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Friday, May 26, 2017

 

Perseru's Game With Persija Postponed

The issue of club licensing can be a tricky subject inn Indonesia thanks to a scattergun approach to its implementation. When the Indonesia Super League began back in 2009 for example all clubs were required to have coaches with A licenses but this has not always been the can. Witness Persib for example. In 2014 when they won the ISL their coach Djadjang Nurdjaman lacked the necessary badges but was allowed to remain in his post. But when Persib entered the 2015 AFC Cup he wasn't allowed the coach the team and another coach was brought in for those games.

Going back to 2009 Persitara had already seen Jacksen F Tiago and Richard Azreg come and go in the hot seat. Facing sanctions from the ISL if they couldn't appoint a coach the side from North Jakarta finally appointed Dirk Buitelaar, a 71 year old Dutchman with a brief, according to the club at the time, to focus on the technical side of things. Indeed teamsheets suggest Buitelaar was named as a Technical Director. 

Forward in time to 2015 and it was licencing issues that saw the PSSI suspended by FIFA. The outfit that oversees sports in the country raised concerns over Arema and Surabaya United which the PSSI ignored. This of course led to security clearance for games being with held and the government ceasing to recognise the PSSI as the people in charge of the game.

There is no doubt the need to license clubs is vital. Without it clubs cannot enter AFC domestic competitions while some clubs may not be too concerned about that for other, more ambitious, more professional clubs it is a matter of great importance. Licensing covers a number of areas including infrastructure, financing, sporting, legal and personnel & administrative. Crucially, licences cannot be transfered which could be a cause of concern for a number of teams.

At the start of the 2017 Liga 1 season there were some concerns Perseru would not be able to play their home games at their Marora Stadium because access was difficult with some clubs facing trips of more than 24 hours factoring in transit time. That issue was addressed with the introduction of regular flights between Jayapura and Biak. 

Given then that the Marora Stadium had been given the green light, and assuming the stadium met all the benchmarks why has Perseru's home game with Persija, scheduled for Sunday been postponed? In the letter sent from Liga to Persija on Wednesday among the reasons stated for the postponement include the floodlights which would not, apparently, ;support' a night fixture. Ok, the floodlights are inadequate yet the stadium was approved for Liga 1 games? Ordinarily Perseru games kick off in the afternoon but for the fasting month all games are evening kick offs to allow the players to break the fast before kicking off. No one anticipated this could be an issue when the go ahead was given to use Marora Stadium?

Not for the first time administrators are reacting to situations rather than anticipating them. And what does this incident say about the whole licensing process in Indonesia when something as basic as floodlighting is overlooked?

The game has now been rescheduled to early August.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

 

Uniform Sides Struggle For Fan Base Across South East Asia


PS TNI fans at Patriot Stadium v Bhayangkara
Love them or loathe them it seems the uniform sides making their debut in Indonesia's top flight are in it for the long haul and if the first few games are anything to go by they are among the division's entertainers with goals galore in their games. PS TNI are now 6th following their 4-1 reverse at Madura United last week but their 7 games have produced a league high of 22 goals while Banyangkara's games have produced 20 goals.

Plenty of entertainment then for the fans and with players like Evan Dimas (Bhayangkara) and Manahati Lestusen (PS TNI) the two teams field some of the most exciting young players in the country. So, what's not to like?

When Bhayangkara hosted PS TNI at Patriot Stadium recently the game was watched by 4,850 fans, a season high for the team once known as PS Polri. Or Surabaya United. Or Bonek FC. And among that number were very few paying punters with the vast majority of the crowd being off duty personnel from the respective service having a day out with their mates, given free tickets and a packed lunch. PS TNI's best crowd was 6,100 against Persib, a figure that would have been well padded by away supporters who wouldn't have had to travel far.

Both sides of course lack a natural fan base having been parachuted into towns with well established local sides. Bekasi of course has been without a league side for a while now following the merger of Persipasi with Pelita Bandung Raya and their subsequent sell out to Madura, hundreds of miles to the east. There is a third side, Persikasi, who usually play in the lowest reaches of the football pyramid. Meanwhile Persija have chosen Patriot Stadium to be their home base while Bung Karno is being renovated ahead of the Asian Games next year and they of course regularly bring crowds in excess of 20,000 to their home games. Bhayangkara's average attendance is a mere 3,700 despite the ease of access to the stadium. That number is 18% down on last season's average when they played in Sidoarjo though of course it is likely to increase substantially when/if Persib and Persija come to town. To be fair the cops have made efforts to attract local support with the formation of a supporters club, called Bhara Mania, but it is early days and there is no way of telling how many fans they will be able to attract from the Bekasi area.

PS TNI's average crowd of just over 2,500 is the second lowest in Liga 1 and is more than 50% down on last season when they also played at Pakansari Stadium. The army side's stadium, like the venue in Bekasi, is new and holds around 30,000. Cibinong however is already home to a local side, Persikabo who play in Liga 2 and while there were times last season when some of their fans attended PS TNI games that doesn't seem to be the case this season.

For sure, many fans are annoyed at the way in which the military sides have suddenly arrived on the scene by purchasing more established sides'  licenses. Unlike other leagues in South East Asia this is the first season with both a military and police backed side in the top flight so we are in virgin territory here but lesson from around the region suggest neither side will be successful in attracting a fan base beyond people who share the same uniform.

Let's look at Malaysia for example. PDRM (fans pictured left) and ATM (above) have been around for years now and this season find themselves playing in the second tier Premier League. Unlike Indonesia where clubs outside the top flight can still attract healthy attendances as far as the average Malaysian football fan is concerned if you are not in the Super League you don't exist. 

Like Indonesia, both PDRM and ATM lack a viable home base and tend to move from stadium to stadium. This year the Cops started the season at Paroi, home to Negeri Sembilan and their biggest crowd of the season, over 4,000, came when they hosted their co tenants back in February. They have played their most recent home games in Melaka with no evidence of fans turning ut in large number since the move. ATM on the other hand are playing in Tanjung Malim and when they hosted PDRM the attendance was recorded as 153.

Back in 2012 though and ATM were the minted club of Malaysia. They were being called the Manchester City of Malaysian football, made some big money signings and won the Premier League at a canter, scoring 72 goals in their 22 games, as well as finishing runners up in the Malaysia Cup. And that was it. They finished mid table in the Super League and in 2014 only escaped relegation by goal difference. Twelve months later they finished 11th with a meagre 11 points from their 22 games and were back in the Premier League after losing a play off and last season finished 11th. The dreams of becoming a major player in local football soon fell apart and with Johor Darul Ta'zim changing the benchmark ATM couldn't compete or didn't want to.  I saw ATM play at Kelantan in the Malaysia Cup semi final and they were backed by a reasonable away support. Certainly more than are currently watching them. No glory, no fans.

Thailand take the uniform fetish even further. They have an Army United, Police Tero, Navy and Air Force Central with the middle two in Thai League 1. Navy average 2,700, the Cops 2,000. In Thai League 2 Army are pulling in less than 1,000 while the Air Force have a division high average attendance of 3,722. Doncha love Wikipedia?!

The numbers show that once a uniform side drops out of the top division in their respective country base commanders lose interest and because these clubs lack a natural fan base they end up playing in front of small crowds which only swell should there be a scent of a promotion challenge. The implicit message is supporters don't really want to follow a uniform side, they prefer to support a team with which they can identify. It's not rocket science for football fans and even in Singapore they seem to appreciate this as they rebranded their own uniform sides as Home United and Warriors in a bid to attract support from the wider community.

