Southeast Asia Indonesia

Kremencik Hits Hat-Trick as Persija Secure AFC Standby Spot

Persija Jakarta’s continental hopes remain alive after they had secured this season’s Liga 1 Indonesia runners-up spot with a resounding 5-0 win over PSS Sleman on Saturday night. Michael Kremencik was the man of the hour as his hat-trick helped Persija to all three points and ensuring that this campaign’s silver medal would go to the Macan Kemayoran.

With over 60000 Persija fans flocking the Gelora Bung Karno in the club’s first and last match there this season, the Macan Kemayoran went off on a flyer after Kremencik gave the hosts the lead in the 2nd minute, with the Czech striker doubling Persija’s lead 24 minutes later.

Three minutes into the second half, PSS found themselves conceding a penalty. Witan Sulaeman did his spot-kick assignment well and beat Muhammad Ridwan in the PSS goal to make it 3-0 Persija.

Being in the lead with such a huge margin did not stop Persija from inflicting further pain on their guests, with Aji Kusuma netting Persija’s fourth in the 88th minute and Kremencik making good use of a Riko Simanjuntak pass to seal his hat-trick and score Persija’s fifth goal of the night in the third minute of injury time.

With arch-rivals Persib Bandung succumbing to a shock 4-1 loss at the hands of Pasundan Derby rivals Persikabo 1973, Persija’s thumping win over PSS was enough for the Macan Kemayoran to clinch 2nd place in this year’s Liga 1 table, and with it, a standby spot for AFC competitions.

With last year’s champions Bali United and this year’s league winners PSM Makassar set for a play-off to determine who will play in next season’s AFC Champions League, all Persija had to do is to wait for either Bali United or PSM to qualify for the Champions League group stages – which would open up a spot in the AFC Cup group stages for Thomas Doll’s men.