Google
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

 

Sepakbola - The Indonesian Way Of Life


Book promotion is in full swing with a number of interviews either completed or in the pipeline. So far we've had chats with  CNN Indonesia, Bola,com, Tirto, Indosport, Jak101FM, Juara.net, KRJogja, Goal.com, Kumparan, Media Indonesia and this week promises even more appearances.


The official launching will take place next Friday in Jakarta, details on the flyer below. For those who have already purchased the book, many thanks for your support. For those who have ordered but yet to receive. The logistics of Jakarta's traffic create their own unique problems. And for those who wish to order they can do so from PilihBuku

Now seems a good opportunity to offer up sincere thanks to three people without who etc etc. Syakib who has handled the technical aspects of getting a book from a writer's idea into people's hands. Yusuf Andibachtiar who bravely offered to translate my ramblings into Bahasa Indonesia and managing to keep the flavour of the original meaning. He has also drawn on his extensive media connections to get the word out there. Yeap, this strange foreign guy not only watches football, he enjoys it and has written about it. And my wife...so patient...so supportive.

Don't forget to keep following Jakarta Casual on Twitter and Instagram for the latest news and events regarding the book and also of course Indonesian football. It ain't all bad, you know,


 

President Cup 2017 Group Stage Wrap Up

Group 1 (Sleman)

1 - Mitra Kukar 3 1 1 1 4-4 4
2 - Gresik United 3 1 1 1 2-2 4
3 - Persipura 3 1 1 1 2-2 4
4 - PSS 3 0 3 0 3-3 3

This was an exceedingly tight group. It produced some exciting games, who can forget Mitra Kukar coming back from 3-0 down against the hosts, as well as the largest crowds with an average of 28,000 watching each match day. PSS can consider themselves unlucky to go out but they fought bravely and now have the Piala Digantara to look forward to.





Group 2 (Malang)

1 - Arema 3 2 1 0 7-1 7
2 - Bhayangkara 3 2 0 1 3-3 6
3 - Persija 3 1 1 1 2-2 4
4 - PS TNI 3 0 0 3 1-7

Group 3 (Bandung)

1 - Persib 3 3 0 0 6-1 9
2 - PSM 3 1 0 2 3-3 3
3 - Persela 3 1 0 2 2-3 3
4 - Persiba 3 1 0 2 3-6 3

Group 4 (Bali)

1 - Pusamania 3 1 2 0 1-1 5
2 - Sriwijaya 3 1 1 1 4-4 4
3 - Barito Putera 3 1 1 1 3-3 4
4 - Bali United 3 0 2 1 3-4

Disappointing for the hosts to finish bottom of their group as they begin life after Indra Sjafri. Pusamania under Ricky Nelson scored one goal in 270 minutes but that was enough to secure a spot in the semi finals.

Group 5 (Madura)

1 - Semen Padang 3 3 0 0 12-0 9
2 - Madura United 3 2 0 1 4-3 6
3 - PSCS Cilacap 3 1 0 2 1-6 3
4 - Perseru 3 0 0 3 2-10 0

4 - Marcel Sacremento (Semen Padang)
3 - Marlon da Silva (Persiba), Vendry Mofu (Semen Padang), Cristian Gonzales (Arema), Sergio van Dijk (Persib)

The draw for the quarter finals will be held tomorrow. Ties will be held 25/26 February in Solo. The following teams will be in the draw;
Mitra Kukar, Arema, Persib, Pusamania, Semen Padang, Madura United, Bhayangkara, Sriwijaya

Monday, February 13, 2017

 

Penang Pressure Grows After Fourth Loss

After a fourth straight loss, this time at home to Sarawak, Penang fans kicked off outside their Batu Kawan Stadium. So far this season they have complained about their goalkeeper, their kit and their performances. Saturday's protest seemed aimed at the guy in charge of the Penang Football Association.

The Penang fans have yet to see their team score this season and they remain rooted to the bottom of the table after four games with zero points one point behind Melaka United. They also turned on new signing Australian midfielder Diogo Ferreira with one fan describing him as a reject. The 27 year old had a good season for Persib last year but it seems the Penang support have no patience.

The situation at the club isn't helped by the fact coach Ashley Westwood is having to sit out a number of games following a recent ban. For the man who led Bengaluru to such success in India life in Malaysia on the tropical isle is proving to be a steep learning curve. Malaysian football doesn't do patience with owners passionate believers in gardening leave for underperforming coaches and we have already seen Johor Darul Ta'zim and Felda United say adios to their coaches.

Penang need stability. Fans forced out Jacksen F Tiago last year and while Bojan Hodak and Nenad Bencina came in to steady the ship they didn't stick around for the new season. Westwood would seem an ideal appointment given his track record in India but will he be afforded the luxury of time in Penang where a fragile club leadership seem to willing to listen to fan unrest

 

PSB Fans Rally To Clean Up Stadium

The football map has sure changed in the 11 years I have been doing Jakarta Casual. A league dominated by city/district football associations is slowly morphing into an all together more professional set up with private money funding a newer breed of club. Football has had to adapt to a number of structural changes most importantly the banning of tobacco sponsorship and the inability now of local governments to fund their local teams.

In 2006 Persik won the Liga Indonesia, their second title in a short period of time. PSIS, Persekabpas and Persimin all reached the play offs that season. Today both Persik and PSIS find themselves in Liga 2 but Persimin and Persekabpas?

Other teams from that season have also fallen on hard times. PSMS. Persitara. Persikota. PSDS. Persibom. PKT Bontang. Deltras. Persiter. Persiwa. Persigi. That's almost half the league clubs from 2006 suffering a fall from grace. 

We may not like it but one reason for the rise and fall of football clubs is down to politics. Much depends on the support from the local politicians and if they have no interest in the game then the football club suffers. If they are passionate then the converse is true.

Over the last couple of weeks I have visited stadiums in Tangerang and Depok that have fallen on hard times. They have been allowed to go to waste through lack of investment. Another stadium suffering a similar fate has been the Pajajaran Stadium in Bogor. Home to PSB. To all intents and purposes PSB have failed to exist during the life time of Jakarta Casual. There has been the occasional appearance in the third or fourth tier but information is hard to find, The last time I recall them, or their stadium, being in the news was when former US president George W Bush landed on the pitch in a helicopter on his way to a meeting.

Football clubs belong to their community, at least they used to in England. They still do in Indonesia and as we have seen with the fans of Persebaya in recent years no matter the apathy among those who have the power to make decisions on the ground the football club remains in the hearts and minds of the supporters.

So it was last weekend when PSB fans gathered at their team's stadium to carry out some much needed repairs on their fading home ground. It is doubtful they achieved much tangible beyond picking up some rubbish but their efforts showed that for some at least the football club lives on. There may be a Persikabo but they belong to the district of Bogor, a wider geographical construct but for the people who gave up their Sunday to do their bit for their team there is only one team in Bogor. 

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

 

Persib's Vujovic Decides Tight PSM Clash

President Cup

Persiba v Persela 1-0 Marlon da Silva) 1-0

This was a meandering pre season friendly with players still getting to know their teams mates. It didn't need a ref dishing out yellow cards like a broken vending machine. Ten were shown in the game including a second for Persiba's Abdul Rahman. I was at the game and didn't realise he had received his marching orders. Da Silva acored the only goal from the spot on 69 minutes. From my vantage spot it looked like the ref got that right at least.

Persib v PSM 1-0 (Vladimir Vujovic) 1-0 17,863

Not a classic but both sides showed they would be among the teams challenging for honours when Liga 1 begins at  the end of March. In 2014 when Persib won the Indonesia Super League Montenegran defender Vujovic played a crucial part in their success as this story shows. He has lost none of his knack for netting when needed as he scored the only goal of the game just shy of the hour mark. Looking forward to seeing more of these two teams during the season.

