Troubled Indonesia dodges FIFA sanctions

Updated 15 December 2012
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Troubled Indonesia dodges FIFA sanctions

JAKARTA: Indonesia evaded sanctions from world football regulator FIFA yesterday, the nation’s federation said, and was given an extension to resolve a row that has thrown Indonesian football into crisis.
FIFA had given the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) a Dec. 10 deadline to reconcile its differences with rival Indonesian Soccer Rescue Committee (KPSI) that runs a rebel league splitting the nation’s top teams.
“FIFA did not sanction Indonesia and we were asked to solve our problem as soon as possible,” PSSI head Djohar Arifin said by telephone from Tokyo, after FIFA discussed the issue in a meeting.
The rival administrations failed to show unity despite signing a memorandum of understanding in June vowing to bring Indonesian football under one umbrella.
The nation’s top sports authorities were forced to establish a task force after the deadline passed ahead of the Tokyo meeting to begin mediation in the long-standing feud.
Arifin said he was informed of FIFA’s decision via e-mail and was told the task to oversee Indonesia’s progress was handed to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
He said FIFA had not told him how long the extension would be, but that FIFA would evaluate Indonesia’s progress in an association committee meeting on Feb. 14, adding that he hoped to resolve the crisis by FIFA’s executive committee meeting on March 20.
The decision has been met with mixed reactions in the 240-million-strong nation, where despite a poor performing national team, football attracts millions of fanatics.
“It’s very kind of FIFA to not give sanctions. Now let’s solve Indonesia’s football problem,” Ali Abu Negara tweeted in Indonesian.
Another Indonesian Twitter user Bheny Hermawan disagreed: “It’s better for Indonesia to get sanctions so we can start from zero, for a better football in the future.” The PSSI has been in hot water with FIFA and the AFC in recent years over poor management, corruption allegations, leadership tussles and poor security at major matches.
The dual-league rivalry has also hit the national team after the KPSI told players from its unofficial top-tier Liga Super not to make themselves available.
At Southeast Asia’s ongoing Suzuki Cup, four-time finalists Indonesia bowed out in the group stages.


Tunisia told to forget about England defeat ahead of Belgium clash

Updated 14 min 1 sec ago
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Tunisia told to forget about England defeat ahead of Belgium clash

  • Tunisia still confident despite last-gasp defeat to England on Monday.
  • Eagles of Carthage come up against highly fancied Belgium.

LONDON: Nabil Maaloul has called on Tunisia to forget about the defeat to England and concentrate on the task at hand: Beating Belgium today.
The Eagles of Carthage lost 2-1 in their opener to England on Monday to leave them needing to get a result against Eden Hazard and Co. in Moscow. Getting a result against the highly fancied Belgians will not be easy, not least because they looked sharp during their 3-0 victory over Panama.
But Maaloul is certain his side can make their mark in Russia, having held England at bay for all bar the last minute.
“If we had got a draw it would have been an excellent result for us (against England), but hopefully this will lead to higher levels of concentration in the coming games,” Maaloul said.
Tunisia will not make life easy for Belgium as they seek to provide a bright spot in a poor World Cup for African sides, with Egypt and Morocco already out.
“We lost a battle, but not the war,” Tunisian forward Fakhreddine Ben Youssef said of the England game.
The Belgians want to win at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow to avoid making their final group game against England on June 28 a make-or-break qualification affair.
Romelu Lukaku netted twice in the victory over Panama, but bar the scoreline, the match was notable for the rough treatment dished out to Hazard. The Belgium playmaker was tightly marked and occasionally clattered by Central Americans.
Belgium coach Roberto Martinez hopes the Chelsea player will not get the same treatment from Tunisia.
“It is a worry that in any of those tackles he could really get hurt,” said Belgium’s Spanish coach.
“It doesn’t worry me if that is just their way of trying to stop him.”
History favors the Belgians. They are yet to lose to African opposition at a World Cup, while Tunisia have never beaten a European side at a finals.
The experienced Oussama Haddadi is set to replace Ali Maaloul at left-back in the Tunisian defense and Martinez saw plenty of danger for his team in the north Africans’ opening 2-1 defeat to England.
“They have a lot of bravery and they’re very dynamic,” Martinez said. “The players have a good understanding between each other and they can bring energy and intensity on counter-attacks. They play direct, efficient football.”
After seeing Lukaku and Dries Martens grab the goals against 
Panama, Hazard wants to add some goals of his own.
Hazard, whose younger brother Thorgan is also in a squad considered to be Belgium’s best for decades, is aware of the thirst for success back home.
“We knew it before the tournament. People say that Belgium would win every game but it’s not that simple,” said Hazard. “We want to win, we won the first game and have another one Saturday against Tunisia. We take it game after game.”
Belgium, ranked third in the world, reached the quarterfinals of Brazil 2014 and are aiming to match their previous best of reaching the semifinals at Mexico 1986.
There was some good news for Martinez on Thursday when Barcelona center-back Thomas Vermaelen trained for the first time in Russia.
Likewise Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, who like Vermaelen is 32, is expected to return on Friday.