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Monday, April 27, 2015

 

Kuwait U23 Squad Eye Al Ain Date

Kuwait's bid for AFC U23 Championship glory was put on hold after it deemed the initial venue for the group stage games, Lahore, Pakistan, was deemed unsafe.

The games have now been moved to Al Ain in United Arab Emirates and games will be played next month.

16/05 Kyrgystan v Kuwait
20/05 Kuwait v Pakistan
22/05 Kuwait v Turkmenistan
24/05 Jordan v Kuwait

The group winners are guaranteed a spot in the next round while the runners up could qualify as one of the best runners up

 

Arema's SLeague Gambit

Not for the first time in recent years we have an Indonesian club hinting they may join the SLeague. Earlier this year it was Sriwijaya. Now we have Arema, one of the clubs at the heart of a shitstorm kicked up by the powers that be that has seen the ISL put on hold.

Arema are suggesting the ISL cannot carry on with a 16 team format as that is a FIFA requirement. Perhaps they are not aware the SLeague they are seducing with puppy eyes has only 10 teams, three of them foreign, and the Malaysian Super League has only 12?

Anyway while it would obviously be a lot of fun to see Arema and the Aremania descend on Singapore on a regular basis, there are large numbers of migrant workers in Singapore and across the border in Malaysia, how would the Singapore authorities react to loads of foreigners turning up to support their team in their clean and pleasant homeland? Remember in recent months they have effectively turned away Malaysian and Johor Darul Takzim fans for fear they would cause problems.

There is a arrogance of course on behalf of Arema at play here. As if the SLeague would welcome a new team a third of the way into the season! One thing about the SLeague, they have their fixtures arranged in advance and they are sticklers for regulations, they are not going to admit a new club willy nilly like the ISL did when they allowed Pelita Bandung Raya to become Persipasi Bekasi Raya two rounds in.

Of course the claim Arema could join the SLeague is probably rhetoric...it is just not very good rhetoric. If the IS ultimately bans them do you think FIFA would allow them to play overseas?

Mind you, in my flights of fancy the idea of Arema in Singapore is a delicious one. Imagine, big crowds, passionate fans...no, the more I think of it the more aghast the Football Association of Singapore would be. They are doing their best to kill the game, the last thing they need is a surge of interest!



 

Kuwaiti Sides Face Tricky Away Trips In AFC Cup

Squeaky bum time for Kuwait's representatives in the AFC Cup. Premier League champions and AFC Cup holders Al Qadsia sit joint top of their group with Istiklol from Tajikistan but Turkmenistan's Ahal are only a point behind.

In the last round of fixtures the Kuwaiti side lost 2-0 against the Tajiki side, a loss that saw them surrender top spot. Ahal's win over Arbil only added to the pressure as The Kings head off to Turkmenistan this week following a less than sparkling performance against Al Kuwait domestically at the weekend.

Lose in Ashgabat and Al Qadsia face the very real prospect of going out of the competition at the group stage.

1 - Itsiklol 4 2 1 1 7-6 7
2 - Al Qadsia 4 2 1 1 5-4 7
3 - Ahal 4 2 0 2 6-7 6
4 - Arbil 4 1 0 3 6-7 3

Al Kuwait also face a tricky away trip, this time to Lebanon to take on Nejmeh. Their defeat at home to Syria's Al Jaish last time out saw them knocked off top spot and with Bahrain's Riffa three points behind The Brigadiers know they cannot afford any slip up as they head to the Mediterranean coast.

If the table doesn't lie then Al Kuwait should be returning home with the points in the bag and a spot in the knock out stage confirmed. Their final group stage game sees them making the short hop to Bahrain to take on Riffa, a game they will be hoping will be a dead rubber

1 - Al Jaish 4 3 1 0 3-0 10
2 - Al Kuwait 4 2 1 1 6-3 7
3 - Riffa 4 1 1 2 4-5 4
4 - Nejmeh 4 0 1 3 3-8 1



 

Advantage Government In Football Power Play

Despite the fine talk coming from the PSSI who said the Indonesia Super League would carry on regardless, it is the government, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports who have taken the lead.

No ISL games were played over the weekend in a clear victory for the people who, one imagines, are responsible for young people in Indonesia leading healthy lives.

The government followed up that early success with a massacre yesterday. Of 20 games scheduled to be played on the opening day of the new Divis Utama campaign, only one went ahead with Persikad overcoming Persires 3-1. That game probably slipped through the net because no one has a scooby where either team comes from anymore!

The ISL clubs have a chance to claw back some pride later today, Monday, when they have been invited to attend a meeting at the Ministry of Youth and Sports amid talk they would boycott the chat fest. Arema and Persebaya have not been invited.

At least Persib and Persipura have some AFC Cup action to look forward to this week; for the rest of the club only uncertainty.

Meanwhile FIFA continue to do nothing...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

 

Hot Shot Fabiano

Back in the day there used to be a cartoon character named Hot Shot Hamish. As can be inferred by the name he was a Scottish player with a very hard shot.

Patrick Fabiano isn't Scottish. He was born in Brazil in 1987 but like many of his compatriots decided to seek fame and fortune overseas and after stints in Bolivia and Mexico found himself signing for Kuwaiti side Al Nasr in 2009/2010.

In 2010 he packed his toothbrush and headed to United Arab Emirates for spells with Al Khaleej and Hatta with a few games for Paranaese in his homeland sandwiched in between but the lure of the gulf was too strong as his goal scoring exploits were making clubs sit up and take notice.

He returned to UAE with second tier side Al Fujairah and continued where he left off, rattling in the goals for fun.

Clubs in Kuwait had obviously continued tracking him and in July 2014 he signed for Kazma in the Premier League. He scored in his second game back and in December wrote his name in the record books scoring after seven seconds against Yarmouk - the fastest goal in the league's history.

With 16 goals in 19 games he is presently the league's leading scorer.

His consistent scoring record impressed the national team selectors of Timor Leste somehow and he made his debut for his adopted country in an ASEAN Football Federation Championship Qualifier against Brunei, netting once in the 4-2 win.

The 27 year old scored his second goal for Timor Leste against Mongolia in a World Cup Qualifier in Ulan Bator suggesting this is a guy who can produce goals on the big occasion and it looks like his country will need him. The ASEAN minnows have been drawn alongside United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Palestine and Malaysia offering him an opportunity to build up the air miles.

For now though it is his club side Kazma who have first dibs and despite the club having little to play for, they sit 6th in the 14 team league 16 points off the leaders Al Kuwait, Fabiano will now if he keeps rattling in the goals big clubs will come a sniffing once the season ends.

