Friday, April 28, 2017


Semen Padang's Tasty Clash With Persipura

We are into the third weekend of the new Liga 1 season and sadly the headlines so far have been of the familiar sort; poor refereeing decisions, an inconvenient fixture list and the precariousness of coaches. The former will never go away, the latter is a disgrace but a disgrace that has become the norm and the middle? Yeah, whatever.

Week 3 kicks off with Madura United hosting Mitra Kukar at their new Ratu Pamelingan Stadium. For the lazy EPLophiles this game brings together Peter Odemwingie and Mohamed Sissoko. For those of us whose interest in the Indonesian game goes a bit deeper than a quest for clicks it is a game that highlights the futility of reading too much into early league tables.

Madura United have won one, lost one and sit 10th, their visitors are 14th with just 1 point. Both have scored two goals and both are within reach of the cluster of sides gathered at the top on 4 points. Mitra Kukar's last game, at home to PSM ended controversially with them being awarded a last minute penalty which they successfully converted to earn a point. PSM have since filed an official complaint about the referee in that game.

Madura United will probably be without Greg Nwokolo so much of their offensive threat is likely to come from Odemwingie with the Nigerian already on the score sheet. Coach Gomes de Oliviera will be looking to the likes of Dane Milovanic, Bayu Gatra and Slamet Nur Cahyo to get forward in support. At the back he is likely to be without the experienced Fabiano Beltrame and Redouane Zerzouri who both had to be replaced in their last game against Persela after picking up injuries.

Still, Gomes is confident going into the game. 'Mitra Kukar didn't do anything special in their last game. We have the momentum after winning (against Persela) and we are playing at home'.

Tonight's other game sees Semen Padang host Persipura. SP of course have been strengthened by the arrival of their own marquee player, Didier Zokora. They are one of a bunch of teams at the top of the table on four points having followed their opening game draw with Sriwijaya with a 3-1 win away to Gresik United.

Up front Vendry Mofu and Marcel Sacremento have hit the ground running, three goals between them already while the Brazilian boasts two assists under his belt. The fact Semen Padang have traditionally been strong at home will no doubt count in their favour but the susperstitious won't want to be reminded the last they lost a league game at home was 29th April 2014 against Arema.

Persipura are of course Persipura. A late run saw them crowned champions of the Indonesia Soccer Championship last season and while they may have rewarded coach Angel Alfredo Vera with the sack on the eve of the new season for his achievements they will still pose a threat, especially with Boas Solossa starting the campaign in fine form.

Surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Gresik United in their opening game of the season, Persipura travelled to Bali for their second game and took maximum points with a 2-1 win. But while the coaches may come and go the backbone of the team remains the same with keeper Yoo Jae Hoon from South Korea joining in 2010 (apart from sshort spells with Bali United and Pusamania he has been there ever since). In front of him are more familiar names; Boas of course, Nelson Alom, Ian Louis Kabes plus, plus. No matter the coach, the core remains the same, the foreigners fill the gaps.

With Semen Padang formidable at home and Persipura's relentless consistency this promises to be a cracker of a game and a great start to a thrilling weekend of action.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


PSM Offer Season Ticket

As clubs seek to find  new revenue streams ideas that in England were the norm decades back are slowly being introduced here. Take for example PSM. Working with local newspaper the oldest football club in the country are introducing two types of season ticket for the new season.

5 Million Rupiah

All home games
1 signed jersey from a player
1 free piece of official merchandise
Free food and drink every home game

10 Million Rupiah

All home games
Travel to Bali United away
3 signed jerseys from players
Free official merchandise
Free food and drink every home game

More info from the PSM Instagram account


Mind The Gap

Last night I watched Muang Thong United defeated Brisbane Roar 3-0 in the AFC Champions League group stage. It was their third win from five group stage games and leaves them with 11 points with one game remaining against Kashima Antlers in Japan. They have already confirmed their place in the knock out stage of the competition, now it is just a question of whether they finish first or second.

They also started the 2017 Thai T1 season with a run of six straight wins and are top of the table, one point clear of perennial rivals Buriram United. They boast a strong squad featuring the likes of Kawin Thamsatchanan, Teerasil Dangda, Thherathon Bunmathon, Chanathip Songkrasin and Adisak Kraisorn. For an import player they have the Spaniard Xisco and former South Korean international Lee Ho. They are coached by Thai legend Tawan Sripan, have built their own tidy little stadium and are bloody rich thanks to the backing of a media company and a collection of sponsors that would have many English clubs drooling. 

Sponsors? Yep. A cement company. A budget airline. A soda manufacturer. A private hospital. Mobile phone service provider. An insurance company. A motor cycle manufacturer. A camera maker. A beer. A sports drink producer. There are more. But do you get the point. The football club that effectively came into being in 2007 have become a leading player not just in Thailand, not just South East Asia but across the whole of the Asian continent.

Then we have Persija Jakarta. Founded in 1928 they can lay claim to being one of Indonesia's biggest clubs but that is down more to their massive fan base, one Muang Thong can only dream about, rather than any success on the pitch. While Muang Thong have been crowned four times since being promoted to Thailand's top flight, the last the Persija enjoyed any kind of success was in 2001 when they were crowned champions of what was then known as Liga Indonesia. Since then they have won the Trofeo Persija in 2011, 2012 and 2014. That last year they shared the trofeo with two other teams after every game ended 0-0.

Despite their huge fan base Persija have struggled financially. Lacking a home stadium hasn't helped. While Muang Thong have developed what was little more than a field into a compact stadium in eight years Persija have played home games in, deep breath, Jakarta, Bekasi, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Malang, Sidoarjo, Madura, and Bali. There may be more. 

The club have no home stadium, this season they will be sharing Patriot Stadium in Beksi with Bhayangkara. They have no regular training field. Instead they flit around Jakarta and its suburbs in search of a vacant field much like a Sunday league team would. And many of their local players live together in shared accommodation. Difficult to imagine the Muang Thong United players doing that.

Against this background perhaps the most surprising news of the week came from Persija when they proudly told the world they didn't need any more sponsors. Yeap, words that would have Arsenal's Ivan Gazidis, Manchester United's Ed Woodward and Spurs' Daniel Levy choking on their Corn Flakes. Persija do not need any more sponsors. They have enough money.

While clubs like Persib, Bali United and even second tier Celebest have shirts weighed down in official sponsors, Persija feel having two sponsor emblems is enough. We're talking about the biggest club in th elargest city of the fourth largest country on earth and they think two sponsors is enough to compete in a football season. It may be enough but ambitious football clubs do not do 'enough'. 

This is not about competing to have the most brand names on the shirt. Sponsorship can come in many different forms, a look at the web sites of clubs like Muang Thong United, Gamba Osaka and 1FC Koln to see how many sponsors they have on board. You can't check the Persija is down.

