Friday, December 30, 2011


Indonesian Mess

Not written much about the current mess in Indonesia for a while but did you know nothing has been sorted? Hard to believe, I know. The current leadership of the PSSI is proving to be deeply unpopular even among its own members who want to hold a special meeting some time next year. FIFA has given PSSI until early next year to sort the mess or face sanctions. Just give them a ban now and have done with it.


Cambodian Team Enter Malaysian Competition

Cambodian team Preach Khan Reach will be competing in the Malaysian FA Cup. They follow champions Phnom Penh Crown who have entered the Singapore Cup the last few years and likely will do so again next year.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


PSV Latest Embarrasment For PSSI

With the Indonesian Football Association struggling for credibility at home the news that PSV Eindhoven have cancelled their proposed dates in Jakarta won't be the best christmas present they'll ever receive.

With Indonesia only able to call on players from the Indonesia Premier League the promoters pulled the plug citing concerns the hosts won't be able to put up a credible team to face the Dutch visitors.

Despite the IPL being the official league in Indonesia, the biggest teams and best players play in the rebel league and FIFA have said the ISL players could not e considered for international duty.

Friday, December 23, 2011


Hiek Is A Bunny

Bangkok Glass have signed Cameroonian defender Valery Hiek. Should be a good signing for the Thai team, Hiek has been a consistent performer for Home United over recent seasons.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Air Force United v Raj Pracha 1-0

Division One action yesterday, once I finally found the bloody stadium. The game had been moved to Ramkamheng because of the flooding that had effected Air Force's usual stadium but was the stadium easy to find? Was it bollocks. Every bugger I asked either knew nothing about it or pointed me unhelpfully to Rajamangala which is nearby.

It used to be Mad Dogs and Englishmen that went out in the mid day sun. Well, 3.30 ain't midday and it is the cool season in Thailand but it was still freaking hot under the tropical sun. Yet before the game the hosts had to stand through two anthems and two huddles after their pre match kick around. Football Thai style I guess.

Roared on by a passionate cheer squad that never totalled more than a dozen, Air Force went for three points but after a run of two games a week for a few weeks they were knackered and halfway through the first half I was counting the moments till the end of the 90.

Last minute of the first half and the Air Force coach takes off his striker, replacing him with another, while his team were defending throw in. Daft move I thought, why not wait till half time. I reached for my note book and lo and bloody behold the replacement striker only goes and scores a goal.

The hosts reward for these three points, apart from climbing to 11th, is training today and a hour bus ride to Phuket tomorrow. The glamour of football eh?

Interview with Air Force United defender Scott Baginski can be found on Jakarta Casual TV while images from the game are on Asian Football Pictures.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Sharks Interested In Persipura Striker

Just as I was on my way to the airport yesterday I read a story that Persipura striker Titus Bonai was interesting Thai Premier League side Chonburi. Selangor were also said to be interested. Bonai says he is focussed on Persipura for you would expect a footballer to say. I mean, they never, ever think about their next meal ticket. Ever.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Kelantan AFC Cup Campaign

The AFC website is saying that Kelantan will play their AFC Cup home games at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, far from their home town of Kota Bahru.

Problem with that stadium is access. When I went to see the Arsenal by the time I reached Hang Tuah and wanted to change lines the other line had stopped running...had to make do with a Malaysian taxi driver...not my idea of fun. Ever.

I am so tempted by their game against Arema...


When Sumatra Meets Bali

Good news. I think. Persires have merged with former Liga Primer Indonesia team Bali De Vata and will play in the, for now, official Divisi Utama. Persires are from some unknown place on Sumatra while Bali is bloody miles away.

If Persires do have any fans, and I'm sure they do, it is not known what they feel about this merger.


Results 19/12

Indonesia Super League

Deltras v Pelita Jaya 2-0 (Sean Rooney 2) 9,560

1 - Persisam 4 3 0 1 7-3 9
2 - Sriwijaya 4 3 0 1 7-4 9
3 - Persib 4 2 2 0 6-4 8

Rooney gets his first goals in Indonesia against a Pelita Jaya team that saw John Tarkpor make his debut. Catch my interview with Rooney on Jakarta Casual TV.


Results 18/12

Indonesia Super League

Sriwijaya v Persija 2-1 (Hilton Moreira 2; Pedro Javier) 20,000
Persisam v Persiwa 2-0 (Christian Gonzales) 14,327

Indonesia Premier League

Persijap v Persema 1-1 (Julio Lopez; Reza)
PSM v Persija (IPL) 1-1 (Spasojevic; De Porras)
Arema v Persibo 2-0 (Gunawan Dwi Cahaya, Roman Chhmelo) 20,160

Confused by two Persijas in two different leagues? One is the real Persija who play in the rebel league, the other is not a real Persija who play in the official league. Simple eh?

1 - Semen Padang 4 2 2 0 7-2 8
2 - Persija 4 2 2 0 9-6 8
3 - Arema 2 2 0 0 4-1 6

The season now goes into its second break of the campaign for Christmas and New Year.

Divisi Utama (IPL)

PSSB v PSBL 1-1 (Imanda; Azhar)
PSCS v PPSM 1-0 (Mahop)
Persires v Perseman 2-0 (Nengeh, Pranoto)

There were a whole heap of Utama games scheduled to be played over the weekend but only five actually kicked off. As usual with the new PSSI they had no idea what teams are actually in their league and what teams aren't. Their fixture lists are fantasy football. I had planned to go and see one game on Saturday and according to the official website there were games planned locally but in the end didn't bother. Just as well really.

Thai Premier League

Sisaket v Muang Thong United 1-2 6,514
Samut Songkram v Thai Port 2-0 2,000
Raj Navy v Osotspa 1-0 (Wuttichai) 2,273
BEC Tero v Chonburi 0-1 (Pipob On Mo) 3,268
Police United v Khon Kaen 1-2

The former champions secured only their second win in six games in the north east but the season is all over, Buriram PEA long crowned champions. Police United played their game in Suphanburi, not their regular Thammasat Stadium.

Division One

Bangkok v BBCU 4-1
Buriram v Raj Pracha 7-1
PTT Rayong v RBAC 5-0
Songkla v Bangkok United 0-2


PSV Visit Jakarta

9/01 v Indonesia Select
12/01 v Jakarta Select

Both games at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta where the pitch would be better suited to a rodeo.


Muang Thong United's Tough End Of Season

In many ways they were the team that propelled Thai football into the national consciousness. Chonburi maybe were the first to develop a local identity, to build a team that people could recognize as being their very own after an era when club sides like BEC Tero Sasana and Thai Farmers; Bank may have won kudos overseas for their Asian Cup exploits but struggled locally to make much of an impact.

The purchase or merger with Nong Jork by a media company effectively brought Thai football into the 20th Century. Backed by a slick marketing team Nong Jork were transformed into Muang Thong United and the subliminal message was of success and glory.

The name itself, Muang Thong means City of Gold and is a new town area north of Bangkok called Muang Thong Thani, pretty much a building site when I was living in Bangkok.