 

Pity Poor Persija

So the Indonesia Super League was meant to restart yesterday under the auspices of the PSSI. Or the government. It didn't start...the four games scheduled were called off because the police would not give security clearances.

Pity poor Persija? They seemd to have found enough money from somewhere to make the long journey east only to find out their game with Persipura would not go ahead after, would you please return from whence you came.

Embarrassing really that the league would allow the club to even make the bloody journey and it is a long journey. If you get a direct flight it is about seven hours. Transit and the hours roll over like a taxi meter at the Tomang flyover. A long, painful ride for the players at the best of time, more so for players who haven't been training too much because of a dispute with their club over unpaid salaries.

If the government did care so much about football like they are implying why didn't they call Persija and say 'hey, don't book the flights but why don't you use the money to pay the players something. You know, goodwill, that sort of stuff'.

Most clubs are used to travelling to Jayapura and returning pointless. Persija's trip too was pointless.

There are no winners in this ugly mess. Football is the loser, fans are the losers and Indonesia's reputation takes a further battering overseas.

How many of the foreign players will want to stick around at the end of the season? We have already seen two foreign coaches leave; Alfred Riedl left PSM citing illness and Scott Cooper left Mitra Kukar. I guess we can look forward to the likes of Rahmad Darmawan or Benny Dollo back at the helm of the national team in a World Cup qualifying year.

As the Sex Pistols once say 'No Future, No Future'.



Saturday, April 25, 2015

 

Al Qadsia v Al Kuwait 0-1

My first game in the Kuwait Premier League was a top of the table clash with third hosting second. Al Qadsia came into the game on the back of a 5-0 thrashing of struggling Al Sahel midweek while Al Kuwait had gone through the season unbeaten.

Victory for the home side could well have thrown a spanner in the works of Al Kuwait's own tite aspirations; the visiting side went into the game two points off leaders Al Arabi with a superior goal difference.

The Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium in Hallawy holds some 22,000 but for this crunch fixture there was perhaps 5,000 including a vociferous away following resplendent with drums and a geezer with a megaphone who led the chanting and drowned everyone else out in the process.

Tickets cost 5 Kuwait Dinar, about Rp 200,000 or 10 GBP for the main stand and 3 KD elsewhere.

Al Kuwait go close in the second half
With a 9.10 pm kick off catering I guess to TV companies, the game took a while to even kick off. There was plenty of huddles and smiling for the cameras while some lad wearing a yellow Al Qadsia shirt with the number 32 was being give a bit of a send off with flowers, hugs and photos aplenty while adulating in the applause and appreciation of both sets of supporters. No idea who he was mind.

It was Al Kuwait who started the livelier with their forwards and midfield pressing from the get go, not allowing the home time to dwell on the ball but chances were few and far between and there was no surprise the teams went in 0-0 at half time.

Second half was more of the same with Al Kuwait increasingly dominating, finally scoring the all important goal to earn the three points that saw them overtake Al Arabi at the top of the table.

As far as the standard of the game goes it was a little disappointing. Plenty of frenzied running but poor decision making when it came to the final pass. There were some moments of skill but not too many. No players really stood out although of course I knew of none to look out for before hand!

It was however interesting to see two of the teams who have dominated the AFC Cup in recent years in action at last; Kuwait has been a graveyard for Indonesians sides in recent years with Persipura losing 3-2 to Al Kuwait last season before thrashing them in Jayapura 6-1.

The Black Pearls luck ran out in the semi finals, losing 4-2 against Al Qadsia in Kuwait and then getting tonked 6-0 at home in the second leg.

Of course one game does not a league define and I am looking forward to catching a few more games before the end of the season. Next up is Al Sahel travelling to Al Fahaheel tonight, a meet up between two of the  bottom three but I think I will pass on that!


Friday, April 24, 2015

 

ISL Returns...Or Maybe Not

After a two week break brought in by the conflict between the football association and the youth and sports ministry, football is slated to return this weekend with four games scheduled in East Java and one in Papua.

What is less clear is if the games will go ahead and who will be running the league! The youth and sports ministry have said they no longer recognise the PSSI and have instructed the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KONI) to take over the league while the PSSI are saying they will continue to do their job and not accept any input from outside bodies.

On the pitch, surprise leaders Gresik United have the chance to make it four wins out of four when they host PSM Makassar on Sunday at Tri Dharma Stadium. Victories over Barito Putra, Mitra Kukar and newly promoted Pusamania Borneo have left Gresik United sitting pretty but coach Liestadi will be aware the early days of the season have been kind to his team and PSM will be a tough nut to crack.

The team from Makassar have returned to their home town for this season after spending the last campaign in Surabaya and roared on by their faithful home support have been scoring goals for fun. They thumped Persiba Balikpapan in their first game 4-0 and followed that up with a 3-3 draw against Sriwjaya Palembang.

However former national team coach Alfred Riedl has stepped down as coach citing health reasons and he has been replaced by Austrian Hans Peter Schaller who had previously been his assistant and the Eastern Roosters will be hoping the relative continuity in the dug out will have little impact on the team’s start to the season.

The two teams at the heart of the recent controversies, Arema and Persebaya Surabaya both have home games this weekend. The Professional Sports Council decreed neither club could continue in the league until ownership disputes were sorted out but little headway has been made and they are both preparing for the games ahead.

Arema host Persipasi Bekasi Raya. PBR started the season as Pelita Bandung Raya but a deal was announced during the latest break that would see Persipasi Bekasi take over the Bandung PBR and rebrand the club in their own image and host their home games at Bekasi’s new Patriot Stadium.

Champions in 2009/2010, Arema were among the favourites for the current season with a team filled with experienced internationals. They were involved in a ding dong affair with Persija Jakarta in their opening game, eventually needing an injury time goal from new signing Fabiano Beltrame to share a point in a eight goal thriller while Beltrame repeated the medicine in a narrow win over Barito Putra.

PBR coach Dejan Antonic has received many plaudits for the way he has handled himself and his team while the club struggled with a lack of funds. Forced to release striker Ilija Spasojevic he has turned to a PBR old boy, Gaston Castano to provide the goals up front but the Argentine has struggled in recent years with injuries and it remains to be seen how effective he can be on a consistent basis.

