Southeast Asia Indonesia

Riko-Simic Bromance Sets Up PSM Semifinal Date for Persija

Riko Simanjuntak and Marko Simic once again combine together into a devastating unit as Persija Jakarta eliminated Barito Putera from the 2021 Menpora Cup with a 1-0 win in Saturday’s quarterfinal at the Kanjuruhan Stadium. Riko’s excellent service allowed the ever-prolific Simic to smash home the only goal of the game, earning Persija a date with PSM Makassar in the semifinal.

The region of Malang, East Java, where the Kanjuruhan Stadium was located, was rocked by a 6.7 Richter scale earthquake on the day of the match, which threw doubt on whether the quarterfinal between Persija and Barito could be played. However, despite Persija defender Maman Abdurrahman receiving a light injury due to the earthquake, the match received a green light to proceed as the Kanjuruhan was not affected whatsoever by the earthquake.

The two teams went straight on the offensive after kick-off, exchanging attacks and pressuring one another as they seek to draw the first blood. The tense nature of the match caused Barito to lose two of their players due to injury – Bagas Kaffa was stretchered off after 5 minutes before Donald Bissa went down with an injury of his own in the 20th minute. The wastefulness of both teams, combined with the prowesses of Andritany Ardhiyasa in the Persija goal and his Barito counterpart Muhammad Riyandi, meant that the first 45 minutes ended in a goalless stalemate.

In order to enhance Persija’s attack in the second half, the Macan Kemayoran‘s head coach Sudirman decided to replace Alfriyanto Nico with Riko – a change that proved to be a masterstroke in the 61st minute. Receiving a long ball from the Persija half, Riko raced his way into the Barito penalty area and the pacy winger soon found himself face-to-face with Riyandi. Rather than taking a shot at goal, Riko passed it short towards Simic, who smashed home into the Barito goal before Riyandi could react in time.

Persija managed to clung onto their lead all the way into full-time, with the Macan Kemayoran even scoring a second in the 88th minute through Marc Klok. However a foul in the goal’s buildup meant that the referee had to chalk the goal off, but nonetheless the Macan Kemayoran had done enough to eliminate the Laskar Antasari from the Menpora Cup.

Persija will face-off against PSM in the upcoming semifinal, to be played in a two-legged tie at the Maguwoharjo Stadium on April 15th and the Manahan Stadium on April 18th. The two sides had already met in the group stages, with PSM winning 2-0 at the Kanjuruhan to open their Group B campaign.

The third Menpora Cup quarterfinal match between Persib Bandung and Persebaya Surabaya is set to be played this Sunday at the Maguwoharjo.