Tuesday, July 31, 2012


SLeague Obituary

Not much about Singapore recently. Mainly ‘cos it’s all been said before ad nauseum. The League Cup, which should be dropped, was expanded into a group stage so teams could play each other more often.

Then came an announcement that the top half would play off against each other as would the bottom half.
Are the people that run the game for real there? They love their talk of hubs, key performance indicators and the like but they ain’t at some business school theorizing to their hearts content. They are supposed to be running football and they are making a right balls up of it.

Crowds are falling so what do they propose? The same teams play each other more often!  The same teams that people have stopped going to see!

Is there no end to the lunacy? Yesterday the Singapore FA held its AGM and in more bad news for the few people left that follow the Singapore league the man in charge said he would not resign. Why not? After all when Singapore failed to qualify for the last world cup he said the whole team should be sacked for falling short of the required standard. What is good for the goose is surely good for the gander?

Under this guy we have had a strategic plan, which really looks like it is being made up as we go along, we have SLeague 2.0 and 3.0 yet it’s all crap. Attendances continue to plummet and nothing seems to be done about it apart from business school speak.

The league is probably still the most exciting in the region, witness Young Lions recent come from behind win over the once mighty SAFFC, but the punters aren’t buying. So what makes them think more of the same will work?

The SLeague is dying and it’s dying because the top gave up the ghost long ago.

Singapore is a hard market to sell in despite what some western expert claimed recently. People there will happily fork out $100 on a replica shirt from Liverpool yet baulk at paying a fiver to see a team that plays across the road.

How can you fight a prejudice that says everything European is fantastic, everything local is shit?

Singaporeans will wave the flag for Singapore; the crowds in the Malaysia Super League for the daftly named LionsXII prove that. And when the national team have a home game, and they stand a chance of winning, the fans turn out in force.

There is a Singaporean identity. One that moans about the MRT, is scared shitless of crossing the Causeway, loves to follow English football and takes great pride in the national airline. But there seems to be no affinity for where they live. Singapore, yes. But Tampines? Gombak? For many people their local team is Liverpool or Chelsea.

It’s a difficult mindset to challenge.

It doesn’t help when the local league is padded out with filler clubs. SAFFC are military, Home are coppers and Young Lions are, in theory, the future national team. Add the foreign teams of Harimau Muda (Malaysia), Albirex Niigata (Japan) and DPMM (Brunei) and you can understand a certain reluctance. It doesn’t feel like a local league. It feels like someone has upset a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle and no one can find the picture.

Everyone conspires against the SLeague. Local papers will reprint agency stories that appeared in the English media about Andy Carroll or David Beckham 24 hours earlier rather than get off their arses and cover the local stuff in any depth.

It’s difficult to see what kind of future the SLeague has against this backdrop. If such an exciting league does not pull the fans then perhaps it is time to put the league out of its misery? Again we come back to the people at the top who are getting well paid for their part time sinecures yet achieving very little.

Waffling on about putting more effort into the strategic plan is just waffle. The plan when it came out was pure waffle; high on buzz words, low on detail. The President at the AGM says that because they are not reaching the desired goals does not mean they are failing! What planet has been on recently? Don’t the KPIs he loves to waffle on about apply to him?

When the man charged with taking the game forward says that not reaching targets is not a problem then perhaps it is best we just knock it all on the head.

At the same AGM someone got up and gave an impassioned plea for the game’s survival. The response of the President? It’s an old song, we’ve been hearing it 10 years. Of course you have been hearing it 10 years, Mr President, nothing has changed, the same problems remain and have not been addressed beyond a babble of MBA speak that gets us nowhere.

I would like to be wrong. I really would. I would love to be able to tell people that all they have to do to get to an SLeague game is get off at the nearest MRT and follow the crowds. Or pick up a weekly paper devoted to football on the island. Or go down a sports retailer and see Tampines Rovers or Gombak United souvenirs on sale. But none of that is likely to happen any time soon.

There is plenty of passion for the game. You just have to look at the links on the left had side of this blog to see people taking the time to write about the game they love; it would seem at times they devote more time than those who are supposed to administer the game.

But passion is not enough. There needs to be know-how and money and deep reserves of both. At the moment we have neither. Stick a few fruit machines in the club house and that seems to be the limit of some club owners.

There is talk of a fund that will kick off with 900,000 GBP. That is the level the administrators are operating at. With investors from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand looking at buying clubs in Europe, Singapore, by far the richest country in the region, wonders what to do with a sum of money that Carlos Tevez earns in a month. Small country, small scale, small minds.

Anybody wanting to do anything with the game would soon come up against a system that distrusts any kind of entertainment that attracts large crowds. Institutional apathy deadens the most enthusiastic; with Manchester City, Arsenal, Valencia and Chelsea floating through the region in the last 12 months none have bothered with Singapore. 

With the largest stadium holding about 7,000 spectators even the Teletubbies would be forced to give Lion City a miss. The replacement for the National Stadium is still at least two years away and no one thought to have a stadium in reserve while the new one was being built.

Can the SLeague continue given the seemingly insurmountable problems it faces, both cultural and institutional? It’s difficult to see how unless a total change in mindset is affected. It would be nice to see that happen. It would be nice to see Aleksander Duric get the credit he deserves; Noh Alam Shah be recognized as a Wayne Rooney type character receiving the same sympathy the real one gets from local wannabe Mancs; that promising players like Hariss Harun and Shafiq Ghani are given the opportunity to show their skills without worrying about National Service.

Singapore football is worth saving. Is anybody up to the task?

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Tibo's Move In The Balance?

Titus Bonai's move to BEC Tero could well hit a stumbling block.

Last season he played for Persipura who play in the Indonesia Super League but he essentially walked out on the club halfway through the season. Given the mess in the game here players who compete in the ISL are not being made available for the national team and Tibo, as he is known, was concerned about his future at international level.

Now however it looks like Persipura are dragging their feet over his ITC which could delay or even halt hos move to Thailand.