Following the shenanigans of last weekend when Surabaya played host to the PSSI elections which saw thousands of angry fans protest at the game’s governing body, the city will be hoping normal service will return this weekend when the local side host Persiba Balikpapan. Certainly the local security officials won’t expect to be so busy. It is estimated more fans turned up to protest against the PSSI than attended both of Persebaya’s opening home games!

It is hard not to feel a degree of sympathy for Persiba. While other clubs squeezed in two or three games before the enforced break, the Honey Bears managed just the one and that was the 4-0 mauling in Makassar. Coach Eddy Simon Badawi recognises Persebaya will be tough opponents and is looking to two of his foreign legion, Roman Golian and Ansu Toure to step up to the plate.

While most Indonesia Super League sides have been forced into hibernation at least Persipura Jayapura have had the luxury of competitive football, their 0-0 draw against Maizya guaranteeing their spot in the knock out stage of the AFC Cup.

This weekend sees them hosting Persija Jakarta and it has been a less than stellar start to the campaign for the Kemayoran Tigers. Their 4-4 draw away to Arema was followed by a disappointing 1-0 loss to Persela Lamongan and again it was a late goal that cost them dearly. The financial troubles that have consumed the club since the start of the year have shown no sign of fading and with no salaries forthcoming the players stopped training. It remains to be seen what kind of squad Persija send out east to face a strong Persipura side unbeaten after two games and buoyed by AFC Cup progress.

The other game sees Persela taking on Semen Padang at Surajaya Stadium but of course in Indonesian football much can happen between the writing of a column and match day!

 

Kuwait's Proud Past

There was a time when the Kuwait national side was good. As recently as 1998 they were 24th on the FIFA ranking for those who read meaning into that kind of thing.

And they have tasted success by the bucket load.

AFC Asian Cup - 1980
Gulf Cup of Nations - 1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2010
WAFF Championship - 2010
West Asian Games - 2002

A pretty impressive roll call by many standards and their current FIFA ranking of 127 is pretty good compared to the mediocre levels attained in South East Asia. But from a Kuwaiti point of view that is pretty bad. Indeed only in February they were ranked 128, the lowest in their history.

That trough was reached after a disappointing run at the AFC Asian Cup when they lost all their group stage games downunder including a 4-1 loss against hosts and eventual winners Australia; and that despite the Kuwaitis taking a surprise early lead.

Since that debacle they have managed just a single international, a 3-1 loss against Colombia in a game that was played in Abu Dhabi.

It wasn't always like this of course. Their footballing traditions are long and proud and they are also part of one of the bitterest rivalries in the region with Iraq, a rivalry that predates the invasion.
 
The start of the Gulf Cup of Nations in Bahrain on Saturday sees the return of the Arab world's greatest, and perhaps most forgotten, football rivalry.

Few matches in the region carry the weight of history the way Iraq v Kuwait does.

From the Gulf Cup's inception in 1970 until 1990, the tournament was won by only two teams: Kuwait seven times (1970, 1972, 1974, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1990) and Iraq three (1979, 1984, 1988).
But it was the decade from 1976 until 1986 that saw the golden age of football for arguably the finest teams the region has produced. (Video of the matches can be found on YouTube.)

In the Gulf, the names were legend. For Kuwait: the Lebanese-born goalkeeper Ahmad Al Tarabulsi, the goal-scoring midfielder Abdulaziz Al Anbari, and the triumvirate of forwards, Faisal Al Dakhil, Jasem Yaqoub and Fathi Kamel. Iraq countered with the excellent Raad Hamoodi in goal, the left-wing genius Ali Kazam, the rampaging midfielder Hadi Ahmed, and the flying forward Falah Hassan.

Year zero was 1976, and three games defined that unforgettable era.

On April 5, the two memorably drew 2-2 in the Gulf Cup in Doha, Iraq taking a two-goal lead before being pegged back by what would become a trademark comeback by Kuwait.

Six days later, the two met again in a play-off match for the title and somehow managed to top the first match. Kuwait led 3-1 at half time, before Iraq came storming back with a second goal after the restart. Kuwait, however, confirmed their fourth title with a goal in stoppage time.

And what a goal it was. From Al Tarabulsi punching the ball from a free kick, through Hamad Abu Hamad's first-time hooked pass, to Al Anbari's run from inside his own half and dinked hat-trick goal. Ten seconds of pure football ecstasy. The legendary Kuwaiti commentator Khalid Al Harban broke into a primal "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") as the ball hit the net. It remains one of the Gulf Cup's most famous goals.

That same year, Iraq and Kuwait took their increasingly bitter rivalry to a new level. On June 11, the two met in the semi-final of the Asian Cup in Tehran; Kuwait took the lead twice, Iraq came roaring back twice.

And then, in the 10th minute of extra time, Kamel scored the winner for Kuwait as the match descended into a series of petty fouls and confrontations. Exhausted by the monumental effort of the match, Kuwait succumbed 1-0 in the final to regional heavyweight Iran two days later.

But if that match was ill-tempered, it had nothing on their infamous encounter in Baghdad several years later. In 1979, the year Iraq clinched their first Gulf Cup, the two met in a qualifier for the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow; it turned out to be less a football match than a street brawl. Tackles came late. Punches were thrown. And, astonishingly, great goals were scored.

As in Doha 1976, Iraq took a 2-0 lead, which they held until the 70th minute. Then, despite Hamoodi having a sensational game in Iraq's goal, Kuwait scored three goals in 12 minutes to run out 3-2 winners. In the stands, a young Uday Hussein watched. His impact on Iraqi football in years to come would be devastating.

In Moscow, both made it to the quarter-finals. Iraq also qualified for the 1984 Games in Los Angeles and 1988 Games in Seoul. The 1982 Asian Games was won as well. Kuwait won the 1980 Asian Cup, which they hosted, and finished third in Singapore 1984. The nations also left their mark on the world stage.

Kuwait qualified for the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain. Iraq matched that in Mexico 1986. Neither covered themselves in glory, however, failing to win a match between them.

As Iraq and Kuwait traded Gulf titles in 1988 and 1990, few could have imagined that their rivalry on the football field would be replaced by an altogether more catastrophic one on the battlefield.
On August 2, 1990, Saddam Hussein's army invaded Kuwait, and the political consequences of the subsequent Gulf War continue to reverberate in the region more than two decades later.

Football would never be the same again. Kuwait's Blues had a relative recovery of sorts, winning the Gulf Cup in 1996 and 1998, before securing their record 10th title two years ago in Yemen.

Iraqi football, thanks to torturer-in-chief Uday Hussein's reign of terror as head of the football association, would take far longer to recover. When it did, it was in glorious fashion, the Lions of Mesopotamia winning the 2007 Asian Cup.

