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Saturday, January 13, 2007
Withe pleased with Indonesia's striking actions

SINGAPORE, January 13 (Asean Football Championship) - Indonesia's wealth of attacking options up front paid off on Saturday as they recovered from a one-goal deficit to defeat Laos 3-1 in their opening match in the Asean Football Championship.

Midfielder Atep scored a brace but it was the introduction of substitute Saktiawan Sinaga that proved decisive as the PSMS striker fired his side ahead in the 67th minute, two minutes after coming on.

Sinaga had replaced the misfiring Ilham Jayakesuma and Indonesia coach Peter Withe was grateful after the match for the number of strikers that he had at his disposal.

'We've got four strikers and I can play any one of the four,' the Englishman said.

'There's no-one I can say is our number one striker - it's a straight fight between the four of them and whoever shows me in training and in the game situations that they warrant inclusion will go into the side.

'It doesn't worry me - I'd rather have four strikers. The thing with strikers is that they go on confidence and he (Jayakesuma) had a couple of chances and he missed them but I would just tell him to continue to get into positions to make the goals and just relax a little more when you get the chance.

'Bambang (Pamungkas) was the same, he had a couple of chances to score a goal and it just didn't happen for him so you've just got to tell them to do the right things and keep getting into the right positions to try and score a goal.'

Indonesia missed a host of chances to level the score in the opening half after falling behind to Sounthalay Xaysongkham's 13th minute strike but profligate finishing prevented them from getting back on level terms.

While frustrated by the misses, Withe urged his side to continue playing the way that they had been playing when he addressed them during the half-time interval.

'As a coach when you're sitting here and you see you're players missing chances, it just happens and there's nothing you can do about it.

'All I said to the players at half time was that we created many chances to score goals and that we must just continue to play that way. The only problem I felt that we had was that the tempo of the game that we played at in the first half was not the way that we play normally.

'In the second half, the tempo was much better, the pressure was much better and we still created many chances to score goals and in the end we got three goals.

'The most important thing really is that we wanted three points and we've got them and we can now look forward to our next game.'

The game was played in heavy conditions after nearly three days of non-stop rain but Withe was not unhappy with the state of the pitch at the National Stadium.

'It's actually the first time that we've been on the pitch because of the wet weather but it actually played a lot better than what I thought.'

Having seen his side emerge from the qualification tournament, Laos coach Saythong Syphasay was pleased with the performance of his side against one of favourites to win the Asean Football Championship.

'The players did their best today and I was pleased that we have played a good game despite not having much time to prepare for this tournament,' Syphasay said.

'Indonesia are a very good team with a lot of experienced players so it was a tough challenge for us. They had a lot of control of the ball so we were forced to defend for much of the game.'




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