Indonesian optimistism overlooks stamina deficit

Although Indonesian football players Ponaryo Astaman, Bambang Pamungkas and Elie Aiboy, wearing the national team's new strip, have been depicted as 'Mahabharata' heroes on giant posters displayed in the capital city Jakarta, coach Ivan Venkov Kolev of Bulgaria is concerned about the strength of opposing teams Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and South Korea in Group D of the Asian Cup. "Saudi Arabia is more powerful than Oman. Bahrain is on the same level as Oman. Bahrain will still be a tough team to beat," Kolev said after Indonesia's recent 1-0 defeat to Oman.

Kolev said a lack of consistency on the pitch, mainly due to poor stamina levels, is the greatest obstacle the team faces. "We generally play fast in the first 36 minutes, but slow down after that. In the second half, most of our players are exhausted. This is a problem that needs to be solved," he said.

However Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) President Nurdin Halid "remains optimistic, predicting the national squad will reach the quarterfinals of the event," Damar Harsanto reported in The Jakarta Post.