Sadly the notion that enough is enough highlights the cavernous difference that exists between so many Indonesian clubs and their Thai peers. With investment and management Persija could be one of THE big clubs in South East Asia. They have tradition, history and support. Muang Thong are johnny come latelys in comparison. However when it comes to a vision, when it comes to purpose Muang Thing are so far ahead the words mind the gap seem pointless. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Indonesia's Marquee Players

I must admit to being slightly confused by who qualifies as a marquee player. There I was thinking Michael Essien was one, setting the bar pretty high. You know, Champions League winner, won titles in England and France. But, and no disrespect, some of those who have followed in his footsteps have hardly been cut from the same mould. 

According to PSSI regulations a marquee player is one who has played in a World Cup or has played in one of the top eight leagues in Europe. At a guess I would suggest they are France, Germany, Spain, Italy, England, Netherlands, Portugal and ?

The transfer window is yet to close but as things stand these are the players who qualify under the marquee player programme.

Persib - Michael Essien (34) - Bastia, Lyon, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Milan Panathinaikos. Ghana

Borneo - Shane Smeltz (35) - Mansfield Town, AFC Wimbledon, Halifax Town, Genclerbirligi. New Zealand

Persija - Bruno Lopes (30) - Estoril. Brazil*

Madura United - Peter Odemwingie (35) - RAA Louvieroise, Lille, Lokomotiv Moscow, West Bromwich Albion, Cardiff City, Stoke City, Rotherham United. Nigeria

PS TNI - Elio Martins (32) - Machio, Chaves, Beira Mar, Doxa, Beroe Stara Zagora, Uniao Maderia. Portugal*

Semen Padang - Didier Zokora (36) - Racing Genk, St Etienne, Spurs, Sevilla, Trabzonspor, Akhisar Belediyespor. Ivory Coast

Mitra Kukar - Mohamed Sissoko (32) - Auxerre, Valencia, Liverpool, Juventus, PSG, Fiorentina, Levante, Ternane. Mali

Arema - Juan Pablo Pino (30) - Monaco, Charleroi, Galatasaray, Olympiacos, Bastia. Colombia

PSM - Wiljan Pluim (28) - Vitesse Arnhem, Roda JC, PEC Zwolle, Willem II. Netherlands*

Bali United - Nick van der Velden (35) - RKC Waalwijk, Dordrecht, AZ Alkmaar, NEC Nijmegan, FC Gronigen, Willem II, Dundee United. Netherlands*

Persela - Jose Coelho (27) - Benfica, Sheriff, Olhanense +++. Portugal*

Persiba - Anmar Almubaraki (25) - Heracles, Emmen, Telstar, Denizlispor, Syrianska. Netherlands/Iraq*

Sriwijaya - Tijani Belaid (29) - Inter, PSV, Slavia Prague, Hull City, Union Berlin. Tunisia

* denotes yet to appear in full national side.

It does seem the word marquee is being used a bit too glibly, in much the same way newbie Arsenal fans call players like Giroud and Koscielny legends. Certainly three players among that list do deserve the moniker if we need to use it. Essien, Zokora and Sissoko do boast more than decent playing resumes. Others, though not all, though are journeymen pros who haven't made an impact at home yet by having played for teams in certain countries are elevated to a pedestal they have never previously enjoyed.

Towards the end of their careers many players pack their suitcases and travel the globe in search of some final pay days. USA, China, India, the Middle East for example spring to mind. There is nothing wrong with this of course. As long as they have something to offer then why not. David Beckham didn't do a bad job in the US for his team when he was there. 

Dangle a wad of cash in front of someone and rare is the person who will say nay, my body is not what it was. And agents of course will not be warning prospective employers of dodgy knees, not when the magic word marquee has dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes.

It is down to clubs to be careful with what they are offered and take their time before joining any bandwagon that may be passing through town. There may be more sponsors involved in Indonesian football than a few years back and some clubs may be getting wiser when it comes to commercializing their 'brand' but the game isn't awash with cash. What money there is needs to be invested wisely on infrastructure, youth development and so on, not frittered away on final bumper paydays for average players with average careers and agents who would sell their grandmother's cat if it was retweeted enough.


Bali United Sack Schaller After Two Losses

Coaches are hired to be fired. They know that and understand that whenever they sign a contract with a new team. All the training they go through, all the studying, all the preparation they put in for their job though counts for nothing if they commit that most unforgivable of sins...lose a game.

All coaches ask for is a fair crack of the whip. Given time they can often change things around on the training ground and help their players produce better performances on the pitch that lead to an improvement in results. It's not easy and it takes time and effort but it worked for Robert Alberts (PSM) and Dragan Dukanovic (Borneo FC) last season. They didn't  get off to the best of starts at their respective clubs but management gave them the time and space to turn things around which they did.

Before the 2017 Liga 1 season even began though some clubs were getting itchy fingers. Out went Angel Alfredo Vera at Persipura, he only led them to the Indonesia Soccer Championship title last season, and Widodo Cahyo Putro at Sriwijaya. Now we have the first victim as the season begins with Bali United reacting to the sight of seeing their team bottom of the table. Coach Hans Peter Schaller has paid the ultimate price.

Two games played. Bali United lost their first game 2-0 away to Madura United. Only two sides have taken three points from their visit to the island in the last 21 home games so no real upset there. Bali United lost their second game 2-1 at home to Persipura with an own goal giving the visitors three points.

Madura United and Persipura. In the trade they would call that a tough start to the season. From the outside it would appear Bali United have reacted with haste to the sight of their club bottom of the table and with no replacement lined up they could yet have plenty of time to rue their decision.

In their official statement, Bali United say they didn't share the same vision with the coach they only appointed a few months ago. Eko Purjianto takes over as caretaker while the club look for a replacement.

Their is an irony in the timing of the decision to sack Schaller. New signing Nick Van Der Velden, who for some reason not particularly clear counts as a marquee player, was interviewed by the media yesterday. 'I have heard a lot of information about Bali United. I know they are a club with a professional management and I am ready to adapt with the other players and give my best.'

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Pro Duta v PSBL 2-2

I must admit I had never even heard of Cendrawasih Stadium let alone know where it is so I was a tad surprised to find out I drove past it on my frequent trips to the airport. That I hadn't seen the slender floodlights on all those journeys I put down to my own s
tupidity and lack of interest on the roads around me. That and social media.

Imagine then the surprise when I heard Pro Duta were not only going to relocate to Jakarta but they were going to utilise this hitherto unknown stadium. I will leave for a later the date the adventures of Pro Duta in recent years and their various home bases. Suffice to say the last few seasons have seen them based in North Sumatra where they have struggled to attract any kind of fan base.

