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Thursday, February 07, 2019

 

Support Your Local League

I am delighted to say my second book, Support Your Local League - A South East Asian Football Odyssey is now available in both old school print and new fangled ebook.

The book looks at football in four South East Asian countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand and draws heavily on my experiences in the region, travelling round, watching games, meeting supporters, players and coaches. 

Let's face it. South East Asia is seen as a market. A market for already rich European clubs to increase their shirt sales and social media followers. A market for tourists seeking the exotic picture postcard palm-fringed beaches.

For me it was home. For nearly a quarter of a century. And following football there opened up a whole new world to this particular wizened expat.

Go to a bookshop, seek out South East Asian books and what do you find? The usual travel guides, books showing you where to watch birds perhaps. Plenty of stuff about where to get the best spa or facial treatment. Books telling you  how tough it is living in that part of the world.

But South East Asia is also home to hundreds of millions of people whose stories remain mostly unknown to us beyond a media fuelled stereotype. Just like the UK is more than bowler hatted commuters and brawling football hooligans there is more to South East Asian than dodgy taxi drivers or scam artists and using football as a glue I try to present a different side to what is, for me, one of the most fascinating areas in the world.

Meet little known clubs, local legends, world cup stars, football fans. Meet a passion and a desire for local football that is the equal of any in the world.

How to order

Kindle version
Old school paper back from Amazon
Direct from the original publisher, based in Australia, Fair Play Publishing
Alternatively your local book shop should be able to order it. Quote ISBN:  978-0-6481333-2-2

If you would like to know more about this book or my work please follow me on Twitter
https://twitter.com/JakartaCasual



 

High Profile Resignations Hit Indonesian Football

These are heady times in Indonesian football what with match fixing allegations continuing to blight what remains of the game's image, a national general election on the horizon and some high profile figures stepping down from their high profile positions.

In the wake of PSSI calling a number of social media accounts in for talks on match fixing allegations a police task force has raided their offices in search of information. Quite what these allegations say about so called professional bodies whose job, they claim, is to identify games which have been fixed by betting activity, is a moot point.

Moot maybe but one worth bearing in mind as the Indonesian football association recently inked a wide ranging agreement with Spain's La Liga including how to clamp down on match fixers. Other such 'integrity' partners have arrived in a puff of acclaim only to disappear as they are replaced. 

Towards the end of January the PSSI chief Edy Rahmyadi stepped down saying he had failed in the position. The resignation surprised many, he had after claimed he wouldn't resign a month earlier, but delighted many more who had been less than impressed with his leadership which had seen him take time off to run in a gubernatorial election, slap a supporter on the terraces at a game, and rebuke a journalist for having the temerity to ask him a question.

Now we have news Persija's main director Gede Widiade has resigned though not, he stresses, because of documents that may or may not have been incriminating which may ortugas kami sudah selasai' or basically our work is done!
may not have been shredded. No. he says his resignation isn't politically motivated and perfectly normal. In fact, he says, '

Yep, perfectly normal to quit the champions as they prepare for vital AFC Cup ties.

Gede was previously involved with Bhayangkara, who were Liga 1 champions in 2017 and announced his arrival at Persija with the hashtag PersijaGW in a bid to appeal to the club supporters. GW, as well as being his initials, is short for Gue which roughly translates as I am.

Quite where this leaves Persija is another question of course and of course there is no evidence either Edy or Gede have been involved in anything underhand and it is unlikely local media will dig to deep into latest events. All we can do is pull up a chair, crack open a beer or six and order a pizza. 

And remind ourselves the Liga 1 season won't actually start until May!

Friday, February 01, 2019

 

Malaysia Crying Out For A Club To Challenge Irrepressible JDT

I can only look enviously at Malaysia where today the Super League kicks off. You can't  beat the feeling that comes on the eve of a new campaign where everyone starts level. From a footballing point of view let's hope that interest remains for the duration of the season and we are not left with another one horse race where other clubs are left staring at the heels of Johor Darul Ta'zim as they gallop towards another title.