This first appeared in UAE paper The National and was written by Ali Khaled

Given their fine heritage what does the future hold for the Kuwait national side? Like most other countries they are setting out on the road to the World Cup in 2018; for those with long memories they reached the World Cup in Spain in 1982 and they were drawn with England (lost 1-0), France (lost 4-1) and Czechoslovakia (1-1).

The road to Russia does on paper offer them at least a strong opportunity to make it through to the next stage. South Korea will always be a tough ask but games against Lebanon, Myanmar and Laos should on paper be doable. And of course a top two finish in the group means chances are high they will be in the next Asian Cup which is scheduled for United Arab Emirates in 2019.


11/06 - Lebanon v Kuwait
03/09 - Kuwait v Myanmar
08/09 - Laos v Kuwait
08/10 - Kuwait v South Korea
13/10 - Kuwait v Lebanon
24/03 - Kuwait v Laos
29/03 - South Korea v Kuwait

While Russia and the UAE may seem far off at least on the calender the Gulf Cup of Nations looms closer. It was originally slated to be held in Basra, Iraq next year but has since been moved to Kuwait. A chance perhaps to relive past glories?





Thursday, April 23, 2015

 

Know Your Als, These Are Your Als

Don't worry about the heading...it's a Clash thing!

It would be suitably romantic to suggest that I was so fed up by the incompetence surrounding football in Indonesia and Singapore I just uppped sticks and moved on. Sadly. 'tis not the case.

There was a job offer long in the offing and when it was finally confirmed it was all rather quick. But anyways with the offer I didn't wanna commit to a season of covering football in Malaysia and Singapore only to leave..so I haven't bothered!

So, here I am. In a country where there is little material out there in English about the local football season. Where the script is unfamiliar. Welcome to Kuwait!

We are at the business end of the season so there isn't a whole lot happening but perhaps just enough to get a feel for things. The game stops in June to avoid the heat and the new season begins in September...which also coincides with the interesting part of the AFC Cup...a competition Kuwait clubs have dominated in recent years to very little acclaim.

The World Cup qualifiers kick off next month of course but if you think I am going to travel Asia watching the Kuwait national side you must thing I am more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic, And the new year sees the Culf Championships being hosted here in Kuwait.

So plenty of football to look forward to. Now, them als...

The best place is to start with the standings in the Kuwait Premier League.

There are 14 teams in the KPL and after 23 games the top of the table looks something like this:

1 - Al Arabi 23 19 2 2 58-12 59
2 - Al Kuwait 23 17 6 0 62-10  57
3 - Al Qadsia 23 16 4 3 58-19 52

The top three pretty well matches the historical record when it comes to success.

Al Arabi - 16 titles (last one 2002)
Al Qadsia - 16 titles (last one 2014)
Al Kuwait - 11 titles (last one 2013)

The three have dominated Kuwaiti football pretty much since the first season back in 1961/62 with only Al Salmiya (4), Kazma (4) and Al Jahra (1) breaking their stranglehold.

Al Kuwait and Al Qadsia haven't just proved all powerful on home turf. Between them they have won four of the last six AFC Cups and been runners up on three occasions in that period. Strong at home and abroad, yet so little is known about either them or their league.

We can come to the AFC Cup. For now the focus is on the tail end of the KPL and these are the outstanding games for the three teams.

24/04 - Al Qadsia v Al Kuwait
28/04 - Al Jahra v Al Arabi
02/05 - Al Arabi v Al Qadsia
04/05 - Yarmouk v Al Kuwait
09/05 Al Arabi v Al Tadmahon, Al Kuwait v Al Sulaibikat, Al Shahbab v Al Qadsia

A quick glance at the remaining games illustrates why I showed the top three and not just the top two. Al Qadsia are going to have a massive role to play in the outcome of the 2014/2015 Kuwait Premier League. But could the AFC Cup prove a distraction for both Al Qadsia and Al Kuwait?

Anyways hopefully I will be able to get to a game or two over the weekend!


 

Disband The SLeague?

Are Singapore football officials really considering disbanding the SLeague? Is this part of their strategic plan, strategic review or strategic bullshit?

I don't really see how the FAS can be exploring ways to make Singapore football better...after all wasn't that the whole point of the much hyped strategic plan? Isn't there already a road map in place? Or is everything being done on a wing and a prayer and all the business school speak is nothing but hot air?

Was the merger of Woodlands wellington and Hougang United part of the strategic plan? Was the disbanding of Tanjong Pagar part f the same master plan?

And are there people there really relying on some pie in the sky ASEAN Super League to swoop down on the city state like some kind of majestic Pegasus and carry everyone to the promised land to a chorus of angels?

The observant out there may have noticed I have dropped the SLeague from my coverage. My circumstances have changed, I am not able to spend as much time on Singapore and Malaysian football as previously and so I decided to keep the focus on Indonesia with perhaps one significant other (more on that later).

But the fact that people are even discussing scrapping the SLeague is just astounding. Imagine, a major nation without its own domestic league.

What is equally astounding is the apparent admission from the national team coach that he doesn't bother watching SLeague games. Imagine the boost local players felt when they read or heard those words.

If true then the coach must go irrspective of the failure to defeat Guam. A national team coach who doesn't bother with the local league is nothing short of an embarrassment and at a time when the game is crying out for fans...what message does that send? All the Liverpool supporters will be crowing and saying 'told you lah, craps isn't it'.

But don't stop the cull at Stange. Take the rest of the suits out to pasture.

Friday, April 17, 2015

 

For Indonesia, 4th Place Really Is A Trophy

My latest Jakarta Globe column looks at Indonesia's chances of qualifying from their World Cup group.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

 

Acair's Dilemma Sums Up Persija's Woes

Alan Aciar is exactly the kind of player Indonesian football, in an ideal world, should be trying to attract. For a start the Argentine defender is 27 years old. He still has a future in the game, he has something to play for even if it is just more of a journeyman career where he has done little to scale the heights of unknowness.

So why has he been tweeting the following?

I thing the Last week in jakarta...
23 retweets 2 favorites

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

 

Indonesia's World Cup Draw

11/06/15 - Chinese Taipei v Indonesia
16/06/15 - Indonesia v Iraq
02/09/15 - Vietnam v Indonesia
08/10/15 - Indonesia v Thailand
13/10/15 - Indonesia v Chinese Taipei
12/11/15 - Iraq v Indonesia
17/11/15 - Indonesia v Vietnam
29/03/16 - Thailand v Indonesia.