 

'Easy' For Schaller To Accept Bali United Job

With Indra Sjafri taking over the national Under 19 team it not many people felt Bali United would be coach-less for long. It's Bali for goodness sake, No doubt the postman struggled under the weight of the applications that headed to the Isle of the Gods when it was learnt Indra had been headhunted by his former employer,

Interestingly it wasn't a job hunt carried out in the sports pages so whoever got the job would have had the element of surprise.

And the job has gone to...Hans Peter Schaller. Last seen assisting his compatriot Alfred Riedl with the national team at the AFF Suzuki Cup, Schaller is no stranger to the Indonesian leagues having worked with Persiba a few years back.

Working as a football coach on Bali? What kind of job is that? Schaller has no doubts. He says Bali United are like no other team he has worked with saying the club is being set upon along the lines of a European club. 'Bali United are different,' he says. 'It was easy for me to accept the job offer.'

He will watch his new team take on Sriwijaya later today in the President Cup.

 

Nervy Times As Persikad Wait On Stadium Renovation

With a new season set to start in March Liga 2 side Persikad are doing all he right things. They have appointed ex Persija assistant coach Isman Jasulmei as their coach for the campaign and have been busy holding trials as they seek to build a squad fit for the rigours of whatever lies ahead.

There is though one cloud on the horizon and it is a pretty big cloud at that. As I discovered when I visited the recently their stadium Merapati Stadium (pictured left), is in a bit of a state. The pitch is threadbare in places and the terraces and stands are in a pretty poor condition as well.

Persikad are now worried they may have to relocate. Again. It wasn't that long ago they were playing their home games in Purwakarta after all.

History may repeat if the club are unable to get their stadium repaired by whatever deadline there is. So now the club are hoping the local government will help them out with laying a new turf and tidying up the spectator areas.

'If not,' said a club official 'we must automatically find a new stadium. Not only must we pay out a lot of money, we would lose our supporters as well.'

Happier times for Persikad, pictured left away to Persikabo.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

 

Persipura Dominate But PSS Fans Earn Plaudits

President Cup

PSS v Persipura 0-0 31,620

This was the opening game of the President Cup 2017 and it was so dominated by the visitors the 0-0 would have surprised most. However the man of the match would have been the PSS fans who put on such an impressive display on the terraces everyone from the President of Indonesia to a leading Arema fan website was left purring.

Mitra Kukar v Gresik United 1-0 (Oh Inkyun)

It was left to Korean Oh Inkyun to score the first goal of the President Cup in the dying embers of first half injury time The win means Mitra Kukar top Group A with three points. I'm sure you can work the rest out!

Arema v Bhayangkara 2-0 (Esteban Vizcarra, Dendi Santoso) 7,223

Two teams with new coaches it was Bhayangkara who blinked first in what is/was ostensibly an East Java derby when I Putu Gede walked after receiving a second yellow on 51 minutes. Within 10 minutes Vizcarra was on the score sheet and Dendi made it 2-0 with 13 minutes remaining.

It was a sombre occasion for Arema keeper Kurnia Meiga who wore the number 47 shirt in honour of his elder brother who sadly passed away recently.

When these two sides met in the Indonesia Soccer Championship last year more than 29,000 watched the game. There were less that 25% of that number this time around continuing a trend of falling attendances to hit Arema in recent months.

Persija v PS TNI 1-0 (Rudi Widodo) 581

More than a few people have remarked on Persija's lack of numbers up top. They went into this game with Widodo making his debut for the club and Chilean Christopher Arriagada trialling. Widodo scored the winner on 92 minutes against PS TNI fielding foreign players for the first time. Indeed had another debutant Mamadou Barry's effort on 29 minutes not been disallowed by the officials there could have been a very different outcome to the game.

As it is Persija are second on goal difference but will surely continue to struggle until they can solve their shortages in the striking department.

Malaysia Super League

Felda United v Kedah 1-1 (Hadin Azman; Ken Ilso) 6,211

PKNS v Selangor 5-3 (Patrick Wleh 3, Safee Sali, Matias Hadwa; Syami Safari, Francis Forkey Doe) 6,113

Perak v Melaka United 3-2 (Thiago Di Aquino, Yashir Pinto, Vladislav Mirchev; Jeon Woo Young, Izzaq Faris Ramlan)

T Team v Penang 1-0 (Mahamadou Samassa) 821

Sarawak v Pahang 0-1 (Chinedu Bright Ezendu) 8,011

1 - Pahang 3 2 1 0 7-1 7
2 - Perak 3 2 1 0 5-3 7
3 - Kedah 3 1 2 0 5-4 5

Malaysia Premier League

Terengganu v MISC-MIFA 2-1 4,670
Kuantan v PDRM 3-1 383
Negeri Sembilan v PKNP 3-1 3,643
KL v UiTM 1-1 375
Perlis v Sabah 1-3 1,400
ATM v JDT II 1-5 232

1 - Kuala Lumpur 3 2 1 0 5-3 7
2 - Terengganu 3 2 1 0 3-1 7

Thursday, February 02, 2017

 

The Best Football Culture In South East Asia

The following is a translation of my interview I recently did for an Indonesian news website called Tirto. Any mistakes are mine!

- Through his book Jakarta Casual wants to introduce Indonesian football to people who may not be aware of it.
- Jakarta Casual feels Indonesia's football culture is pretty good

Jakarta Casual met with Tirto is a shopping mall in South Jakarta. He looked quite comfortable even though he didn't like the cold air from the air conditioning. The Englishman will release his first book Sepakbola: The Indonesian Way Of Life on 14th February.

With his big, tall body the 52 year old was wearing an Arsenal hat. Judging by the faded colours it looks like he has had the hat for a while!

Jakarta Casual has been an Arsenal fan since he was young. He remembers his first game was against West Ham in 1974 (the original says 1973 but it's my story) and even though the game ended 0-0 he has been a fan ever since.

From the age of seven he would read any book he could about Arsenal. His favourite players were Liam Brady and Dennis Bergkamp while his father supported Watford.

There is one unique thing about him. To learn about Indonesian football he has seen more than 200 games  during  his 15 years in the country. Not just the top teams but also in the lower leagies like Divisi Utama, Divisi Satu etc.

He fell in love with Indonesian football after watching his first game at Lebak Bulus in 2006 when he saw Persija play Sriwijaya. The game wasn't the best but he enjoyed the experience and wanted to see more.

In his book he talks about what happens in and around football and feels Indonesia has one unique feature compared to the rest of the region. It is when security officials can walk on the field to stop play when violence on the field or off it gets out of hand. 'FIFA ceases to exist and is replaced by local security forces.' In other countries the referee's word is final.

Despite the reputation football fans he praises fans for their devotion not just to their team but also to their players if they feel they are putting in a shift. 'You don't have to have been here a long time to recognise the respect fans (in Bandung) have for their players past and present.'

Tradition and history is what sets Indonesian football apart from the rest of the region plus the enthusiasm of the supporters even though Indonesian football isn't that successful.

Next is the interview

Since when have you been overseas?

Since I was born. I was born in Africa, grew up in Germany, Belgium, England. I moved to Australia in 1987 so I have been an expat 30 years. I stayed in Australia three years then had two years in Germany. From Germany to Thailand. Thailand to Bangladesh. Bangladesh to Thailand. Etc etc.

When did you come to Indonesia?

The first time I came here was 1987. Next was 1991 but I came to live in 2002.

Why have you been here so long?

I got married here. Been married 11 years this year and have a seven year old son. I was tired with Thailand and had two job offers. One from China and one from Indonesia. China has winters so I came to Indonesia!