The club colours, red and black, and the use of the word United in the club title brought images of Manchester United while a change kit of all white brought to mind Real Madrid.

Success followed success for a new generation of Thai football fans. Muang Thong United won back to back TPLs and seemed set fair to dominate the game on and off the field for a long time to come. They attracted the best players, Datsakorn Tonglao and Teerasil Dangda among them, while recruited names like Henrique Calisto to coach them to success.

But the team and their fans will look back on 2011 with more than a tinge of disappointment. Buriram PEA have come along and outspent the Thai champions and their coronation at the weekend was merely the official recognition of what everyone had known for a long time.

Muang Thong have struggled to hold on to coaches. Winning the title has been no guarantee of job security as the owners of the club take offense at anything they deem lacking respect.

Robbie Fowler, the former Liverpool and England striker is now in the hot seat, his first coaching position, and he is overseeing a final run in that sees the team long out of title contention. The cups are a possibility as is second place but it is all a far cry from the heady days of back to back titles and last week’s 3-1 home defeat by Raj Navy seemed to sum up a disappointing season.

A week earlier they had slipped a two goal lead at home to struggling Khon Kaen, the north east time netting twice right at the death. One win in five games was not something they were used to.

The club owner, who had earlier given Fowler the Thai equivalence of a vote of confidence, came out a publicly criticized the team, saying the same mistakes had kept cropping up and the players hadn’t learnt their lessons. Whether that statement also extended to the board who kept changing coaches is not clear bit highly unlikely.

Now you could argue whether the owner got his timing right or not. But with the season yet to end and possible cup finals on the horizon it may hot have been the best time to come out and say there would be a mass clear out of players come the end of the season.

Obviously as professionals the players will continue to give their best (approved Professional Footballers’ Association quote for media outlets at difficult times), but a large part of them will be looking ahead to next season and where they will be. It’s only natural.

To be left in limbo like that can’t be a good thing for any employee. As coach Robbie Fowler has the job of motivating players who know they aren’t wanted for the next season. And despite the vote of confidence he will only naturally be concerned about his own job security, especially considering the ease with which the axe is swung in them parts.

There is a part of Thai culture, which owners and bosses particularly feel attached to, which says that respect must at all times be extended to those at the top of the pyramid. They take offence very easily and protect their ‘face’ jealously by showing how powerful they are and sod the consequences.

The issue of ‘face’ is complex and one that is considered way beyond us hairy, big nosed westerners. But all the while football isn’t about football, it’s about the personal aggrandizement of self serving individuals then the game will remain their plaything and not a sport that can be fully embraced by the country as a whole.

Fans of Muang Thong can expect a clear out ahead of the new season then. Continuity seems a dirty word up there and you can’t help but wonder how the club owners would get on running a club like, say, Manchester United.


Couple Of Thai Records

It’s hard to get too excited about Buriram PEA winning the Thai Premier League. It’s been a done deal for so long plus the involvement of high profile politicians and the lingering suspicions of franchise football all leave a bad taste in the mouth.

There are though a couple of noteworthy achievements to come out of their triumph. Rangsan Vivatchajchok won his fifth TPL title with a third or fourth different club.

2000 – BEC Tero

2003 – Krung Thai Bang

2004 – Krung Thai Bank

2008 – PEA

2011 – Buriram PEA

Sure likes his corporate teams, this fella. The question is how much are PEA related to Buriram PEA? Are they different teams? Is PEA just a name available to the highest bidder? Does anyone really care?

For Buriram PEA coach Attapon Busabakom it’s his third title as coach with three different clubs

2003 – Krung Thai Bank

2009 – Muang Thong United

2011 – Buriram PEA

SourceThai League Football

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Results 16/12

Indonesia Super League
Gresik United v Arema 2-0 (Warwan Mustafa, James Koko Lomell) 21,000
Persidadon v Persib 2-2 (Rasmovo, Eduard Ivakdalam; Miljan Radovic, M Ilham) 875
Mitra Kukar v Persipura 1-2

Arema's woeful start to the season continued, their defeat away to Gresik in the East Java derby was their third straight and they remain in 17th, one place behind Persiram. Anyway, is it Gresik United of Presegres? They get called by both in different reports, this inconsistency just one more thing that makes following Indonesian football so bloody confusing. Persipura returned to winning ways after their thumping at Persisam, winning at bright starters Mitra Kukar.

1 - Persib 4 2 2 6-4 8
2 - Persija 3 2 1 0 7-0
3 - Mitra Kukar 4 2 1 1 11-6 7
4 - Persipura 4 2 1 1 9-8 7

Indonesia Premier League

Semen Padang v Persiba Bantul 0-0

Divisi Utama

PSIR v Persepar 1-0 (Christian Lenglolo)
PSS v Persipasi 3-1 (Marman, Arang Hadi, Charles Orock; Bayu Pradana)

Thai Premier League

Army United v Buriram PEA 1-3
TOT v TTM Phichit 1-3 485
Sri Racha v Bangkok Glass 2-2
Pattaya United v Chiang Rai United 3-0

If you have spent the last 12 months in the Sahara then you will be surprised to learn that Buriram PEA have won the TPL. For the rest of us we knew it was coming since March. PEA will leave Buriram and newly promoted Buriram will 'merge' with something that no longer exists and by dint of those spectacular mental gymnastics Buriram United will play in the AFC Champions League next year. Which shows the farcical levels Thai football has sunk to to keep the 'phu yai' sweet.

Division One

Chantaburi v Air Force United 1-2
Saraburi v Chainat 3-1 2.554
Samut Prakarn Customs v Suphanburi 2-1
Thai Honda v Phuket 2-2 120
Chiang Mai v JW Rangsit 2-0 6,874

1 - Buriram 30 22 7 1 69-15 73
2 - Chainat 31 20 3 8 64-34 63
3 - BBCU 31 17 9 5 37-19 60
4 - PTT Rayong 30 14 8 8 44-25 50

Buriram and Chainat are promoted while BBCU, who used to be called Chula United or Chula Sinthana in simpler times, should gain the third promotion spot barring a collapse in their last three games.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Tough Times For KL

Malaysian football may be riding high regionally with the national team joint holders of the SEA Games and the ASEAN Cup but things ain't so hot domestically. Teams with little in the way of a support base or culture like KL PLUS, MyTeam and Kuala Muda have fallen by the wayside in recent years and now problems are circulating around Kuala Lumpur.

Most capital cities boast more than one football club. KL struggles with one. Plagued with financial problems, cursed with a bloody awful pitch, one story had them playing their home games at Melaka's Hang Tuah Stadium, they are struggling to put a team together for the season that begins next month.

Later today they will be holding a fund raising drive to, umm, raise money for the coming season.

It's a shame them Malaysians who own Queen's Park Rangers and Cardiff City can't do their bit for local football instead of sending their money overseas and grabbing cheap, meaningless headlines by asking the likes of Safee Sali and Safiq Rahim for pointless trials.