He is being asked to return to Indonesia to meet with officials and sort this mess out.

To add to the confusion, he has been called up for Indonesia's game with Valencia next Saturday. A game which coincides with his new club playing Army United in the Thai Premier League.

Following on from the confusion surrounding the cancellation of the Java Cup with Everton and Galatasaray cancelling at the last minute this latest bumbling on the international stage will have many wondering why bother dealing with Indonesian football when it so plainly cannot get its house in order.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Persib Planning For Next Season

Persib Bandung, looking back on another season of underachievement, are already scouting around for a coach for the new season.

If there was a hat out there these would be the names, apparently, being tossed in it. Robert Alberts (ex Arema, now Sarawak), Peter Withe (ex Indonesia, now non league UK), Dejan Antonic (now very much with Arema IPL).

Yep, I know what you're thinking. Where are the names of Sven Goran Ericsson and Rafa Benetiz who seem to throw their name in for every coaching vacancy on this and, perhaps, other planets.

The Persib job is very much a poisoned chalice. The pressure is immense and it comes from all sides if you know what I mean.


Why Did Everton Cancel?

The fall out continues from Everton's last minute cancellation of their trip to Indonesia for the Java Cup.

Considering the fact that Everton are an English team, albeit from Merseyside, there was always going to be a lot of interest locally in this competition. Yet the publicity was minimal. There was no news of any sponsors that I saw; ticket details were seemingly announced on Twitter; hype was non existent.

Compare this to when Inter Milan sent a team. The sponsors of that tour made sure their, and Inter's name, was always out there.

Everton, as is well known now, cancelled at the last minute. Apparently the first the Indonesians knew about it was when they received a letter from the English Premier League apologising for the non arrival of the team and assuring that no disrespect was meant.

No reason was given by Richards. Instead, in the letter Richards 'deeply regrets' Everton won't be coming and that he hopes 'one of our clubs will soon be able to savour the welcome of your people' perhaps not realising Queens Park Rangers had only just flown out of Indonesia.

In a statement on the Everton website the club mumble something about logistics and security, always a good get out of jail card for 'developing' countries.

They also said they were concerned at the lack of a replacement for Galatasary who withdrew a few days earlier. Nacional were mentioned but it's not sure whether that was ever a serious option.

Several reasons floated but nothing concrete that would justify cancelling so late surely?

These 'unresolved issues' were enough for Everton to say nope at the last minute but to the outsider looking in and not being privy to the goings on between the two parties, I can have a bloody good guess but won't, it looks rather like the schoolkid who hasn't done their homework and goes on to say he had no ink in his printer, there was a power cut and they cat shat on the bed. In other words loads of excuses but hiding another agenda.

In cases like this often money is lying at the heart of the problem for all the spin put out. Everton would have known the problems ailing Indonesian football and if they were smart they would have sought certain guarantees before committing themselves. After all if football can't even pay the players their salaries here what chance a team from overseas getting their wedge?

The organisers this end say Everton's excuses are 'very odd' and it's not hard to see why. They also say they will sue Everton, and Galatasary, for their non appearance, claiming 'they (the clubs) pay back all the damages.'

I understand there is more to Everton's non appearance than what they are officially say but if there is then it is incumbent on them to come clean. Cancelling because of unspecified logistic concerns, what does that mean, the hotel bar was closed, is not enough. They are placing the blame firmly in Indonesia's court but they are not saying what they are blaming them for.

Football is a murky business at the best of times and is not known for its transparency. For now this is going to descend into a he said, she said bit of nonsense until someone actually comes clean and for me that someone has to be Everton.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Indonesia Plan Friendlies

Unperturbed by the fact that both Everton and Galatasary have cancelled their high profile trips to Jakarta for whatever rea$on the Indonesian FA, continuing a tradition going back many years, have announced a new batch of friendlies ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Cup in November.

04/08 v Valencia
05/09 v Espanyol B
08/09 v North Korea
15/09 v Philippines
22/09 v Vietnam (A)
29/09 v Vietnam (H)

There is also talk of a Merdeka Cup to be held in November.

s ever don't go booking any flights just yet!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


Another PR Disaster

They sacked Alfred Riedl, they lost 10-0 away to Bahrain, they lost the SEA Games final to Malaysia, PSV cancelled, players haven't been paid, no one really seems interested in their IPL, match officials still assaulted, Galatasary cancelled, were Nacional even invited, now Everton have withdrawn from the Java Cup.

Just another day in Indonesian football. Many imitate but none come close...

Still, fair play to Arema who have done the country proud in the AFC Cup...

Monday, July 23, 2012


Turkey Giants Get Cold Feet!

Sorry, nonsense headline but I wanted to get Cold and Turkey in the same sentence!

Anyway Galatasary have pulled out from the Java Cup which kicks off on Thursday. And, funnily enough, it looks like they'll be replaced by another version of the Indonesian national team which doubles the hosts chances of winning the trophy.

There had been talk of Nacional from Uruguay but that had to be a non starter for anyway with a brain cell counting approaching double figures.

Just think, had the old lot been in charge we would have seen Pelita Jaya Under 23s take part!


The Thai Experience

Thai supporters groups at the smaller teams are a funny bunch. Thai Honda had a group of about seven people. One guy with a drum and a bandana over his face, probably been watching too many Italian games, tried to whip up some frenzy but the only guy responding was one geezer with a megaphone which he would use to tell what I took to be some pretty dreadful jokes judging by the lack of reaction of those around me.

Thai society doesn’t encourage people to stand out. All those uniforms are designed to develop the perfect Thai person with their respect for monarchy, religion and state overriding anything else. Being non conformist is seen as a bad thing.

Maybe that’s why football has proved so popular in recent years. Finally the exhibitionists can get themselves an audience even if just for 90 minutes. Fuelled by the odd sip of beer it is time to unwind and be, umm, different.

Some of these cheer folks don’t even watch the game. Thai Honda had a free kick yet a couple of their number had their back to the play and had no idea their team was even attacking. Not for the first time I wondered whether they even knew the names of the players on their team.

