A last minute penalty from Ramadhan Sanata helped Liga 1 Indonesia leaders PSM Makassar to a hard-fought 1-0 win over hosts Persikabo 1973 in Thursday’s league match at the Pakansari Stadium. Combined with Wednesday’s losses suffered by title rivals Persib Bandung and Persija Jakarta, the three points meant that PSM would only have to win three more games to secure their first top-flight title since the 1999/2000 season.
With Persib suffering another shock result at the hands of a struggling team – this time going down 2-0 at home to a resurgent Persik Kediri side – and Persija being beaten 3-1 away at Borneo FC Samarinda on Wednesday, PSM knew that a win against Persikabo at the Pakansari on Thursday would inch them even closer to this season’s Liga 1 title.
The Juku Eja had trouble prying through a disciplined Persikabo defense, however, with the Laskar Padjadjaran seeking to extend their unbeaten record to four games having won all three of their most recent ones. The likes of the Sayuri twins – Yakob and Yance as well Muhammad Arfan tested Persikabo’s resolute backline, but it was not until the fifth minute of injury time that PSM got their breakthrough.
A shot from Donald Bissa was handled by Bruno Dybal within the area, prompting the referee to award PSM a penalty. Sanata, who was tasked in dispatching the spot-kick, made no mistake with his finish, beating Tedy Heri in the Persikabo goal to seal all three points for the Juku Eja.
Victory means that PSM would only have to win their next three games – against Persita Tangerang, Bhayangkara FC, and Madura United – to seal their first league title in 23 years. Any slip-up from either Persija or Persib and the title would be PSM’s even sooner, and with the Macan Kemayoran and the Maung Bandung set to take on each other in March 31st’s Indonesian El Clasico and considering PSM’s current form – with the Juku Eja on a 9-game winning streak – it is a real possibility that PSM would clinch the Liga 1 title at the end of this month.
Meanwhile there was good news coming out from the Madura United camp. Having suffered a horrific collision when scoring Madura United’s second goal in a 2-0 win over hosts PSIS Semarang on Tuesday, midfielder Ricki Ariansyah has regained consciousness and is now in stable condition. Ricki received a visit from PSIS player Farrel Arya – who collided with Ricki during the match – and the two players made amends, with Ricki wishing Farrel well in his career. Ricki has also spoken with his Madura United teammates and officials, as well as undergoing medical checks to assess his condition, and he should be discharged from Semarang’s St. Elizabeth Hospital in the next few days.