Image taken from Foul!

UPDATE - Haresh asks some searching questions. Wonder if they will be answered?

Friday, December 16, 2011


Thais Clueless When TPL Will End

Incompetence over fixture scheduling is an ASEAN speciality. The Indonesians have long led the field, and now there are two leagues there we get to see double the incompetence.

Lately the Thais want their turn. The current Thai Premier League began in March and there have been so many changes to the schedule I think everyone has forgotten when it was originally slated to end.

Now comes news it may end in January 2012. The King's Cup, a tournament featuring 'B' teams and Under 23 teams usually from Scandinavia and North Korea, has also thrown a spanner in the works, pushing dates back even further.

Still, the Thais have some way to go to beat the Indonesians whose 2007 season finished in January 2008.


Rahmad Admits PSSI Forced Departure

Former Indonesia Under 23 coach Rahmad Darmawan has admitted it was decisions taken by the PSSI that forced him to step down. He had earlier led Indonesia to the SEA Games Final where they lost on penalties to Malaysia.

The PSSI announced only players who take part in their own Indonesia Premier League would be eligible for the national team. When you consider the best players, and the best teams, are competing in the 'rebel' Super League it is easy to understand Darmawan's frustration.

The new PSSI have a habit of getting rid of coaches who take the national team to finals. Earlier this year they sacked Alfred Riedl because, they claimed, they could not find his contract. Riedl had earlier led Indonesia to the final of the ASEAN Cup where they had lost to Malaysia.

So there you have it. If you are thinking of becoming the coach of national team in Indonesia any time soon, don't go and reach a final...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Indonesia Super League

Persiba v Persela 0-0

Indonesia Premier League

Arema v PSMS 2-1 (Noh Alam Shah, TA Mushafri; Julio Cesaer Alscorse) 13,000

Officials boasting that 13,000 fans attended this game but last year there would likely have been double that crowd. The Arema team in the IPL is the same as the team that competed in the ISL last year, they just have different, more IPL-friendly, owners than the other ISL Arema.

Thai Premier League

Muang Thong United v Raj Navy 1-3 (Nonthapan; og, Wutichai, Alex Ruela)
Chonburi v Sri Racha 2-1 (Pipob On Mo, og; Cristiano Lopes)
Khon Kaen v BEC Tero 0-3 (Jakkrit, Roonachai, Teerathep)

Funny results yesterday. The Muang Thong owner had a good whine at the weekend after seeing his team lose a two goal lead at home to Khon Kaen. However he did stand behind coach Robbie Fowler. Wonder if he is so benevolent this morning after this shock defeat?

Chonburi won the Eastern Seaboard Derby with the visitor's goal coming from former Pelita Jaya and Deltras (?) striker Lopes.

After their late comeback on Saturday for a point, this time Khon Kaen conceded two late goals.


LionsXII Won't Be Relegated

As part of the agreement that sees the daftly named LionsXII play in the Malaysia Super League, the Singapore team won't be relegated.

So the 13 Malaysian teams can go down but even if the daftly named LionsXII, what will any fans sing or chant with that daft name, but one team has preferential treatment.

Can they do that? Are the AFC and FIFA ok with that?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Malaysian Schedules Delayed

SHAH ALAM - Malaysia Super League (MSL) champions Kelantan are in the frame to face V Sundramoorthy's LionsXII in the opening game of the 2012 season, but the fixture will only be confirmed next Wednesday.

Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) vice-president Datuk Hamidin bin Haji Amin told TODAY that while they have drawn up a tentative schedule of fixtures, they will only be released after a final round of checks of stadiums this week.

He said: "Early this year we imposed a rule that requires stadiums to upgrade their floodlights and pitches, up to Asian Football Confederation (AFC) standards, and we will be conducting final checks this week.

"Checks on the floodlights will determine if games will be played in the evening or at night, and after these checks, a final fixture list will be released on Dec 21."

With at least three stadiums-Shah Alam, Larkin and Cheras-remaining closed till April, some clubs are required to share venues, another issue that FAM need to consider before finalising fixtures, especially with the Malaysia FA schedule already determined.

The MSL kicks off on Jan 10, with the FA Cup to start on Feb 18.

Said Hamidin: "There will be hiccups for sure, but we don't want to release a list, then be forced to make changes and inconvenience everyone."

COMMENT - the quote in bold should make sweet reading for the jugglers in the various Indonesian and Thai leagues whose sole purpose in life it is is to change fixtures on a whim.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


More Indonesia & Malaysia Friendlies

It used to be just Persib Bandung who would regularly (a relative term) face international (well, Malaysian) opposition, but now it seems more and more clubs are seeing the benefits of playing foreign teams.

08/12 Persita Tangerang v Sarawak 1-1
11/12 Persikab Bandung v Sarawak 1-3
20/12 PSMS v Perak
22/12 PSMS v Sime Darby
23/12 Kelantan v Persebaya
28/12 Persebaya v Kelantan


More Bad News For PSSI

In yet more humiliation for the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), Rahmad Darmawan has stepped down as coach of the Under 23 team. He says the reason is because the team failed to win the SEA Games; they were beaten by Malaysia on penalties in the final.

However the PSSI had said that the national team could only call on players who played in the 'official' Indonesia Premier League, a continuation of the failed LPI last season which has failed to attract the best clubs and players.

The bulk of the SEA Games team came from the Indonesia Super League, this year's rebel league, and if the coach was to be limited to IPL players he would have had slim pickings indeed.

The new officials at the PSSI had promised to 'change the game' bringing football into the modern era but they have been marred by a serious of gaffes and decisions that have left people scratching their head.

They started by sacking former national team coach Alfred Riedl because, so they said, they couldn't find his contract. They then built a top division of 24 teams only to see 11 pull out. Now even with the second tier Divisi Utama they are facing difficulties with plans for a three division league of 36 teams now whittled down to 27.

They kicked off their IPl with a game between Persib and Semen Padang only for Persib to later leave the league, causing more embarrassment.


Disgrace! Muang Thong Boss Slams Team...

Muang Thong United, back to back TPL champions, managed to let slip a two goal lead at the weekend, seeing Khon Kaen net twice at the death to earn a late point.

The Muang Thong owner is less than impressed and called his team a 'disgrace'.

In honour of the Bangkok Post's football writer I'm writing this entire post in single sentence paragraphs.

He goes on to say he has never seen such a bad performance from the team.

The owner says that, not the guy from the Post.

The guy from the Post says that Robbie Fowler is the club's most popular player without offering any evidence.

The owner obviously won;t be agreeing with that sentiment.

For a while.