For me I'm just enjoying the opportunity to see some regular football and when schedules allow I am happy to go along and see both teams. But if there is a conflict and for example other more established sides are playing at home then I would prefer to go and see them. I'm English and I don't feel uniform sides have a place in professional football and judging by the crowd figures that is a sentiment shared by others. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

 

Persikabo Fans Protest After Ciliwung Derby Loss

It is perhaps one of Indonesia's more understated derbies but a mere 20 kilometres separate Persikabo's Pakansari Stadium from Persikad's Merpati Stadium. There has been bad blood between the two sets of fans in the past apparently but the one time I saw them meet there was little in the way of violence.

The two teams met last weekend at Pakansari Stadium with the Persikabo support feeling unhappy with their team's start to the season and the threat of their beloved side in Liga 3 is looking more likely by the week.

Persikabo lost the game 2-1 leaving them bottom of Group 2 after five games with just a single win to their credit. Given the geographic nature of the group there are plenty of local derbies which allow for the Persikabo support to travel in reasonable numbers meaning more fans have witnessed the poor start to the campaign. 

With nine games left to play Persikabo are already six points behind second place Perserang with the fans fully aware only the top two sides are assured of a place at least in Liga 2 next year.

Going into the Ciliwung Derby with Persikad the fans were unhappy with the direction the club was heading with one fan group tweeting 'today is your last chance Persikabo. Sorry, if you lose there are no more chances.'

Source -Bogor Daily
They lost and the game was marred by a handful of fans invading the fans to try and get at the club officials. Security eventually arrived and detained the pitch invaders but trouble continued outside the ground when some fans congregated outside the main entrance in a bid to release their mates. 

Interestingly, at a time when so many fans and clubs are quick to blame the coach, Persikabo fans' ire is directed towards the club management with one fan blaming the club's current predicament on the management who, they say, are not open. The supporters, he says, are disappointed with the management team and are really worried the club could be relegated.

Liga 2 is now taking a break for the fasting month and will return in July with Persikabo fans hoping for a change in fortunes when the team travel to Karawang to take on Persika.

 

Foreign Coaches Interested In Persebaya Job

One of the reasons why Persebaya fans fell out with their last coach Iwan Setiawan, before the infamous Martapura incidents, is they felt he didn't understand and or respect the culture of the football club and its fans. They felt he was quick to boast but his boasts were rarely matched by actions on the field.

Bearing that in mind it is interesting that a number of foreign coaches say they are interested in the opportunity to coach the football club. 

Among them is Laurent Hatton who coached PS TNI for their first three games of the season before being replaced by Ivan Kolev. It seems Hatton hasn't been scarred by his experience and is still in Indonesia hopeful of another job here. 'I hear Persebaya have just sacked there coach. Who knows, I could go there,' he has been quoted as saying.

One coach with slightly more experience in Indonesia than Hutton is Misha Radovic. The Serbian born coach has previously worked with Pelita Jaya and Persisam (remember them?) and played for Bonnyrigg White Eagles when I was following St George in the old National Soccer League in Australia. He says he is ready to handle the pressure from the Bonek who want to see Persebaya back in the top flight.

Swede Stefan Hansson is another coach who is undaunted by the task. The former Mitra Kukar and Persela coach recently stepped down at Persema in Liga 3 and having spent a number of years in the country is well aware of Persebaya and the magnitude of the club. 'Persebaya re a big club,' he says 'of course many coaches would be interested in working there.'

While those three coaches do have some kind of pedigree in Indonesia none come close to Carlos De Mello. The Brazilian, now with Liga 2 side PSGC, was part of the Persebaya side that won Liga Indonesia back in 1996/97 and retains fond memories from his time in Indonesia's second city.

One coach who has ruled himself out of the running for the job is Timo Scheunemann. He recently stepped down as coach of Persiba and following rumours linking him with the job in Surabaya he has said he will be focussing on his family and his outside work as well as helping to train new coaches entering the profession.

While the names above are by no means definitive and obviously exclude local coaches it would appear the front runner could be De Mello...were it not for the fact he is currently coaching a rival Liga 2 side with ambitions of their own.

UPDATE - respected Persebaya fan website Emosi Jiwaku suggest Angel Alfredo Vera, Jaya Hartono and Aji Santoso are among the candidates for the vacant seat. Vera led Persipura to the Indonesia Soccer Championship last season before being surprisingly replaced on the eve of the new campaign. Santoso of course is with Arema while Hartono is with Liga 2 side Sragen United.



Tuesday, May 23, 2017

 

Week 8 Indonesia Liga 1




Monday, May 22, 2017

 

Persib Fall-Out Continues As Umuh Has His Say

Manchester United, Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid. These clubs are giants in their countries, someone sneezes within the stadium or training ground and the whole world knows in seconds. Persib are on the same level, at least within Indonesia. Different media are always hanging round the club because they know stories are clickbait, especially when things are going wrong.

But are things going wrong? Yes, they drew 2-2 with Borneo at the weekend and are three points behind leaders PSM. They are still unbeaten. Young players like Febri Haryadi, Gian Zola and Billy Keraf have come through and made an impression on the notoriously hard to please Bobotoh. So why is so much of the news gloomy?

Twice, Persib have gone into the final seconds of games leading 2-1 only to see the ref blow the final whistle and they end up with a single point to show for their efforts. First it came away to PS TNI when they led 2-0 with a few minutes remaining. Drew 2-2. Then the Borneo game. Trailing 1-0, they clawed themselves back into contention, led 2-1 only to miss a penalty and concede a late, late goal and drop more points. Those four points irk. So does the manner of the final 20 minutes against Borneo.

Persib manager Umuh Muchtar is usually good for a quote or six. In the headline greedy English media he would be on a par with Jose Mourinho for a go to person by journos looking for some words of wisdom. 

Following the disappointment of the Borneo draw Umuh didn't disappoint. He was angry Michael Essien, the team's star marquee signing, missed the penalty. Hell, he was angry the Ghanaian had even taken the spot kick with Vladimir Vujovic the clubs appointed taker. Essien's kick was high and wide, this video shows it from a number of angles.

Umuh wasn't finished. He then slammed Indonesian international midfielder Raphael Maitimo who was alleged to have been laughing on the team bus after the game. Umuh feels Maitimo wasn't being contrite enough and sharing in his team mate's disappointment at dropping two points. In response to criticism on social media Maitimo did an Eric Cantona and said 'Big trees catch a lot of wind' which hasn't done much to endure him to the faithful.

Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman didn't escape either. Umuh warned the coach's position could be evaluated if there is a poor performances in their next game, away to Bali United.

Just a reminder, Persib are second and are unbeaten this season. They also have the best defence in Liga 1. They have kept clean sheets in five of their seven games. They are also seven points ahead of rivals Persija. So it's not as if Persib are having a poor season.

Umuh went on to express his disappointment with Carlton Cole hinting the former England international striker could be released when the transfer window opens. Cole arrived in Indonesia carrying an injury and according to Umuh he doesn't seem to be recovering going on to suggest when he does play it seems like Persib only have 10 players on the pitch. 'I will now take control,' he said as quoted by fan website Simamaung. 'I will get involved with the composition of the team...we can see we are not sharp enough...in addition Cole won't be played again. We can see why, he is injured. I won't play him again.'

