Wimbo Satwiko & Sandy Pramuji
If Persitara North Jakarta goes down, it refuses to do so without putting up a fight.
It sank to the bottom of the Indonesian Super League standings with just four wins in 20 matches. However, manager Harry Ruswanto believes a midseason spending spree is just the thing to turn around the struggling club’s fortunes.
Persitara released eight players, including four imports, from the squad and brought in nine news faces. The moves left Nigerian striker Prince Kabir Bello as the only foreign player from the opening-day roster.
“This major overhaul will hopefully boost the team’s performance and bring us out of the relegation zone,” Harry said on Monday. “Looking at the players’ improvements during training sessions and several friendly games, we’re optimistic we’ll have a much better squad.”
The new-look squad had its latest runout against an Armed Forces XI on Sunday, winning 3-0 at Tugu Stadium in Jakarta.
Paraguayan striker Diego Mendieta scored a goal, with midfielder Jatmiko claiming the other two. In addition, Persitara unveiled new Japanese goalkeeper Hisanori Takada.
“We’re happy that our new players could adapt well to our playing strategy. Of course, they will still need more time to really blend in with the team,” Harry said.
Persitara returns to league play when it hosts PSPS Pekanbaru on Wednesday, and it needs all three points if it hopes to trim the seven-point gap between it and 14th place, which brings with it guaranteed safety.
“If we want to stay in the ISL, we have to be able to win every home game we have left. Winning over PSPS will surely boost our confident,” Harry said.
Elsewhere, league administrator PT Liga Indonesia said it will announce details of the country’s new-look cup competition on Wednesday.
The Indonesian Cup, formerly known as the Copa Indonesia, will feature a different format. All first-round games will be played in eight host sites, with four cities hosting second-round matches.
Clubs reaching the quarterfinals and semifinals will play one-off matches in two cities, with the final set for Gelora Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta.
“We will announce the details on Wednesday. There’s still one host which needs to be decided, and there are three cities as candidates,” Joko said on Monday.
He refused to disclose details of the remaining host. Media reports have suggested Bandung, Jepara, Malang, Kediri and Makassar have been chosen as hosts, with Surabaya, Lamongan and Karawang fighting it out for the last spot.
Joko said 32 teams — 18 ISL clubs, 12 from the Indonesian Premier Division and two from the Indonesian First Division — will take part in the tournament. The draw will be held on March 29, with the first group stage scheduled for April 13-19.
Sriwijaya FC is the two-time defending cup winner.