Malaysia FA Cup Draw 2012

Group A
  • Terengganu vs PDRM
  • Perak vs ATM
  • UiTM vs Lions XII
  • Betaria vs Melaka
  • POS Malaysia vs USM
  • Sime Darby vs Sabah
  • Negeri Sembilan vs Johor FC
  • Shahzan Muda vs Selangor

Group B
  • Kelantan vs Sarawak
  • Kuala Lumpur vs MP Muar
  • Harimau Muda B vs Pulau Pinang
  • KL SPA vs MB Johor Bharu
  • Kedah vs Selangor PKNS
  • Perlis vs PPSDM
  • Johor vs T-Team
  • Felda United vs Pahang
Ties to be played 18/02/12 and 10/03/12


Results 13/12

International Friendly

Sydney v Malaysia Under 23 0-3 (Hazwan Bakri 2, Gurusamy)

Indonesia Super League

Mitra Kukar v Persiwa 6-1 (Marcus Bent 2, Jajang Maulyana 2, Lee Sang Min, Nemanja Obric;)
Persisam v Persipura 3-1 (Christian Gonzales, Yongki Aribowo; Boas Solossa)


Results 12/12

Indonesia Super League

Persidafon v Pelita Jaya 1-1 (Eduard Ivakdalam; Joko Sasongko) 475
Deltras v Persib 0-0 14,000

Indonesia Premier League

Persija v Persema 2-1

Monday, December 12, 2011


Results 10-11/12

Indonesia Super League

Gresik United v Persela 3-2 (James Koko Lommel 2, Gaston Castano; Rudi Widodo, Mario Costas) 20,000
Persiba v Arema 2-1 (Kenji Adichihara, Rachmat Latif; Marcio Souza) 4,837
Persiram v Persija 0-6 (Robertinho, Bambang Pamungkas, Ramdani Lestalahu, Johan Juanshyah, Ismed Sofyan, Rachmat Affandi) 600
Sriwijaya v PSPS 2-1 (Keith Kayamba, Hilton Moreira; Herman Dzumafo) 15,234

Whoops! Just days after I scribbled something along the lines of Persija were in for a slow, painful season they go and hit Persiram for six. The game was played in Lamongan which would have eased the burden for the Kemayoran Tigers.

1 - Persija 3 2 1 0 7-0 6
2 - Persiwa 2 2 0 0 6-3 6
3 - Sriwijaya 3 2 0 1 5-3 6
4 - Persib 2 2 0 0 4-2 6

3 - Keith Kayamba (Sriwijaya), Gaston Castano (Gresik United)

Indonesia Premier League

Persibo v Persiraja 2-0
PSM v Persiba 2-1
Persebaya v Semen Padang 0-1
Bontang v Persijap 1-1

Will Semen Padang win the IPL? Will the season even finish? Is there no results page on their official website? Why was Persija v Persema postponed at the last reason? The moments are never dull in the wild, wacky world of Indonesian football...

Divisi Utama (IPL)

PSIS v Persik 3-0 (Victor Borges 2, Azmi Awibi) 15,000

Thai Premier League

TOT v Sisaket 0-0 1.391
Khon Kaen v Muang Thong United 2-2 (;Teerasil Dangda, Anon Sangsanoi)
Sriracha v Buriram PEA 0-1 (Frank Ohandza)
Samut Songkram v TTM 2-3
Chiang Rai United v Osotspa 2-1 3,800
Police United v Bangkok Glass 3-1
BEC Tero v Thai Port 0-0
Army v Raj Navy 2-0
Chonburi v Pattaya United 2-2 4,715

Is it even worth writing about the TPL? The winners were decided long ago, it's just been a painful journey for the rest, waiting for the inevitable. The question is, is it PEA's second title win after they won it a couple of years back or Buriram PEA's first? And if PEA do move on are Buriram United a new football club and if so do they deserve to enter the AFC Champions League and indeed even the TPL? The answer of course depend on who you know.

Muang Thong United and Chonburi politely played their part in Buriram PEAs charge to the tile. Khon Kaen came from behind to score two late, late goals while Chonburi received no favours from their sibling rivals, twice taking the lead only for team from Sin City to claw back, former Gombak United player Gabriel Obatala netting one.

Friday, December 09, 2011


SLeague 2.0 & Leaks Galore

Among the changes being mooted next year for the expanded 14 team SLeague are games to be spread over three match days. At the moment games are as good as played seven days a week so the same stewards and fans don't miss a game. The season will kick off 9/2/12.

Etoile also have asked to be allowed to play local players. They want to include six in their squad, playing a maximum of four. If granted perhaps they can change their name? One suggestion given to me could be Queenstown Stars!

Oh and chairman told to watch what they say! They don't like too much freedom of expression there, do they!

No mention of improved marketing yet...


It's All About Money, Honey

After signing for Saigon FC in the VLeague defender Huynh Quang Thanh is thought to be earning a tasty $476,000 a year, easily the highest in the country. Lee Hendrie is thought to have been earning $550,000 for his stint in Indonesia while salaries there rarely top $100,000.


Big Names For VLeague?

VietNamNet BridgeBig spenders Ninh Binh are hoping to sign footballing superstars including Rivaldo and Guti ahead of the upcoming season.

"After the 2011 season, the managers were looking to improve our squad for next year. Ninh Binh look forward to signing stars such as Rivaldo and Guti to play in the V-League," said Pham Van Le, head of the Ninh Binh Football Delegation.

Le said that over the past three months, Ninh Binh officials had been in contact with various players' agents, but no agreements had been reached. Le confirmed that if the two stars wanted to play in Asia, he was ready to bring them to Viet Nam, although he admitted that it would not be easy.

Earlier, Brazil-based Sao Paulo managers said veteran Rivaldo, 39, would not be in their plans for the new season.

Rivaldo, a former Barcelona midfielder, said he wanted to play on until the end of 2012

Rivaldo was in the Brazilian squad that triumphed at the 2002 World Cup. In his career he won the European Golden Ball twice and FIFA Player of the Year in 1999 while playing for Barcelona.

Meanwhile Guti, who left Turkey's Besiktas several weeks ago, said he did not want to play in Europe anymore and was interested in a move to Asia.

Before moving to Besiktas in 2010, the 35-year-old spent nine years at Real Madrid where he won five La Liga titles and three Champions League crowns.

COMMENT - I wanna longer holiday but don't mean I'm gonna get it...


It's Madiun For Jakarta

After much humming and haaing Jakarta FC, who like everyone to call them Persija, in the Indonesia Premier League, will play their first home game of the season in the Wilis Stadium in Madiun, East Java. Which is bloody miles away from Jakarta, their supposed home town. Apparently their was no stadium available for them to use. What about Lapangan Banteng?! Wonder how many of their loyal supporters from last season will make the journey!


Internationals Threatened

The Indonesian Football Association are saying that foreign players playing in the rebel Indonesia Super League will not be permitted to play for their countries should they be called up. If they carry through on this threat then players like Keith Kayamba (St Kitts), Zah Rahan (Liberia) and Safee Sali (Malaysia pictured - red shirt) could well see their international careers in jeopardy.


