFA regarded as unjustified government intervention in soccer affairs and for which FIFA later banned Indonesia from international tournaments.
Separately on Sunday, Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi said that after the President's Cup he would encourage tournament operators to create another event that all the country's soccer clubs could participate in. (saf)
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