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By ESPN Staff
Jan 17, 2007

Withe future in balance as Indonesia crash

SINGAPORE, January 17 (Asean Football Championship) - Peter Withe's position as head coach of the Indonesia team hangs in the balance after his team failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the Asean Football Championship on Wednesday.

The team's third-place finish in Group B - behind both Singapore and Vietnam on goal-difference - means Indonesia will not play in the knockout phase of the competition for the first time since its inception in 1996.

As a result, Withe's status as head coach is in doubt, although Nugraha Besoes refused to confirm reports that the Englishman would be removed from his position with the Asian Cup co-hosts.

'At this moment, it is premature to comment on the coaching situation of Indonesia,' Besoes said.

'We are waiting for our team manager to make his report on the team during the Asean Football Championship, which will then be discussed by our executive committee.

'We will only make a decision after evaluating the report of our performance during this tournament.'

Withe refused to be drawn on his own future as he praised the effort of his side in their ultimately futile 2-2 draw with Singapore.

'In football, it's the powers that be that make the decisions,' said the former Aston Villa striker. 'All I will do is do my job until the powers that be make their decision.

'But if anyone says to me that the performance of our team and the players was not good, then I will defend my players to the hilt because I thought that they gave 100 percent in every game.'

Singapore twice took the lead with Noh Alam Shah converting a ninth minute penalty and Indra Sahdan firing home at the second attempt seven minutes after the break.

But Indonesia managed to put themselves back on level terms through Ilham Jayakesuma after 27 minutes and Zaenal Arief in the 56th minute, although those goals ultimately meant little for Withe's side.

'I was pleased with the players because they showed great character,' said Withe.

'We gave a stupid penalty away but we came back from that and then we made an elementary mistake in defence that cost us a second goal and then we came back from that and we showed great determination to get a winning goal.

'The disappointing factor is that we actually played very well in the tournament but we're not going through to the next round.'

While Withe frets about his future, Singapore coach Radojko Avramovic can look forward to a semi-final meeting against Malaysia after the Lions finished top of Group B on goal difference.

'It was a hard game but we expected that because Indonesia are a good team and they needed to win,' the Serb said.

'We didn't play well in the first half when we were giving the ball away and conceding possession too much, but we were better at controlling the ball in the second half and had more stability in midfield.

'We were fighting for every ball at the end and I think that we fully deserved the result.'