All this of course begs the question why the club went ahead and signed a player they knew was carrying an injury.

I am often asked what Persib fans expect and sadly the only answer I have is to win every game or sweat blue blood doing so. Persib fans expect their side to win, win well and play with a swagger. I think there is also an element of frustration with team selections so far this season. Essien and Maitimo won't come cheap, neither would Carlton Cole, and coach Djadjang is perhaps under pressure to play players he may not have had a role in signing. That means other players, terrace favourites, are getting overlooked as the coach seeks to juggle his expensively assembled, and very talented, squad.

Coaches have an unenviable task at the best of times. In Indonesia their duties lie beyond picking the best XI as they seek to accommodate the whims and fancies of powerful figures at the football club and the dreams and aspirations of the fans on the terraces at the same time as winning games. 

Djadjang won the Indonesia Super League in 2014. This is the first chance they have had to defend that title and while the team may not have started as spectacularly as the Bobotoh would like surely he deserves the opportunity to try and get his team of all stars to perform at the highest level week in, week out over a sustained period of time and not just seven (unbeaten) games?

 

Persebaya Finally Axe Setiawan

Just yesterday I had planned to do a post praising Persebaya as a club who were sticking by their coach even as the supporters were calling for his head and some had undertaken to boycott their beloved team until Iwan Setiawan had gone.

One reason why the club had chosen to be faithful to the coach despite his misdeamours in Martapura was an unwillingness to upset the mood or the atmosphere among the squad. I must admit in my time hear I had never come across such thinking before and felt it was worthy of praise. Typically clubs are quick to fire a coach as soon as the first murmers of discontent echo round the terrace.

Despite protests in the last two games, including Iwan's initials appearing in a choreo separated by a pig's head, Persebaya's new owners thought appeared to be of sterner stuff as they put team spirit first.

They weren't going to let the coach off that easily though and his one match suspension was doubled meaning he wasn't in the dug out when the team travelled to Yogyakarta to play PSIM. They came from behind to draw 1-1 meaning they had collected four points from two games since Setiawan had been suspended. Win their game in hand against PSBK and they would go top of the group.

However this morning the club announced they had decided to end Setiawan's contract after all. The decision was taken, the club said, after carrying out an evaluation over the last couple of weeks, never sure what that means, and taking into account the atmosphere among the players and the supporters.

The club are now looking for a replacement though as far as I'm aware no names have been mentioned yet.




Sunday, May 21, 2017

 

Carlton Cole - This Is Bandung, Not London

Persib for 24 hours at least share top spot in Liga 1 with PSM. Both teams have 13 points and both have a similar goal difference. Victory for the Makassar side would see them go three points clear but the fact remains Persib are still unbeaten after seven games and handily placed to protect their title they won in 2014.

But the fans ain't happy. Yesterday's 2-2 draw at home to Borneo saw some fans stay behind after the game to jeer the players with one supporter yelling he was embarrassed by the team. Embarrassed? Bloody hell, some people think Arsenal fans are entitled. We saw #DjanurOut trending after Persib had drawn their opening two games of the season; it is trending again after yesterday's draw. What would the reaction be if they lost?

Despite going 1-0 down against Borneo yesterday, Persib clawed their way back into the game with a nicely taken goal by youngster Gian Zola and the reliable old warhorse Vladimir Vujovic turning in at the far post. From 1-0 to 2-1 up in 12 minutes isn't a bad fightback. The turning point came in 70 minutes when Michael Essien missed a penalty, skying  his kick high and wide. Borneo went on to equalise in the last minute through a glorious strike from Matheus Lopes.

Yes, a disappointing way to drop two points but not the end of the word, surely? Not an embarrassment?

When Carlton Cole and Essien arrived back in April I tweeted at the time if they were expecting any kind of honeymoon they had arrived at the wrong club. Their past deeds meant nothing in the eyes of the demanding Bobotoh who had their own definition of success. To be fair, missed penalty aside Essien hasn't done to badly, two goals in his seven appearances so far. But Cole has struggled to make an impression with just over 100 minutes playing time spread across three games. No goals and one yellow card.

The impatient Bobotoh aren't impressed. One banner seen at the home game against Persipura said 'Djanur - If Cole Playing Without
Goal His Failed. That was 7th May during Persib's fifth game of the season. There were more banners at yesterday's game.

A harmless tweet yesterday gave an insight into the level of frustration felt by Bobotoh to the former West Ham United striker. All he did was ask people to check out his Instagram page but he won't have expected some of the responses he received:

Played well first,
Social media Promotion then

Slow Fat
this is Bandung, not London
Try hard work hard

right after your first goal mate

Play well for Persib first, then we'll follow

When Cole arrived in Bandung he said he was looking to score between 10 and 20 goals in the season but for whatever reason it's not happening for him. Looking from the outside it looked a strange signing from the very start. As a player he is similar to Sergio van Dijk and although van Dijk missed a few games through injury surely that was no reason to fork out a large amount of cash on Cole when something short term was needed. The Cole signing has all the marks of a vanity purchase.

Cole immediately found himself in the Bobotoh bad books soon after his arrival when he came on as a substitute to replace a young local lad Billy Keraf who was making his debut. Keraf had impressed the fans with his fleeting appearance but when coach Djadjang replaced the pacy youngster with the more experienced player, a very different sort of player, the fans were less than impressed. With Djadjang and Cole. Intriguingly they drew that game 2-2...with a goal conceded in the last minute suggesting the issues Djadjang needs to look at are more defensive than offensive. But as a highly priced import Cole is the easier target

Undoubtedly Carlton Cole is in a difficult position. He is at a club where the coach may not have had him on his wish list, struggling to get game time and is becoming a lightning rod for anger against the coach. None of this is his fault. He is not the first player to go through this at Persib where the fans readily admit they expect the best from day one. But they are also quick to offer respect to players who can turn their fortunes around. Cole has only to speak with his team mate Kim Jeffry Kurniwan who was the victim of the boo boys last season. He stuck in there, worked hard, kept doing what he is good at and turned the fans around. 

Cole can do the same. He just needs game time. Unfortunately he may not even get that.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

 

Nwokolo Breaks Duck As Madura Put PS TNI To Sword

Yesterday in my match preview I wrote about how Madura United needed their strikers to step up to their plate in their clash with PS TNI and boy did they reply in kind. They thumped the unbeaten visitors 4-1 at Bangkalan Stadium with the kind of performance we have been waiting all season to witness.

Marquee player Peter Odemwingie was again at the heart of Madura's performance with his fifth goal of the season but this time not only were Madura able to take the lead, they were able to hold on to it, something they hadn't managed in their last two games.

The experienced Greg Nwokolo opened the scoring, and his account for Madura United on 17 minutes and Odemwingie made it 2-0 just before half time. The visitors replied early in the second half when Leonel Jorge Nunez made it 2-1 but any hopes of a fightback were quelled when Slamet Nurcahyo made it 3-1 on the hour mark. Dane Milanovic put the icing on the cake four minutes later, his second in two games, to end PS TNI's unbeaten start to the season and catapault Madura United up to second place.