2018 Champions JDT 22 19 2 1 47-9 59 
23 points clear of second place Perak

2017 Champions JDT 22 15 4 3 50-19 49
9 points clear of second place Pahang

2016 Champions JDT 22 18 4 0 56-14 58
15 points clear of second place Felda United 

2015 Champions JDT 22 14 4 4 36-18 46
7 points clear of second place Selangor

2014 Champions JDT 22 13 5 4 39-22 44
3 points clear of second place Selangor

JDT are blowing every other club out of the water on the field and the onus has to be on other clubs to up their game or we could see the Super League turn into a farce. It is no good saying other countries are also dominated by one or two teams; other countries have far stronger footballing roots. What's the point of being the Galacticos in what is essentially a one team league? And what is the point of supporting another side when you know all you have to look forward to is a fight against relegation?

Sadly two of the larger clubs in the country, Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan, were relegated at the end of last season while Felda United and MISC-MIFA, who get name-checked in my book Support Your Local League - A South East Asian Football Odyssey, fortunately now rebranded as Petaling Jaya City and, perhaps less fortunately, linked with the Manchester City group of clubs, have taken their places in the top flight.

It could be interesting watching PJ City over the season. After just two seasons in the Premier League they earned promotion after runners up Felcra, another government department were disbanded despite finishing third. The idea of naming a football club after a district or a city isn't that common in Malaysian football and this attempt to tap into the large population of PJ could prove to be a smart move. Or they could find themselves coming up against more established clubs like Selangor and PKNS and find themselves out on a limb.

They have kept K Devan as coach. The experienced for international has brought success to the likes of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan in the past but it remains to be see what kind of funds he will be allowed as he seeks to stablise PJ City in the top flight.

Pahang are one team many have predicted to challenge JDT but have all too often fallen short with one second place and two third place finishes since 2014. For some reason they have never been able to maintain the consistency to overtake the rampant JDT. 

Forward Dickson Nwakaeme has returned to the club after time in France and his partnership with Norshahrul Idlan Talaha offers promise for the new season as does the recruitment of young Indonesian winger Saddil Ramdani. The presence of the versatile Singaporean Safuwan Baharudin also offers coach Dollah Salleh options either in the middle or at the back. Crikey, is Safuwan really 27?!

It's always dangerous to predict good things for a football team based on their striking options but who can't fail to be impressed by the attacking options Kuala Lumpur coach Yusri Che Lah has at his fingertips. Brazilian Guilherme de Paula has averaged nearly a goal a game since arriving in the capital while the addition of Dutch striker Sylvano Comvalius, who struggled to make an impact with Suphanburi in Thailand after an explosive season with Bali United suggests an attacking approach from KL.

It was undoubtedly goals which kept KL in the top flight last season; only champions JDT scored more. However they shipped 51 goals, conceding at least three goals in a game on 10 separate occasions. The KL faithful will no doubt be hoping the coach has been spending time on the defence ahead of the new season.

Elsewhere supporters of Selangor, Kedah and Perak will be expecting their team to be there or there abouts but as with the rest of Malaysian club football do their owners share that vision? From a distance it appears not. In recent  years some privately owned, and it must be said poorly branded, clubs have just given up, even when it comes to the second and third tier. Money issues or the futility of trying to compete with a club that has outgrown the league?

For the good of Malaysian league football there needs to be a club to come along and challenge the hegemony of JDT. 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

 

Is AFF Suzuki Cup Ready For Australia Or Are The Socceroos Too Big For ASEAN

Today the Australian Football Federation announced it would be looking to compete in the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020 for the first time. Despite having been a member of the ASEAN Football Federation for a number of years now the Socceroos have till now not tried to take part in the largest international competition in the region.

One of the reasons why it is so large is because many competing nations genuinely believe they have a chance of winning the biennial tournament despite the seeming clamp like hold Singapore and Thailand have had over recent years. 

In the 12 events since the competition was introduced in 1996 the Thais have won the trophy while Singapore have triumphed on four occasions. Vietnam (who won the title for the second time in 2019 and Malaysia are the other winners).

Interest in the AFF Suzuki Cup has grown over the years and I am not just talking about sponsorship. Budget airlines and an increasing middle class have seen more and more supporters, especially from Indonesia and Malaysia, travelling round the region to watch their heroes where once away support was limited to a smattering of locally based expats, students and embassy staff given a little flag to wave.