1st place - 3rd World Cup qualifying round, AFC Asian Cup
2nd place - 3rd World Cup qualifying round,  AFC Asian Cup or 3rd qualifying round
3rd place - AFC Asian Cup 3rd qualifying round
4th place -  AFC Asian Cup 3rd qualifying round or play off
5th place - AFC Asian Cup qualifying play off

Remember how we mocked Arsene Wenger for saying 4th place is as good as a trophy. In Indonesia's case, looking at the teams in their group, he wasn't far off!


Monday, April 13, 2015

 

Gresik United Suprise Early Leaders

Barito Putera v Gresik United 0-1 (Herman Dzumafo) 10,513

It's all kind of meaningless at the moment and the enforced interruption to the league will probably break their momentum but it is kind of nice from a neutral perspective to see Gresik United sitting atop the Indonesia Super League after Dzumafao's early goal made it  three wins out of three.

The home side gave a debut to new signing striker Alekos Alekou a former Cyprus international who must be wondering what the earth he has let himself in for with the league taking an enforced two week hibernation.

While Gresik United may crow about their start to the season, Barito Putera, returning to the 17 May Stadium, will find less joy in their loss and know they have two weeks to prepare for their next game; a potential banana skin away to Perseru.

PSM v Sriwijaya 3-3 (Syamsul, Nemanja Vucicevic, Adita Putra Dewa; Goran Ljubojevic 2, Morimakan Koita) 15,749

It is one of the most under reported stories of the year but PSM, one of the oldest clubs in Asia, have returned to their home town of Makassar after being forced to spend the 2014 season in Surabaya as the powers that be deemed their Andi Mattalatta Stadium not up to standard.

They began their campaign in style crushing Persiba 4-0 but Sriwijaya were always going to be a tougher proposition.

Roared on by the fanatical Maczman PSM took the lead through their own talismanic figure, Syamsul Chaeruddin. Now 32, Syamsul was born in South Sulawesi and made his debut for PSM back in 2001 and making his international debut three years later.

He spent nine years with PSM before going to Persija and Sriwijaya but returned home in 2012...it's just a shame a lack of accurate records mean there is no true record of how many times he has played for the club.

Ex Balestier Khalsa striker Goran Ljubojevic equalised just before half time, his second of the season. PSM came out second half all guns blazing and Nemanja Vucicevic restored their lead on 54 minutes.

However Sriwijaya have become the draw specialists of the news season and Koita indeed made it 2-2 just minutes after coming on as a substitute. Adita made it 3-2 before Goran's second levelled and gave Sriwijaya an unwanted 100% record; three draws in their opening three games.

1 - Gresik United 3 3 0 0 6-3 9
2 - Persipura 2 2 0 0 7-2 6
3 - Persib 2 2 0 0 4-0 6

3 goals - Bambang Pamungkas (Persija), Fabiano Beltrame (Arema), Lerby Eliandri (Bali United Pusam), Goran Ljjubojevic

 

Persipasi 'Promoted' To Indonesia's Top Flight

The longest soap opera of the pre season has finally ended with the announcement Pelita Bandung Raya will merge with Persipasi* and be known as Persipasi Bandung Raya. This is wonderful news for Persipasi of course; they had been looking forward to a campaign in the Nusantara League, Indonesia's third tier, but now find themselves dining at the top table. If in name only.

Bekasi will be the latest stop for the team formerly known as Pelita Jaya. Since their inception they have played home games in, deep breath, Jakarta, Cilegon, Solo, Purwakarta, Soreang, Karawang...apologies if I missed any out!

PBR's future had been under cloud all during the pre season break as they club struggled to find a stadium. Si Jalak Harupat was too big and too expensive; Siliwangi Stadium was ruled out by the ISL. The announcement and the name change come two games into the new season that has since been halted by the government (in any other country that sentence would be seen as ludicrous!).

Of course quite when PBR will be able to settle in their new home remains to be seen. Persipasi couldn't use the new Patriot Stadium last season because of um, well because someone didn't want them to and with the season taking a break so politicians can have their fun who knows when the league will return?

What of the PBR fans in Soreang or Bandung? There were only a couple so I guess their views have been discounted. What of the Pelita Jaya fans in Karawang? Long time ago lah. And Persipasi fans? What think they of this wondrous gift that has dropped in their laps after the season has started?

*Apparently it is not a merger. Persipasi bought shares in PBR. Wow, I wasn't aware Persipasi had the type of money to go out investing. Still, think of that lolly sloshing around in the league thanks to the big sponsorship deal.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

 

Ibo's Fate Highlights Football's Ills

Having promise as a youngster in professional football in no guarantee a player will go on to become a household name, a world beater or even any bloody good. For every Gareth Bale there are hundreds more David Bentleys or Peter Coynes or John Bostocks.

There are many obstacles that stop a player becoming a true great and to be fair many are down to the player himself. Being told you are brilliant when you are 19, it doesn't mean they have to believe it and become Billy Big Bollocks.

I remember the first time I met Fandi Ahmad, the one time Singapore legend who was coaching Pelita Jaya at the time. He was positively drooling about some of the young players at his disposal.

Egi Melgiansyah for example. He always looked cool, calm and collected when I saw him, comfortable on the ball and able to spray passes around the field like Phil Taylor on the Oche. He left Pelita Jaya in 2012 and despite having spells with Arema and Persija he has yet to really blossom as he should have. Mind, he is only 24...the first time I saw him play he was a callow 16 year old.

He is now with Pusamania Borneo, perhaps harbouring at the back of his mind the notion a good run there could see him earn a call up to the national team or perhaps just hoping to get regular game time.

Another Pelita Jaya alumni to look to East Kalimantan is striker Jajang Mulyana. This lad was considered good enough as a teenage to spend time with Brazilian side Boavista in 2008, 2009.

Pelita Jaya let him go in 2011 and after a spell on loan with Sriwijaya he moved to Mitra Kukar. Out of sight out of mind it seems, despite being 5.11 tall, large for an Indonesian striker, he continues to be overlooked by the supposed bigger clubs and the national team despite netting a goal every three games for his team.

Fandi's goalkeeper in that youthful line up was Dian Agus Prasetyo. Now 29, Pelita Jaya signed him from Persijap and he became a mainstay of the team that reached the Copa Indonesia semi finals in 2007, even getting called up by the national team.