But it is Odemwingie who will get the headlines and if we are yo have marquee players then surely the Nigerian is a hit. While Carlton Cole has struggled at Persib, Odemwingie has fitted straight into a Madura side already well blessed with striking options and the adoring fans have taken to calling him The Great Odemwingie after his electrifying start which also includes three assists.

PS TNI may point out they were missing important players like Abduh Lestalahu, Manahati Lestusen and Elio Martins but a performance like this has been in Madura United's locker all season. The only surprise is it has taken so long.



Friday, May 19, 2017

 

Madura United Need Their Strikers To Be On Target Against Unbeaten PS TNI

An example of the changing face of Indonesian football later on today when Madura United host unbeaten PS TNI at Bangkalan Stadium. The last time these two sides were slated to meet in league competition was May 2015 in the aborted Indonesia Super League campaign when both clubs looked very different.

Back then, what am I talking about, it was only 24 months, Madura United were known as Perspasi Bandung Raya with the Bekasi based club having taking over Pelita Bandung Raya. PS TNI were known as Persiram, a side based in Papua but which played their home games in Java. Both sides have this season earned a reputation as being hard to play against, something that was rarely applied to their former incarnations.

PS TNI are unbeaten of course going into this game and are buzzing after defeating top of the table PSM last time out 2-1. However their physical approach hasn't been winning them many admirers and tonight they line up against Madura United without Manahati Lestusen and Abduh Lestalahu who have already earned the wrath of match officials and the PSSI disciplinary committee.

The military backed side though are not only about an in your face approach. They have some lads who can play a bit. There may have been some surprised faces after three games when the club ditched their coach Laurent Hatton and two of their foreign players but the players don't seem to have been too concerned. Indeed the addition of Leonel Jorge Nunez (pictured left), one time Johor Darul Ta'zim, and Facundo Talin should be seen as a step up in class on Aboubacar Leo Camara and striker Aboubacar Sylla as was evident from their performances against PSM on Monday night.

Facundo has sipped into the heart of defence and already looks at home. He looks to be an old school defender, one who howls at the moon if he thinks it would help his team mates, and one who seems to have adapted quickly to the Indonesian game if his performance on Monday is anything to go on.


Without the prowling menace of Lestusen and Lestalahu PS TNI will need to have Facundo at his very best. Madura United boast their own marquee player who has hit the ground running in Peter Odemwingie. The Russian born Nigerian international who played for Stoke City seems to have had little trouble in adapting to life in Madura having scored four goals in opening six games and his performances have seen Greg Nwokolo, a player who has been there, done that in Indonesia, struggling for game time with sporadic appearances off the bench. 


Despite boasting such an abundance of attacking riches, Gomes de Oliveira's team have yet to find their shooting boots and despite ending against Perseru last time out with Odemwingie, Nwokolo and Boubacar Sanogo they had to make do with a single point against a team that generally travels pretty poorly.


This failure to finish teams off is costing Madura United. Scoring first against Persija is one thing, the Jakarta side have been struggling for goals all season. But an impressive showing away to Arema saw Madura take the lead through the impressive Aussie Dane Milanovic but they were pegged back when Cristian Gonzales scored from the penalty spot. Against PS TNI who have their own potent threats up front Oliveira will be hoping his array of striking options will be on target or the points could well be heading back to Cibinong.




Wednesday, May 17, 2017

 

Persija Give Under Fire Teco Two Games

Persija have said they will give their coach Stefano Cugurra, also known as Teco, two more games before deciding his future. This follows a poor start to the season when, after defeating Persiba 2-0 in their opener, the last five games have seen the Macan Kemayoran pick up two points from their last five games.

Fans protested after the 1-0 loss away to Persela and the protests grew after Persija conceded a last minute equaliser to Mitra Kukar last weekend.

Persija's next games are at home to Bali United this Sunday and a tricky away game at Perseru, a 5,000 kilometre trip to a stadium where visiting teams rarely leave with much more than jet lag. 
Club chairman Gede Widiade, who recently held an open house where fans and players got together to discuss the poor start to the season, says the two game target is not an ultimatum but a professional target. ''We continue to evaluate performances and will make a final decision after the Perseru game,' he said.

Reading between the lines there seems to be an unwillingness to follow the leads of other clubs who have already replaced their coaches so early in the season and Gede talks about having no candidate lined up to replace Teco nor does he feel sacking the Brazilian will change much. 'If I stop now it will not solve the problems.'

He is right. For a football club with such a large fan base Persija have been a case study of how not to run a football club for so long now it stopped being funny years back. A new approach is needed within the football club but it takes time to create a professional ecosystem and football fans are notoriously short of patience with some Persija fans demanding Rahmad Darmawan stop what he is doing in Malaysia immediately and return to the club he has coached three times, winning nothing.

Persija started the season well, following up the win at Persiba with a draw against Barito Putera in Bekasi. The wheels then fell off the campaign with three narrow defeats against PSM, Madura United and struggling Persela, all by the same 1-0 margin. A return to winning ways looked on the cards against Mitra Kukar last time out before ex Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko scored a late equaliser.

The club have found goals hard to come by in the last couple of years and despite the recruitment  of Bruno Lopes and Luis Carlos nothing much seems to have changed in 2017. The failed to get out of the group stage n the President Cup, defeating PS TNI, drawing with Arema and losing to Bhayangkara. Things didn't improve much in the Cilacap Cup, losing 2-0 to Madura United and beating hosts 1-0. Fans with long memories are casting their minds back to the 2013 season when they too won just one of their opening six games. They finished that campaign in mid table.

Teco remains confident he can turns things around and doesn't feel the team is playing badly. 'In every game we are creating chances to score goals and hitting the woodwork,' he says and he is right. The team isn't playing too badly, defensively they remain strong, but they are profligate in front of goal when they do create chances. Persija fans though don't seem to be in the mood to accept mice approach play. They want results and it is the actions of the supporters that will ultimately decide the coach's future.

 

The Challenges Facing Vingada, Rajevac & Milla

I must admit I had to Google Malaysia's new coach Nelo Vingada. Much as I had to search on line for new Thai coach Milovan Rajevac and Indonesia's Luis Milla. It does seem a coincidence that three of the largest footballing countries in South East Asia have plumped for coaches with no experience in the region. After all, how often do we hear the plaintive whine from local football officials a new coach 'must understand the local culture'?

And of course they must. After all it is a local culture that has produced a number of World Cup and AFC Asian Cup winners...oh, wait a minute.

For years and years local clubs and associations have delighted in sending players, coaches and administrators overseas on so called study tours. I guess the idea of these, beyond those so important selfie moments, is to pick up a few ideas about how to do their own jobs in a more professional manner. How useful have these trips been? About as useful as marquee players I may suggest?

Do you think Arsene Wenger worried too much about the culture within the Arsenal when he took over back in 1996? Here was a guy who had never won a major trophy, was French and wore glasses yet he was telling London lads like Ray Parlour, Paul Merson and Tony Adams they had to stop getting pissed all the time and could have no more Mars Bars. That there was no uproar says much about the professionalism of the players and their receptiveness to new ideas they saw could benefit their careers.

Suffice to say had the PSSI, FAM or the FAT appointed Wenger back in 1996 and he had tried to interfere with diet or lifestyle there would have been a revolt and player power would have driven him out within months of his arrival. The precious snowflakes with their years of footballing success know what is needed to be successful within the parameters of their culture and anyone who tries to ignore those cultural obstacles must be shown the door.