Thai football, like Thailand, is about fun. Sanuk. The cheer groups dress up at the weekend, put their replica shirts on, arrange a packed lunch, load up their flags and drums and head to the game. All half dozen of them complete with WAGS in tow. It’s all very relaxed and very friendly and very middle class.

There are times when it seems like most people at a game are just interested in taking pictures of other fans. I lost count of how many people tried taking pictures of me at the weekend but it ain’t just me. They are busy photographing themselves in silly poses, often with accompanying hand signals that, in certain manors, would see them end up the victim of a drive by. But this is Thailand and it’s all fun.

Second half things got worse. A woman turned up and proceeded to scream. A lot. Sometimes the screams were hollers, sometimes just raw screams. She would scream at anything and everything on the field. Yet it was all so detached. She would play with her phone, look up, scream, then return to her phone as if nothing had happened, as if she hadn’t nearly bust my ear drums. I couldn’t help but wonder what she did the rest of the week! And feel sorry for her neighbours...


Bloody Refs

Another ref being led away for his own good!

I was watching a game at the weekend in the Thai Regional league and was fascinated by the ref’s performance. Yes, I know they have a hard job blah blah blah but surely that job would be easier if he understood the rules of the game?

Does any ref in this part of the world ever play the advantage? Agreed, stopping play and rushing up to a player and abruptly sticking a card in their face is what the job is all about. Working all week in a dead end job, nagged by their missus and unable to go out with the lads to the nearest karaoke, being a ref means that the insignificant can suddenly get some power and boy do they use it. 

The actual laws of the game, allowing the game to flow, these are irrelevant to the man with a uniform fetish, a pea in his whistle and the opportunity to lord it over players who earn heaps more than him.



In the wake of Fabrice Muamba’s near death experience last year it is obvious that match officials, already under plenty of pressure, now must keep their wits about them when a player goes down. Is it genuine or is it another case of timewasting? Decisions must be taken quickly and those seconds after the player has gone to ground could be the difference between life and death.

The Bangkok Regional League game between Thai Honda and North Bangkok perfectly illustrated the dilemma faced by refs. It also highlighted how inaction or indecision by a ref just makes things worse. North Bangkok players were going to ground long before they took the lead. It was embarrassing. That grown men could quite happily throw themselves to the floor, write in agony, wait for the ref to signal the stretcher bearers, be carried off then jump up and get back into the thick of things is nothing short of embarrassing. I was cringing watching it.

North Bangkok player at it again. yawn!
The ref, mind, did nothing. Down would go a player, the ball would go out and on came the stretcher people. Time and time again. Sat in the stand fans knew players were faking it. The ref didn’t. he took no action. Instead of nipping the problem in the bud with a yellow card the first time a player went down he did nothing and it spiraled out of control. Second half he did start wising up and let play carry on while a visiting player would lie on the pitch, looking round for the stretcher bearers coming to ease his pain.

But the damage had been done. Had the ref taken action early doors, I believe that is the correct phraseology, then the players would have knocked it on the head. It is therefore appropriate that leaders Thai Honda equalized in injury time. An injury time the North Bangkok players had brought on themselves with their stupid, pathetic actions. I hesitate to use the term child like, it would be unfair on kids.

Ironically when Thai Honda equalized one of their players went down and stayed down. The stretcher bearers were no help this time so a doctor and a couple of nurses were called for. This was obviously serious as we witnessed a somewhat well built doctor and his dainty nurses skip across the field to do their bit. The ref got that right just as he had, finally, clamped down on the diving but the point remains he should have gotten tougher and meaner earlier.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


No Change Yet

There has been much talk of change in Indonesian football over the last 18 months but, to be brutal, there has been no action. The sins of the previous set up are being continued by the new regieme willingingly or not. For all their fine words nothing is being translated on to the pitch and that, ultimately, is how they will be judged. Talk is cheap and easy, we know that.

Everyone knows the way football is being run in Indonesia, and indeed round the region, needs to change but no one wants to be the first to actually do anything constructive that could, after all, see them lose a lot of power and influence not to mention status.

 When the IPL started last year there was much optimism among those who frankly should know better. The league, adopting a patronizing holier than thou attitude, promised to do nothing less than change the game and woe betide anyone who doubted they would do it.

 However after years of mismanagement and high handedness they were the recipients of a large of amount of goodwill which they soon allowed to slip through their fingers as their notion of the changing the game was really more a case of changing the names of those at the top while leaving the game to meander along in its own festering swamp.

 The announcement of major sponsors of the league was astonishingly accepted locally even though Microsoft have no history of sponsoring any kind of sport anywhere. Of course little detail was released so we are left to assume someone once went to Ratu Plaza and bought a knock off Windows Vista software CD and thought was good enough. More humourous is these multi nationals rushed to sponsor a league that was recognized by no one, FIFA ignored it, yet when the IPL became the official body these sponsors went ‘missing’!

 They then sacked Alfred Riedl after Indonesia had reached the AFF Cup Final only to be beaten by an excellent, and well developed, Malaysia team, claiming they couldn’t find his contract. Soon after, under their own man, they lost 10-0 to tiny Bahrain in a World Cup qualifier.

Changing a rotten system doesn’t happen overnight. But the way leaders operate leaves much to be questioned. In an hierarchical system what the boss says, goes. A word from the boss becomes a canonical law and the boss knows it. The thing is because the boss knows it he doesn’t always follow hup on his instructions. He assumes that because he is the boss and because he has given an instruction he assumes reams of worker ants are rushing to obey. The thing is his minions know he won’t check up on their work. To do that would make them lose face and make the boss lose face. So nothing gets done, no one loses face and us westerners get pissed off because it don’t make any bloody sense!

Since the late 1990s Indonesia has been a by word for disaster, both natural and man made. At the same time it is coming to terms with new fangled ideas like openness and democracy. Generations had grown up in an independent country that was 50 years old yet had only really had two leaders and the last one ran the place for the benefit of his family.

