Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Heartbreak For PSS Despite Persis Win
Many have long considered PSS to be a shoo in for promotion to Liga 1. They were playing good football, winning games and their supporters were winning plaudits far and near. A packed house at the tidy Maguwoharjo Stadium is a sight to behold and would grace any top flight league, not just Indonesia's Liga 1.
Sadly, it is not to be. Despite coming from behind to beat local rivals Persis 2-1 at home PSS fans slumped to the stone terraces in disbelief as news filtered through from Riau province on the island of Sumatra. PSPS had thumped Cilegon United 4-0 to clinch the second spot in the group behind Persis and go through to Liga 2 quarter finals.
Fighting back the tears that flowed freely PSS supporters regained their voice and roared their love for their team. The search for scapegoats could wait, with their players down and out that football instinct suggested what the players needed now was an outpouring of love and gratitude for their efforts in taking the club so far.
Truth be told it had been a mixed Second Round for the Super Elang Jawa. They had won their opening game, beating Cilegon United 2-1 at home before travelling to nearby Surakarta and losing 1-0 against the subsequent group winners. A credible draw away to PSPS in the third game left PSS in second place and with two home games left to play.
Next up were PSPS, winless from their opening three games. No one expected the Riau side to emerge from the Maguwoharjo triumphant but they did, dashing PSS hopes with a 3-2 win. But PSS were only a point behind PSPS, surely nothing was impossible especially with PSPS playing Persis four days later; convenient scheduling which could have saved the Pekanbaru a couple of tiresome flights.
In he penultimate round PSS appeared to have recovered their mojo, taking the lead twice against Cilegon United at their Krakatau Steel Stadium. Then, with 12 minutes remaining, a harmless pass into the box was chested down by a PSS defender and the poorly positioned referee inexplicably awarded the home side a penalty.
With PSPS trailing in Surakarta here was perhaps the pivotal moment in the whole group. Win this game and the advantage and momentum was back with PSS. The penalty ended that dream and when it was converted it effectively ended PSS's dream of Liga 1 football next season. The game ended 2-2 leaving PSPS and PSS level on five points with negative goal difference to take into the final round of games yesterday.
PSPS were favourites. They had to face a team which had only won twice on their travels during the first round. They were though a tough nut to crack, never losing by more than a single goal margin. On the other hand PSPS were well known for being strong at home, losing just once in the first round. PSS faced a much tougher challenge with group winners Persis visiting to celebrate their passage through to the quarter finals.
Bravely PSS fought to come from behind to win 2-1 but it was in vain. PSPS thrashed Cilegon United to turn that goal difference into positive territory and to assure themselves of a place in the quarter finals. For PSS they must live to fight another day but the knowledge a controversial penalty contributed to their failure to go through will be a bitter pill to swallow.
1 - Persis 6 3 1 2 6-5 10
2 - PSPS 6 2 2 2 9-6 8
3 - PSS 6 2 2 2 9-9 8
4 - Cilegon U 6 2 1 3 6-10 7