Putting facetiousness aside what does it say about local culture when Kiatisuk Senamnuang, who has pretty much earned the right to be the doyen of Thai football, is unable to convert that nation's football culture into one that challenges in Asia? Thailand has some wonderful players, certainly among the best in the region, and two of the best run clubs. Yet a wholly Thai backroom team is unable to convert that template into a team that can go toe to toe with its peers from beyond South East Asia as we have seen in their futile AFC Asian Cup/World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Back to Malaysia. They enjoyed success under Rajagopal when they won the AFF Suzuki Cup back in 2010 but they never looked like taking that success and repeating it against the real Asian powerhouses beyond ASEAN. After 12 years with local coaches the FAM, under new leadership now of course, have sought to think out of the box with a coach who has worked in Portugal, China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, South Korea plus plus. When Steve Darby says Vingada ticks the boxes that is good enough for me.

But the challenges ahead for both Vingada, Rajevac and Milla don't only lie in understanding the cloak of local homogeneous culture we keep hearing about; the bigger challenge is interpreting how the clubs and the FAs interpret that culture for their own interests. Not everyone involved in football is involved for football reasons and not all decisions taken are taken for footballing reasons. This backroom pettiness and ego-massaging are two of the biggest impediments to football success in the region and the sooner the new men can understand this the sooner they will realise how hopeless their task is!

Johor Darul Ta'zim and Muang Thong United have shown what a well run football club can achieve in recent seasons. JDT won the AFC Cup back in 2015 and the Thais have done superbly well in this year's AFC Champions League. But they are professional oases amid a desert devoid of ideas or imagination. They are the exception that proves the rule sadly. They are role models, it is to Johore Bahru and Muang Thong that local clubs and associations should be sending their people to learn from, not more glamourous destinations further afield. They have shown how success can be achieved while still appearing to stay true to this local culture we always hear about. Truth be told these two clubs have outgrown such thinking and embraced professionalism but until most clubs in the respective leagues follow their example then no matter who is doing the top job is going to struggle.

 

Race For Top Two Guarantees Liga 2 Thrills

With the exception of the odd game the focus here has been on Liga 1 but in many ways the tougher league this season is Liga 2. There, eight groups with 61 teams are fighting for the right to play in next season's second tier. Teams finishing outside the top two face the drop in what is being described as the biggest relegation ever.

As things stand the top two from each group will go through to the second round while the next four will go into a play off to avoid relegation. The bottom four teams will have to contemplate life in Liga 3 next season. As you can imagine the pressure is really on, no more so than at some of the bigger clubs, those with history and a large fan base, to ensure they will not have to face an uncomfortable future in the lowest tier.

And there are some big clubs in Liga 2. Clubs with fan bases that dwarf so called big clubs in Malaysia and Thailand. Clubs with a history that pre date the Johnny Come Latelys like Buriram United, Muang Thong United and Johor Darul Ta'zim. Sadly they lack the sugar daddy who can make their dreams come true. All the same clubs like PSMS, Persita, Persebaya, PSS, Persis, PSIS, Persijap, PSIM, Persik and Persikabo could together form a pretty decent looking league with large crowds assured.

Then we have newer sides with ambitions of their own. PSCS, PSGC and Martapura spring to mind in this category. And what about clubs who have moved city and changed their name in a bid to join the top table? Celebest, Lampung Sakti, 757 Kepri Jaya.

The pressure to at least stay in Liga 2 has forced clubs to aim high with some appointing coaches who boast more than decent pedigree in the top flight. Arcan Iurie, Raja Isa, Fernando SalesCarlos de Mello and Jaino Matos are among the foreign coaches who have been turned to in search of the promised land. Meanwhile local coaches such as Jaya hartono, Bambang Nurdiansyah, Nova Arianto, Subangkit and Fredy Muli are among a host of big names trying their luck in this most hottest of leagues.

This weekend sees the last round of fixtures before the Liga 2 stops for the fasting month and this is how the tables stand as of now.

Group 1
1 - PSMS 4 4 0 0 11-0 12
2 - PSPS 4 3 1 0 7-1 10

Group 2
1 - Perserang 4 3 0 1 8-5 9
2 - Persita 4 3 0 1 4-3 9

Group 3 
1 - PSGC 5 3 0 2 5-6 9
2 - PSCS 4 2 2 0 3-1 8

Group 4
1 - Persis 4 3 1 0 6-2 10
2 - PSIS 4 3 1 0 6-3 10

Group 5
1 - Madiun Putra 4 2 2 0 5-3 8
2 - Martapura 4 2 1 1 7-5 7

Group 6
1 - Persik 4 3 0 1 9-5 9
2 - PSMP 4 3 0 1 7-3 9

Group 7
1 - Persekam 4 1 3 0 7-5 6
2 - Madura 4 1 2 1 6-5 5

Group 8
Persebul, Yahukimo, Persigubin, Perswa, Persifa, PSBS, Perseka

Group 8 hasn't started yet!

As an example of the strength in depth in Liga 2, Persijap host PSS today while PSIS meet PPSM and PSIM take on Persebaya tomorrow. Sadly we don't seem to be getting the attendance figures for Liga 2 games this season so no idea how many will be watching these three games alone. And even for me, in my football starved area, I am spoiled for a game on Sunday with Persita v Persika, Pro Duta v 757 Kelpri Jaya, Persikabo v Persikad and even Persija v Bali United in Liga 1!

With a number of the groups still very tight, for example just two points separate all seven teams in Group 7, the climax to Round One could get very messy and very bloody. I wouldn't want to be a ref or linesman!


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

 

Bantul Residents Say No To Persebaya Fans

Two of the biggest names in Indonesian football, PSIM and Persebaya, meet tomorrow in Liga 2 in a clash that is sure to attract one of the largest crowds in South East Asia this week. But the final attendance figure won't be as high as it could be after local residents who live in and around the Sultan Agung Stadium said they didn't want to have any visiting Persebaya fans coming to the game.

Local residents got together to rally the game organisers and security officials saying they still remember the last time Persebaya fans came to town. It was back in 2012 when Persija hosted Persebaya 1927 at the same stadium in the old Liga Primer Indonesia. I'd best explain a few things here. The year 2012 was the height of duelism with two leagues featuring teams with the same name but different ownership.

In that season Persija LPI were not allowed to play their home games in Jakarta, the local Jakmania who supported the other Persija, said the imposters were not welcome. Persija then hosted Persebaya 1927 in Bantul, a supposedly neutral venue but close enough to Surabaya to ensure a large following from the City of Heroes.

With no Persija fans in attendance, quite why people would want to run a football club without supporters has never been explained, the travelling Bonek kicked off in the streets and gangs around the stadium, making off with food and other items without paying and so on. The local residents haven't forgotten those scenes hence the appeal.

PSIM have agreed to the request and so instead of a large following from Surabaya swelling the attendance the home side will have the stadium to themselves.

This decision marks the second time a Persebaya away game has been impacted over security concerns. They have still to play PSBI after security clearance wasn't issued for the home side's small stadium and after some talk the game may have been played in Surabaya it could now go ahead in Blitar behind closed doors. 

While many football fans have welcomed the return of Persebaya after a few years in the wilderness not everyone is so welcoming. The team's away games often see them followed by a large number of supporters, we are talking thousands, and small towns and cities aren't able to cope with the numbers or the  behaviour of some of the fans who cling to the Bonek ideal of seeing the game as cheaply as possible.