Leaving Pelita Jaya in 2011, he went on to have spells with Arema, Barito Putera, and Mitra Kukar before signing for Sriwijaya ahead of the 2015 season where he will be hoping regular first team football could see him back in the fold for the national team.

And then we have Yohan Ibo. A cultured defender, comfortable on the ball, he joined Pelita Jaya in 2007 and was a mainstay at the back. Leaving in 2010, he went on to Arema, Persebaya, Barito Putera before pretty much falling off the map, another promising young player chewed up and spat out by the short termism of a game where politics will always trump football.

Ibo was back in the headlines when it was revealed he was allegedly offering cash to players to lose a football match. It is highly unlikely he was acting on his own but whether we ever hear who was behind the scenes remains to be seen.

He is now being talked about the face of a football match fixing mafia. A harsh word mafia, especially if you have watched the Godfather. Ibo is no cigar chewing wise guy in a sharp suit who is being seized upon as an easy target.

It is tempting to think what might have happened had Fandi kept those players together. Would they have benefited from the shared experiences and mentoring they could provide each other? We will never know. But far from Ibo being the bad guy here, what we have is a failure of the way people approach football in this country. Everything is immediate be it from club owners worried about their status in their community to fans quick to stay away when results don't go their way.

12 month contracts, unpaid salaries may not be the reason why Ibo decided to get involved, we just don't know. But they are just two more ingredients in a lethal cocktail that is poisoning Indonesian football and Ibo is one more victim.

 

Zulham The Game Changer

Persipura v Bali United Pusam 5-2 (Tinus Pae, Zulham Zamrun 2, Boas Solossa, Robertinho; Lerby 2) 21,136

He was one of the few bright lights during Indonesia's failure at last year's ASEAN Football Federation Cup. Persipura were strangely inactive during the pre season transfer free for all. Then the three times champions snapped up 27 year old Zulham and things slipped into place.

Lerby, no relation to former Danish international Soren, gave the visitors a surprise lead on just three minutes and doubled it before half an hour. Bali United, complete with former Persipura keeper Jae Hoon between the sticks, were taking the game to the Black Pearls and the home team were none too happy.

A goal right on half time by Tinue Pae soothed the nerves somewhat for the home team but coach Osvaldo Lessa refused to make any dramatic changes during the break.

Instead he waited until half way through the second half when he hauled off Yohannes Pahabol, two goal hero in their last game, and replaced him with the man they are calling ZZ7 on 63 minutes. Four minutes later and it was he who levelled the scores.

Boas (81'), with an assist by the substitute, and Robertinho (85') put the game to bed while Zulham completed his cameo with a second in injury time.

Gresik United v Mitra Kukar 3-2 (Yusuf Effendi, M Kamri, Jimmy Supriono; Septian Maulana, Diego Michiels) 9,000

Gresik United came from behind to defeat 10 man Mitra Kukar to make it a perfect start to the season for the East Java side.

2-1 down at half time, M Kamri formerly of Persema and the veteran Supriono fought back to the delight of the home support.

It has been a tough baptism for new Mitra Kukar coach Scott Cooper who had previously worked with Buriram United and Muang Thong United in Thailand but while his side may have lost their opening two games he will know that on the horizon are a couple of home games which can go someway towards moving his side away from the nether reaches of the table where they now reside. Mind you, next up is Arema!

Gresik maybe enjoying the view from 3rd place where they are level on points with leaders Persipura and champions Persib but they wont have much time to savour the points; on Saturday they are away to Barito Putera!

Perseru v Persiram 1-1 (Ali Qaddafi; Mbida Messi)

Persebaya v Pusamania Borneo 1-1 (Emile Mbamba; Lopicic)

The game that had all of football talking after it was alleged  former professional footballer had approached a couple of Pusamania players asking them to lose the game no doubt in return for a bit of the folding stuff.

Pictures were released of Pusamania officials grilling the ex player with one paper reproducing a picture and calling the ex player JI all the way through the piece until the last paragraph when they revealed it was in fact Johan Ibo, one time Pelita Jaya, Arema, Persebaya et all. Quite way they had to proceed with the farce of JI is not clear.

The game itself ended 1-1 after Emile Mbamba, ex Arema, scored in the 93rd minute to salvage a point for the home team and continue a trend of last gasp goals in the nascent season.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

 

Late Goals And Late Kick Offs

Persela v Persija 1-0 (David Pagbe) 9,500

Persija must be wishing games only lasted 88 minutes. For the second time in four days they saw vital points slip from their grasp when Persela's David Pagbe scored the only goal of the game at Surajaya Stadium to give the home side the full three points.

On Saturday Persija went into injury time leading Arema 4-3 only for a last gasp penalty earned the home side a point.

So that is three points dropped in two away games in East Java, coach Rahmad Darmawan will be hoping playing in front of their own support in Jakarta can see them return to winning ways.

Persib v Pelita Bandung Raya 3-0 (Atep, Konate Makan, Taufiq) 8,742

PBR took to the field with a banner thanking the good folks of Bandung for their support over the last few seasons. They had hoped to use Siliwangi Stadium in the city for the new season but the ground has been deemed unfit so they are still scouting around for a new venue and hope to make an announcement before their first home game of the season on Monday.

That would be nice. Wouldn't do after all to make the announcement after the game, would it?

One local paper is making a big deal of the fact that new signing Ilija Spasojevic failed to score. So what? They won 3-0 but the paper runs with a sarcastic headline along the lines of  'Spaso Playing? I Didn't See Him.' Wonder what that was all about?

Two games, six points, two clean sheets. I don't think Persib are worrying too much.

Meanwhile Persib keeper I Made Wirawan is said to be recovering after taking a knock in the second half. Defender Vladimir Vujovic replaced him between the sticks for the last few minutes.

Sriwijaya v Semen Padang 2-2 (Raphael Maitimo, Ferdinand Sinaga; Nur Iskandar, Hendra Bayauw) 10,207

How you look at this result depends if you are a 'cup is half full, half empty' kind of guy'. The old adage in football is you win your home games and get what you can away. Sriwijaya dropped points for the second consecutive home game and with most football fans in this country being of the 'half empty' persuasion, coach Benny Dollo may take some solace in the knowledge the next couple of games see him take his expensively assembled side to PSM and Persiba.

As coach he may find the fact his team did come from behind twice a positive point, at least when talking to the media and the fans (he missed the press conference after the game so a moot point) but behind closed doors he will be fuming at going down at home twice.

Much is expected of Sriwijaya this season as my column in The Jakarta Globe says but a return of two points from the opening two games was most definitely on the agenda.