How long have you liked football?

All my life. I used to live in North London near Arsenal. In those days you supported your local team so Arsenal it was. Even though I have been away so long when I do return to England the first thing I do is check the Arsenal fixtures. Then I book flights. It may mean I have to pay more for the tickets but I'm not going all that way to miss the Arsenal!

When was the first time you saw a football match?

First game was 1973 when my father took me to see Brighton. We had just relocated from Belgium and were staying in the area. The next year I went to the Arsenal for the first time.As I got older if I had the money I would go see the Arsenal. If there was not enough cash then I would go see other games.

What makes the English league so good compared to other leagues?

You probably think the English league is good but English teams don't win the Champions League and England don't do well at the Euros or the World Cup. I don't think it's that great.

So why do you think so many people are attracted to the English league?

Because I think the atmosphere and the marketing is so good. The marketing is so much better than Spain or Italy, even Germany. Plus people have known about English football since the 1970s, 80s. Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United have been familiar names for about 30 or 40 years.

The first time Arsenal came to Indonesia was 1983 so they were already a familiar name. You didn't hear about Barca or Real Madrid then. Plus fans are loyal. For example Arsenal fans. Even though they haven't won much in recent years the fans who joined the local Supporters Clubs 10 years ago are still there and the numbers are growing.

Did you watch football in Thailand or Bangladesh?

No. Not while I was there. Now though I have seen a few games in Thailand.

What is the difference between the Thai and Indonesian leagues?

The Thais are still fairly new to football. Before 2009 Thai teams were pretty bad (note; they were exceptions like BEC Tero and KTB but I am talking more about football as a spectacle) so the new teams are quite new. Indonesia has PSM, 1915, Persebaya 1927, Persija 1928, Persib 1933. Indonesia has the history and from that history develops the culture.

Ask Persib fans about the time they travelled to Jakarta for a fnal against PSMS in the 1990s and most will have a story to tell. Maybe not their story but from a family member. The Thais don't have that history.

Have you met with supporters of all Indonesian teams?

No, not all because there are many teams I haven't seen.

There are then some questions about individual fans and teams as well as comparing with South America.

How about the fighting between supporters?

Have you seen Alexis Sanchez? He hates to lose or even draw and he shows this quite visablly. Getting upset is part of football. When a team wins another must lose and we must all be aware of this. Losing doesn't give you a license to get violent.

Fans need role models and clubs could be better in this respect. You see club officials attack match officials, players attack officials. Not the best example for young fans in a tinder hot atmosphere. This is one issue that needs to be addressed but it is  not for foreigners to solve it. Solutions must come from within the game.

Do you get involved in the violence?

Never. Not in England and not in Indonesia. I've seen it but I don't get involved, Imagine the headlines if I am pictured kicking off?!

Have you faced any problems at games in Indonesia?

I think Indonesian people are very friendly. When people see me at games they say 'Hello mister, where are you going?' I reply 'watch the football' in bahasa Indonesia, They're surprised to say the least!

Why did you write the book?

Why? Search for Arsenal on Google! Indonesia is the fourth biggest country in the world. It has the best football culture in South East Asia. It has more fans attending games in the lower leagues than some of the 'biggest' clubs in the regions. And no one knows a thing about it! People see Indonesia in the news and it is usually bad. Violence, Natural disasters. Tsunamis. Only negative reporting. When I started Jakarta Casual I wanted to write about a different side of Indonesia.

When I started the book I was hoping it would get published in English first. I never thought there would be any demand for it locally. So the original plan was for it to be Indonesian Football 101. I was surprised, and happy, when someone suggested translating it into Indonesian!

So it's important the books gets distributed here?

Yep because many people don't follow local football, prefering MU etc. When I told my wife I wanted to watch a game she was like 'no way, are you sure?' thinking I was a nutter.

But Indonesian football is fun and I want to help tell people it is fun. It's not perfect, of course it isn't but if you want to learn about life, culture even politics then take an in interest!

Why doesn't Indonesia have a world class player?

Why doesn't England? We give players lots of money, tell them they are world class but they are not. The hype is world class, that's about it. It's not easy to find world class players and in England it is costing us a small fortune to learn that lesson.

In Indonesia it is harder because there is little organisation. There are soccer schools here and there and many are excellent. But there is no clear career path for the kids. It really depends who knows about which soccer school. There are areas like Timor which are massively untapped for young players. But clubs are getting more organised and Bali United for example and Pusamania are looking further ahead by opening their own academies.

If Indonesia meet Thailand again, will they win?

Nope. There needs to be consistency in the national team set up and coaches need to know whatever the age group they will be given time to get results.

What do you think of the coaches here?

Difficult to answer that. I think more need to follow the example of Rahmad Darmawan, Rudy Eko and go overseas. Jacksen F Tiago has just returned from Malaysia. I think new experiences can be a positive thing for players here. Look at the Thais. The Fream Team of the early 1990s, many players went overseas for the money, experiences and because the local league was poor. Kiatisuk for example. Those players are now influential in the game and Thailand's ambitions are towards the AFC Asian Cup and the World Cup, not the SEA Games or AFF Suzuki Cup.

What's most important for you when you watch a game?

Supporters usually but they are just one part of the football experience.

How many games have you seen and have you seen all the teams?

I have seen more than 200 games in Indonesia but not all the teams. I have seen ISl, Divisi Utama...

Why are you interested in Divisi Utama?

Why not?

Because it's not interesting.

Really?

People usually talk about the ISL, why do you watch the lower leagues as well?

Have you heard of PSS? Last year they were getting bigger crowds than teams in Thailand, Malaysia. Many weeks they boasted the largest crowds in South East Asia. And they played in Divisi Utama. Buriram United, Muang Thong United, Johor Darul Ta'zim, they are probably the biggest clubs in teh region. And PSS from a suburb in Yogyakarta were getting bigger crowds. So I don't understand why you say people don't care about football outside the ISL.

Do you think Indonesia can host the World Cup?

No, not yet. The country needs stadiums and it needs infrastructure. Many of the newer stadiums around the country are difficult to reach by public transport. Soreang. Palarang. Bung Tomo. Jakabaring. Investors don't want to build sports facilities, they want to build malls and condominiums.

Is your son an Arsenal fan?

Of course!

What would happen if he didn't want to support Arsenal?

No problem. Go stay with grandma and grandad.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

 

JDT, Sukothai Make Champions League Progress

AFC Champions League

Global v Tampines Rovers 2-0 (Azzawi, Bahadoran) 1,120
The Philippines side went through to the next round where they were drawn against Brisbane Roar

Kitchee v Hanoi 3-2 Sandro, Akande, Lam Ka Wai; Marronkle) 3,778
Bangkok United v Johor Darul Ta'zim 1-1 (4-5 on penalties) John Okunwanne; Safiq Rahim) 4,502

Bahrain international OK John scored in injury time of the second period of extra time to set up penalties but the AFC Cup 2015 winners triumphed to continue their interest in Asian football's top competition

Sukothai v Yadanarbon 6-0 (Katano, Lursan, Ardovic 2, Weerasak) 4,865)
Brisbane Roar v Global 6-0 3,657

AFC Cup Qualifying Round

Phnom Penh Crown v Home United 3-4 (Nakamura, Sokngon, Booysen; Faris Ramli 2, Stipe Plazibat, Izzdin Shafiq) 1,700

Two goals in a minute by Faris set up the Protectors for a narrow win in Cambodia to take back to Jalan Besar for the second leg next week. Nakamura scored in injury time to have the Cambodian supporters beliving but ex Hougang United striker Plazibat restored the two goal advantage on 70 minutes. Sokngon made it 2-3 with six minutes remaining to set up a nervy ending but Izzdin made it 4-2 two minutes later. South African Shane Booysen made it 3-4 in injury time.

