No confirmation about Indonesian SEA Games football team
Country represented at football managers' meeting, while reports claim they are out of SEA Games
The government has put the wheels in motion to lift the ban on the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), a move that should stave off Fifa-threatened sanctions and clear the way for its Under-23 side to play at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here.
The situation should be even more optimistic, considering that the Indonesians were represented by an official at the team managers' meeting yesterday morning at the Ramada Hotel in Balestier.
But the fog hanging over their participation in the Games' football tourney has yet to lift.
Vietnamese website Bao Sai reported yesterday that the Indonesian team will not play, quoting the country's football head of delegation, Duong Vu Lam, who called for a redrawing of groups to ensure fair competition.
But the Indonesian official, known only as Razha, was not available to refute that statement, nor answer queries from The New Paper.
He was uncontactable on his Singapore mobile number, with sources revealing that he had left for Jakarta yesterday afternoon, hours after arriving in the morning for the team managers' meeting.
Indonesia are in a five-team Group A, along with hosts Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines; while Group B features six nations - defending champions Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei and Timor Leste.
If Indonesia are not able to participate organisers revealed that they obliged to convene a Technical Committee - comprising Singsoc officials, representatives from the Asian Football Confederation as well as the Football Association of Singapore. According to technical guidelines, they will have to decide the next course of action, between a redraw and nullifying all of Indonesia's results.
And with Fifa's deadline for the Indonesia government to cease its interference in the country's football activities falling on May 29 - the first day of SEA Games football competition - sources told TNP that the organisers could be on the verge of striking out Indonesia and continue with a lopsided competition, with four teams in one group and six in the other.
This is precisely the situation that Duong is hoping to avoid.
Bao Sai quoted the Asean Football Federation vice-president as saying the situation would disadvantage any team from Group B that qualifies for the semi-finals.
Having to play five matches, two more than any team in Group A, the teams that qualify from Group B would have a bigger issue with fatigue than their semi-final opponents.
At the team managers' meeting, officials were told the Indonesian team were due to arrive on Sunday, with their first training session scheduled for 4pm that day.
The website of Indonesian national newspaper, Kompas, quoted the country's Youth and Sports Minister, Imam Nahrawi, who was steadfast in his belief that there will be no Fifa sanctions.
"Imam Nahrawi takes responsibility, whatever the sanctions will be. But I'm sure Indonesia will not incur sanctions," he was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
Fifa started to pay attention to the situation in Indonesia after its government stepped in to first order the PSSI to ban two clubs - Malang-based Arema Indonesia, and Persebaya Surabaya - over issues with "legally flawed" ownership.
The government then proceeded to suspend the PSSI for ignoring its orders, after which a new PSSI chairman was elected at an extraordinary congress. Because of this, the country's domestic league, the Indonesian Super League (ISL), was suspended.
Whether or not Fifa makes any decision regarding Indonesia's status today is also up in the air, after the world governing body was thrown into turmoil following the arrest of several of its officials for corruption in an American sting conducted on Wednesday.