Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Banking on Safee

Pelita Jaya’s floundering Indonesian Super League campaign was injected with new life following the club’s signing of top Malaysian striker Mohd Safee Sali. 

The West Java club currently sits bottom of the 15-team league with 10 points. But there are expectations that its fortunes will change drastically with the arrival of Asean Football Federation Cup star Sali.

Pelita manager Lalu Mara Satriawangsa said Sali had been signed to a half-season contract, which will pay him $50,000.

Sali is expected to arrive in Jakarta next Monday and make his debut on March 7, when Pelita hosts Persib Bandung to kick off the second half of its season.

The 27-year-old had been pursued by a number of Indonesian clubs following his stellar performance during the recent AFF Cup, where he led Malaysia to its maiden title.

He finished the tournament as the top scorer with five goals, three of them against Indonesia during the two-legged final.

Pelita’s offense has been anemic and its 13 goals are the third fewest in the ISL, ahead of Persib (12) and Persela Lamongan (eight).  Lalu said he was confident Sali would improve his team’s attack.

“His presence will definitely improve the team,” he said.

In Sunday’s games, a late goal from Arema Malang substitute Sunarto ended Persipura Jayapura’s unbeaten run.

Sunarto tapped in a rebound in the 89th minute to give the hosts a 1-0 victory at Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, East Java.

Persipura, which had entered the match without a defeat in 12 matches, still leads the league with 32 points.

Arema climbed to third with 23 points, two behind Semen Padang, which was routed at Sriwijaya FC on Sunday.

“That was our best performance this season,” Arema coach Miroslav Janu said.

“We were able to hold off Persipura’s attack and Sunarto has been proving himself as our supersub. He has scored two goals in two consecutive matches after coming on as a substitute.”

Also on Sunday, Sriwijaya beat 10-man Semen Padang 5-0 at Sriwijaya Stadium in Palembang to climb to seventh place.

Budi Sudarsono scored a brace and Keith Kayamba Gumbs, Rudi Widodo and Korinus Fingkrew each scored one.

Bontang FC moved from the bottom of the standings with a 2-1 win over Deltras Sidoarjo, while Persisam Samarinda beat visiting Persela Lamongan 4-1.

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