Miljan Pen Keeps Persib Unbeaten

Indonesia Super League

Arema v Persela 0-1 (Mario Costa) 14,000
Persib v Sriwijaya 1-0 (Miljan Radovic) 15,523
Pelita Jaya v Persiram 2-1 (Safee Sali, Sasongko; Solossa) 2,549
PSMS v Persisam 1-0 (Zulkarnain) 10,551
PSAP v Mitra Kukar 2-3 (Cecil Mfundo, Abdul Faisal; Hamka Hamzah, Jajang Maulyana, Arif Suyono) 8,450

1 - Persiwa 2 2 0 0 6-2 6
2 - Persib 2 2 0 0 4-2 6

Thai Premier League

Thai Port v Chonburi 1-0 (Ekkapoom) 2,215

Thursday, December 08, 2011


Indonesian Club Interested In Baddrol

Three years ago it was Singaporeans who flocked to play in Indonesia. Now it is the turn of Malaysians to be attracted by the glamour and chaos.

First Safee Salee. Now comes news his club Pelita Jaya are interested in SEA Games captain Baddrol Bahtiar.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


Bored At Penarol

Hopes are high that Syamsir Alam will be Indonesia's next great thing. As part of the SAD project in Uruguay he impressed enough to secure a loan deal at Penarol, one of the biggest clubs in South America.

Now he has signed for Belgian side CS Vise who play in the second division there. He will be among friends as fellow Indonesians Yericho Christiantoko, Alfin Tuasalamony and Yandi Munawar at the club owned by the same people who own Pelita Jaya and Brisbane Roar.

What is worrying though is that in this interview Alam admits to being 'bored' at Penarol. If he's bored at such a big club after a short period of time then how will he feel at a pissy Belgian club he can't even find on a map?

It sounds like this young man really needs someone to sit him down and tell him in no uncertain terms how lucky he has been so far in his fledging career but there is still a hell of a lot of work to be done. So far he has achieved nothing. His profile looks good yes, but it still amounts to little more than promise.

Getting on in football is only so much about talent. Hard work and mental strength are also just as important. Suggesting you are bored at a football club will not win you any admirers among the football fraternity.

Alam was picked out for great things from a young age. Players like Bambang Pamungkas, Kurniawan, DY, Bima Sakti and Kurnia Sandy also went abroad at a young age but never stuck around long enough to make an impression, preferring to come home for the comforts of bakso and teh botol.

If Alam, and the others, is to succeed overseas then he can't go round telling people he was 'bored' at a well respected football club. Or he will end up as part of another Lost Generation.


ATM Splash The Cash

ATM are a club side in Malaysian football. Coached by Sathianathan they are fast becoming the moneybags club in the country as they put together a team for next year. Among their new signings is a familiar name to Kedah fans.

Marlon Alex James played a prominent role in guiding Kedah to consecutive domestic trebles before the door was slammed shut on foreign players.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


ACL & AFC Cup Groups 2012

AFC Champions League

Group H

Buriram PEA (please not they have not officially been crowned TPL champions)
Guangzhou Evergrande
Jeonbuk Hyundai
Kashiwa Reysol


Group F

Song Lam Nghe An
Tampines Rovers

Group G

Yangon United
Home United
ACL Play Off Loser

Group H

Ayeyawady United
Navibank Saigon


My Work Elsewhere

My latest piece in the Jakarta Globe looks at the IPL v ISL fiasco while pictures from Persija v Persidafon can be found on Asian Football Pictures.


LionsXII - Singapore Back In Malaysian Football

Daft name for a football team? I dunno, when we get to this part of the world, where we have MBA speak fill the pages of newspapers and the words of TV hosts all the time, you would think people would understand the meaning and importance of branding.

LionsXII? For a football team? Sounds as daft as TTM, PEA, SAFC, MyTeam, or Sime Darby.

Anyway that is how Singapore have chosen to name their team that will compete in Malaysia next year. Name aside, it is a good, positive move for Singapore football though personally I would have preferred to have seen Young Lions play north of the Causeway.

Squad taken from Today Online.


Izwan Mahbud, Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Al-Faiz Ishak


Safuwan Baharudin, Juma'at Jantan, Shaiful Esah, Irwan Shah, Sevki Sha'ban, Shakir Hamzah, Shahir Hamzah, Madhu Mohana


Shahril Ishak (capt), Hariss Harun (vice-capt), Safirul Sulaiman, Izzdin Shafiq, Isa Halim, Taufiq Rahmat, Raihan Rahman, Shahdan Sulaiman, Yasir Hanapi, Firdaus Kasman, Pravin Guanasagaran


Khairul Amri, Agu Casmir, Khairul Nizam, Fazli Ayob, Sufian Anuar, Gabriel Quak


One Road Less Travelled

A Persiram home game should be one the most eagerly awaited on the football calender. They hail from Raja Ampat, pristine islands off the coast of Papua far, far to the east of Java's urban and industrial sprawl.

The team however won't be playing their home games within yards of azure waters lapping white sands. Instead they are going to use the Surajaya Stadium in the decidedly less pleasing Lamongan as their home stadium in the Indonesia Super League this season.

I understand Persela's home ground was chosen after attempts to use Lebak Bulus in Jakarta were turned down. That stadium is due to be demolished to make way for a depot for a planned rail network which may or may not get off the ground.


Results 05/12

Indonesia Super League

PSPS v Deltras 0-1 (M Fakhruddin) 5,675
Persiwa v Persiba 2-0 (Eric Lewis Weeks, Eddie Foday Boakay) 3,150
Persipura v Gresik United 3-1 (Alberto Goncalves, Boas Solossa, Pauline Bio; Gaston Castano) 6,000
Persija v Persidafon 0-0 16,000

Persiwa go top of the nascent ISL after two wins in their opening two games. Both at home so no real surprise there! Dull old game at Bung Karno, Persija could well struggle to make an impact this year unless some new faces are brought in. First win for Deltras under new coach Jorg Steinbrunner at Pekanbaru, never an easy place to go and win. Disappointing crowds though, the ISL need to consider whether mid week games cannot be replaced to weekends.

Monday, December 05, 2011


Arema ISL Announce Squad

The done thing these days is for there to be two clubs sharing the same name, one competing in the 'official' IPL, the other in the ISL.

Arema won the ISL back in 2009/2010 but now will compete in the IPL while a 'new' Arema has been launched who will take part in the ISL. But while the IPL version will have the likes of Noh Alam Shah and M Ridhuan the ISL version has, on paper, a much weaker squad.

Coached by Wolfgang Pikal they have recruited heavily pre season but will it be enough to sustain a title challenge?

Arema fans have grown used having iconic players pull on the famous blue shirt, players like NAS, Pierre Njanka. Boy Jati? Marcio Souza? Seme Patrick is one player who could fill that role and he will be familiar to many Arema fans after a few years with neighbours Persema but if I was an Arema fan, and I'm not, I would be underwhelmed.