They missed out on the Indonesia Soccer Championship B, I guess you could say they took a gap year, but with the official leagues back in place they have taken their place in Liga 2 Group 1 along with Persiraja, PSPS, PSMS, PSBL, Persih, PS Timah Babel (formerly known as PS Bangka) and 757 Kepri Jaya (formerly known as Bintang Jaya).

Those who are not geographically challenged will have soon realised all those teams play in the top half of the island of Sumatra with the exception of PS Timah Babel and 757 Kepri Jaya whose home towns are on islands close to Sumatra. In the case of 757 Kepri Jaya the nearest thing they have to a local derby would be Young Lions in Singapore. The point being of course teams in Group 1 will have to have factored in some flights for the season when preparing their budgets (assuming they do budgets of course) so a trip to Jakarta would not be that onerous in the scheme of things.

Anyway living in a football daft yet football starved city as I do I at least was chuffed to hear Pro Duta at least were looking to play home games in the city and after spending a couple of days inhaling social media for news of a possible venue switch, as if, come match day I headed off to their wonderous new stadium.

Pro Duta have, as I intimated, not got the largest following in the country. The last time I saw them was back in December 2009 when they defeated Persikota 2-0 at Benteng Stadium and the only fans I can recall were the club officials. Despite the paucity of their support it was a nice, if somewhat overly optimistic, touch to see the ground was signposted on lamp posts once you came off the toll road. 

I guess 200 or 300 spectators turned out for the game including one or two who had bought my book and recognised me but there was nothing in the way of an atmosphere. The game kicked off in glorious sunshine and it was the visitors who struck first, Sandi Wijaya scoring after six minutes. Pro Duta levelled through Zulkhairi (pictured) on the half hour mark. M Renngur made it 2-1 to the away side on 54 minutes but despite dominatiing and having the best of the chances they were unable to add a third goal. Somehow an injury time free kick wasn't cleared and there was Syamir to turn the ball home and earn a point for the home side.

After the game the Pro Duta was quoted as saying he wasn't sure where they would play their next home game. The pitch wasn't the best to be fair. For me at least it was good to see some football in Jakarta at last and if they have another home game in town I will be checking it out subject to schedule.

Monday, April 24, 2017


22/23 April Weekend Results

Liga 1

Persija v Barito Putera 1-1 (Luis Carlos Junior; Thiago dos Santos Cunha) 27,707
Sriwijaya v Borneo 1-0 (Hilton Moreira) 17,647
PS TNI v Persib 2-2 (Erwin Ramdani, Guster Cahyo Putro; Michael Essien, Atep) 6,100
Bali United v Persipura 1-2 (Sylvano Comvalius; Marinus Mariyanto, OG)
Arema v Bhayangkara 2-0 (Dedik Setiawan, Esteban Vizcarra)

Liga 2

Persiraja v PS Timah Babel 2-0
Persih v PSPS 1-3
PSMS v Kepri Jaya 2-0

Perserang v Cilegon United 1-0
Persikad v Persita 2-0
Lampung Sakti v Persika 1-1
Persikabo v PS Bengkulu 1-4

Persijap v PSGC 4-1
Persip v Persibas 1-4
PSS v PSCS 0-1
Persibat v Persibangga 2-0

Persiba v PSIR 0-1
Persipur v PSIS 1-2
Persis v PPSM

Persepam MU v Persatu 2-1
PSBI v Persinga 1-0
Persebaya v Madiun Putra 1-1
PSIM v Martapura 3-2

Persewangi v Persida 3-0
Perssu Real v PSMP 1-2
Kalteng Putra v PSBK 6-1

PS Sumbawa Barat v PS Badung 2-0
Celebest v Persigo 2-0


Bobotoh Don't Do Honeymoons

Michael Essien and Carlton Cole may have pretty impressive playing careers between them but nothing, nothing will have prepared them for life at Persib Bandung. Essien won the Premier League twice at Chelsea, also won the title with Lyon, played for Real Madrid and Milan in his glittering career. Been there, done that. Now he is in Indonesia and to be fair on a personal level his career has started well enough, netting his first goal against PS TNI at the weekend.

Carlton Cole may not have reached the same heights but he hasn't done too badly for himself during his career picking up seven England caps along the way as well as playing for Chelsea and West Ham United. Both maybe north of 30 now and in the twilight of their careers but football never ceases to amaze and for both these players Indonesia will be offering new unlikely new experiences.

Persib haven't started the season badly. Two draws from their opening games isn't necessarily the start of a relegation candidate. But the fans, the Bobotoh, aren't happy and following the 2-2 draw away to PS TNI at the weekend social media went into meltdown. Persib were leading 2-0 thanks to goals from Essien and local hero Atep before the home side scored two late goals to earn the unlikely point.

Fans were quick to blame coach Djadjang Nurdjaman for the late capitulation and #DjanurOut was soon trending on Twitter where Persib have almost three million followers. The supporters blamed the coach, who in 2014 led the team to their first Indonesia Super League title, for his lack of coaching acumen and his decision to replace the exciting debutant Billy Keraf in the second half. Now Keraf himself had only come on in the 36th minute but the decision to replace him after a 38 minute cameo left fans fuming even though the 20 year old was replaced by one time England international Cole with sixteen minutes on the clock and Persib seemingly cruising.

Keraf had been a surprise late addition to the squad for the West Java derby as Djadjang sought to accommodate the absence of a number of players away with the national Under 22 squad but the impact the youngster made had the Bobotoh drooling for more. Seeing their new hero replaced upset them, conceding two late goals raised the hackles even further and it was Djadjang and perhaps unfairly the sub Cole who received much of the flack.

As a local lad who played for the club and later led them to the ISL Djadjang is looked at affectionately by the Persib support but there have long been questions about his coaching and tactics. He won the ISL without possessing an A license, supposedly a must for any coach in Indonesia, and spent the start of 2016 in Italy adding to his education with Inter. Going into the new season many fans were not convinced by the team in their pre season friendlies despite the hype surrounding Cole and Essien and the failure to hold onto a lead against a supposedly weaker PS TNI side has just added to the doubts surrounding the football club.

Persib fans don't do honeymoons. They expect results yesterday and if they aren't forthcoming they expect to read about the changes in the morning. The club itself are more patient. For example while Djadjang was in Italy they appointed the respected Dejan Antonic to guide the first team through the Indonesia Soccer Championship. 

The season didn't start well, drawing 1-1 at home to Sriwijaya and even then they needed an injury time equaliser to save their blushes, Fans were not happy and some even tried to place an advertisement in a local paper criticising the efforts of one particular player. It was an appointment that didn't work and the fans soon turned. The club stuck by their coach until it was clear things weren't going to improve and finally the inevitable happened with Djadjang returning. By the way the player who attracted the negative criticisim at the start of the campaign knuckled down and earned the respect of the fans.

The fixture list has been kind to Persib with two home games and the away trip to Cibinong in their opening three games. But this Saturday Persib come up against Sriwijaya and the Bobotoh will be demanding their first three points of the season. 