Arema v Barito Putera 1-0 (Fabiano Beltrame) 4,151

A new feature this season, in response to the demands of TV, is 9pm kick offs. This game kicked off at 9pm...check out the crowd.

For the second successive game Arema relied on new signing Fabiano to dig them out of a hole, the defender now has three goals in two games.

But while Arema will celebrate the three points there must be questions asked about 9pm. TV viewers want to see packed terraces and Arema in full voice is one of the finest to see. But they stayed away in their droves.

Kanjuruhan Stadium is a pain to get to from Malang, it is more than a half hour drive down narrow lanes and of course there is no public transport from the city centre. Indonesian fans are now learning, as English fans have, once you sell your soul to TV you start to lose the game.





Monday, April 06, 2015

 

ISL Gets New Sponsor For New Season

Finally the much delayed new season is with us and a new name for the Indonesia Super League. Thanks to a sponsorship deal with Qatar National Bank the ISL will henceforth be known as the QNB League and is the first time the league has been sponsored by a non tobacco company.

Champions Persib Bandung opened the defence of their title with a narrow 1-0 victory over Semen Padang in front of a sell out crowd at Si Jalak Harupat Stadium. In fact such was the interest in the game kick off was delayed by 15 minutes due to congestion on the approaches to the stadium.

The game also marked the debut for new striker Ilija Spasojevic, brought in from Pelita Bandung Raya and the new signing quickly won over the faithful with his pass allowing M Ridwan to score the only goal of the game on 18 minutes.

Three times champion Persipura Jayapura got their season off to a winning start as they defeated Persiram Raja Ampat 2-0 at the Mandala Stadium. With striker Boas Solossa injured after taking a knock during Indonesia’s friendly victory against Myanmar, Yohanes Pahabol was drafted in to partner new signing Zulham Zamrun and he responded by netting both goals.

Arema Indonesia and Persija Jakarta shared eight goals in a thrilling, seesaw encounter at Kanjuruhan Stadium witnessed by almost 23,000 fans. Cristian Gonzales gave Arema the lead on 10 minutes only for talismanic striker Bambang Pamungkas, returning to Persija after a two year hiatus, equalising with a penalty on 19 minutes. Ten minutes later Persija took the lead when Bambang scored his second but the joy was shortlived; 60 seconds later Samsul Arif continued where he left off last season with a fine finish from 12 yards.

Arema’s new signing from Persija, Brazilian central defender Fabiano Beltrame, made it 3-1 seven minutes before the break came to allow everyone present to take stock of quite a remarkable game. Bambang completed his hat trick on 75 minutes and with eight minutes on the clock Greg Nwokolo, back at the club for his second spell, made it 4-3 for the visitors. However a penalty in the last minute of injury time was coolly slotted home by Beltrame leaving both sides with a point.

Sriwijaya Palembang had invested heavily pre season and coach Benny Dollo went into the team’s first game of the season boasting a multitude of new attacking options. Goran Ljubojvic was brought in from Singapore’s Balestier Khalsa and Patrich Wanggai from Malaysia’s T Team while Ferdinand Sinaga (Persib) and Titus Bonai (Persipura) were sourced locally.

While Dollo had enjoyed the luxury of a near open cheque book, his counterpart at opponents Pelita Bandung Raya, Dejan Antonic, had enjoyed a much more gruelling pre season with money troubles never far away. Indeed he was forced to part with his marquee signing, Ilija Spasojevic before a ball was even kicked. Ljubojevic scored right on half time to give the home team a slender lead but despite the problems surrounding the club the PBR players stuck in and earned a point when David Laly equalised with 14 minutes on the clock.

It was a fine battling performance from PBR and while Dollo may have been disappointed not to get three points he knows his new strike force are a work in progress.

In other games, Persebaya Surabaya defeated Mitra Kukar 1-0 at Bung Tomo Stadium in Surabaya. Watched by just over 2,000 Dany Saputra’s 15th minute goal was enough for the points in a bad tempered affair that saw seven yellow cards. Gresik United beat newly promoted Pusamania Borneo 2-1 thanks to first half goals from Yusuf Effendi and Riko Simanjuntak.

The well travelled Liberian striker Eric Weeks Lewis scored a consolation for Pusamania but it was too little too late and the home side held on for the points. Barito Putera left it late to grab the points at Surajaya Stadium in East Java but goals from Agi Pratama and TA Mushafri left the hosts Persela Lamongan and their supporters empty handed while Bali United Pusam lost 2-1 to Perseru Seru with Osas Marvellous netting a late winner.

 

Who Will Follow Persires?

I'll be honest with you. I had to google Rengat. It is between Pekanbaru and Jambi, an area I am totally unfamiliar with.

Anyways, Rengat has, or should I say had a football team and their name is Persires. I did see them play once, away to Persipasi at the old Patriot Stadium but beyond that the club has rarely crossed the radar. Which is a shame really but their recent past has been quite interesting if not in the slightest bit successful.

Fans in Rengat would have had a ready made local derby against Persih while the biggest club in the area would have been PSPS Pekanbaru. I wonder what the supporters do these days for football beyond play among themselves on a bit of patchy grass. They cant go see Persires any more, that's for sure. They were taken away years ago.

The tale is a familiar one in Indonesian football.

Back in 2011 Persires merged with Bali Dewata, a founder member of the breakaway Indonesia Premier League and the team that brought Ilija Spasojevic to Indonesia.

As a result of the merger the team became known as Persires Bali Dewata. For those who don't known the Persi/Perse you see at the beginning of most club names is an acronym meaning Football Association. So with the Bali merger the team was known as Rengat Football Association Bali Dewata. And they played in Bali.

What about the fans left behind in Rengat? We'll come to them later.

In 2013 Persires left the tropical island cliche paradise and moved to the north coast of Java, settling down in Cirebon, a nice seafaring town with a little bit of history attached to it. For 2013 they were known as Persires Cirebon.

What about the fans left behind in Rengat and Bali? We'll come to them later.

From Cirebon Persires moved again this time just down the road to Kuningan where they became known as Persires Kuningan.

What about the fans left behind in Rengat, Bali and Cirebon? We'll come to them later.

With the new Divisi Utama season to begin at the end of April Persires have been scouting around for a new home and after flirting with Wonogiri have settled upon Sukoharjo, a town in Central Java not too far from Solo. Their new name is Persires Sukoharjo.

What about the fans left behind in Rengat, Bali, Cirebon and Kuningan? We'll come to them later.