People growing up in those times knew what they had to do to survive. They had to cozy up to political elites and men in uniform. That bought protection and offered the best route to power, status and wealth and that’s what they worked towards. Politicians bought votes. Businessmen bought territories where they basically operated a monopoly.

To further increase their wealth/power/status these people branched out into other areas’ for example they would become active in sports for example. Anything that kept their name out there and afford them opportunities to make a bit of money as well as placing their own people in key positions.

What has this got to do with football I hear the odd person yawn? Simple. These are the of people who run the game be it at the highest level or the lowest level. People who have never known the meaning of fair or transparent or competitive or defeat in their lives. Now, suddenly, we expect them to change? With the best will in the world it ain’t gonna happen.

Not without the strong leader a fragile democracy is unlikely to elect. Yes, we blame them for everything but to them all they are doing is what they have been trained to do. it’s what they have seen surrounding them all their lives. It’s now they turn at the trough and they have waited a long time.

They have, if you like, served their apprenticeship. So we sit back and do nothing? Accept it is what it is and won’t change anytime soon? Of course not.

Someone said that all that is needed for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing. Yes, the system is a stinking, fetid behemoth devoid of humanity but it won’t last for ever. The people who can should keep chipping away. To give up is to condemn future generations to more of the same. Eventually the light will break through and shine on Indonesian football. Just don’t hold your breath!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Cheap Headlines From Other People's Fame

Following on from Muang Thong United's flirtation of Italian Alessandro Del Pierro comes news of another South East Asian football team linking themselves with the great and the good.

This time it is Malaysian Premier League side Johor. They are talking about bringing over Juan Roman Riquelme and Pablo Aimar for next season!

Johor fans getting excited
You can just imagine the two Argentine superstars champing at the bit to come and play in Malaysia's second tier!

Mind you, the same football club was supposed to bring Gabriel Batistuta over earlier in the year. That never happened.

The classic though was the guy from Minangkabau in the short lived Liga Primer Indonesia who last season suggested he was in discussions to being Dennis Bergkamp, yep the non flying Dutchman, to his team.

Local TV may be crap with an endless parade of celebrity gossip and horrendously acted soap operas where everyone has white skin but who needs it when you have club owners who come out with such great one liners!

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Indonesians Finally Being Noticed

It's been a good while since any Indonesian played overseas. A few dipped their tootsies in the Malaysian league before all foreigners were banned from there but for an Indonesian to play in Malaysia is like an Englishman playing in Scotland. Yeah, the language differs a little but it's not great leap into the unknown.

I'm not talking about the players out there on various Bakrie projects in Uruguay (SAD) or Belgium (Christiantoko, Alam) or those who have done it themselves (Arthur Irawan) but players who are regulars in the local leagues.

Titus Bonai is apparently being keenly sought by Thai Premier League side BEC Tero. Now the TPL may not be the best in South East Asia as plugged by some but the top four or five teams can take care of themselves as Buriram United are showing in the AFC Champions League this season.

Muang Thong United are unbeaten this season as they try to regain the TPL title they feel is only on loan to those provincial upstarts from the North East who basically are one man's ego run wild. BEC Tero are also showing some consistency this season after missing out in the last few years.

BEC Tero are in a way everything that is wrong with football in the region. They are a corporate's idea of a football club. Their name is all corporate and they have shifted stadium as often as Pelita Jaya here in Indonesia.

Despite finding some success over the years crowds have remained low; football fans brought up on the likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United on TV are not going to follow some corporate outfit just like that. (And yes, I am aware that many clubs in Europe and Latin America began life as works teams.)

Titus is another exciting player from the eastern province of Papua, the latest in a long line of explosive talent from those distant shores. He hit the headlines during the SEA Games last year, which Indonesia lost, and despite falling out with his club side he remains a highly sought after player; he guested for Sabah Select when they hosted Queens Park Rangers earlier in the week.

Another player being linked with a move overseas is Ahmad Bustomi. The combative midfielder, who has featured in the last two Jakarta Casual Team Of  The Year, turned out for Mitra Kukar last season and was, until the political bullshit drove Indonesian football close to ruin, a regular in the national team. Perhaps he realises a move overseas will not only raise his profile but also get him back in the merah putih?

Anyway a Japanese team are reportedly interested in him and a picture was recently posted on Twitter showing his passport complete with an entertainers visa for Japan. Another whose passport was also pictured was Hamkah Hamza!

Before anyone starts getting too excited, and seriously why would anyone wanna wet themselves over a grown up deciding to work overseas, consider a couple of players who looked at the idea and nixxed it.

Back in 2007 Erol Iba was wowing them in the AFC Champions League as part of an exciting Persik team. Sydney FC were interested but the move fell through because he was earning more in a small, provincial town miles from an airport than he would do in one of the most vibrant cities in the world!

More recently Bambang Pamungkas had trials with Wellington Phoenix but a combination of cold weather and less bucks put paid to that move!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Everton Tickets

There has still been no official announcement, as far as I can tell, regarding tickets for the Java Cup that is supposed to start next week!

If and or when something is announced I will post it here...

UPDATE - these prices come from the Twitter account of the CEO of the Indonesia Premier League.

VVIP - 1,500,000 IDR (about 100 GBP)
VIP West - 1,000,000 IDR
VIP East - 750,000 IDR (about 50 GBP)
Category 1 - 300,000 IDR (about 20 GBP)
Category 2 - 100,000 IDR
Tribune - 75,000 IDR (about 5 GBP)

The prices for the expensive tickets are about what you would pay at English Premier League, not a friendly that will see loads of stops and starts for substitutions.


Valencia Confirmed

Indonesia have announced ticket details for their upcoming friendly against Valencia. The game will be played at Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta on 4th August.

VVIP - 850,000 IDR
VIP West - 650,000 IDR
VIP East - 500,000 IDR
Category 1 - 200,000 IDR
Category 2 - 175,000 IDR
Category 3 - 65,000 IDR

Tickets apparently go on sale 20th July

There are also other games in the pipeline but no confirmation yet.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The Battle Of Surabaya

The idea of political correctness is a uniquely Western idea that has many in this part of the world scratching their heads.