Persib have lost two of their last 20 games in all competitions so Cole and Essien may be wondering what all the fuss is about but that means little to the demanding faithful. The last result matters and in their eyes the draw away to PS TNI was as bad as a defeat. Failure to beat Sriwijaya would not be well received on the terraces and leave Djadjang in a perilous position. 

As for the expensive imports; welcome to Persib Bandung.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Semen Padang Earn Useful Win In Gresik

Persegres v Semen Padang 1-3 (Patrick da Silva; Vendry Mofu 2, Irsyad Maulana) 7,712

Semen Padang went to the top of the Liga 1 after they picked up a handy win away to Persegres. Mofu gave the visitors the lead on 28 minutes but da Silva made it two in two games, levelling within 10 minutes. Second half goals from Mofu and Maulana made sure the points would be heading to West Sumatra. Bad news when the coach carrying the Semen Padang players was attacked by home fans with one player getting a rock to his head.

Persela v Madura United 2-0 (Fahmi Ayyubi, Ivan Coelho) 12,360

First win of the season for Persela against a highly fancied Madura United with Coelho scoring his second of the season. Last time out Odemwingie became the first marquee player to score in Liga 1. Last night he became the first to be booked but was just one of seven to receive yellow cards in a firey encounter.


Odemwingie Scores On Debut As Liga 1 Kicks Off

Barito Putera v Mitra Kukar 2-1 (Thiago dos Santos Cunha, Dedi Hartono; David Maulana) 4,360

First game of the season saw Jacksen F Tiago get off to a winning start against Mitra Kukar in Banjarmasin.

Persib v Arema 0-0 34,056

More than 34,000 saw these two heavyweights go toe to toe at Bandung Api Stadium though Cristian Gonzales had a goal disallowed for the visitors. Carlton Cole came on as a second half substitute for Persib, replacing Gian Zola while Michael Essien started the game but was subbed on 77 minutes.

Madura United v Bali United 2-0 (Bayu Gatra, Peter Odemwingie) 6,198

Good start to the season for Madura United as Peter Odemwingie became the first of the so called marquee players to score, netting a second half penalty

Persiba v Persija 0-2 (Luis Carlos Junior, Rudi Widodo) 1,306

Yep, you read that right. Persija won their opening game of the season, defeating Persiba 2-0 in Malang. Last season Persija only managed to socre more than one goal in a game on five occasions.

PSM v Persela 3-1 (Reinaldo, Willem Pluim, M Rahmat; Ivan Coelho) 9,357

Expectations high in South Sulawesi with coach Robert Alberts looking to build on the decent end to the season last time round. New signing Reinaldo scored on his debut as Persela were comfortably brushed aside with three goals in the opening 41 minutes. Both sides ended with 10 men after Ferdinand Sinaga and Aang Suparman were sent off in the second half.

PS TNI v Borneo 2-2 (Hong Soon Hak; Lerby Eliandry, Kunhiro Yamashita) 1,800

The military side fielded three foreign players after deciding pre season they would end their policy of using only local lads and one of them, Hong Soon Hak, scored on his debut. After the game the hiome side took some flack for their aggressive play which left a couple of the visiting players with some wounds of their own. A hard earned point for Borneo who dropped the Pusamania from their name pre season

Semen Padang v Sriwijaya 1-1 (Marcel Sacremento; Hilton Moreira) 7,420

Familiar faces on the score sheet as the Sumatran pair held on to a draw in Padang. After an eventful pre season when his future was so uncertain defender Yanto Basna made his debut for Sriwijaya as did Nur Iskander, playing against his former club.

Persipura v Persegres 1-1 (Boas Solossa; Patrick da Silva) 14,600

Those with long memories will recall Persipura were held at home in their first game of the ISC campaign last season but still went on to win the title. This time around the Black Pearls, a byword for consistency, went into the new campaign with a new coach, Liestadi replacing Angel Alfredo just hours ahead of the new season.

Bhayangkara v Perseru 2-1 (I Putu Gede, Wahyu Subo Seto; Ronaldo Meosido) 2,500

A new season, a new start for Bhayangkara. New coach Simon McMenemy would have been delighted to have picked up his first three points of the season as the club made their debut at their new stadium in Bekasi, West Java.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


Madura United Confirm Odemwingie Signing

After what seemed an interminable process Peter Odemwingie has finally arrived in Indonesia to join his new team mates at Madura United. The 35 year old Nigerian international, born in Uzbekistan, was introduced to the local media in a bar in Jakarta the other day. 

The English media, in their usual sensitive manner, decided to lift a picture from the Madura United twitter feed to say how unhappy Odemwingie looks at the launch session. Not having anyone on the ground, not having any idea where Madura maybe they wrap themselves in Little England bullshit. I mean come on, how can someone leave the delights of Rotherham United, where he was on a short term deal, and move halfway round the world to a place no o
ne has heard of. Different reaction had he moved to China or Thailand of course.

Anyway, I digress. Why has Odemwingie decided to come to Indonesia? 'As a child I liked cartoons. In those films you could see Komodo dragons and they were interesting.' He said he would be bringing his family with him and added he had heard about Indonesia from a friend. 'A friend from my country invited me to come here. I like Indonesia including Bali.'

He will soon find out despite their proximity Madura is no Bali. Where the latter is the archtypal tropical island with them swaying palm trees and sun kissed beaches Madura is a dry island in more ways than one. The soil there is not given to producing the food products that proliferate across much of tropical Indonesia so much of the population either head to mainland Java or get by farming crops such as kretek for the local cigarette market.

Football in Madura has come a long way over the last few years. It wasn't that long ago when Perseba Super Bangkalan were about the only side in the top two divisions of the national league. However they were bought out and Persepam Madura Utama found themselves the islands top side. Based in Pamekasan their initial season in the top flight saw them play at Bangkalan Stadium, about an hour's drive from Surabaya on mainland Java and the nearest airport.

They got relegated from the top flight Indonesia Super League in 2014 but it seems the island had gotten the football bug and in 2016 the owners of Persepam MU bought the licence of Persipasi Bekasi Raya (formerly Pelita Jaya) and shifted the club to Madura, rebranding them Madura United and guaranteeing a seat at the top table. Serious investment has gone into the football club and they have a new stadium in Pamekasan, about a three hour drive from Surabaya.

2017 promises to be quite a year for Madura football. As well as Madura United in the top division, Liga 2 sees Persepam, Perssu and Madura FC bidding for top flight football. How aware Odemwingie will be of the other sides on the island remains to be seen.  

Sunday, April 02, 2017


Andri Slammed After Lining Up For Qatar

Andri Syahputra is 17 years old. A mere teenager. Born in Lhokseuwame, Aceh, Andri has spent several years in Qatar. He goes to school there and he is on the books of local side Al Ghafara though unfortunately when I saw them play last season he wasn't in the squad that day.