Boeung Ket Angkor v Lao Toyota 1-1 (Laboravy; Sayoulasouk) 7,775



Monday, January 30, 2017

 

Pahang Top On Goal Difference After T Team Rout

Malaysia Super League

Kedah v Sarawak 3-2 (Baddrol Bakhtiar, Sandro da Silva Mendoca, Syazwon Zainon; Mark Hartmann, Tommy Mawat) 25,000

Sounds like a proper thriller in the north west as Kedah finally edged out a tenacious Sarawak side in front of a large, passionate crowd. Baddrol gave the hosts the lead on seven minutes with his second goal in two games but they weren't able to hold on to it for long with Philippine international Hartmann scoring his first since signing for the club from Geylang International. Sarawak were 2-1 up on 26 minutes when Mawat scored.

Two goals in one second half minute did the job for Kedah with Mendoca scoring his first of the season and Syazwon, who scored a cracker for Malaysia against Cambodia at the recent AFF Suzuki Cup capping the comeback.

Pahang v T Team 5-0 (Sumareh Mohamdou, Jae Won Heo, Matheus Leandro 2, Chinedu Bright Ezendu) 13,402

Pahang are a different beast after an indifferent couple of seasons and the way they tore into T Team suggests they could be a contender for some silverware this season. The win puts them top of the MSL on goal difference , one of five teams on four points! For Arema and Bali United fans Kiko Insa was substituted on 71 minutes for the home side.

Penang v Perak 0-1 (Shahrul Saad) No attendance announced

Penang marked their move to Batu Kawan Stadium with a loss to Perak, the only goal coming on 78 minutes. Two losses in their opening two games without a goal scored leaves Penang bottom of the MSL after two rounds with zero points. To compound Penang's woes coach Ashley Westwood was sent off after the Perak coach Karl Heinz Weigang pushed the Penang physio. No, I don't get it either but apparently the ref admitted he made a mistake.

Westwood is hoping the return of Papua New Guinea international striker Nigel Dabinyaba will improve the Panthers potency in front of goal though there is no guarantee he will be back for this weekend.

Selangor v Melaka United 1-1 (Victor Stelian Astafei; Khairul Azrin) 5,777

Eric Williams celebrated his first game in charge of Melaka United with a point away to Selangor, his team taking the lead on 75 minutes only for Selangor to draw level six minutes later.

PKNS v Kelantan 1-3 (Gonzalo Manuel Soto; Mohamad Ghaddar 2, Bhadri Radzi) 6,080

Don't you love the start of the season? Many thought PKNS with their stellar strike force would be among the challengers and Kelantan would be a basket case but doesn't look like it after this game. Lebanese striker Ghaddar marked his return to Kelantan with two goals in three minutes and although Soto pulled one back for the home side in first half injury time Radzi restored the two gao margin early in the second half.

A remarkable result for the team from the North East who saw their home game last week called off due to a waterlogged pitch and were forced to relocate to Selangor for training ahead of this game. PKNS? Pointless and winless, they are at least above Penang for now.

Johor Darul Ta'zim v Felda United 3-1 (Fadhli Shas, Gonzalo Cabrera, Brian Ferreira; Norshahrul Idlan Talaha) 18,320

First win of the season for the champions after they were held 1-1 by Kedah last weekend in the Charity Shield. They were forced to come from behind against a Felda side who pushed them all the way in the last campaign.

Malaysia Premier League 

Terengganu v PDRM 1-0 (Shahrin Sapien) 5,000

Trofeo Bhayangkara

Held in Solo. Three games of 45 minutes each.

Bhayangkara v Persija 0-0
Persija v Arema 0-1
Arema v Bhayangkara 0-0

1 - Arema 2 1 1 0 1-0 3
2 - Bhayangkara 2  0 2 0 0-0 2
3 - Persija 2 0 1 1 0-1 0




Friday, January 27, 2017

 

Lucrecio's Late Winner Keeps KL Top

Malaysia Premier League

MISC-MIFA v ATM 2-3 (Michael Chukubunna, Alain Aciar; Pavel Smolyachenko, Bae Beom Geun, Vince Elphi) 500

Is this really a game between two professional football clubs? Ex Persija Aciar came on as a second half substitute and scored but it wasn't enough to earn the home side a point. Ex Persela Steven Imbiri also came on as a second half substitute.

JDT II v Perlis 4-0 (Gabriel Miguel Guerra 3, Nicholas Fernandez) 2,679

JDT II recovered from their loss against KL in their first game of the season to put Perlis to the sword with Fernadez scoring his second in two games.

Sabah v Kuala Lumpur 1-2 (Igor Cerina; Nicolas Alejandro, Guiherme de Paula Lucrecio) 3,000

It took a late winner from Lucrecio to keep KL's perfect start to the season going in Sabah. They remain the only side with a 100% record after two rounds...though not everyone has played two games yet!

PKNP v Kuantan 2-0 (Gilberto Valdeniso 2) 2,018

UiTM v Negeri Sembilan was called off and Terengganu v PDRM is scheduled for tonight.



 

Greater Certainty Can Improve Club's Pre Season

Pre season goes up a gear this weekend with the Trofeo Bhayangkara taking place at the Manahan Stadium in Solo. As well as Bhayangkara, Arema and Persija have been invited to this one day affair which sees each team playing two 45 minute games. Personally don't get the point of these affairs but I'm sure the clubs see some benefit...especially when an estimated 9,000 Arema fans are expected to attend.

A few days later and the President Cup starts. Twenty teams split into five groups as I explained a couple of days back. Ironically hosts Arema have been drawn with Bhayangkara and Persija as well as PS TNI!

Meanwhile in Thailand Muang Thong United are jetting off to Hong Kong to play in the Lunar New Year Cup. Alongside the Thai champions are Kitchee, Seoul FC and Auckland City. In recent days Bangkok has played host to J League Asia Challenge Inter League Cup. Bit of a mouthful I know but a pretty strong pre season competition featuring local sides Suphanburi and Bangkok United facing off against Japanese sides Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F Marinos. 

Buriram United have also been busy. They took part in the Mekong Cup which featured the likes of Lanexang United, Yadanarbon, SHB Danang and Boeung Ket Angkor, winning 2-1 on aggregate over the Lao side in the final. Ok Buriram were given a bye to the final but they next played a friendly against another ambitious Cambodian side, Phnom Penh Crown as well as hosting Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim.

Indonesia? Let's give the benefit of the doubt, they are after all returning from a FIFA imposed suspension that essentially wiped out two years of competitive football, the 2016 Indonesia Soccer Championship may have been competitive on the pitch but it was still unofficial. But Indonesia remains massively isolated from the rest of ASEAN. 

Yes there was talk of Pusamania heading to Cambodia to play in a tournament but even such an ambitious club as that was forced to defer a decision as they waited for the President Cup. Bhayangkara hoped to invite Home United for its Trofeo but seemed to overlook the Singapore side's AFC Cup commitments. And another ambitious local side, Madura United, did mull over a trip to Penang but nothing came of it.

But why was no one considering an approach to JDT? Invite them over for a friendly? It's easier for the Malaysian side to come here than to go to Buriram after all from a logistics point of view.

The other point to take into consideration is one of timing. The ISC only finished before Christmas. January has seen most clubs look at firming their plans for the new season and they could only do that once the new PSSI leadership had laid out its road map as to how the year will look. With the limit on foreign players and age limit restrictions imposed a few clubs suddenly found themselves backpedalling.