But in even in England petty jingoism always gets chests puffed out in football. Germany, France, Scotland, Argentina, we love to hate them all and games against them are frequently dripping in historical context.

Queens Park Rangers' visit to Indonesia is likewise being used to tap into Indonesians pride in their country.

The Battle of Surabaya looms large in the local subconscious. After the Second World War the Dutch rather awkwardly decided they wanted to keep their East Indies colonies despite the fact the Japanese had swiftly kicked them out and the Indonesians had already gone and declared independence.

The Dutch forces weren't strong enough to handle the outbreaks of violence that spread across the archipelago and called on their allies, the British. They couldn't really be bothered, they all wanted to go home after a long and tiring war but they helped out a mate, mostly by sending Indian regiments who had their own ideas of independence.

A pivotal battle was fought in Surabaya and the legend of those heroic fighters live on in the city. The old stadium is called November 10 Stadium, commemorating that battle while the city is also known as Kota Pahlawan, City of Heroes, in memory of those men and women who fought the surrogate oppressor.

Clever marketing by the Indonesians and one their guests won't get...unless they read this which is unlikely.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Malaysia Wrap

OK the Malaysian season has finished. The Malaysia Cup will be drawn at the end of July and will start after Ramadhan.

Kelantan won the Super League and the FA Cup. They are still going strong in the AFC Cup, facing Arbil home and away in September.

The Malaysians have decided it has been a few years since they last changed the format of their league so in 2013 the top flight will have 12 teams instead of the present 14 so we have a mad rush to escape the drop.

KL, poor KL who went through the season playing their games in Melaka, are chronically starved of funds and managed not to win, are down. Who will join them? The Borneo rivals, Sabah and Sarawak, along with Kedah, who only recently were by far the best team in the country, will play off with Pahang who finished second in the Premier League.

Going out of the Premier League are Perlis who won the Malaysia Cup in 2004 and 2006. I was actually in KL in 2005 on Malaysia Cup Final day and can recall their fans milling round, enjoying their day in the capital. Those three appearances constitute their only runs to the final in the history of the famous old competition. They join other state teams Penang and Melaka. Perhaps being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is next for Perlis?!

MBJB, one of a number of teams from the southern most state of Johor were also relegated while there will also be a play off to see who will join them in the third tier FAM Cup. MP Muar, NS Betaria and Malaysia Pos will compete against FAM Cup runners up Shahzan Muda.

SPA get promoted to the Premier League, the latest in a long line of daftly named clubs in Malaysia. You would think that given the interest in the English game there people would have the smarts to actually name football clubs after a town or a suburb but oh no. We get the post office (Malaysia Pos), the armed forces (ATM), a road (PLUS) and now SPA who are a social club for civil servants!


Thais, Trophies & Jasper Carrot

There was a classic Jasper Carrot sketch many years ago. It was about these middle class wannabes who had a couple of Mercedes in the driveway but sod all in the fridge. Ever since I moved to this part of the world I have been reminded of that almost daily.

Thai football is a case in point. They love their trophies up there. I don't mean actually winning silverware, they seem to have given up on that in recent years, certainly on the international stage where their lack of success has correlated perfectly with their lack of preparation.

The trophies they crave come in the form of aging big names. Like Bryan Robson, Peter Reid or most recently Robbie Fowler. It all smacks of Paris Hilton being snapped carrying her little pooch to the mini mart. It cries out 'look at us, look how much money we have, look who we can hire!' And ultimately fire of course.

It's not just English names. Now Muang Thong United, who last year inexplicably appointed Robbie Fowler as player coach, are reportedly being linked with Alessandro Del Piero. And if he doesn't work out then they have a Plan B. Louis Saha. Yep, that's what I thought. Similar types of players. You can sense Muang Thong, who lead the Thai Premier League, are working to a plan here.

The story line is often the same. The big headlines, the smiles, the 'oh its lovely to be here, the people are great', then the honeymoon ends and life becomes a series of what the fuck moments that pile up. Thing is no one tells the trophy they must leave all logic behind in the west.

They may think they are coming over to play football and of course that, as professionals, is what they have grown accustomed to during their careers.

Unfortunately the football they grew up with and has given them such an exciting career, is not the football environment they are signing up for in Thailand. Indeed, for the people paying the salaries, football may be a long way down the list of priorities.

Australia and the US had their trophy players in the 1970s but they have since moved on as the game and, dare I say it, those who run it, matured.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


McCreery's New Team

Sabah are due to host Queens Park Rangers this week in a friendly designed to promote the London team's sponsors' flights to East Malaysia.

It has not been a particularly enjoyable season for the team nicknamed Hawks or Rhinos as they finished 13th in the 14 team Malaysia Super League and must go into  play off to avoid the drop. Luckily for them KL were so dreadful, no money, no home stadium, they went through the whole season without winning a game.

Their trough came when they were defeated 9-0 by LionsXII at Jalan Besar. One week later they were embarrassed by PKNS 4-0. Those defeats were part of a five match run of defeats including a 1-0 loss against Sarawak in the Borneo Derby.

David McCreery came in and they defeated Negeri Sembilan 3-1!

No doubt the Irishman will be feeling chuffed but how about the man he replaced, Justin Ganai?

While the game with QPR will be a bit of light relief, as well of course being an opportunity to learn from a big team (!), Sabah know the important stuff is the Malaysia Cup which begins in August and the play offs.


Kelantan Crowned MSL Champions

LionsXII v Johor FC 0-1
PKNS v T Team 2-1
Kelantan v Sarawak 3-1
Kedah v Felda United 1-2
KL v Perak 2-5
Sabah v Negeri Sembilan 3-1
Terengganu v Selangor 3-0

1 - Kelantan 26 18 6 2 53-18 60
2 - LionsXII 26 15 5 6 48-23 50
3 - Selangor 26 12 7 7 40-26 43
4 - Perak 26 13 3 10 40-43 42

KL are automatically relegated as the Malaysians fiddle about with their league again. Sarawak, Sabah and Kedah go into a play off in a bid to avoid relegation to the Premier League next season.