As part of the PSSI bid to attract young Indonesian talent from among the diaspora Andri was selected for the national team Under 19 squad recently. However the teenager rejected the call up saying his school wouldn't give him the time off to fly back to Indonesia for the training session.

It then appears Andri lined up for the Qatar Under 19 side when they played England Under 18 in a friendly in Doha. This hasn't gone down too well back in Indonesia.

PSSI head Edy Rahmayadi responded to this perceived slight by saying if someone doesn't want to play for the national side when they are called up it would be better if they left Indonesia.

'Representing Indonesia is a jihad,' said Rahmyadi. ' If you don't want to play for Indonesia it means you are not Indonesian. If he(Andri) doesn't want to represent Indonesia get out of Indonesia...if you don't want to represent Indonesia then don't be an Indonesian!'

Even though Andri lined up for Qatar it appears he still holds Indonesian citizenship and an Indonesian passport. Obtaining a Qatari passport would be very difficult, he needs to have lived there for 25 years for a start, Like Indonesia, Qatar does not recognise dual nationality (Indonesia does for children but they must make a decision when they reach a certain age).

In a bid to raise its profile in the sporting world Qatar has been offering a form of citizenship to athletes including footballers over the last few years. A look at the recent Qatar squad that was called up for a World Cup qualifier with Iran shows the presence of a number of non Arab sounding names like Oumar Bari (Guinea), Khalifa Ababacar (Senegal), Pedro Miguel (Portugal) and Luiz Junior (Brazil) among others.

Because Andri only played in a friendly for the Qatar national side chances are he could still be called up by Indonesia in the future. However only time will tell whether he will accept a second call up. Meanwhile we are left to ponder the irony of a football body actively scouting for naturalised players getting upset when one of their own considers a similar path.

Saturday, April 01, 2017


Liga 2 Takes Shape

I am really looking forward to Liga 2 this season. With 61 teams spread around eight and the likelihood three dozen teams could face relegation it promises to be a nail biting campaign. And with the likes of Persebaya, PSS, PSIM, PSIS, PSMS and Persik taking part the league promises more fans and more history than any other second tier division in South East Asia.

Group 1 - Persiraja, PSMS, PSBL, PSPS, Persih, 757 Kepri Jaya, Pro Duta, PS Bangka
Group 2 - Lampung Sakti, PS Bengkulu, Persita, Perseang, Cilegon United, Persikad, Persika, Persikabo
Group 3 - PSGC, PSCS, Persibas, Persibangga, Persip, PSS, Persijap, Persibat
Group 4 - Persipon, PSIS, PSIR, PPSM, Persis, Persiba Bantul, Persipur, Sragen United
Group 5 - PSIM, Persinga, Persatu, Persebaya, Madiun Putra, PSBI, Persepam, Martapura
Group 6 - Persewangi, Persik, Sidoarjo United, PSBK, PSMP, Perssu, Kalteng Putra
Group 7 - Madura FC, Persekabpas, Persekam, Persigo Semuru, PS Badung, PS Sumbawa Barat, Celebest
Group 8 - Persebul, Persigubin, Yahukimo, Persifa, PSBS, Persika Kaimana

I'm not sure how many teams will be promoted to Liga 1. Certainly Liga 2 will have 24 teams in 2018 so the top three can expect to at least play there. For the rest Liga 3 beckons!


Persib Bandung - What Can Carlton Cole And Michael Essien Expect?

Sunday sees Persib hold their official launching ahead of the new season which kicks off 15 April when they host Arema at the Gelora Bandung Api Stadium. For high profile new recruits Carlton Cole and Michael Essien this launching may come as a bit of a culture shock. Launches are common place in Indonesia, allowing the club to introduce their squad and kit to the fans, allowing supporters to meet and greet the players who will represent them on the football pitch. In other words the launch strengthens the bond that exists between club and spectator, something that no longer really exists in English football.

Cole and Essien of course have a shared heritage, having both played for Chelsea when they were somewhat younger. In Bandung they will be joined by another familiar name...Gian Zola is a promising young player who has recently been called up by Indonesia. No relation of course the the guy currently running Birmingham City (into the ground some may say) young Zola may be excited about playing alongside two former internationals with such glittering pedigree but he should never forget one thing. He knows Indonesian football. Cole and Essien don't.

So what can the big moneyed recruits expect from their time in Bandung with Persib? Unlike Chelsea, Persib are a club with a long, proud history and identity. Most Chelsea fans will be in blissfull ignorance about the era before a Russian guy with billions to spend came along and changed English football. Osgood, Hudson, Cooke, Bonetti, Droy. These names will be meaningless to a generation of hard core Blues fans. 

Persib fans on the other hand do know their history. Hariono and Atep may be considered legends of the team 2017 but most Bobotoh if not all know exactly who Adjat Sudrajat is. They will also have a story to tell of the Final between Persib and PSMS at Bung Karno Stadium in 1985 when an estimated 150,000 fans saw the game. In my book Sepakbola The Indonesian Way Of Life one Persib fan recalls a the Puncak (the road linking Bandung with Jakarta at the same) being a a sea of blue. Current coach Djadjang Nurdjaman may be no Jose Mourinho but he understands just what Persib means to the local people. Born in West Java, played for Persib, coached Persib, he has been there,done that for the Maung Bandung. 

Bandung may boast a population of more than 2 million but it remains very much a one football club city. The nomadic Pelita Jaya have tried in the past to lay down roots in the area as have Pro Duta but neither could make any inroads in to the local population. Lee Hendrie, like Cole a former Aston Villa and England international, played for the short lived Bandung FC...they relocated to Kuningan in a futile bid to attract supporters. The city, along with the province of West Java, is blue through and through. Travel around the province and you will be the Persib crest painted on walls, the replica shirt hanging on clothes lines drying in the breeze, t shirts adorning kids hanging out with their mates. Across the length and breadth of West Java people bleed Persib blue. 

Cole and Essien may recall their training sessions with Chelsea. Closed sessions far from prying eyes, they were designed to focus players minds on the next game. Indonesian training sessions tend to be more open affairs. One reason for that is logistic. Most clubs don't own their own facilities so must hire a public space. Persib are the exception. They do have Stadion Persib and the club often train there but fans often attend anyway, taking photos and asking for autographs from their heroes.. Quiet how Cole and Essien will take to these public shows of affection remains to be seen though there has been rumours suggesting the club have been looking for a more enclosed facility to help the foreign players adapt quicker. In Indonesia open training sessions are just one example of how close the relationship is between fan and player.

One other venue for training could well be up in the hills at Lembang along narrow winding , busy lanes where Cole and Essien can marvel at the popularity of rabbits. Sate kelinci, rabbit on a stick, is a popular local delicacy!