 

Week 6 - PS TNI End PSM Unbeaten Run To Close Gap

Liga 1

Persipura v Bhayangkara 3-2 (Prisca Womsiwor, Ferinando Pahabol, Boas Solossa; Thiago Furtuoso, Ilham Udin Armaiyn) 6,500

The last time Persipura lost at home was against Persib in the Indonesia Soccer Championship last July, The last time they lost on their own patch in the league was five years ago to the day...well, minus one day. When Boas made it 3-0 with nine minutes remaining it looked like yet another game, set and match for the Black Pearls. Bhayangkara fought back however and a goal from Furtuoso, his third of the season, om 83 minutes set the game up for a nervy climax. Ilham scored in injury time to make it 3-2 but by then it was too little, too late.

Gresik United v Persiba 2-1 (Patrick da Silva, Komarudin; Marlon Silva) 3,716

The bottom two sides met up at Tri Dhamma Stadium in front of a sparse crowd but Persiba's new coach Milo Seslija was unable to halt his side's poor run. Gresik's win puts them three points ahead off the cellar dwellers who will be hoping their return to Balikpapan in the near future will spark a recovery of sorts.

Semen Padang v Persib 0-0 11,872

A fourth straight clean sheet but Persib were unable to secure the three points that would have seen them overtake PSM at least temporarily. With Sergio van Dijk still unavailable and Carlton Cole struggling for form, did he really say he would score 20 goals this season, Djanur started with Shohei Matsunaga up top but he was unable to break the deadlock against a resolute Semen Padang side

Sriwijaya v Barito Putera 3-2 (Hilton Moreira, Alberto Goncalves 2; Pizky Pora 2) 18,720

Back to back wins for Sriwijaya but so much depends on Hilton and Beto remaining fit all season. After the game Sriwijaya coach Osvaldo Lessa was impressed by the performance of marquee player Tijano Belaid and his team. 'We won because of our quality and hopefully we can climb the league in the future.'

Bali United v Borneo 3-0 (Ahn Byueng Keon, Yabes Roni) 1,800

Persija v Mitra Kukar 1-1 (Bruno Lopes, Mohamed Sissoko) 26,120

Teco Out! The cry went out at the final whistle after ex Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko netted a last minute equaliser to deprive the home side of a valuable three points. Persija now have one win, two draws and three losses from their opening six games but while this point ended a three match losing streak it was not enough to cheer up the home support. After the game it took veteran Bambang Pamungkas to force the players to show some appreciation to the fans as the team headed to the dressing room in sombre mood. Later some of the fans heckled the team as they got on the team bus to return home. Persija are 15th in the table now but at least have another home game to ook forward to when they entertain Bali United next weekend. After that they face a tricky trip to Perseru. One story doing the rounds suggests Teco has those two games to turn things around.

Arema v Madura United 1-1 (Dane Milanovic; Cristian Gonzales) 14,240

One point from the last two games means Arema have fallen a little bit off the pace after their fine start to the season and here they needed a second half penalty from Cristian Gonzales to save their blushes against a resolute Madura United side. Again Arema went for Gonzales and new import juan Pino meaning no starting place for Dedik Setiawan again after scoring three goals in his first three games. Since opting for the expensive foreign strikers Arema have failed to score from open play and it must be concering coach Aji Santoso they have scored five goals from their six games this season.

Perseru v Persela 0-0

PS TNI v PSM 2-1 (Elio Martins, Leonel Nunez; Reinaldo)

Pardon the pun but when you take on PS TNI you know you will be in a for hard fight but this game was ultimately marred by one of the worst refereeing performances it has been my misfortune to witness. The first half was shocking by the man in the middle and their were supporters around me calling for the hapless whistler to be replaced at half time.




The old adage was you had to earn the right to play and if you wanna play against PS TNI then you need to match their physical approach. Then again this is Indonesia and that ploy may not be appreciated in certain quarters. The Army Men do get in the faces of their opponents early on but make no mistake, they can also play a bit. Surprisingly Laurent Hatton was replaced as coach despite being unbeaten after three games but Ivan Kolev has come in, replaced the foreigners, kept the physical nature but added some guile especially up front.

Elio Martins and Leonel Nunez have impressed since they arrived, Nunez's goal was nice, and at the back Facundo is that old school defender, bawling instructions non stop and ready to argue with anyone not on his side. But PS TNI aren't all about the foreigners. They also boast promising young talent like Manahati Lestusen. But as they set about PSM who have shown themselves to be a more than useful side themselves it is worth pointing out the home side were without Abduh Lestalahu while Gustur Cahyo Putro only came on in the second half and Guntur Triaji never got a run out.

Second half, when the ref focussed more on his job, PSM had the chances to earn at least a point and fully deserved it would have been. In Wiljam Pluim they have perhaps one of the finest imports of recent seasons while further forward Reinaldo showed the benefits a bruising centre forward can bring to a team. 

The second 45 minutes was as good an advert for Indonesian football as the first was bad. Despite the quality in their squad it remains to be seen whether PS TNI will ever appeal to a fan base beyond off duty military personnel wearing military fatigues no matter how good their support was. As for PSM, they will play much worse and still win.

1 - PSM  6 4 1 1 9-5 13
2 - Persib 6 3 3 0 6-2 12
3 - PS TNI 6 3 3 0 10-7 12
4 - Arema 6 3 2 1 5-2 11

4 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United), Reinaldo Elias (PSM), Boas Solossa (Persipura), Hilton Moreira (Sriwijaya)

Monday, May 15, 2017

 

No More Pyro, No More Party?

Since last season football authorities have been clamping down hard on flares inside stadiums, handing out hefty fines to clubs whose fans misbehave and set them off inside the stadium. Flares have long been a part of the terrace culture here and add to the the colour and the atmosphere but could those days be coming to an end?


In England they are outlawed and there is even a poxy website and a series of scaremongering

posters that highlight the evils of flares and the damage they can do to fans and players alike. But then England is the ultimate nanny state, a nation of snowflakes who are warned in advance should a news report feature flash photography!

Now though it seems the message is getting through to Indonesian fans and in the absence of any serious security they are taking to policing themselves as a couple of recent incidents highlight.

Towards the end of the Persela v Persija game at Surajaya Stadium a flare was let off on the home terrace. Supporters moved quickly to extinguish the smoke and, umm, point out the gentleman they feel was the offender.

In Surabaya 24 hours later a flare was thrown on to the pitch from the East Terrace after Persebaya took the lead and the game was held up for a few minutes while stewards rushed to douse the smoke. Meanwhile on the terraces other supporters made their feelings known to their fellow fans with a series of less than complimentary chants.

Personally I don't see much wrong with the odd flare or two. I would rather officials got serious about supporters smoking inside the stadium, surely more dangerous than any pyro, but I feel I am in the minority there. That is one kind of smoke that is most definitely permitted inside the stadium.

 

Bambang Pamungkas - Legend

Bambang Pamungkas may no longer be a starter for Persija but the 36 year old striker is still the man who understands the club and the club's connection with its large fan base and his influence within the club remains immense.

That influence was evident last week when I saw the game at Persela. It was strange seeing him wearing a bib and warming up with the other substitutes at half time but there was absolutely no indication he was some big time Charlie going through the motions and engaging in some banter.