15 - Jean Effa Owona (Negeri Sembilan)
14 - Francis Doe Forkay (Terengganu)
12 - Bosko Balaban (Selangor)


Forget The Bloody Octopus

Was half heartedly watching the Indonesia Cup Final yesterday between Persibo and IPL Champions Semen Padang played at a criminally near empty Sultan Agung Stadium in Bantul.

My Little Gooner looked up and asked 'Uncle Robbie dimana?' referring not to Fowler but Gaspar. When I told him he wasn't playing suddenly he got excited and yelled 'one, two, three, GOAL!'

And you know what? Just as he finished saying 'GOAL' Persibo scored the only goal of the game.

There you go. Something to remember the unremarkable by...

Saturday, July 14, 2012


NAS Returns To Tampines

Singapore striker Noh Alam Shah is returning to Tampines Rovers. His contract has finished with Persib and is taking advantage of the Singapore transfer window to return home till the end of the season.

After spells with Arema and Persib with their fanatical support, Tampines will be a bit quieter but NAS has strong feelings for the club dating back several years.

It is unclear whether he will return to Persib or not for next season which may well begin next January


Mijo Reunites With Bojan?

Reports today suggesting Deltras Croatian defender Mijo Dadic is set to sign for Malaysia Super League champions Kelantan.

If true then Dadic, pictured playing for previous club Persiba Balikpapan, will be teaming up with fellow Croatian Bojan Hadak who coached him during his first spell in Malaysia with MyTeam.

Dadic will apparently be with his new team when they tale on Queens Park Rangers next Friday and be ready for their Malaysia Cup campaign as well as play in the AFC Cup in September. All a far cry after a season with Deltras that started full of promise but ended with them relegated.

Just one snag. I thought that when Malaysia allowed foreigners back into their league at the start of this season they would bar any player who had played in South East Asia in the last two years. Is that proviso still in place?

Friday, July 13, 2012


Sabah's New Coach

Ahead of the Malaysia Cup Sabah have appointed David McCreery as their new coach. The former Manchester United and Newcastle United legend was most recently coaching in Myanmar with Magway FC.

I interviewed David back in March. Catch that chat in the Jakarta Globe.


The Mostly Irrelevant League Cup

It's that time of the year when Singapore goes into yawnodrive over the League Cup. Just imagine it; 12 clubs from the SLeague, no Harimau Muda, who play each other twice in the SLeague as well as having a bloody good chance of playing each other in the Singapore Cup can also lock horns in this pot designed to keep the local pools company.

The 12 teams are drawn into four groups of three with the top two going into the next round. The teams that finish bottom will still have something to play for with something called Plate Competition.

The complete draw can be found on this spreadsheet. I can't be arsed covering it. It's pointless and adds nothing to the Singapore season. Crowds are plummeting so the answer of the Singapore FA is have the same teams who can't attract any fans to play each other more often?

Is this all part of SLeague 2.0?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Thai Transfer Window

Like Indonesia, Thai players rarely stay anywhere for any length of time. Thanks to the bloody excellent Thai Fussball here are some familiar names on the move.

Muang Thong United have shifted striker Christian Kouakou. He has signed for Tours who are not a travel company but play in France.

Sutee Suksomkit is still remembered fondly in Singapore. He has moved from Bangkok Glass to ambitious, read owned by regional powerbroker family, Suphanburi who play in Division One.

BEC Tero are having a useful season and they hope bringing in Phaitoon Thiabma will help them in their push for a top three finish. Phaitoon of course has had a couple of spells with Persijap.

Another Thai with Indonesian experience is Yuttachak Kornchan who had a short spell with Pelita Jaya. he has now moved to Osotspa on loan from newly promoted Chainat.

Surayuth Chaikamdee looked to be the only player who could score for Thailand during the 2010 AFF Cup. Since them he has left Thai Port, signed for Bangkok Glass, left Bangkok Glass, signed for Army United, left the Army and is now with Bangkok on loan. Whew...

Santi Chaiyaphuak may be a familiar name to Singapore football fans. Well, the ones who get off their arses and support the local game. He has joined ir Force United. Wasn't he with Home United? Fella has a uniform fetish eh though not as bad as Johnny Wilkinson who went from SAFFC to Police United to Home United!

Another big name joining the Suphanburi revolution is Ney Fabiano, formerly of Chonburi among others.


ISL 2011/2012 Finishes

Persela v Arema 3-1 (Fathlul Rahman, Mario Costas, Gustavo Lopes; Patrick Seme) 12,159
Persisam v PSMS 4-2 (Fajar Siswanto, Gonzales, Ramdani, Yongki; Osas Marvellous, Yoseph Malau) 9,941
Mitra Kukar v PSAP 3-1 (Jajang Maulyana, Zulham 2; Heri Saputra) 3,194
Sriwijaya v Persib (Nova Arianto) 11,356
Persiram v Pelita Jaya 2-1 (Anderson Da Silva, Gideon Way; John Tarkpor) 5,320
Persidafon v Persija 3-1 (Patrick Wanggai 2, Izaac Wanggai; Rachmat Affandi) 5,830
Deltras v PSPS 1-0 (M Fahkrudin) 6,430
Persiba v Persiwa 3-1 Esteban Guillen, Aldo Baretto 2; Pieter Rumaopen) 4,316
Gresik United v Persipura 2-1 (Warwan Sayedeh, Gaston Castano; Alberto Goncalves) 16,400

1 - Sriwijaya 34 25 4 5 71-31 79
2 - Persipura 34 20 8 6 65-35 68
3 - Persiwa 34 19 4 11 60-42 61
4 - Persela 34 15 11 8 58-42 56

15 - Gresik United 34 11 5 18 35-69 38
16 - PSMS 34 9 9 16 43-62 36
17 - Deltras 34 9 9 16 34-48 36
18 - PSAP 34 6 9 19 33-66 27

Gresik United will play PSIM, the 4th placed Divisi Utama side in a play off which apparently will be played in Palembang next Tuesday. PSMS, Deltras and PSAP get relegated while Barito Putra (Divisi Utama Champions, Persita and Persepam get promoted. Everything of course to be confirmed later!