Bandung may be a large city but in many respects it is just a large village, certainly when it comes to football. Everyone is a Persib fan. Everyone. I have been out for a pizza with one player and we soon attracted a crowd of interested onlookers staring in awe at one of their heroes. Another player, who has since moved on, told me of the time he had run out of water and had gone to a local minimart in the early hours to top up. Thanks to Chinese whispers by the time the news got back to the club he was no longer just looking for some water but a totally different kind of drink. 

As an Arsenal fan I grew up thinking nothing happened in cities like Leeds or Newcastle during the week. They were just places for football. The fact people lived and worked there and watched TV never really dawned on me. I thought they just lived for the weekend when they could see visiting supporters arrive in their city with a police escort and they could get up close and personal and call us cockney bastards. The converse used to be true of Bandung for me. Living in Jakarta I would go down to Bandung once in a while but it was with Indonesian friends who were attracted by factory outlets and where to buy the best brownies. Dull, mundane visits that never filled me with much enthusiasm.

Then I started going down for the football and a different Bandung opened up to me. A city filled with creative, passionate people who love their local football club and go to great lengths to follow that football club. For some supporting Persib has become more than a day out with their mates at the game. They have turned their passion into mini cottage industries that support families. Through t-shirts, scarves, websites, books Persib fans are high profile and there is money to be made in being a Persib fan. 

It's not always easy going to Bandung for Jakarta people. Cars registered in the capital city have been known to be attacked by Persib fans who feel a deep hatred towards fans of Jakarta side Persija. Once I went down to see a game at Siliwangi Stadium and we drove right outside the stadium in my wife's company car. To say we weren't welcome is an understatement. Fans banged on the car roof, called us Jakarta dogs etc. It was only when me and my mate opened the windows and showed the supporters we were just two dumb foreigners who had got lost the atmosphere changed!

That rivalry between Persib and Persija is deep and bitter. Recent years have seen fans die for not celebrating a goal with a lot of enthusiasm, the freeway connecting the two cities blocked as travelling fans fought with police and local supporters, a team bus attacked on the way to the stadium. The list is endless. When the teams meet no away fans travel and the players who are the away team usually go to the stadium in an armoured personnel carrier. Even when the game is played hundreds of miles away fans of both sides still manage to go toe to toe if there is enough desire.  

The supporters can be a hard bunch to please but once a player does he can expect a relationship with hundreds of thousands of fans that will transcend time and distance. Players like Ilija Spasojevic and Miljan Radovic may have moved on a few years back but they remain in the hearts of the Bobotoh and thanks to social media keep their ties with the club thanks to hashtags and retweets. Once a Bobotoh, always a Bobotoh.

It remains to be seen what kind of impact Cole and Essien will have on Persib's season. From a playing point of view Cole is similar to Sergio van Dijk while the team are well stacked in midfield with the likes of Hariono and Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan, And it's not as if the new imports are likely to add more fans at the gate. I once wrote were Persib to dress 11 mannequins in blue shirts fans would be queuing for hours. Both players though will be hoping to add their own little footnote to a proud football club's long and proud history.

Persib in Numbers

Twitter followers 2.86 million. Tottenham have 1.9 million
Instagram 869,000                   Tottenham have 1 million
Facebook 9,359,000                 Tottenham have 8,321 million

One English based website said Essien had signed for a team no one had heard of. Judging by the numbers on social media Persib must be one of the biggest clubs in the one has ever heard of!

Thursday, March 30, 2017


New Season, New Organisers, New Regulations

With the new season scheduled to start 15 April the league held a manager's meeting yesterday in Jakarta gathering representatives from the 18 competing teams along with people from the PSSI and other administrative bodies.

I tend not to talk too much about the league organisers. Suffice to say there are a separate body to the PSSI. Back in the days of the Indonesia Super League they were known as Liga Indonesia. During the Indonesia Soccer Championship they were called GTS. This year Liga Indonesia Baru. The chief commissioner is Glenn T Sugita who is also involved with Persib.

Ok, so what was discussed? The league starts 15th April and is scheduled to end 12th November. A seven month season does seem to be on the short side. I don't know if that includes a break for the SEA Games or not. Oh, Liga 1 has a new sponsor, well sponsors, and will be known as GO-JEK Traveloka Liga 1. The opening game of the season sees Persib host Arema at Bandung Laut Api Stadium in Bandung.

The first transfer window opens 1st April and shuts 30th April while the second window opens 1st August and shuts 30th August.

Seven Liga 1 games will be televised live each week. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will each have two games broadcast while Monday night football will continue with an evening game.

Regarding players. Each team is allowed two non Asian and one Asian players in their squad plus one marquee player. Till now it seems only Persib have gone down the marquee route with Michael Essien. It looks like Madura United failed in their bid to sign Peter Odemwingie even though he signed a contract.

Five Under 23 players must be included in each match day squad with at least three starting. They must play for at least 45 minutes. Each club is also allowed two players over the age of 35.

Perhaps the most controversial new regulation sees each club allowed to make five substitutions per match. Potentially 10 breaks for subs, one water break each half, a break while players roll around on the floor feigning injury, time wasting tactics. We could see games have more breaks than American football.

Interestingly no prize money is on offer this season despite the number of sponsors involved. The LIB feel that as they already give each club a cash subsidy of Rp 7.5 billion and there will be plenty of money available from TV appearances that will be sufficient. Certainly more than clubs have received in recent years. For example when Persib won the iSL in 2014 they pocketed Rp 3 billion.

Ok, that is a brief overview of how the new season will look in the top flight. Sadly I won't be around for the opening games but will be in situ for Week 2. I hope the app will be up and running by then as well as live streaming of the games.

Exciting times lie ahead...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


Thai International Progress Hampered By Domestic Issues

Thailand have won six of their last 10 internationals. The best team in South East Asia? Of course they are. Look at that recent record. However, remove the games from their AFF Suzuki Cup triumph and what do have left? One draw, two defeats in last three games. In their last eight games they can boast a single draw and seven defeats.

Their World Cup campaign has long been in tatters. You don't recover from losing your first three games, not when your group features Japan, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Despite the bleatings of commentators on TV last during the Japan v Thailand game there is little surprise fans in Bangkok etc are unhappy with coach Kiatisuk. Spoilt on success in their own backyard they are hungry for a greater success. While they may not expect to qualify for the World Cup in Russia surely they are entitled to a bit more on the pitch than defeat after defeat?

But what does it say about the rest of South East Asian football when the Thais are being used as a punchbag by the rest of the region? Other nations can only look on and drool at the likes of Charryl Chappuis, Teerasil Dangda, Theerathon Bunmathan, Chanathip Songkrasin et all. And who isn't looking forward to seeing the next generation of Thais in the SEA Games? But for all that quality there is still a massive gap between the best in ASEAN and the rest of Asia.

