A 65th minute winner from Irkham Mila was enough for PS Sleman to finish third in the 2021 Menpora Cup. Facing-off against PSM Makassar on Saturday’s one-legged play-off for the Menpora Cup’s bronze medal, PSS managed to edge out their opponents 2-1 at the Manahan Stadium to ensure that Super Elja would receive a happy ending at the tournament’s conclusion.
With their chances for Menpora Cup glory being snuffed out by Persib Bandung and Persija Jakarta respectively in the semifinal, PSS and PSM square off at the Manahan for a shot at redemption – the honors of finishing third in the Menpora Cup are being placed at stake on Saturday’s one-off match. The two sides started the match in a cautious manner, with neither team threatening one another for the first 20 minutes.
However, that would soon change in the 30th minute, after Irkham was fouled by Hasyim Kipuw inside the PSM penalty area. The usually-reliable Hilman Syah was powerless to stop Irfan Jaya’s ensuing spot kick, with the former Persebaya Surabaya attacker giving PSS the all-important lead after his shot had sent Hilman the wrong way.
PSM were then given a lifeline in the 37th minute following Fandry Imbiri’s straight red card, with the PSS defender being sent off thanks to a cynical foul on Yakob Sayuri. Despite the advantage in numbers, the Juku Eja were unable to get themselves an equalizer throughout the reminder of the first half, allowing PSS to retain their slender advantage as the referee blew for half-time.
The second stanza was a much more livelier affair compared to the first one, with Raffi Angga testing Hilman from some distance in the opening seconds of the second half before having another pop in the 54th minute, this time resulting in Hilman deflecting the incoming shot away.
Despite PSS’ bright start to the second half it was PSM who scored the next goal, with Sutanto Tan scoring the Juku Eja‘s equalizer through an expertly-taken free-kick that easily went past PSS goalie Miswar Saputra in the 59th minute.
The stalemate did not last long though and six minutes later, both PSS and Irkham had the final say in this match. Receiving a long ball from the PSS midfield, Nicolas Velez tapped it short towards Irkham who volleyed home the coupe de grace past Hilman, restoring the lead for the Super Elja.
Both teams then traded attacks afterwards – with PSS attempting to kill the game off while PSM tried their best to keep themselves alive in the match. Saldi Amiruddin’s long-ranged volley in the 72nd minute was easily caught by Miswar while shortly afterwards Hilman managed to thwart a Raffi free-kick, deflecting the ball away with his palms. Erwin Gutawa then went close twice for PSM in the dying moments of the match, however in the end neither team were able to score any further goals.
With PSS confirmed as bronze medalists and PSM confirmed as 4th placers, attention shifts back to Sunday’s grand finale of the Menpora Cup, with the second leg of the final between Indonesian El Clasico rivals Persib and Persija at the Manahan. Persija have the advantage coming into the second leg, leading their arch-rivals 2-0 on aggregate thanks to their win in the first half on Thursday.