Indonesian football's biggest enemy for so long has been uncertainty. With more positive sounds emanating from the PSSI it would be nice if a greater certainty could envelope the game and allow clubs the luxury of organising a better quality pre season. Which ASEAN, or even Australian, club wouldn't want a few days on Bali ahead of the serious business. Why should the Thais get all the big fish?!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

 

Tampines Fail In Global Bid

It was always going to be a tough shout. Tampines Rovers chances of entering the AFC Champions League were close to zero even before they travelled to Manila to face Global given how poorly they fare on the road. 

Even had they defeated the Philippine side last night next up was a daunting tie against Brisbane Roar. Win there and a trip to China to play Shanghai Shenhua was on the cards. Win all three and then they could have looked forward to a few months in the spotlight against the likes of Kashima Antlers and Muang Thong United. Mind that gap.

Mind the Stags won't necessarily find the AFC Cup a push over either. Now the competition has been rejigged and the group stage is something the backers of the ASEAN Super League can only dream bout Tampines find themselves locking horns, or should that be antlers, with Hanoi T&T, Felda United and Ceres Negros from the Philippines. 

21/02 Tampines v Felda United
07/03 Ceres Negros v Tampines
15/03 Hanoi T&T v Tampines
05/04 Tampines v Hanoi T&T
19/04 Felda United v Tampines
03/05 Tampines v Ceres Negros

Nobody said it would be easy. 

Quarter finalists last year Tampines Rovers are sure getting plenty of experience mixing it with regional powerhouses but the hoodoo they face is on their travels. They lost to Ceres in the group stage 2-1 and Bangladesh side Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi recorded their only win against the Singapore side. Victory away to Selangor though was enough to reach the knock out stages and after extra time Tampines did beat Mohun Bagan. They lost 1-0 to Bengaluru last year and were only able to manage a 0-0 when they got them back to Jalan Besar leaving the eventual beaten finalists to face Johor Darul Ta'zim in the semi finals.

In 2014 they failed to get out of the group stage managing to do the double over Indian side Pune but ending up pointless in their other games. That though was an improvement on 2013 when they finished bottom of the group with no wins and draws away to Saigon and Selangor breaking the losing streak. They were also bottom in 2012 with just a single win, away to Terengganu. They did reach the Round of 16 in 2011 after finishing second in their group, incuding a win away to Maldives side Maiyza but they lost to Arbil. Away from home,

Tampines Rovers away record AFC Cup since 2011

18 5 3 10.

Of those five victories 

With two victories from their travels up the highway in Malaysia perhaps the Stags will be looking forward to their clash with Felda United!




 

AFC Asian Cup Third Round Qualifiying

The draw has been made for the 3rd Round of qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2019 with several nations from the region still holding out for a spot in the UAE in two years time. In fact only Indonesia are sitting this out thanks to their suspension by FIFA nearly two years ago.

Group A

Kyrgyzstan, India, Myanmar, Macau

Group B 

North Korea, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Malaysia

Group C

Jordan, Vietnam, Afghanistan. Cambodia

Group D

Maldives, Yemen, Oman, Bhutan

Group E

Turkmenistan, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Bahrain

Group F

Philippines, Nepal, Yemen, Tajikistan

Opening games will be played towards the end of March.

28/03 Myanmar v India, North Korea v Malaysia, Jordan v Cambodia, Afghanistan v Vietnam, Bahrain v Singapore

The first Mekong Derby takes place 5 September in Phnom Penh with the return game 10 October in Hanoi.



 

President Cup 2017 Groups & Fixture Dates

Ok so the draw has been made for the groups in the upcoming President Cup which is due to start early next month despite some misgivings from some sides complaining their pre season preparations are at an early stage. Twenty teams competing, 18 from Liga 1 and the top two from last season's Indonesia Soccer Championship B who this season will compete in Liga 2.

Five groups of four teams. The group winners and the best three second placed teams go through to the quarter final stage which will be played on a home and away basis as will the semi finals. The final will be a one off game.

Group B is essentially a repeat of this weekend's Trofeo Bhayangkara with Arema, Bhayangkara and Persija meeting again. I like the look of Groups C where Robert Alberts highly fancied PSM will take on a Persib side that rarely loses at hoime while Group D brings together four ambitious football clubs who are seeking to be more profeessional than some we have seen in the past.

No idea who plays who, when. Once that info is released I will post it here.

Group A Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman

PSS, Persipura, Mitra Kukar, Gresik United

04/02 PSS v Persipura, Mitra Kukar v Gresik United
09/02 PSS v Mitra Kukar, Persipura v Gresik United
15/02 Gresik United v PSS, Mitra Kukar v Persipura

Group B Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang

Arema, Bhayangkara, Persija, PS TNI

05/02 Arema v Bhayangkara, Persija v PS TNI
11/02 Bhayangkara v  PS TNI, Arema v Persija
15/02 PS TNI v Arema, Persija v Bhayangkara

Group C Si Jalak Harupat Stadium, Soreang

Persib, PSM, Persiba, Persela

06/02 Persiba v Persela, Persib v PSM
12/02 PSM v Persela, Persib v Persiba
17/02 Persiba v PSM, Persela v PSM

Group D Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium, Gianyar

Bali United, Sriwijaya, Pusamania, Barito Putera

07/02 Pusamania v Barito Putera, Bali United v Sriwijaya
13/02 Sriwijaya v Barito Putera, Bali United v Pusamania
18/02 Barito Putera v Bali United, Pusamania v Sriwijaya

Group E Bangkalan Stadium & Ratu Pamelingan Stadium, Madura

Madura United, Semen Padang, Perseru, PSCS

08/02 Perseru v PSCS, Madura United v Semen Padang
14/02 Semen Padang v PSCS, Madura United v Perseru
19/02 Perseru v Semen Padang, PSCS v Madura United

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

 

Patience In Short Supply In Penang

Football fans are a notoriously hard bunch to please at the best of times. Take Manchester United for example. Their following only have to see their team lose the toss in consecutive games and they are clubbing together to hire a plane to fly over the stadium calling for the manager to leave. Success there has bred an intolerance to mediocrity or even dropping points and the fans are vocal in their repulsion.

United fans have grown up with success though. They have known little else and for them it is normal to get offside goals and dodgy penalties awarded. To them it is a birthright.

Halfway round the world in Malaysia the fans of Penang have had no such success to bask in. They only returned to the top flight last year after a five year absence. The last time they won anything meaningful was when they won the FA Cup way back in 2002. They have lifted the Charity Shield and the FAM League since then but we are talking about a big club?

Last year was their first year back in the top flight as I said since 2010 but instead of showing coach Jacksen F Tiago any kind of gratitude or allowing him the time to build a side that could survive at its new level the fans turned on him and some of the foreign players he had hired. After one home game when results didn't go the way the fans wanted they stayed behind long into the night demanding a meeting with the club management.

The club agreed to meet the disgruntled fans who demanded Jacksen be replaced. The club gave in and they turned to Bojan Hodak to steady the ship. Fan power had won.

Ahead of the new season and a new coach Ashley Westwood was in place. Widely regarded as one of the most promising young coaches in the region the Englishman enjoyed unparalleled success with Bengalruru in India before stepping down in search of new adventures.

So far the supporters have allowed him time to settle in. However they were less than impressed when the kit for the new season was released. It was too plain they whined and demanded it be changed.

Penang's first game of the new season came away to Selangor and somewhat surprisingly the Panthers went into the game in better shape than the one time giants of the local game. However they lost 2-0 and the experienced keeper Syed Adney was deemed at fault for one of the goals on his club debut.

