AAP Soccer

Persija coach defends Simic selection

By AAP Newswire

Persija Jakarta coach Ivan Kolev has defended the decision to play striker Marko Simic in their Asian Champions League qualifier against Newcastle just hours after he faced charges over an alleged assault of a woman on the flight from Bali.

Simic, 31, faced Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday morning accused of common assault and an act of indecency on board Sunday's international flight to Sydney.

His case was adjourned to April 9 and he was released on conditional bail, which reportedly included having to surrender his passport.

The Croatian then played the entire match against the Jets in Persija's 3-1 extra-time loss at McDonald Jones Stadium on Tuesday night.

The imposing striker was the focal point of the Persija attack but he had little impact as they finished 1-1 at full-time and faded in extra-time to bow out of the competition.

Simic was booed by the Newcastle crowd every time he touched the ball and they cheered when he lost possession.

Asked about the impact Simic's situation had on his team's preparation, Kolev said: "I can't talk about Marko, only how he played," after gaining instructions from his team's media manager.

"Marko, it was tough for him because of the situation. He also worked very hard on the pitch to help the team and he's really, really good."

Asked about the decision to play him in the match, he said: "The decision is mine and Marko's. We talk with him and it better he play than think about this situation."

The Jets earned the right to face defending champions Kashima Antlers next Tuesday night in Japan for a spot in the ACL group stage.