Indeed, while Bambang was most definitely part of the group stretching together he was most definitely putting the most effort in to the moves. His focus was on doing the exercises, not having a laugh.

As the players came on for the second half Bambang was there with an arm around the shoulder and a quiet word for some of the younger lads, passing on his experience and his wisdom.

And after yesterday's disappointing draw at home to Mitra Kukar when a late equaliser from Mohamad Sissoko cost Persija three points, the home fans let their displeasure known as the players gave them a half hearted wave before heading for the tunnel. Even with the dissent echoing round the stadium Bambang was waving his team mates back out towards to the middle of the pitch to show some appreciation for the incredible support they had received during the game.

Marquee players will come, pocket large pay cheques and go but it is players like Bambang who understand the hold the game has on people and reassures us amid the sometimes brutal world of Indonesian football there are some people who can see beyond their own egos and bank balances.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

 

Week 5 - PSM End Arema Run To Stay Top

Liga 1

Bhayangkara v Gresik United 2-1 (Thiago Futuroso, M Ichsan; OG)

Simon McMenemy's side came from behind to overcome plucky Gresik at the Patriot Stadium to make it back to back victories following their loss at home to PS TNI.

Persib v Persipura 1-0 (Michael Essien)

Those hashtags calling for coach Djadjang Nurdjaman to be sacked have soon be forgotten. Persib's third win on the spin saw them move to the top of the Liga 1 at least for a few hours. Carlton Cole started, got booked and was taken off at half time. Essien, on as a second half substitute, scored with a penalty just shy of the hour mark.

Borneo v Semen Padang 1-0 (Lerby Eliandry)

Madura United v Perseru 1-1 (Peter Odemwingie; Mariando Djonak Uropmabin)

There is no telling which player will adapt quickly to Indonesia and which won't. Odemwingie is sure hitting the ground running as he scored his fourth goal of the season to give his side the lead against Perseru. If the home side were expecting to go on and win this game though they were sadly mistaken. The visitors were level within 15 minutes. This was their first away point of the season, last year they picked up five on the road.

Barito Putera v PS TNI 0-1 (Erwin Ramdani) 

PS TNI moved up to fourth after this hard fought win which saw 10 yellow cards dished out, including seven for the visiting side.

Persiba v Sriwijaya 0-2 (Maldini Pali, Hilton Moreira) 300

With new coach Milomir Seslija in charge of his first home game Persiba showed flashes of what they could do but ultimately lacked the quality Sriwijaya possess in spades. Mind, if it wasn't for a couple of quality of saves by Sriwijaya keeper Teja Paku Alam who knows what might have happened. Nine yellow cards, seven for the visitors.

Persela v Persija 1-0 (Ivan Coehlo) 11,500

Enjoyed this game. Ultimately the difference between the two teams were the differing  threat posed by Fahmi Al Ayyubi and Ivan Coehla. Another quality performance by Andritany in the Persija goal kept the score respectable but the Macan Kemayoran had the chances to salvage a point from the game. More about where this result leaves the Persija coach Teco can be found here.

Mitra Kukar v Bali United 2-1 (Hendri Adi Bayauw, Anindito Erminarno, Sylvano Comvalius)

After two wins following the sacking of Hans Peter Schaller Bali fell back to eart in East kalimantan despite taking the lead. They can look forward to a new coach with Widodo Cahyono Putro taking over

PSM v Arema 1-0 (Reinaldo)

Arema conceded their first goal of the season as they fell to their first loss of the season is this thriller from Makassar. They also ended the game with 10 men after Junda Irawan received a second yellow card on half time. Reinaldo scored the only goal of the game on 56 minutes and despite playing with 10 men for half the game Arema were still able to cuase problems for the home side. Despite scoring three goals in three games, coach Aji Santoso dropped Dedik Setiawan and partnered Cristian Gonzales with Juan Pino up front.

1 - PSM Makassar 5 4 1 0 8-3 13
2 - Persib Bandung 5 3 2 0 6-2 11
3 - Arema 5 3 1 1 4-1 10
4 - PS TNI 5 2 3 0 8-6 9
5 - Bhayangkara 5 3 0 2 7-7 9

4 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United)
3 - Dedik Setiawan (Arema), Reinaldo (PSM), Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United), Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar), Lerby Eliandri (Borneo), Ivan Coehlo (Persela), Boas Solossa (Persipura), Anindito Erminaro (Mitra Kukar), Hilton Moreira (Sriwijaya)

 

Persija Loss Piles Pressure On Coach Teco

It hasn't been a good season for coaches so far in Liga 1. Two were replaced before a ball was kicked in anger and since the first games on 15th April a further three have been removed from their poistions (at PS TNI, Persiba and Bali United). It could have been four had Persib bowed down to a fan led campaign on social media calling for Djadjang Nurdjaman to be sacked after seeing their team draw their opening two games. Fortunately Persib stuck by their man and they are now second in the table after a run of three straight wins.

The next coach to feel the heat is Teco at Persija. While Persib have won their last three games their bitterest foes have lost their last three, failing to score in any of them. Long time Persija followers will know things haven't been going well at their club for a while. Last season's Indonesia Soccer Championship campaign was disappointing as they finished 14th and only managed to score two goals in a game on three occasions. 

Since the inception of the Indonesia Super League the club from Jakarta have failed to mount a sustained bid for the title. The last time they came close was in 2007 when they finished as losing semi finalists in the old style Liga Indonesia though 2010/11 saw them finish a credible 3rd eight points behind champions Persipura. Their last success came in 2001 when they were champions. A trophy drought that has lasted 16 years and shows no signs of going away any time soon.

Following their 1-0 loss away to Persela yesterday Persija fans were quick to take to the internet calling for Teco to be sacked in what is becoming a sad and predictable knee jerk reaction. But should the fans' reaction be seen as a knee jerk response to three losses and 288 minutes without a goal or should it be considered in the context of another season that promises little in the way of success if the first few games are anything to go by.

At the start of the season a new guy took over at the club and as is often the way with these takeovers it was greeted positively by the fans desperate for a return to the glory days. But Indonesian club owners tend not to be cut from the same cloth that produced Roman Abramovich. They don't see their club as a rich man's toy. In fact I am not sure what they see the club as in many cases.

Coach Teco has worked hard to improve the squad though some signings were left a little late. In have come Luis Carlos Junior and Bruno Lopes to add a more muscular presence up front. In fact when you add Rohit Chand, Gunawan Dwi Cahyo and William Pacheco you have got one of the more physically imposing line ups in the Liga. Tellingly, with Persija chasing the game he pushed on Bambang Pamungkas and Rudi Widodo, in other words the more traditional approach.

The performance of Persela's Ivan Coehlo though showed how a big target man who is effective on the ground can unsettle defences. His was not on a physical presence but he showed a deft touch on the ground as well, a constant thorn in the Persija defence. At the other end however the Persija attack was profligate with the chances they had, threatening to scare birds nesting in the trees behind the goal rather than Choirul Huda in the Persela goal.

I don't think Persija played too badly but that is immaterial in the minds of the fan base. Around 800 headed to East Java for the game and they went home bitterly disappointed at the result and the lack of goals. They seem themselves as a big club and the inability to make any serious challenge for silverware season after season is frustrating them and as an Arsenal fan I feel some sympathy with them! 