25 - Alberto Goncalves (Persipura)
22 - Keith Kayamba (Sriwijaya), Mario Costas (Persela)
20 - Safee Sali (Pelita Jaya), Greg Nwokolo (Pelita Jaya)
19 - Osas Marvelous (PSMS)
18 - Hilton Moreira (Sriwijaya), Cristian Gonzales (Persisam), Aldo Baretto (Persiba), Eddy Boakay (Persiwa)

Of the top 10 scorers in the ISL none are Indonesian! Nwokolo has been naturalised as has Gonzales.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


AFF Cup 2012 Draw

There is a definite North v South feel to the ASEAN Football Federation Cup draw held earlier today.

In one group, Thailand are hosts and they have been drawn with Philippines and Vietnam. Holders Malaysia have been drawn with Indonesia and Singapore. (Sits back and waits for this group top be called the obligatory Group Of Death).

Add Brunei to the Malaysian group and you have an all Melayu affair!

Two more nations from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Timor Leste will qualify from a group stage qualifier which Myanmar hosts in October..

05/10 - Cambodia v Timor Leste, Myanmar v Brunei
07/10 - Timor Leste v Myanmar, Laos v Cambodia
09/10 - Cambodia v Brunei, Timor Leste v Laos
11/10 - Brunei v Laos, Myanmar v Cambodia
13/10 - Laos v Myanmar, Brunei v Timor Leste

Competition proper starts in November.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Irfan Who?

The hype surrounding Irfan Bachdim may have long faded but he remains a pretty talented footballer. My latest Jakarta Globe column looks at Irfan, and Kim, since the celebrities ditched Persema for the next 'big thing'.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


Out Of Town Games Lower Persija Crowds

I lost count of how many times Persija were forced to play outside of their Bung Karno Stadium so here are the facts.

Manahan Stadium, Solo v Persela & Persija
Mandala Krida Stadium, Yogyakarta v Persipura & Persiwa
Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang v Pelita Jaya
Segiri Stadium, Samarinda v PSPS
PTIK Stadium, Jakarta v Persiram

That, and the fact that two games were played behind closed doors (PSPS and Persiram) means Persija averaged just 9,255 per home game.

Their biggest home crowd was against Persib when 38,850 bought tickets while the game against Pelita Jaya saw just 278 sold


Results 02/07

Indonesia Super League

Persib v Persidafon 3-2 (Marcio Souza 2, Atep; Juan Cirelli, Izak Ogoai) 20,000

Persib raced into a two goal lead against Persidafon but late goals on 73' and 81' meant it was squeaky bum time for the home support in their last home game.

Indonesia Premier League

Persebaya v Persiraja 2-1 (Mat Halil, Fernando Soler; Arief Kurniawan)

With Persema and PSM not keen on finishing runners up after their 0-0 draw on Sunday it was left to Persebaya to make the move but they needed a late winner from Soler to move above the Makassar side.

Singapore Cup

Albirex Niigata v Tampines Rovers 1-2 (Yamakoshi Yasuhiro; Jufri Taha, Achmad Latiff)

Malaysia Premier League

MP Muar v Pahang 1-5
Malaysia Pos v Sime Darby 0-4
NS Betaria v MBJB 4-1
Johor v Perlis 4-0
PP USM v ATM 1-2
PDRM v Harimanu Muda B 1-0

Wow, all them goals in Malaysia's second tier!

Now, I'm not a gambling man but I would hazard 25 rupiah and suggest ATM may well win the MPL.

1 - ATM 20 15 3 2 63-19 48
2 - Pahang 20 13 4 3 55-24 43
3 - Sime Darby 20 12 3 5 47-19 39


Sympathy For Buriram?

Normally, not from me. But players are only players and their reward for a good run in the AFC Champions League has been to play five games in 17 days; a gruelling schedule by anyone's standards.

That run has seen them win one, draw two and their defeat against Thai Port last weekend was their second on the spin after their 4-3 reverse at home to Chonburi.

Wonder what HRH Newin thinks of all this?

Buriram's loss of form, or tired legs, comes as they are trying to catch up on their missing games while the rest of the league takes a breather.

They are still third in the Thai Premier League, level on points with BEC Tero but are eight points behind leaders Muang Thong United.


Indonesia Cup Final Delayed

Semen Padang's quest for the double has been put back a week. And moved. The new date is 14 July at Sultan Agung Stadium in Bantul.

The original date was 7 July at Soreang.


Jakarta Readies For English Invasion

With Indonesia hosting Everton and Queens Park Rangers later this month we can maybe expect a few fans from England to make the long journey over to see their teams. QPR of course are also playing a couple of games in Malaysia as are Manchester City and Arsenal.

There will be some late kick offs to look forward to. Malaysia for example will play Arsenal at 9.45 pm and if Bukit Jalil is used then getting back to town using public transport will be a problem.

Last year when I saw the Arsenal there, at an 8.45 pm kick off, I managed to get a train from the stadium into town but there were no connecting services. Despite the large crowds expected no one there seems to have considered how fans on public transport would get home.

QPR play Kelantan and from what I've seen so far they will play at Shah Alam Stadium which is even worse for transport.

And Malaysian taxi drivers...don't get me started on them!

In Indonesia Everton will play Galatasary at 9pm. The Bung Karno Stadium is right in the middle of the city and while you may not want to use the local buses taxis are a massive improvement on KL as long as you use Blue Bird or Silver Bird!

QPR will play Persebaya in Surabaya at the Bung Tomo Stadium. Never been there but don't rely on public transport. Car hire or taxis are readily available though.

