Indonesian soccer club Sriwijaya FC eyes top four at AFC Cup

08:47, March 02, 2011      

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Indonesia's Sriwijaya Football Club (SFC) is hoping for a top four finish in the 8th Asian Football Confederation Cup (AFC Cup) to be held on home soil this year, local media reported on Tuesday.

Sriwjaya is in Group F along with V.B. Sports of the Maldives, Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam and TSW Pegasus of Hong Kong.

In the opening match on Tuesday, Sriwijaya, winners of the Piala Indonesia Cup, will face the 2009-2010 Maldives First Division champion V.B. Sports at Jakabaring Stadium.

Despite the benefit of playing at their home stadium in Palembang, South Sumatra, Sriwijaya said the team would not be in top shape.

Nine of its best players will miss the team's opening match, including striker Firman Utina because of injury and goalkeeper Ferry Rotinsulu because of yellow cards.

"Under such conditions we have to have a good strategy to get a win," Sriwijaya FC coach Ivan Kolev said Monday.

Sriwjaya, which failed in the group of 16 in last year's Cup, has a good record against teams from the Maldives. Last season Sriwijaya shut out Victory SC of the Maldives with a 0-0 draw on road and a 5-0 victory at home.

However, Sriwijaya cannot take V.B. Sports lightly as the team holds two titles in the Maldives league, especially with players like Ali Umar, Asad Ali and A. Ashfag Akraw who helped the team beat Persiwa Wamena 4-0 and 3-2 in the 2009-2010 AFC Cup.

V.B. Sports coach Bhatiar Canvali said Sriwijaya would be a tough team to face, despite the fact that his team shut out Victory SC in last year's Cup.

Nevertheless, he has trained his men well for a victory. "We are confident we will steal some points in the match," Canvali said.

He added that he knew about the skill of Sriwijaya players: "We have experienced players so I am confident they can handle [Sriwijaya]."

On the same day as Sriwijaya's match, Song Lam Nghe An of Vietnam will face TSW Pegasus of Hong Kong at Vinh Stadium.

Song Lam Nghe An is the best club in Vietnam, winning Vietnam Cups in 2002 and 2010 as well as the Vietnam Super Cup in 2002 and 2010. It is currently at the top in the Vietnam league.

In the meantime, TSW Pegasus sits at third in the Hong Kong league. TSW Pegasus won the Hong Kong FA Cup in 2009-2010 and was the runner-up in the Hong Kong First Division League 2009-2010.

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