1. Dian Agus Prasetyo
2. Rudi Ardiansyah
3. Ngurah AP


1. Stephen Hesketh
2. Munhar
3. Kery Yudiono
4. Made Astawa
5. Seme Pierre Patrick
6. Waskito
7. Charis Yulianto
8. Johan Ibo


1. Ferry Aman Saragih
2. Dudi Hidayat
3. Anggo Yulian
4. Khusnul Yuli
5. Firmansyah Aprilianto
6. Nurul Mauladi
7. Catur Pamungkas
8. Kim Yong Hee


1. Boy Jati
2. Agung Suprayogi
3. Marcio Souza
4. Benny Kristian
5. Dicky Firasat


VLeague Fixtures

Does anybody have the VLeague fixtures for next season or can point me to a link for them? Thanks...


Results 04/12

Indonesia Super League

PSMS v Mitra Kukar 1-1 (Luis Pena; Pierre Njanka) 10,000
PSAP v Persisam 1-2 (Syuti; Christian Gonzales 2) 15,300

Nine yellows and one red at Medan as Njanka scored a late qualiser for Mitra Kukar. Meanwhile in Banda Aceh Persisam came from behind to win the points against PSAP, who found things much easier in the old Divisi Utama.

Thai Premier League

Osotspa v Sisaket 2-1 (Apit, Silva Cleiton; Victor Amaro)
TTM Phichit v Raj Navy 1-2
Pattaya United v Khon Kaen 3-0
Thai Port v Chiang Rai United 1-1 (Moise; Leo Chitescu)
Buriram PEA v Samut Songkram 3-0 (Suchao Nuchnum 2, Yves Herman)

Sunday, December 04, 2011


Malaysia U23 Dates Down Under

13/12 v Sydney
15/12 v Central Coast
19/12 v Newcastle Jets


Results 03/12

Indonesia Super League

Pelita Jaya v Sriwijaya 1-3 (Victor Igbenefo; Keith Kayamba 2, Siswanto) 5,651 Asian Football Pictures
Persib v Persiram 3-2 (Airlangga, M Ilham, Miljan Radovic; Okatvianus Maniani, JP Boumsong) 20,283


Jakarta FC Start To Smell The Roses

Those who may have been caught off guard for the last several months, Indonesia boasts two leagues. One is official, one isn't. There are also two Persijas. One is official but they don't play in the official league while the other is just Jakarta FC trying to piggy back on name and brand recognition and failing to do so.

In the LPI last season Jakarta FC struggled to draw any fans, averaging in the low hundreds at best. Now they are part of the official league set up and have already played two games this season, drawing 3-3 with Persiraja and defeating PSMS Medan 3-1 (there are also two PSMS but that is a whole different story).

Now though, and with the planning that has come to epitomise the IPL, Jakarta FC have come to realise they have a home game coming up next week, Thursday to be precise and they need to think about where they will play it.

Their somewhat fanciful website, which features You Tube clips of the real Persija in action last season, suggests they will use Bung Karno Stadium which has a whiff of a fairy tale about it. Given the high rental costs and the low support the club get that is really unlikely. As unlikely as me playing in defence for them in fact.

Given that the Persija fan club have forcibly come out in support of the ISL version Jakarta FC, who seem to still insist on being called Persija, are looking at options of playing elsewhere. Among options being considered are Wilis Stadium in Madiun and Manahan Stadium in Solo.

Which means that those fans who did follow the team last year, the hardy few, can go rot.

And if a move to another stadium does go ahead then logic and football dictate the name of the club change to reflect their new home base. But logic and football have never been major factors in any other decision taken by the FA.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


ISL Clubs Face Problems With ITC

Indonesia Super League clubs are facing problems over International Transfer Clearances. Deltras new signing Sean Rooney was told he couldn't play against Persija just minutes ahead of the kick off the other day while Persija had a similar problem with Pedro Javier.

The ISL of course is this year's rebel league so in theory they don't even need ITCs because they are not recognised by the local FA, the AFC or FIFA. Last year's rebel league, the LPI, didn't worry themselves about such minor details and happily played anyone who fancied a game.

Now the LPI, or IPL, is the official league.

Apparently the transfer window has closed and no more players can be signed. How true that is I don't know. In this place it is never clear whether there is such a regulation in place or people are acting out of spite.

The current impasse is now threatening Marcus Bent's debut for Mitra Kukar against PSMS tomorrow.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Wilko's Uniform Fetish

Home United may have won the Singapore Cup but the SLeague title is the one they wanted and they missed out by one point to Tampines. They have already started strengthening their squad for the new season, which I believe begins in February or March, with a familiar face returning to Lion City and a hot talent from last season.

At the start of 2011 Singaporean international John Wilkinson swapped the military uniform of SAFFC for the police uniform of Police United in the Thai Premier League. It will be a short stay for now Wilkinson has earnt himself a transfer to the former police team in Singapore, now better known as Home United.

Joining Wilkinson at the runners up is Albirex Niigata striker Shotara Ihata who hit 22 goals in the last campaign which saw the White Swans finish 4th. Their highest ever finish.

Goals weren't really an issue for Home last season. Frederic Mendy hit 21 while Qiu Li found the net 17 times. They now boast three of the top five scorers from the just finished season.


Results 01/12

Indonesia Super League

Persija v Deltras 1-0 (Rachmat Affandi) 12,000
Persipura v Persiba 3-3 (Boas Solossa, Alberto Goncalves, Lukas Mandowen; Rachmat Latif, Rachmat Sambiring, Kenji Adichihara) 11,236
PSPS v Persidafon 4-1 (Isnaini 2, Zaenal Arif, Herman Dzumafo; Eduard Ivakdalam) 4,673
Persiwa v Gresik United 4-2 (Robertho, Pieter Rumaropen, Firmansyah, Eric Weeks; Gaston Castano, Amtop) 1,230

Indonesia Premier League

Semen Padang v Persema 6-2 (Mofu, Ferdinand Sinaga, Vizcarra, Edward Wilson Junior; Irfan Bachdim, Mamoun)
Persiraja v Persebaya 2-1 (Abdoulaye Diallo, Musawir; Taufiq)
PSMS v Persija 1-3 (Kamil; Bayaw, Geddy, San San)


Sarawak Training In Bandung

As I write this Sarawak will be making their final approach to Bandung ahead of a 10 day training camp. Unless of course the flight was delayed which is more than likely. Anyway Sarawak are coached by Robert Alberts who guided Arema to the Indonesia Super League title back in 2009/2010.

They have a couple of friendlies lined up. They play Saint Prima on Monday, 5/12 and Persikab on 10/12 at Jalak Harupat. They also hope to squeeze one more game in while they are here.

In this interview with Jakarta Casual TV recorded in 2010, Alberts recalls his first spell with Sarawak.


The Lost Generation

Bambang Pamungkas is the Gary Lineker of Indonesian football. Even the masses who loathe and mock the local game as unworthy of their attention recognize Bepe, as he is known, as a rare rose amid fields of energy sapping mud. His cherub looks and calm demeanour have crossed over from the football field to the advertising world where his face sells various products from billboards and buses.

