Riedl Summons Oktovianus to Discuss Training Camp Disappearing Act
Alfred Riedl has shown little sympathy for players who fail to toe the line during his stint as national team coach.
The Austrian’s tough approach was expected to be tested once again on Monday night during a planned meeting with star midfielder Oktovianus Maniani, who left the national camp last week without permission.
Oktovianus abandoned Riedl’s squad on Thursday, telling teammates he was “under pressure” to return to his Indonesian Super League club, Sriwijaya FC, for a road match against Persipura Jayapura on Sunday.
Oktovianus’s decision to leave the camp without Riedl’s permission has put at risk his spot on the under-23 national team, which is training for Olympic qualifiers that begin later this month.
Indonesia assistant coach Wolfgang Pikal said Oktovianus had arrived back in Jakarta on Monday and that Riedl planned to talk to him. “Coach Alfred just wants to have a private talk with him,” he said. “Riedl wants to hear from the player about what really happened last week, why exactly Okto left camp.”
Since taking over last year, Riedl has been tough on players who defy team rules.
When Boaz Solossa — regarded by many as the country’s top striker — was excluded from the national team after missing one too many training sessions, it underscored the value Riedl places on discipline.
But Pikal did not want to speculate on Oktovianus’s fate.
“The coach will decide after he meets with the player,” the assistant coach said.
Meanwhile, Riedl said 18-year-old Alan Martha, who plays for ISL club Persija Jakarta, would be given a chance to try out for the U-23 squad.
The West Sumatra native comes highly recommended by the National Team Body (BTN), although Riedl cautioned that he was only giving Alan “a chance to be part of his team,” and that nothing was guaranteed.
“We want to assess his performance for two days, because the information we got was that he was one of the most talented players on the under-19 team that played in Uruguay,” he said.
“We’re giving him a chance, and at the moment we just want to see how far he can go.”
Alan has impressed in every age group he has played. He scored five goals in helping Indonesia qualify for the 2008 Asian Under-16 Championship and another two during the qualifiers for the Asian U-19 Championship in Bandung last year
However, he has not won over everyone.
Coaches dropped the 1.66-meter-tall player from the team that played in Uruguay last year, saying he was not showing any signs of improvement.
On a number of occasions, the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) has sent a youth team to play in Uruguay’s junior leagues so that promising players can hone their skills.
Alan said he wanted to treat his stint with Riedl as “a good second chance.”
“I was quite surprised when I got the call from BTN,” he said. “I’ll do my best because this might be my best chance to join the national team.”
The U-23 side is scheduled to play its first warm-up game over the weekend.
Although team officials were not sure who the opponent would be, Pikal said they were considering flying to Hong Kong for a friendly on Saturday.
Indonesia will open its 2012 Olympic qualifying campaign against Turkmenistan in Ashgabat on Feb. 23. The return leg will be held in Palembang, South Sumatra, on March 9.