Instead if rallying round their new keeper, giving him a pat on the back and saying it could happen to anyone an element of the support turned on the 30 year old Liverpool born keeper, heckling him as he made his way from the changing room to the club coach after the game. One fan was seen standing in front of him offering a mock round of applause.

Now in fact I love Penang. It is one of my favourite places in the whole region. But the actions of some fans with an overbearing sense of entitlement leaves a sour taste in the mouth. A coach. A kit. A goalkeeper. What next will they take offence to?

With the club potentially moving their home games to Batu Kawan on the Malaysian mainland perhaps they could turn their to that decision? Their City Stadium in Georgetown was fairly central and even with the late kick offs so beloeved of Malaysian football at least kids could get to the game and be home before midnight on a school night. Playing in Batu Kawan could greatly inconvenience fans especially those who live on the island and don't have access to their own transport/



Monday, January 23, 2017

 

Penang Fans Turn On Keeper After Opening Day Loss

Malaysia Super League

Johor Darul Ta'zim v Kedah 1-1 (Safiq Rahim; Baddrol Bakhtiar) 24,157

The season opener which doubles as a kind of Community Shield went to penalties before Kedah lifted the first trophy of the season against the champions. Is this the signal for a shift north in Malaysian football or is it just one of those things? Kedah next play a high profile friendly against Chinese side Hebei Fortune, coached by some guy named Manuel Pellegrini.

Felda United v PKNS 1-0 (Norshahrul Idlan Talaha) 2,277

Two teams who quietly fancy themselves this season, the experienced Norshahrul's goal 15 minutes from the end secured the points for Felda. PKNS have invested heavily expecially up front and they will be hoping for better things in the weeks to come.

Kelantan v Melaka United Postponed. Waterlogged pitch

Selangor v Penang 2-0 (Adam Nor Azlin, Forkey Doe) 3,076

Wow, a ray of sunshine for the Red Giants? After a pre season where there were questions about whether Selangor would be able to even compete in the top flight this season they down Penang. Shame the fans stayed away, continuing a trend we saw last season. Penang fans, who have recently complained about previous coach Jacksen F Tiago, complained about their foreign imports, complained about their team's new kit complained about their keeper Syed Adney after they deemed he was to blame for their loss. As the players headed to the team bus after the game they heckled him and one was seen giving ironic applause. First game of the season...

Perak v Pahang 1-1 (Tiago Junio; Ahmad Syamim Yahya) 19,720

Pahang have also invested in their squad this year after a spell campaign last time round and they will be pleased to come away with a point from the hostile atmosphere of Ipoh. Junio's goal 22 minutes from the end spared the home side's blushes.

T Team v Sarawak 1-1 (Nor Hakim Hassan; Mateo Roskam) 1,763

Despite being the highest ranked team from the state T Team continue to be starved of funds which makes coach Rahmad Darmawan's achievements last season so spectacular. With another young side to play with RD may well be disappointed at only earning a point against Sarawak in their season opener with Roskam scoring nine minutes from the end.

Malaysia Premier League

PDRM v MISC-MIFA 3-1 (Dao Bakary 2, Shahurain Abu Samah; Yoges Muniandy) 500

A football match or an accident in a Scrabble factory? Ex Persela, Persiram Steven Imbiri came on as a second half sub for the visitors but was unable to save his team as they went 3-0 in 48 minutes.

Negeri Sembilan v Sabah 3-0 (Bruno Suzuki 3) 2,606

Ex Home United, Albirex Niigata striker Bruno Suzuki, a Brazilian who became Japansese, endeared himself to the home support with a 24 minute hat trick on the opening day of the season!

Kuala Lumpur v JDT II 2-1 (Bobur Akbarov, Ibrahim Syaihul; Nicolas Fernandez) 691

A bad day all round as both JDT sides ended up winless on the first day of the new season.

Perlis v ATM 1-1 (Zafuwan Azeman; Rafizol Rosman)

The home side needed Azeman to save a point in the 89th minute.

Terengganu v PKNP Postponed. Waterlogged pitch
Kuantan v UiTm Postponed, Waterlogged pitch

 

Sepakbola - Book Update

Golly. There are about three weeks before my first book gets launched and it's quite exciting really. Towards the end of last week I did an interview with an Indonesian news website and I must admit I do like the graphic they came up with for me; not sure about the lipstick though lads!

Earlier today I spoke with a Persebaya fan site called Emosi Jiwaku and that chat can be found here. It's great to be able to chat to people about Indonesian football and in return they seem genuinely surprised a foreigner takes an interest in their much maligned game. But then that is what the book is about. Indonesian football and the people involved. Go beyond lazy stereotypes.

And a third interview was done yesterday for Kumparan...you can read that here.

My understanding is there have been several hundred orders already for the book so don't forget the book is still available on Pre Order at a reduced price. This special offer ends 13th February...Valentine's Day is the official launch day so why not give someone you love that most precious of gifts? A football book...

#AyoMembaca

Saturday, January 21, 2017

 

Milla Time For Indonesia

Indonesia have appointed a new coach. His  name is Luis Milla, no relation to Cameroonian striker Roger Milla who played for Pelita Jaya, and he comes from Spain. The 50 year old coach played for both Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as picking up three caps for his country in 1989/90. As a coach his last gig was with Real Zaragoza, don't mention the halfway line, and he has also worked with various national age groups. In 2013 he had a spell with UAE side Al Jazira, his only stint outside of his native land.

It certainly is an out of the box appointment. Not since Wim Rijsbergen was appointed back in 2011 has the PSSI chosen a coach without any background in the local game. It is questionable whether Wim learned much while he was in charge anyway, it being at a time of two leagues and instability.

With a two year contract Milla will also be in charge of the SEA Games squad later this year and this no doubt will be foremost in his in tray when he starts work next month. The full squad, buoyed from reaching the ASEAN Football Federation Championship Final last year before losing to Thailand, have plenty of blank dates in their diary and with most of the rest of Asia looking forward to Asian Cup/World Cup Qualifiers during the year it could prove difficult to find meaningful, ie beyond ASEAN borders, opponents.

Outgoing coach Alfred Riedl had his hands tied going into the AFF Championships as clubs stipulated they would allow no more than two players to be released from their ranks. It remains to be seen whether they play such hard ball with official competition returning in March.

An unfamiliar environment, an unfamiliar language, an unfamiliar diet, Milla won't have much time to adapt to the Indonesian way of doing things. In fact it could be argued his appointment suggests a fresh approach. However he will still need a few tips and hints to smooth his arrival in the country and with the experienced Danurwindo as his technical director he will be working with someone who does know the game inside out.

Typically in this day and age coaches move around with more baggage than a single checked in piece on their flight over. Milla, with his experiences in Europe, may well be expecting/hoping he can choose too bring along assistants of his own choosing. As of now it is not clear if he will be allowed to do so.

With the FIFA suspension lifted and several young players making their mark at the AFF Championships, Milla will be arriving at a time when goodwill is quite high. How long it will last remains to be seen. Indonesians will be expecting an improvement on their runners up spot in Bangkok last year and not matter how unrealistic that may be considering the circumstances Milla would be doing himself a heap big favour if he can get a couple of wins under his belt at the tsrat of his career here.

 

Timor Leste Face AFC Wrath

Days after the Chinese government told Super League clubs to reign in their sending, in AFC/FIFA land this is not for some reason considered government interference, comes the news the AFC have kicked Timor Leste out of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 for playing illegal foreigners in international matches since 2011.

There have been suspicions for a while the country had been playing games. Their line ups frequently featured Brazilian players who had become Timor Leste nationals in order to bolster the national team. The idea of importing players for national glory is nothing new of course. It is a path Singapore has taken before and Qatar continues to take. But there are ways of doing it and it seems Timor Leste broke the rules.