But Bambang’s time at the top of Indonesian football is coming to an end. He has not been first choice for the national team for 12 months, unthinkable for a generation of fans, as first Alfred Rield and latterly Wim van Rijsbergen have gone with the older, and naturalized, Christian Gonzales as their first choice striker.

His goal against Iran in the latest World Cup Qualifier, a 4-1 defeat at the Bung Karno Stadium, may well be his last in competitive football for the country he has served so well for the best part of a decade; a shame that there were perhaps less than 2,000 in the stadium to witness it.

Bambang, like so many of his generation, will look back on his career and wonder what if. Yes, there will be money in the bank, and plenty of it, but footballers also crave glory. Silverware, trophies and medals are the public face of a successful career, something to show the grandchildren, and for all the respect he has acquired over the years all Bepe has to adorn his trophy cabinet from nigh on 10 years with Persija Jakarta is one league title. Think George Best’s talent and compare with Gary Neville’s medals!

Ironically the success, and recognition, that footballers crave has come his way. Ask any fan of Selangor in Malaysia about Bambang and they will go misty eyed, recalling his two year spell with the club in the middle of the opening decade of the 21st century. The first season saw him amass three trophies as well as averaging a goal a game. Instead of building on that success Bepe returned home to Indonesia after a second, less prolific season.

As a young player Bambang spent a few months in the Netherlands with a lower division team, Erhad, but frustrated by the lack of game time he was getting he soon returned to familiarity of Indonesia and Persija. Later a move to the A League in Australia, restricted by a salary cap and relatively high taxes, never materialized, probably because no club there could match his wage demands.

Bambang’s generation is in danger of fading from the scene leaving behind little more than memories.

Erol Iba is another player who reportedly attracted attention from down under. Until he did the maths and decided he and his family would be better off in the provincial East Javan town of Kediri and not Sydney with its beaches and harbor.

For Bambang’s generation, playing overseas has invariably meant Malaysia. But similarities in language and culture make this less a leap into the unknown and more a short stay with distant cousins a few miles away. It is unlikely any of the Indonesians who plied their trade across the Melaka Straits would complain it was like being in a foreign country as Ian Rush famously once opined about his short stay in Italy.

Ponaryo Astaman, an elegant midfielder, also spent time in Malaysia before returning to the creature comforts of home and family. He did once attract interest from a team in Singapore where the coach at the time really rated him but it was a move feted never to happen. Despite the material wealth in the island city, football is starved of funding and there is no way any Singaporean club could afford to put together a package to seduce one of indonesia’s top players.

Other players like Elie Aiboy and Budi Sudarsono have seen their time playing overseas limited to short spells in Malaysia before they too happily returned home. Aiboy left former Bayern Munchen coach Ottmar Hitzfeld drooling after a friendly in Jakarta while Sudarsono, who so impressed during Persik’s AFC Asian Champions League campaign in 2007, has endured a couple of barren spells with Persib and Sriwijaya and has moved to Deltras in search of kick starting his career.

The lost generation may look at their bank balances and say that yes, their career in football was successful. Many players come from kampongs where money is always tight and nature a feared mistress. The influx of easy cash will always be an attraction, especially when it comes in their comfort zone and there are large families to support. But in their quiet, introspective moments, on a personal level, there will be doubts. Did they make the best use of their talents, did they take enough risks, did they become as good as they should have been?

Football is like nature. Bambang’s generation are being shunted to the sidelines while new, younger, fresher players are starting to make an impression. Players like Syamsul Alam, part of the FA programme initiated under the previous leadership of Nurdin Halid, where teenagers were sent to Uruguay to further their football education. Alam impressed so much he was signed by local giants Penarol on loan. And while he may not have featured too much in the current SEA Games time is still on his side and he is a strong candidate for Myanmar in 2013 and Singapore two years later.

The future of Indonesian football looks bright. The SEA Games performances of players like Ferdinand Sinaga, Patrick Wanggai and Diego Michels proves that. Add in young players like Yericho Christiantoko, playing in Belgium, and Arthur Irawan, signed for Espanyol in Spain, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

The best lesson these young players can learn from Bambang and his generation is that opportunities to play overseas need to be taken while they are young. Because while Indonesia maybe home and the familiar but the politics surrounding the game do nothing to improve one’s career.

(First appeared in Jakarta Globe)


Singapore League Cup

I’ve never been a fan of the League Cup. In a season of 33 league games (28 next season) plus the Singapore Cup I have always felt this is a competition too much on the crowded calendar but I don’t call the shots and no one listens to me so who cares?!

With the revamp of the SLeague next season it would be nice if we could also have a revamp of this insignificant little competition.

Cups are about glory they are about the little fish taking on the big fish and embarrassing them. Think Crystal Palace the other night, think York City as well. These sorts of ties bring romance back into what has become a heavily choreographed, regulated game and who doesn’t need a bit of romance now and then?

The Singapore Cup, with its 12 SLeague and four invited foreign teams is fine and should continue as it is. But why not shake up the League Cup. Why not expand it to include NFL teams? For any Americans out there the NFL is not a competition where roughty toughty men shove Tupperware down the body to look bigger and meaner. It is the National Football League, a non professional league run by the FA that doesn’t offer promotion to the SLeague.

Why not invite say four NFL clubs to enter the SLeague. With 16 teams we can do away with the nonsense group stage and have a straight knock out competition. Let’s see clubs like Singapore Cricket Club (great name for a football club) play Geylang United or Eunos Crescent take on Woodlands Wellington with the inherent risk of an upset.

I know Singapore doesn’t like romance and unpredictability. They crave stability neatness and orderliness. But we’re talking about football…give it a shot. You may even find you like it.


SLeague Revamp

It’s been another exciting season in the SLeague with the title race not being decided until the last game of the season. The penultimate game between Home United and Tampines Rovers saw the Stags win 1-0; they went into their last game knowing three points would be enough. They won 5-0 to secure their first title in six years.

While the Stags enjoy that champion feeling and look ahead to the new season, the SLeague could well be looking very different. For a start, finally, the league is going to increase in size, from 12 to 14. Two new teams, but both foreign. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Yishun Super Reds and Sembawang Rangers have been talked about as new teams in the league but each bid seems to have skeletons in the closet. And bearing in mind how Tanjong Pagar have fared this last season perhaps the gene pool just isn’t there for another Singaporean team?

The Jaguars have a fine history in Singapore football but when they reformed this year there policy was one of nurturing young players. A policy shared by Young Lions and Woodlands Wellington. Any more teams looking to develop young players is gonna hit a brick wall. In multi racial Singapore it’s mostly the ethnic Malays and Indians who play football professionally even though the Chinese dominate the population. There just ain’t that much talent out there.

DPMM are of course a familiar face. They entered the league in 2009 and became the first foreign team to win a trophy, picking up the League Cup in that year. With large, passionate crowds at their home stadium, regularly over 6,000, they brought a vitality and exuberance to the staid old league.

However FIFA flexed their muscles and kicked them out of world football meaning they also had to leave the SLeague before the end of the season.