One reason for the late kick offs is not the weather but the fact that the games will be taking place during the Islamic fasting month. This could of course affect the entertainment plans of visitors but hotel bars should be open and other bars may close for a couple of days at the beginning of the month which has yet to be confirmed.


Divisi Utama Play Offs

Ok so no one knows who, when where or whatever but the play offs in both leagues carry on. The official, less interesting one sees the winners of the three groups play off for the title though I dunno why they bother. Surely it's gonna be Pro Duta?

Mind you the first game yesterday saw Pro Duta held 1-1 by Perseman at Jalak Harupat Stadium.

Tomorrow sees Perseman play Persepar while the last game pits Pro Duta and Persepar. Oh, look who gets the longest break between games!

The unofficial one is much more fun featuring teams with fans and tradition and all that. PSIM were joined by Barito Putra from their group while Persita and Persepam came from the other group.

The semi finals will be on Thursday at Manahan Stadium in Solo and PSIM, from nearby Yogyakarta, should have plenty of support, mind you they and Persis fans ain't always best buddies, when they take on Persita while  Persepam play Barito Putra

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Arema v Persegres 0-0

I wasn't expecting this game to be a 0-0. Persegres have the worst defence in the Indonesia Super League, they concede fours and fives for fun. But Arema failed to break them down.

And with good reason. Their crossing was abysmal. With Herman Dzumafo in the box, the man is a beast, all they had to do was put it in the air, close to his head, and let him do the rest. They couldn't even do that. Time and time again good work down the flanks was wasted by piss poor crosses.

On the rare occasion they did get something in the box then guess what? Chances were created. But hey, coach? If you do read this, get hold of a video of Newcastle v Manchester City and replay that goal by Yaya Toure, that one where he side foots the keeper from the edge of the box. I ain't gonna link to it, find it yourself.

Seriously, professional footballers going for power is so school yard. Football 101, keep your eye on the ball, keep over the ball. Don't just welly the bloody thing and hope for the best. It ain't good and it ain't clever and it happened way too often last night.

And I'm not talking about players being closed down quickly. There was time to think and strike. And probably read War & Peace. It was Persegres remember?

But while Arema were crying out for some creativity Persegres boasted plenty of it. Well, players who strutted like they were playmakers, who placed the ball for free kicks like they were Jonny Wilkinson (not the Home United one) or Cristiano Ronaldo then fired the ball into space.

Players like Gustavo Chena and Claudio Pronetto. All strut and no delivery.

Both coaches would have been better off fielding people from DHL. At least they deliver!

Some images can be seen on Asian Football Pictures.


Results 30/06

Indonesia Super League

Persija v Persiram 1-2 (Bambang Pamungkas; Elthon Maran, Yan Ruatakeury)
Arema v Persegres 0-0 34,126

Must be a shock defeat for Persija. Played at PTIK Stadium in Jakarta 'cos no fans allowed due to political campaigning. Arema report will be added later but here are some pictures on Asian Football Pictures.

Divisi Utama Play Offs

Persiku v Persepam 0-1 (M Husein) 7,345
PSBK v Persita 1-1 (Fandy Achmad; Junaidi) 117

Both Persita and Persepam go through to the next stage, whenever and whereever that will be played, where they meet PSIM and one other...

Indonesia Premier League

Persibo v Bontang 4-2
Persija v Semen Padang 0-3 (Esteban Visczara 2, Ferdinand Sinaga)
PSMS v Persiba Bantul 2-2
Persijap v Arema 0-0

Semen Padang celebrated winning the IPL by defeating Persija in Madiun though they needed two very late goals to give some distance between the two teams. Two Persija home games yesterday produced a combined attendance smaller than the average in the SLeague! Talk about cack handed management!

1 - Semen Padang 22 13 7 2 46-21 46
2 -  Persibo 20 10 3 7 28-22 33
3 - PSM 21 9 6 6 29-26 33

While Semen Padang win the IPL comfortably there are six teams separated by just three points. Semen Padang and Persibo compete for the Indonesia Cup next weekend.

Malaysia Super League

Kelantan v Selangor 1-0 (played Friday)
Sarawak v Johor FC 3-1
T Team v Felda United 0-1
PKNS v Negeri Sembilan 2-1
Kedah v Terengganu 2-1
KL v Sabah 2-4

Kelantan as good as champions, non? I  mean it's been a done deal long enough, just a question of them getting their games in hand played. Would be nice to know the attendances there...

1 - Kelantan 22 15 6 1 41-14 51
2 - LionsXII 24 15 5 4 47-20 50


Riot Doesn't Happen At Indonesian Game Shock

It was Arema's last game of what has been a disappointing season yet still the fans made the journey out to Kanjurahan Stadium for the local derby with Persegres. Or Gresik United. Whatever you wanna call them.

I got into the stadium a full 90 minutes before kick off and the terraces were full. Perhaps not chocca but full all the same. Yet there were thousands more still outside parking their motorcycles and looking forward to the game.

Security officials were forced to let fans spillover from the terraces to just in front, level with the pitch but still a fair distance from the players thanks to the running track.

Persegres bought a fair amount of support, too much for their enclosure so they too were allowed pitch side. Where they mingled with Arema fans who were already there and right in front of a huge terrace full of Arema fans.

Dangerous? A recipe for disaster?

You'd have thought so wouldn't you? But oh no. Did it kick off? Did the home fans get all tribal and kick out the visiting hoardes? Did it bollocks.

The fans in yellow did their thing all through the game. they sang, the danced and they exchanged banter with the Arema fans above them but things never kicked off.

So unconcerned were the security officials just a few feet in front of them that they rarely took their attention from the game to watch for potential trouble. In England they would have solely watched the fans. Scratch that; in England they would never been let in.

If I had a hat I would take it off to them fans who ripped up the stereotype of the Indonesian football fan. In fact, sod it. I'm gonna buy a hat just so I can take it off.

NOTE - I can only talk about what happened during the game. After the final whistle I headed straight back to idea if anything happened then.

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