Timor Leste are accused of using 12 illegal players in a variety of games including AFC and FIFA  recognised games as well as non official games. As some of the games were played against Indonesia it is worthy of highlighting the who, where, when and what etc.

07/07/12 AFC Under 22. 3 illegal players
14/11/12 Friendly. 2 illegal players
14/12/13 SEA Games. 4 illegal players
15/09/14 Asian Games. 3 illegal players
11/09/14 Friendly. 4 illegal players.

A number of players also played in Indonesia during this period. Of course a Timor Leste national would find it easier to get a work permit than a Brazilian.

Players with links to Indonesian clubs. (Only South East Asian teams mentioned.)

Paulo Helber Rose Ribeiro (Dili United, Lanexang United, Bhayangkara)
Diogo Santos Rangel (Sriwjjaya, Gresik United, Osotspa, Songkhla United, Timor Leste U23 SEA Games 2011))
Paulo Cesar da Silva (Songkhla United, PSM)
Felipe Bertoldo (Mitra Kukar)
Jaime Braganca (Chonburi, PDRM, Persija (IPL))

One other player who was named as playing illegally for Timor Leste was Patrick Fabiano who I saw play several times for Kazma in Kuwait.

I'm not sure if the players will face any sanction or not. Surely they must have been aware of the corner cutting being carried out on their behalf?  I guess they were so thrilled at the prospect of becoming an international footballer the excitement blurred the lines between honest and dishonest.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

 

Familiar Coaches Return To Indonesian Scene

The traditional managerial go round is coming to an end as Indonesian sides start the serious preparations for the new campaign. Incidentally the Indonesian Super League will be known as Liga i, Divisi Utama Liga 2, Nusantara League will be Liga 3 and so on.

Anyway a new season and a new hope for supporters of every team as  they look forward to a new coach, new players and of course new replica shirts to purchase.

One set of supporters can feel more excited than most. Barito Putera have hired the most successful foreign coach in Jacksen F Tiago. Coming off the back of a spell in Malaysia where he guided Penang back to the top flight, Tiago has won titles with Persebaya and Persipura. If anyone knows the ins and outs of the game in Indonesia it is the Brazilian who also played for a number of sides including Persebaya.

With a three year deal in his pocket Tiago will be expected to have Barito Putera challenging the established big boys within a short time and while last season may have been marked by inconsistency he can at least rely on the likes of Hansamu and Rizky Pora, fresh off their ASEAN Foootball Federation Championships exploits, to carry on their good deeds of 2016. However he will have to do without the goals of compatriate Luis Carlos Junior who has moved to Madura United.

Simon McMenemy is another familiar face returning to Indonesia after a spell abroad, most recently in Philippines. He has had previous stints with Mitra Kukar and Pelita Bandung Raya and now takes over Bhayangkara and inherits a young side that exceeded expectations last year when they finished seventh with a mostly young squad but heavily reliant on the goals and guile of imports Thiago Furtuoso, Otavio Dutra and Rudi Widodo.

While McMenemy will no doubt be heavily dependent on his experienced players there is little doubt he won't  be thrilled at the opportunity or working with the likes of Evan Dimas, Muchlis Hadi and Maldini Pali, the latter two arriving from PSM as they seek to combine a football career with one in the police force.

The club are aiming high, giving their new coach a target of finishing in the top three but after three days with his new charges McMenemy is feeling enthused enough to claim a top two target is realistic. He should get his first opportunity to see how his methods have been taken on board when Bhayangkara 'host' the Trofeo Bhayangkara in Solo. The club are hoping Arema will join in and Home United were also expected to attend but AFC Cup commitmments may have some influence on whether they travel or not.

The third familiar face is Timo Scheuneumann. The East Java born German takes over Persiba for the new season and has the added bonus of seeing the team relocate to Malang for their home games. His last stint coaching a club side wwas when he worked with Persema in the old Liga Primer Indinesia when he built an exciting side around the likes of Irfan Bachdim, Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan, Robbie Gaspar and the experienced Bima Sakti. Indeed Sakti, who was his coach back then, will now be his assistant on the training field and will provide some continuity having held the same position last year with the club under Jaino Matos.

As is often the case with Persiba finances will be tight, especially as they commute between Malang and Balikpapan and even before Timo had set up his own password on the company laptop it was announced Shohei Matsunaga, the one shining light in a disappointing campaign in 2016, was off to Persib. His goals will be a big loss though the club have moved quickly by signing Marlon da Silva from Mitra Kukar.

Football being football the hope and expectations that always accompany pre season will soon fade to disappointment and anger. Let us hope this new fresh odor that is creeping across Indonesian extends to club managements and they give their new coaches time. Surprisingly each of the three coaches in this post have been given multiple year contracts but always there is that dreaded 'evaluasi' word looming over their necks, a slient presence, often hidden by the smiles and high fives that greet a win but there all the same.



 

Persib Release Yatno Basna

By any measure the last few months have been quite remarkable for the Sorong born defender Yatno Basna. He broke into the Persib first team, was called up by the national team and went on to play at the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in Manila for Indonesia. Not bad for a 21 year old defender who only made his first team debut for Mitra Kukar in the aborted 2015 Indonesia Super League.

His style of play is reminiscent of Manchester City's John Stones in that he has a preference to have the ball at feet and take his time to play his way to safety rather than go long which is the preferred option for many defenders in Indonesia. And like Stones it can cause his team mates and supporters the odd nervous twitch when it doesn't always come off.

After his impressive performances in the Philippines there was a story doing the rounds a Thai team, BEC Tero, was interested in his services but as the debate around his future deepens one can't help but wonder if that was not a bargaining chip. At the time Basna said his agent would meet the Persib management and discuss his future and his priority was to stay with the Bandung side before adding there was also interest from Malaysia in his services.

Yesterday Persib announced they would be releasing the player. The club said Basna's agent was seeking a pay rise of 300% before agreeing to a new deal. Persib are saying now and the defender can now listen to other offers.

One club rumoured to be interested in the player are Persipura but one of their officials has said if those wage demands are true they would not help Basna meet them.

Just shy of six foot tall, Basna is far from the finished article but his build and style of play are hard to find and that Indonesian coach Alfred Riedl had seen enough to place his faith in his raw talent suggests we will see much more of Basna in the future. But for now he is in the news for the wrong reasons.





Monday, January 16, 2017

 

Coach Timo Faces Tough Task With Persiba

It has certainly been a busy few days for Persiba Balikpapan. The Honey Bears as they are known have lost a coach and their star import, been forced to move their home base to another island, another time zone, found a new coach, found a new striker and have decided they won't be competing in a pre season tournament.

Under Brazilian coach Jaino Matos they struggled to find any consistency and their total of 38 goals scored during the Indonesia Soccer Championship 2016 was one of the lowest recorded in the division. Certainly players with big reputations like Syamsir Alam and Okta Maniani failed to deliver and without the 13 goals of Japanese import Shohei Matsunaga it could have been a very poor season indeed.

With the season ended the club cast around for a replacement coach and it wasn't long before ex West Ham player Peter Butler's name was linked with the club having worked their before. He vehemently denied the link and it was soon announced Brazilian Osvaldo Lessa would be taking over. The one time assistant to Jacksen F Tiago at Persipura had only a short stint in the hot seat at the Black Pearls behind him and soon the club were backtracking saying in fact he hadn't be selected.

While the debate surrounding a future coach was going on Matsunaga announced he would be returning to Persib for a second stint. The 28 year old attacking midfielder from Japan had first signed for the Maung Banding un 2011 and after his performances in the ISC it was no surprise he was the target of a bigger club.