I've long maintained the Thai Premier League, or whatever they call it nowadays, is not the best in the region. Yes, Muang Thong United and Buriram United are among the top three clubs in ASEAN and anyone who has an interest in football in this region must be delighted to see Muang Thong equipping themselves so well in the AFC Champions League this season, unbeaten after three games against the likes of Brisbane Roar, Kashima Antlers and Ulsan Hyundai.

But domestically neither Muang Thong nor Buriram face so many challenges. They have each won the title four times in the last eight years, Buriram United have five successes if you include PEA in 2008.  Six rounds into the new season Muang Thong are top, 100% record, yet to concede a goal, and Buriram third, separated only by Chiang Rai United. 

Surely for the Thais to make the much vaunted next step their star players need to look beyond the confines of their safe league and ventures into the uncertainties on offer overseas much as the likes of Kiatasuk Senamuang and Tawan Sripan did in the 1990s. Thai teams outside the duopoly ebb and flow depending on the interest of the main man. When he loses interest that is it. And too many other clubs, despite the insistence of many who continue to suggest it is the best league in ASEAN, are there to make up the numbers.

There was talk earlier in the year of Siroch Chatthong heading to Thailand. The 24 year old striker would be a better move for an Indonesian club than some alumni of the Premier League in his mid thirties with a long list of injuries behind him and an agent who knows a name means more in a deal than ability on the field. There may be no teams on a par with Buriram and Muang Thong but Siroch would also soon have realised there ain't no easy ride in Indonesia and that is what the Thai players need perhaps. It says much about the depth of the league there that Muang Thong had eight players in the starting line up last night versus Japan. A unbeaten team with ACL commitments is providing the backbone of the national team, perhaps in part because they have successfully hoovered up all the best talent. Those players return from Japan to Bangkok and then must head to Buriram in the north east of the country on 3rd April. 

The Thais will, hopefully, make it to the AFC Asian Cup in 2019 to be held in UAE. But without a stronger league or an exodus of players overseas we are unlikely to see this exciting team in the World Cup anytime soon.


Fans Have Vital Role To Play In Football's Latest New Era

I have adopted a deliberately effusive tone in recent weeks when penning my thoughts on Indonesian football, mainly because it follows the theme of my book Sepakbola - The Indonesian Way Of Life, but also because there are plenty of exciting things happening here. Sponsors are lining up to get involved with the domestic game, new clubs are adopting professional approaches, Persebaya are back, even the signing of marquee players is, on one level, a good thing.

But it seems one thing hasn't changed and unless we see a change in mindset at some levels shows no sign of disappearing any time soon.

Last week saw a train carrying Persija fans to the Cilacap Cup on the south coast come under attack from Persib fans when it stopped for a while in the Bandung area. No one was killed but families screamed in terror at the actions of a few rock throwing youths. There was also the tragedy of a Persita fan killed when the group he was travelling with at a friendly game was attacked by persons as yet unknown.

This is not about name calling. It's not about saying 'why is Jakarta Casual picking on Persib fans? He's a Persija fan.' No, I am not a Persija fan. I have friends who support Persija and Persib. I have written an introduction to a book put together by Persib fans. There is more on Persib than Persija in my book.

It's about common sense. There have been so many incidents in recent seasons of fan violence, some of which have led to supporters dying.

It matters not whether a supporter wears a green scarf, a blue scarf, an orange scarf, a purple scarf, a black scarf or a red scarf. NO FAN SHOULD DIE GOING TO OR FROM A FOOTBALL MATCH.

With some Indonesian football clubs actively looking for marquee players overseas can you just imagine the blowback in foreign media when an international footballer does an interview saying how fans die at football matches here? Foreign media tend to ignore any positives in Indonesia at the best of times, they would love such a story.

For now we have money coming into the game. The clubs need to do their bit by improving facilities at stadiums for a start, toilets are disgusting, not much in the way of refreshments are available and there are often plenty of rocks and broken bottles littering the stadium environs to give even the most reluctant of hooligan wannabe a hard on.

But fans also have a role to play. They are the ones who lose out when one of their own is killed. It is families in their communities who mourn a lost one. The media come, the media go but the empty seat at the dinner table never goes away.

The passion and fan culture in Indonesia is what keeps many foreign players entranced and prompts them to stay here for so long. We need to keep the passion, keep the rivalries that make the game here so special. But we need to stop the mindless violence that often lurks under the surface and only the fans can do that by working together.


Lessa Is More For Sriwijaya

It seems to be the new thing in Indonesia. Why wait for the new season before changing coach? Sriwijaya last week announced they would not be renewing Widodo Cahyono Putro's contract following a less than stellar pre season where they won one game in the President Cup. In Widodo's place has come Osvaldo Lessa, a Brazilian coach who has previously worked with Persipura as an assistant to Jacksen F Thiago and even replaced his compatriot for a short spell before being released.

It seems a strange choice. Widodo is widely considered one of the more promising coaches in the country and for me at least his Sriwijaya side were one I enjoyed watching in the Indonesia Soccer Championship. Goals were guaranteed! Unfortunately they tapered off in the second half of the campaign and finished a disappointing fourth, a long way off the champions Persipura.

Club President Dodi Reza feels the club have made a good choice. 'Osvaldo already knows Indonesian football so he can adapt quickly. He is also familiar with some of the players in the squad.'

It could be argued Widodo is also familiar with Indonesian football and is also familiar with the players.

Lessa can't expect a honeymoon. The club are targeting the title in the new season which starts in two weeks time.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Marquee Signings Raise Interest In Local Game

Persib Bandung’s announcement they had signed ex Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien didn’t just cause a stir domestically. The news made headlines around the world. It’s not often events in Indonesian football make headlines beyond tanah air so for once it is quite nice to read stories that don’t have a negative angle though the amount of ignorance regarding Persib, one website called them a team its readers had ‘probably never heard of’ says much about the quality of journalism in some countries.

Surely a quick search on the internet would have revealed not an unknown football club but one with more Twitter followers than say Tottenham Hotspur and almost 10 million Facbook fans. Essien is hardly joining a minnow.

While it may be good to bask in the glow of a few positive stories what does the signing of Essien say about the state of Indonesian football today? Coming off the back of a successful, if surprising run in the Suzuki Cup, a reasonably well run Indonesia Soccer Championship and the promise of a new PSSI leadership surely Essien’s arrival is one more, albeit cautious, reason to be moderately optimistic about where Indonesian football stands today?

Certainly the outlay by Persib is a huge vote of confidence in the game and its popularity. PSM coach Robert Alberts has been quoted as saying Essien’s annual salary is about the same as his club’s total budget for the year so despite a new PSSI regulation allowing the presence of a marquee player (above and beyond the two foreign players plus one Asian currently allowed) it remains to be seen how many other clubs follow Persib’s path.

