Football Tribe SEA Editor
Highly rated Indonesian youngster Witan Sulaeman finally made his debut for Serbian Superliga side FK Radnik Surdulica on Saturday. The 18-year old winger/midfielder came on as a substitute in a Superliga game against FK Radnicki Nis, which Radnik unfortunately lost 4-2 despite Witan’s 25-minute cameo.
Taking on last year’s Superliga runners-up Radnicki at the Surdulica City Stadium, Radnik showed no fear against their oppositions, who were the clear favorites of the tie. As the match entered the 65th minute, the score was tied at 1-1, with Predrag Djorjevic scoring first for Radnik in the 23rd minute, before Radnicki’s Stefan Mihajlovic bagged the equalizer in the 42nd minute. Seeing that his team needs a change of pace, Radnik’s Bosnian head coach Simo Krunic decided to shake things up, introducing Witan in the place of striker Bogdan Stamenkovic.
Operating in the right wing, Witan was expected to provide support for Radnik’s attack as they attempted to break through Radnicki’s defenses. Unfortunately, things went rather downhill for Radnik after Witan’s introduction.
In the 71st minute, Radnicki turned the tie around after Radnik midfielder Miroljub Kostic inexplicably put the ball into his own net, however the hosts managed to equalize in the 77th minute thanks to an effort from Milan Makaric, much to the delight of the 450 people spectating the game.
Mihajlovic had other ideas, however, and the Radnicki striker completed his brace in the 81st minute to make it 2-3, before in the 85th minute Nikola Cumic sealed the win for Radnicki.
Defeat left Radnik 10th in the table, equal on points with 11th placed Proleter Novi Sad and 12th placed Napredak Krusevac, however Simo’s men were placed higher on the virtue of a better head-to-head record against the two teams beneath them. Despite this, Radnik could breathe a sigh of relief as their participation in next season’s Superliga was assured after the Football Association of Serbia abolished the championship play-off, the relegation play-off, and relegation itself due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. All that Radnik have to do now is prepare for their last game of the season, an away trip to Belgrade to face Vozdovac at their SC Stadion on Saturday June 20th – which could provide Witan with more valuable minutes for his development as a player.
Saturday’s Superliga games also confirmed Red Star Belgrade as the champions of the 2019-20 season, a successful defense of their league title that they have won for the past 2 seasons. Red Star’s arch-rivals Partizan Belgrade sealed a ticket to the 2020-21 Europa League season alongside Vojvodina, the two side will contest the runners-up spot in the last Superliga matchday in a straight duel against one another at Vojvodina’s Karadorde Stadium. The last Europa League ticket for next season went to surprise packages TSC Backa Topola. TSC, who were promoted into the Superliga last season, is assured of a top 4 finish.