Singapore and Malaysia signed an agreement earlier in the year which will see both country enter a team in the other’s league. The Malaysians will send their Harimau Muda to join the SLeague; which means we could see a Singapore football match featuring teams from Brunei and Malaysia take place outside Singapore.

The Harimau Muda have been the launch pad for the Malaysian team that has gone on to win successive SEA Games and the ASEAN Cup and are bound to bring more excitement and quality to the league.

In return Singapore have set up a new team, Singapore Lions, to compete in the Malaysian competitions. They will go straight into the top flight Super League across the causeway in a move that should silence the Fandi/Malaysia Cup whiners who regularly fill papers and forums about how wonderful things were back in them days when Singapore regularly competed in Malaysia.

Will the old supporters turn up to support the Lions as the FA tries to rekindle interest in its product? Officials certainly hope so and are talking about expanding the Jalan Besar Stadium to cater for the extra demand.

For all the negativity that surrounds the way the game is run in the island state these are without doubt good moves. Hopefully they can be marketed correctly to get the bums on seats the players and the clubs deserve.


Pelita Jaya Thinking Big

After years of concentrating on young players, a policy that led them to the Copa Indonesia semi finals in 2007 but no silverware, shades of Arsenal, Pelita Jaya ditched that policy when they surprised everyone by signing Malaysian striker Safee Sali who had topped scored at last year’s ASEAN Cup, hosted by Indonesia.

Sali top scored at the regional event and settled in quickly to Indonesia, becoming Pelita Jaya’s top scorer despite playing in a poor team for only half a season.

During the pre season though the Karawang based club have been busy as the youth policy was essentially kicked into touch. The nick name Yong Guns has stayed, as has Egi Melgiansyah who impressed in that team of ’07 and indeed showed his progress during the recently completed SEA Games.

jPelita Jaya have been enthusiastic supporters fof the naturalization process which has seen players with foreign passports take up Indonesian citizenship depending on family or time spent in the country.

One of the first players to be brought in this way was full back Diego Michels who, like Egi, impressed many during the SEA Games with his robust, all action style.

Victor Igbenofo enjoyed several years with Persipura where he won the ISL twice in the last three years. The Nigerian has also decided to take Indonesian citizenship and was called up for the recent World Cup qualifiers but never got a game due to wrangling over his status.

The no nonsense defender will be a reassuring figure at the heart of the Pelita Jaya defense.

Joining Igbenofo is a fellow Nigerian turned Indonesian, Greg Nwokolo. Comfortable up front, down the flanks or playing just off the striker, Nwokolo has been one of the ISL’s most consistent performers over the last few seasons with Persija. Indeed, so impressive was he that a Portuguese club signed him for 12 months but it didn’t work out and Nwokolo was happy to return to the Kemayoran Tigers.

Every successful teams needs a strong spine. With Michels, Ibgenefo, Egi, Safee and Nwokolo Pelita Jaya look to have enough in their locker to make the move from strugglers to challengers.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


What's New On Jakarta Casual TV

The latest Aussie export to Indonesia is Sean Rooney, a former Newcastle Jets striker who has signed for Deltras where he will be under the tutelage of their new coach, Jorg Steinbrunner. Meanwhile have a look how Tampines Rovers celebrated their SLeague title last Sunday.


Feeling Horny? The Stags Celebrate SLeague Title

If fans of Indonesian football have any awareness at all of Singapore football it is probably limited to Tampines Rovers. The team from the east coast of the city state have provided several internationals to clubs in Indonesia with varying degrees of success.

Khairul Amri is widely recognized as one of the most talented players of his generation and when he made the move to Persiba Balikpapan many hoped he would bring his prodigious talent to one Oil City. He is also one of the most injury prone and rarely had the chance to sign before being released.

Mustafic Fahruddin is one of several Singaporean internationals who qualified for the national team after having played in the SLeague for five years. He spent a season with Persija before being released when a new coach came in and wanted to surround himself with his own players. After last season with Persela he is now back with Tampines.

Noh Alam Shah and M Ridhuan made the move to Arema in 2009 and are currently looking at their third season with the Crazy Lions.

On Sunday evening Tampines hosted Balestier Khalsa at the Tampines Stadium knowing a victory would guarantee them their first SLeague triumph since 2005. Home United were the only team that could catch them but they were a point behind and despite playing Geylang United at the same time Tampines coach Steven Tan knew his team held their destiney in their hands.

After a nervy start Fahruddin opened the scoring from the penalty spot and the team nicknamed the Stags were on their way to the title.

Fahruddin scored a second around the half hour mark with a spectacular free kick from 25 yards before the 41 year Aleksander Duric netted a typical tap in before half time.

The second half was a non event. Balestier Khalsa were on the field but it was one way traffic as Tampines piled forward looking to increase the margin. Ahmad Latiff did just that and with some style. Receiving the ball some 25 yards out he looked up and seeing the keeper off his line deliciously curled the ball over his head.

Latiff, with his dyed hair and all action combative style is an unlikely Singaporean. Vocal and opiniated he has upset people in the island’s football community but there is now doubting his ability on the football field. He also had a short spell in Indonesia when he was younger, spending time with Persikabo in the early years of the 21st century.

It was a fitting contribution from the 32 year old who has been in fine form the last couple of years but continues to be inexplicably overlooked by the national team selectors. It was also his final contribution as minutes he was substituted and received a warm ovation from his appreciative fans.

Substitute Ahmad Fahmie made it five and still Tampines pressed. The job was done. In the VIP area of the stand officials were handing out commemorative t shirts while on the field Fahruddin was being urged forward by the bench, hoping he could complete a rare hat trick. He couldn’t but when he was finally replaced his reception from the faithful was raw and appreciative.

Noh Alam Shah and M Ridhuan have experience of winning titles in Indonesia. They were part of the Arema team that became champions in 2009/2010. The title deciding game of that particular season saw Arema play Persija at Bung Karno in Jakarta.

Arema fans travelled in large numbers, in excess of 50,000, and camped overnight outside the stadium, determined to see their heroes make history. More than 85,000 excited fans shoehorned themselves into the historic stadium and witnessed the Malang team win 5-1 to set up a monster celebration.

Things were much humbler in staid old Singapore. For a start the crowd was a shade over 2,000 and there was no evidence of fans sleeping outside the ground the night before. And despite being known as a raucous crowd, by Singapore standards, there was no singing or dancing. Plenty of drumming but no singing.

When captain Duric was presented with the trophy the biggest cheer came from the Master of Ceremonies courtesy of his microphone and deafening speakers. The fans applauded politely, cheered when the MC asked them to but for a team winning the title it was all very subdued and understated.

The players of course made the most of it. Fans or no fans, atmosphere or no atmosphere they were in football to win trophies and so they did their jigging. But you can’t help but wonder whether Fahruddin and Latiff, with their Indonesian experiences, were looking at the crowd and hoping for an injection of Indonesian passion to crank up the volume.

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