There have been stories linking Persib with a number of strikers including Didier Drogba while Madura United have been linked with former West Bromwich Albion striker Peter Odemwingie. If the money is on the table there will be no shortage of players and agents willing to get their hands on some of it. We saw that with the ill fated Liga Primer Indonesia when a large number of foreign players and coaches headed to our shores only to return home when the money dried up. What did Indonesia gain?

Will the arrival of high profile foreign players help or hinder local young talent? Much will depend on the attitude of the player. Start comparing the pitches and training facilities unfavourably with the likes of London or Madrid and the result would soon be an unhappy dressing room. On the other hand knuckle down in the dressing room, make an effort to learn the language and join the team mates at a local warung eating sate ayam would go a long way towards creating a favourable impression.

Since the days when Pelita Jaya signed Mario Kempes and Roger Milla Indonesia generally speaking has been reluctant to go down the path of high profile imports. Other nations in the region have been more keen. Sydney FC signed Juventus legend Allesandro del Piero for example while close to home Thailand’s Muang Thong United featured ex Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler while Argentine Pablo Aimar had a short spell with Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim. More recently Tampines Rovers in Singapore had ex Liverpool and Arsenal striker Jermaine Pennant last season. Tellingly, none of those clubs have repeated the experiment..

It remains to be seen how much of a role Essien will play in the new season for Persib. Arguably Persib weren’t in need of a midfielder, the likes of Hariono and Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan have the experience and know how to fill that role for coach Djadjang Nurdjaman. In fact you could argue while Essien gets the headlines off the pitch it is Hariono and co who will win the points on the field. And for a player used to the finer things in life how would he take to the Indonesian away days experience? Perseru for example.

Given the huge outlay, and the fact every Persib home game is a sell out anyway, the club will be looking for Essien to pay his way on other areas. They are already undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in Indonesia. Could the signing of Essien signal the first tentative step into turning Persib into a regional powerhouse? There is no doubt his name will raise the profile of the club overseas. How will they try to cash in?

With the season less than a month away the introduction of marquee signings raises many interesting questions. They also add one more twist to what is already shaping up to being an interesting campaign.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Youthful Indonesia Downed By Myanmar

Indonesia v Myanmar 1-3 (Nur Hadianto; Mg Mg Lwin, Kyaw Ko Ko, Si Thu Aung) 13,150

Dicky Indrayana (Bali United)

Putu Gede (Bhayangkara)
Ryuji Utomo (Persija) (Zalnando (Sriwijaya))
Bagas Adi Nugroho (Arema)
Ricky Fajrin (Bali United)

Hanif Sjahbandi (Arema) (Paolo Sitanggang (Barito Putera))
Hargianto (Bhayangkara) (Asnawi Mangkualam (PSM))
Gian Zola (Persib) (Evan Dimas (Bhayangkara))

Febri Haryadi (Persib)
Nur Hardianto (Persela) (Ezra Walian (Jong Ajax))
Saddil Ramdani (Persela) (Osvaldo Haay Ardiles (Persipura))

Luis Milla's first game in charge of the national team and with an eye on the SEA Games later this year he went for a youthful selection featuring 11 players receiving their international debuts including Walian who only received his naturalisation papers the day before the game.

Not the result many would have wanted but this was the first stop on a journey so let's hope fans and officials are patient and allow the coach time to develop a team that can challenge.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Essex Based Teens Get Indonesia Call Up

I must admit I am not familiar with Hutton FC despite them being 89 years old. They are based in Essex, a county I am also unfamiliar with as it is on the wrong side of London as far as I was concerned.

Two Hutton players received an unlikely letter recently asking if they would like to be called up by the country. Of course this is a proud moment for any footballer but it must be doubly so for two teenagers who play for Hutton.

Jack and George Brown have an English father and an Indonesian mother and with the PSSI casting its net ever wider in search of talent I guess it was only a matter of time before their mother's passport aroused their interest.

Jack Brown is 15 years old and has his own Wiki page where much is made of the promise he has shown at various soccer schools and competitions he has played in. One time Sir Alex Ferguson asked him where he came from...Jack replied Indonesia. 'Interesting' says Fergie.

Having trained with the likes of Arsenal Soccer School, Manchester United and ASCIOP it appears these are two young lads who have been immersed in football from an early age. They also seem to be at a school which boasts alumni as Frank Lampard and Teerathep Winothai.

From their website:
Hutton Football Club are a highly regarded amateur grass roots football club based in Hutton, Essex. Hutton FC’s 60 teams include juniors from Under 7’s for both boys and girls up to adult men and women, a large percentage of our adult footballers having progressed through the youth ranks at the club. The club also provides pre-school age fun sessions in a safe indoor environment.
Formed in 1928 and merged with the thriving local youth football club, Hutton Medway in 2005, Hutton FC has grown and developed beyond anyone’s expectations largely due to the dedication of the volunteer workforce managing the teams, coaching the players, developing better facilities and dealing with the mountains of administration. The club has over 600 playing members out in all weathers every weekend from September to July enjoying the beautiful game and along with their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and supporters all enjoy a real sense of community.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Singapore To Host Bayern, Inter

Oh what wonderful joyous news for people in Singapore who love their football European.  The International Champions Cup has decided to make the city state it's home in South East Asia base for next four years and this July will see Inter Milan, Baywrn Munchen and some tin pot outfit from South West London who wear blue.

My understanding is this is a private initiative between two private parties, ICC and the venue, and of course best of luck to them and all involved. European clubs which spend all season moaning about their fixture list will be jumping from China to Singapore and back home again without mentioning jetlag once.  It is okay to complain about tiredness to your bread and butter fans but to do so in the far East, with all them dollar bills waiting to be hovered up, is jolly bad form.

25/07 Chelsea v Baywrn
27/07 Bayern  v Inter
29/07 Inter v Chelsea

Now check out these fixtures

25/07 Home United v Warriors
29/07 Warriors v Albriex Niigata, Balestier Khalsa v Hougang United

You see what's happening here? The European holidaymakers games clash with the SLeague, Singapore's own domestic league. It may not be much but it's all they have. Now there is a massive likelihood these games will have to be rescheduled to make sure no one is distracted from the big boys.

Once upon a time visiting European sides used to at least pay lip service to the quaint idea they were in the area to boost local football. They would even play against local sides. Not any more. There is more profit to be purloined by playing their peers pre season before pairing off in the Champions League. There is money for the elite teams, money for the sponsors but sod all for local football.

The Football Association of Singapore has a role to play. Sure they can cave into every last request from the European sides. Or they can do their job and prioritise local football. Obviously they aren't going to turn round and tell ICC where to get off. Too many powerful sponsors. But why don't they say the SLeague games should be played ahead of the ICC games. That would give Singaporean players experience of playing in front of big crowds and Who knows maybe even encourage some of the Euro lovers to take an interest in their own backyard.

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