Persiba meanwhile decided Timo Scheunemann would lead the team in the rebranded Liga 1 in 2017 with Bima sakti continuing in his role as understudy. It is the German coach's first club appointment since his time with Persema when they were in the Liga Primer Indonesia back in 2011 and the first thing in his in tray was to find a goalscorer.

With Persiba Stadium unavailable for the team this season Persiba also cast around looking for a new stadium. They have decided to use Gajjayana Stadium in Malang, close to where coach Timo lives, while they wait for their new stadium to be finished. With a home town on one island and a stadium in another requiring a flight and a two or three hour bus ride it remains to be seen how Persiba's pre season preparations will be impacted.

There is already talk the club will not join the pre season president Cup if, as suggested, it goes ahead at the end of this month or early February. Timo says he feels his squad won't be ready so soon and while he is open to competing if it is held at a later date as things stand they won't join.

It's a squad that needs a lot of work. While one or two young players came in and did a good job in difficult circumstances last year Timo knows he will need a lot more experience in the squad going into what will certainly be a tougher competition. Striker Marlon da Silva has come in from Mitra Kukar in a bid to replace the experience and goals of Matsunaga but more is needed and with funds tight Timo will know he has his work cut out if Persiba are to make an impact in the upper reaches of the table.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

 

The Mixed Experiences Of Singaporeans Abroad

I'm a big fan of players and coaches getting out of their comfort zone and working in new environments. Alien sights and sounds, different perspectives may not always make you better at your job, they should, but they help you grow as a person. The world extends beyond your village and while the grass may not be greener at least you get to try different grass.

It is a big bee in my bonnet that not more try and sample life overseas and is something I have touched upon once or twice. Players like Fandi Ahmad and Bambang Pamungkas had the opportunity to try their luck in Europe but for one reason or another decided they wanted to ply their trade closer to home. Current Thai coach Kiatisuk was of a generation who sought self improvement overseas, in his case Singapore for a few years, and Thai football is benefiting from his pioneering experiences.

More recently we have seen Singaporeans in demand north of the causeway with Hariss Harun signing for Johor Darul Takzim and Shahril Ishak and Baihakki Khazian turning out for Johor Darul Taksim II while Safuwan Bahruddin headed to PDRM. Goalkeeper Hassan Sunny has just returned from a two year spell with Army United while ex Young Lions, LionsXII and Tampines Rovers defender Hafiz Abu Sujad has made the journey north to play for second tier side BBCU. 

If we are honest with ourselves none of those teams are particularly glamourous. JDT II are what they say on the tin for example. Are they a team who can be promoted given then the potential for facing off against JDT in the top flight? Crowds are low in Malaysia's second tier and atmosphere at games much like what you might expect on the outer planets of our solar system but surely the benefits for Shahril and Bahaikki, beyond the financial, can only benefit Singapore football down the line?

They are part of a club that is laying down the foundations to be a regional powerhouse for years to come. Professionalism at all levels surely will rub off on these two experienced players and perhaps, should they ever consider a career in coaching, what they witnessed in the evolution of a super club can only hold them in good stead as well as looking good on their resumes.

Safuwan's situation is different. After having a positive loan spell with Melbourne City in the ALeague he elected to join Malaysian side PDRM for the rest of the 2016 season. Quite why the versatile goal scoring defender/midfielder would opt for the Malaysian police force side, no disrespect intended, is beyond me. Were there no better offers on the table? That he should extend his stay for 2017 is equally baffling. Perhaps his status, he remains under contract to the Football Association of Singapore, effected how other clubs viewed him.

His strong performances weren't enough to save the Cops and he will now play in the second tier watched by even smaller crowds than would have seen the PDRM games last season. There was talk of Kedah taking an interest but that fizzled out. But where were the Thai or Indonesian teams for this most consistent of performers? Is the contract with FAS a millstone round his neck? Honestly, I don't know but it is frustrating to see such a fine player not getting the stage his talents deserve. From Melbourne City to PDRM?

The intimidating atmosphere at a Chula United game
Now we have Hafiz Abu Sujad beginning a Thai adventure. Once upon a time Sinthana were one of the biggest Thai teams. back in the days before political types got involved. They won the league in 1998 and went on to compete in the Asian Champions League. But they struggled to survive as an entity and merged with a university to become Chula Sinthana just as money flowed into the game with the arrival of Muang Thong United and Buriram United.

Apart from a couple of spells in the Premier League, including when they played at the Rajamangala Stadium in front of crowds of less than 1000, they have found their niche as a yo yo side and last season finished bottom of the top flight after just one season. Hafiz, like Safuwan, is joining a side that has just got relegated.

For all the sycophancy that gets thrown at the Thai league the strength does not extend beyond perhaps half a dozen clubs. BBCU will be playing against the likes of Air Force Central, Army United and PTT Rayong. It is almost as if Thai football stopped in the 1990s. For Hafiz, an international, it seems a strange move. But an understandable one when you consider his cousin is none other than Fandi. Perhaps to play overseas is part of his football DNA. But aged 26, he should be at the peak of his career, is a move from Tampines where the dreams are of the SLeague and the AFC Cup, is a move to a second tier team in Thailand a step forward career wise?

Last but not least we have the curious tale of Hariss Harun. This guy was marked down as one for the future years back and after impressing for LionsXII it was no surprise when he signed for JDT, turning down a move to Portugal. He has impressed with JDT and signed a two year deal back in November 2015. Now, however, it appears to be over. A week or so before Christmas JDT announced Hariss was surplus to requirements and they were actively seeking to send him out on loan with Portugal and Japan possible destinations. That particular story has gone quiet and with just over a week to the start of the new season it appears Hariss is still with the Malaysian side.

Whatever the merits of Hafiz move to unfancied BBCU he will certainly find out quite a bit about himself over the next few months. At least he can pick the brain of Hassan Sunny for tips about living in Bangkok. 



 

Experience Has Its Place But Coaches Need To Trust In Youth More

One of the decisions that came out from the recent PSSI conference referred to the age limit of players, implementing an upper age limit of 35 in the Indonesia Super League.

Now for a while I have been saying there aren't enough young players coming through and one reason for that is perhaps clubs prefer to go safety first and choose and experienced old pro rather than give a young player a chance.

But to mandate a player must retire because they reach a number? I don't think that is the way to go. Surely it is down to clubs to be savvier in their recruitment policies. Yes, there are some journeymen pros out there living off their reputations which faded a good few years back.

At the same time there are some pretty good fiddle players out there to paraphrase an old saying. For example look at Sriwijaya's all Brazilian strike force of Hilton Moreira and Alberto Goncalves. Past it? Not on your nelly. I saw them play a few times and they never gave less than 100% a game and of course Goncalves was the top scorer in the Indonesia Soccer Championship.

The 36 year old arrived in Indonesia in 2007 and apart from a short spell in Penang has been here ever since. He was top scorer in the Indonesia Cup in 2007. Inter Island Cup 2011. Indonesia Super League 2011. ISC 2016. Do we want to be putting that type of experience and consistency out to pasture just because of some randomly produced number?

And if we think old players are stunting the development of younger players let us look again at Sriwijaya. 22 year old keeper Teja Paku Alam was a regular last season. 21 year old Ichsan Kurniawan impressed when he was given a run out. How much would they have learnt from training with and playing alongside the experienced Brazilians?

Redusing the number of foreigners in each team is a good thing and one the English premier League should consider. But I am less enthusiastic about age limits. We need more coaches like Sriwijaya's Widodo Cahyo Putro who are willing to give youth a chance, as was PSM's Robert Alberts, and not just really on any 30 something with creaking knees who has been round the block too often.

Like so much it comes down to patience. Are club owners and supporters patient enough to allow a coach to develop young players

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?