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Analysis: Persija storm into knockout rounds

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Singapore: Indonesian giants Persija Jakarta booked their spot in the 2018 AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal semi-finals with a comprehensive 4-2 win over Tampines Rovers on Tuesday.

The visitors were in control of the match throughout the 90 minutes and scored four goals in a game for the third time this campaign as they made it four wins from six in one of the competition's most hard-fought groups.

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Remarkable Riko

Flying winger Riko Simanjuntak was the star of the show for Persija, providing the assist for three of their four goals.

Tampines would no doubt have studied Persija’s thumping 4-0 win over Johor Darul Ta’zim in their previous match and taken note of how dangerous the 26-year-old can be when afforded space on the right.

They looked like they’d heeded those lessons early on, playing nice and compact and restricting the space on the right. But as the match wore on the class of Simanjuntak came to the fore as the home side’s discipline began to fade, with more space opening up on the right.

What was most interesting, however, as shown on his heat map (below) was that most of his work was done inside his own defensive half, which shows just how hard Tampines worked to try and restrict the space for him.

Flying Full-back

With Tampines Rovers working hard to deny space on the right for Simanjuntak, they then left themselves more exposed on the left, and Rezaldi Hehanusa exploited that space to good effect.

The full-back often bombed forward to join in with the attack, and it was from one of these forays that he opened the scoring for the visitors from eight yards out for his second goal of the campaign.

His passing map (below) shows how dangerous he was when he got forward down the left, with three key passes into the area when he was able to get near the penalty box.

Simic Scores Again

Tampines Rovers would have been well aware of the threat posed by Marko Simic after the Croatian scored a hat-trick against them earlier in the campaign.

While they were able to keep him to just the one goal on this occasion, the burly striker again proved too hot to handle for the home side’s defence.

A very traditional number nine, he doesn’t move far from the central area at the top of the penalty area, looking to receive the ball and play combinations with his wingers looking to get in behind the defence. 

In total he had only 14 passes at 86 percent accuracy, but was able to get on the scoresheet and have a remarkable nine shots at goal. Simic's strike keeps him out in front as the tournament's top scorer on eight goals.

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