The easy target when tempers boil after another loss is the coach as we have seen too often this season. Sadly for the coach he is not always the correct target but most fans know there is little that can be done with the way their club is being run. This plus the cultural deference that is shown to people of status means for many attacking the club owners, be it any club, is a faux pas (which puts the actions of Persebaya fans in recent years into sharper focus).Too often owners, and again I am not just talking about Persija, want to be seen to be listening to fans and can bow to their wishes in a bid to look popular. But sometimes what a football club needs is time. Persija fans though feel 16 years is more than enough time. In the middle sits the coach.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

 

Too Many Mergers Spoil The Club


Second tier Thai side BBCU recently withdrew from the competition for reasons yet to be fully articulated. I can't say they will be missed much. We see too often clubs being bought, merged, relocated it is difficult to know what they are, what they were and what they will be in the future. BBCU is a classic example.


Once upon a time there was a team called Sinthana. I recall them from my time living in Bangkok primarily because their name stood out among a sea of letters; PEA, PAT, TFB, SET, BBC et all. They were quite successful at the time winning the odd trophy along the way but this was a time when Thai domestic football hadn't caught on among the local.


In 2004 Sinthana merged with Chulalongkorn University and the new entity became known as Chula Sinthana and four years later found themselves in what was then known as the Thai Premier League. In 2008 they changed their name to Chula United and played their home  at a stadium in Chulalongkorn University.


Thai football was changing around that time but despite being located in the heart of Bangkok Chula United were struggling for supporters. I saw them play Pattaya United in 2009 and there were more fans from the beach resort, mostly beer swilling foreigners, than home supporters. Chula United lost 2-0 and the biggest cheer I heard from their small following came when the PA announced it was one of the fans was celebrating his birthday.

I decided there and than I didn't want to see Chula United again. It was like being in a large anime with their garish pink shirts and speech bubble quotes. Even though they played close to where I usually stay when I'm in town I would prefer to visit the dentist than watch this non ffotball club again. They got relegated that season and my apathy knew no bounds.

In 2011 the club announced a name change to fit in line with new sponsors. BBCU. Big Bang Chula United and they moved their base to the Army Stadium. BBCU christened their new name with promotion and decided they would play their games in the top flight at the Rajamangala Stadium. Yep, the venue used by the national team and capable of holding 65,000. This optimistic flight of fancy didn't pay off as the team promptly got relegated after a season where they arrived 939 spectators at their home games.

They relocated to Nonthaburi, far from their academic roots in Chula and managed to get promoted in 2015 but finished bottom of the aborted 2016 season and found themselves back in the second tier. 

When BBCU announced their decision to remove themselves from the league they had played 12 games, winning just three. They were 15th in the table with 12 points and averaging less than 800 per home game. 

I wonder if birthday boy is aware the club in its latest incarnation have withdrawn from the league. I wonder how he feels? Or did he give up when the club started its nomadic jaunt around Bangkok? Or perhaps he moved on to support another team or just got married, settled down to have a family and visit malls at the weekends? 

I often wonder at people's motivation for getting involved in football. It can't be the money. Perhaps there are precious egos that need stroking but if that is the case surely a badly run football club would have the opposite effect. Wouldn't that damage the 'face' of the owner? Seriously, I have no idea. All I can see is the debris of a once proud football club consigned to the pages of Wikipedia and RSSSF thanks to the whims and fancies of a management team who lost interest.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

 

Week 4 - PSM Survive Scare To Win In Serui

Liga 1

PS TNI v Persiba 1-1 (Soon Hak; Marlon da Silva) 1,197

Two teams with differing starts to the season, both went into this game with new coaches and it would be Milomir Seslija who would be the happiest of the two after seeing Persiba pick up their first point of the season, Marlon scoring a lovely first half goal to give them the lead.

PS TNI's new coach Ivan Kolev was happy with what he saw. 'For this game I feel the 11 players I picked gave their best even though it was not the result I expected.' Kolev was handicapped from the get go, being without the services of Abduh Lestalahu and Manahato Lesutusen following their red cards in last week's firey encounter with Bhayangkara.

Arema v Barito Putera 1-0 (Dedik Setiawan) 7,447

Perseru v PSM 1-2 (Omar Zeineddine; Reinaldo Da Costa, Titus Bonai) 1,600

Back in 2009/10 Robert Alberts took his Arema side to Wamena. Ahead of the long journey he came out in the media and said he would not be happy were decisions to go against his side, the inference being clear if the irony was less so (an in joke there 555).

After this game Alberts went on to Instagram praising his medical staff for their work after striker Reinaldo Da Costa had received a knock. It's worth quoting in full...

Life savers.....our medical team Dr Arga and physiotherapist Wahyo saved the life of our player Reinaldo on the field during our match in Serui....Reinaldo was elbowed in the face and fell down...he swallowed his tongue at that incident....a life threatening situation....it has only 8 minutes to help him....and our medical team managed to control his situation....a big thank you to our medical team (SOURCE Robert Alberts)


Apart from the result and the injury the game was remarkable for the experience of Asnawi Bahar. The 17 year old came on as a 73rd minute substitute. He was booked three minutes later and sent off on 90 minutes. 

The win means PSM are top of Liga 1 with Arema who they meet next up

Persija v Madura United 0-1 (Peter Odemwingie) 25,400

I left the pub to catch a train to get to this game..only to get stuck in traffic on Jalan Tendean for almost an hour so I gave up! I missed Nigerian Odemwingie scoring his third goal of the season and half a dozen yellow cards. Persija's season yet to get going and they have now been scoreless in the last two games. Echoes of last season. As for Madura, they started the game with Greg Nwokolo and Aboubacar Sanogo on the bench!

Bali United v Semen Padang 2-0 (Morcos Flores, Sylvano Comvalius) 4,254

There must be something in this tactic of sacking a coach after two games of a new season, After all Bali United have won their last two games. Perhaps the club have discovered the secret of football success?

Sriwijaya v Bhayangkara 1-2 (Alberto Goncalves; Evan Dimas, Thiago Furtuoso) 

Eight bookings, one red card. After losing against a nine man side last week, Bhayangkara ended with 10 today after Jajang Maulyana was sent off but returned to Bekasi with the points as Sriwijaya continue to search for their Mojo under Osvaldo Lessa. Will they find it?

Mitra Kukar v Persela 3-2 (Marclei Santos, David Septiawan, Anindito; Marcio Rosario, Samsul Arif) 3,352

Gresik United v Persib 0-1 (Billy Keraf) 12,405

A week ago Persib fans were calling for coach Djadjang Nurdjaman to be fired after the club, despite its highly priced imports had drawn both their opening games. Forward a few days and after a couple of wins the mood has mellowed. Keraf's first goal, coming in injury time, only adds to the sheen surrounding this lad after a couple of cameo appearances. Essien came on as a sub, Cole never featured, Instead the story of Persib this season is the story of Febri and Billy, two young players at the start of their careers.

Persipura v Borneo 2-1 (Boas Solossa 2; Abdul Rahman) 4,656

1 - PSM 4 3 1 0 7-3 10
2 - Arema 4 3 1 0 4-0 10
3 - Persib 4 2 2 0 5-2 8

3 - Boas Solossa (Persipura), Peter Odemwingie (Madura United), Dedik Setiawan (Arema), Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar)

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