Pelita Jaya's travels have been well chronicled in this here blog but Persires in whatever carnation must run them pretty close for moves and we can be sure there will be another move in 2016.

But what's the point? What is their connection these days with Rengat and indeed why even keep the name when it seems clear they have nothing to do with the area anymore?

You will notice I have posed a few questions about the original fans of Persires but I have not answered them. I am not going to. I am merely following the pattern set by the club of ignoring them.


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

 

Happy Anniversary Malang

Indonesian cities like to celebrate their birthdays and today it is the turn of Malang the city in East Java which is home to Arema.

To commerate the city's founding no doubt there have been heaps of events lined up but a decision taken in far off Jakarta is likely to put a dampener on the day for many of the inhabitants.

BOPI, a body set up by the government to 'oversee' professional sport have decided Arema as well as rivals Persebaya have failed their verification process and so cannot compete in the Indonesia Super League which is due to kick off on Saturday. Yep, 72 hours away. Arema host Persija n their first game of the season and an estimated 1,000 travelling fans have already made their arrangements.

And for what? Because a body not recognised by FIFA or the AFC have decided to impose their own criteria on professional football in Indonesia, a role that belongs exclusively to the PSSI.

Why have Arema failed? Who knows. They can talk about not ticking the correct boxes, they can talk about the lingering effects of the IPL which saw both Arema and Persebaya have two clubs share the same name but many will still be suspicious. And why haven't PSSI jealously guarded their own corner in the way they did when the IPL was launched back in 2011.

What next? Who knows. Will Arema and Persebaya quietly accept the decision while other clubs seemingly passed the process despite being in worse condition? Is this anything to do with PSSI elections later this year? Are there chocolate cupcakes on the moon? Who knows...

What we do know is yet another cack handed decision makes Indonesian football a laughing stock.

Happy anniversary Malang...

Monday, March 30, 2015

 

Divisi Utama 2015 Groups

In the absence of any meaningful news coming out of Indonesian football and perhaps a legacy of a tad too much free time mixed in with some good old fashioned optimism here are the planned groups for Divisi Utama 2015.

Group 1 - Persiraja, PSBL, PSMS, Pro Duta, Bintang Jaya, PSPS, Persih, PS Bengkulu, PS Bangka

Group 2 - Cilegon United, Perserang, Persita, Villa 2000, Persikabo, Persika, Persikad, Persires, PSGC, PSCS

Group 3 - Persibangga, Persibas, Persibat, Persip, PSIS, Persijap, Persipur, PSIR, Persis, PPSM

Group 4 - Persiba Bantul, PSIM, PSS, Persinga, Persatu, Madiun Putra, Persik, PSBI, Persepam, PSMP

Group 5 - PSBK, Laga, Persida, Perssu Madura United, Persekam, Persekap, Persebo, Persewangi, PS Badung, PS Sumbawa Barat

Group 6 - Persipon, Kalteng Putra, Martapura, Persbul, Persigo, Yahukimo, Persigubin, Persiwa, PSBS, Persifa

These groups may of course change in the future!

Personally think it is a shame there is no Deltras nor Persitara, two teams that seem to have fallen off the map in the last few years.

A busy season for fans in Banten province with Perserang, Cilegon United and Persita going toe to toe though much depends of course on where Persita will play their home games; the last two seasons have seen them exiled in Karawang and Kuningan.

Newly relegated Persepam MU have lost the MU part of their name, the letters being added to newly promoted Perssu. Both teams hail from the east of Madura island but Persepam played their home games in Bangkalan during their ISL cameo.

Tasty derbies in Group 3 with PSIS, Persip and Persijap battling it out for local pride while the presence of PSIR means the Pantura will play host to plenty of football fans over the season.

And is Yogyakarta Indonesia's football city? PSIM, PSS and Persiba find themselves in the same group which should keep local security officials busy for a while!

Meanwhile Bali goes from famine to feast. The popular tourist destination now has two football teams with PS Badung earning promotion to Divisi Utama. It will be interesting to see how the more traditional local side does attracting fans against the more heavily financed Bali United Pusam who were parachuted in from Samarinda.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

 

Indonesia v Cameroon 0-1

A good work out for Indonesia against Cameroon who may have been missing some of their big names but were still too much for the hosts.

Benny Dollo's first game in charge following the poor showing at last year's AFF Cup and many fans would be interested in knowing what changes he had imposed on the underachieving merah putih. Actually it turns out the fans weren't asking the question as next to no bugger turned up with the attendance reported as 1500-2500!

The much vaunted nationalism we read about seems to have deserted football or at least the football public in Sidoarjo and nearby Surabaya judging by the piss poor number. Would the game have attracted more had it been played in Jakarta? Possibly though the stadium had already been long booked by some boy band called One Direction; forward planning that is seemingly beyond the powers that be in football.

Dollo hardly rung the changes though one noticeable absentee was Sergio Van Dijk who had led the line in Vietnam. In fact given Dollo is coaching Sriwijaya it is perhaps surprising players like Patrich Wanggai and Ferdinand Sinaga were not given a bigger role to play.

Instead the ageless Cristian Gonzales was called away from a friendly with his club side Arema against second tier Persip to lead the line for the national team with Tantan, Boas Solossa and Zulham playing just behind but tasked with getting up in support as often as possible.

With no competitive football under their belts since the end of the 2014 season, Indonesia struggled to find any rhythm though of course they also struggled to find any rhythm in Vietnam at the end of last season. There was plenty of huff and puffed cheeks but so many simple passes were misplaced so much energy was spent just trying to get control of the errant ball.

Furrowed eyebrows and hands on hips maybe considered evidence of hard work but as is so often the case the energy was being expanded in the wrong areas. What was needed was someone in the middle to get the ball on the ground, take a touch or two and pick out the right pass. Instead players were in such a hurry to control and pass the precious round thing was given away far too often and Indonesia, in front of the apathetic crowd, struggled for fluency.

In the end the result flattered Indonesia. I Made Wirawan made some fine stops in the second half to keep Cameroon at bay and the history books will record a narrow loss, not the performance.

Next up for Indonesia is a game against Myanmar also in Sidoarjo

I Made Wirawan
Farizi, Victor Igbonefo, Yohanis Tjoe (Aryanto), Sukadana (Raphael Maitimo)
Kipuw (Tony Sucipto), Hariono (Jufriyanto)
Tantan (Bayu), Boas Solossa, Zulham
Cristian Gonzales (Ferdinand Sinaga)



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