Jayapura, Jubi/AFC – Persipura Jayapura moved within touching distance of the last 16 of the AFC Cup for a second consecutive season despite being held to a goalless draw by Maldivian side Maziya Sports & Recreation Club on Tuesday.
Last year’s semi-finalists were without a number of first team regulars at Mandala Stadium and the Group E leaders were unable to find a breakthrough having beaten Maziya 2-1 last month.
But despite seeing their 100% start to the campaign brought to an end, Persipura are still in pole position for progression to the knockout stage, while Maziya remain in third place with two rounds of group stage games remaining.
“We had 30 shots on goal and 15 corner kicks but could not get a goal but this is football,” said Persipura coach Osvaldo Lessa.
“Maziya played well as did my players. We were able to get the win in the first game in the Maldives, so for me this result is okay.
“Now we prepare for our next match against Warriors FC.”
Persipura had the better of the chances during an open first half and should have taken the lead on numerous occasions, with the best chance falling to Zulham Zamrun in the closing stages of the opening 45 minutes as the striker blazed over the crossbar from close to the penalty spot with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The home side continued to press at the start of the second half but Persipura continued to struggle for quality inside the final third.
Maziya goalkeeper Imran Mohamed, though, was called into action to produce a quickfire double save from Persipura captain Boaz Solossa and Ruben Sanadi.
Persipura continued to pour forward in the closing stages, but the home side were unable to find a way past Mohamed and Maziya were able to hold on to claim a hard-fought point.
“The result today is enough for us because our target was to secure at least one point,” said Maziya coach Ali Suzain.
“I asked my players to keep a tight defence, to give us a chance to get a point, and thank God we achieved it.” (*)