In 2010 I recall being at both Indonesian semi finals and both legs of the final with Malaysia along with more than 360,000 other supporters! That's a lot of bums on seats. Imagine the TV viewing numbers.

Many in Australia have been calling for greater integration with their neighbours to the north but for much of the country South East Asia evokes images of Bali, Bangkok and other beaches. There is little understanding of the countries that make up ASEAN let alone its football. When Sydney were drawn with Persik in the AFC Champions League the Aussies expected just to turn up and win for example. 

Australia winning 2008 AFF Under 16 Championship in Jakarta
Indeed Perth Glory have even mooted the idea of playing home games in ASEAN hoping to boost their profile, an idea that comes with the right intentions but could be perceived as arrogance across the Java Sea in countries which already boast their own active leagues and football cultures.

The issue of national pride and sovereignty is also at stake. ASEAN as an economic/political grouping which prides itself on non-interference in each others' internal affairs. Hence the silence over Myanmar and its treatment of the Rohingya. Australia on the other hand tends to be more vocal on such matters, witness the efforts being made to force Thailand to release Bahraini footballer Hakeem el Araibi who claimed refugee status in Australia but is now being held in Thailand as it processes an extradition appeal from Bahrain.


Sadly politics and football cannot be easily separated in the region and undoubtedly Australia's vocal support for Hakeem sits uncomfortably with a Thai government who would prefer people talked about its beaches and its friendly people rather than such a political hot potato. Australia's public utterances also feed into local, nationalist sentiments in countries where colonial memories/foreign interference still hold great sway.

Putting aside the politics, and I wish we could, how about at a football level. Australia is a sporting nature with a culture that loves to win. When they lose the whining doesn't stop for ages! Would the Socceroos come into the AFF Suzuki Cup and steamroller the opposition aside? No doubt they would be strong at home but what about on their travels? Would they be able to handle a wet Tuesday in Jakarta? The infrastructure? The poor facilities? 

Australia have reached the last four World Cups, winning a massive two games in their 13 games. They have had better luck in the AFC Asian Cup, winning in 2015, when they hosted the event, and runners up in 2011. The worry among many in ASEAN is among weaker sides Australia would dominate their most important trophy to the extent it loses its appeal. From Hanoi to Jayapura it is in no-one's interest to see this competition so thoroughly dominated by one country.

If Australia were to enter the competition it would require the existing sides to really up their game and I am not sure they are all able to. Would there be a desire among ASEAN associations to back their national sides to the extent they can prepare fully for trips to Sydney or Brisbane or Perth or would they plead poverty and book the cheapest flights with the cheapest hotels for the shortest stay?

I get that there have been suggestions Australia could enter an Under 23 team because they wouldn't want to disrupt their domestic competition. That would not be a good idea. Indeed, that would just be seen as cheapening what is for hundreds of millions of people the highlight on the international calendar. 


As you can probably tell by my garbled meanderings in this post I am undecided. Absolutely, there should be a greater integration between ASEAN and Australia. Long term, and that I think is key, it would benefit all sides. But I am not sure entering the AFF Suzuki Cup now is the best way to achieve this. Personally I would like to see a club competition, much like the Bang Yos pre season event in Jakarta (programme pictured left), where clubs from the region go toe to toe. Alongside this I would like to see Australia engage with ASEAN nations in friendlies, perhaps along the lines of a Thai King's Cup or Malaysia's old Merdeka Tournament. I think adopting such a twin track approach would convince ASEAN Australia is serious about engaging with the region on the football pitch and is not just looking to win an 'easy' trophy or improve their own FIFA ranking at the expense of football development in their own backyard. 






 

PS Tira Merger With Persikabo Raises Questions

Once upon a time there was a team called PS TNI. Not a team so much, more the armed forces Football Association who would ocasionaly muster a team to play against the national team or club sides in friendlies. As a team associated with the military and only playing on a ad-hoc basis, they didn't of course have a natural fan ba
se but for some reason in South East Asia that doesn't seem to be an issue, at least for club owners.

When the domestic league was suspended in 2015 we saw a period of rough and ready competitions cobbled together to keep players busy, turnstiles clicking and TV stations paying. With no oversight from FIFA, or AFC, it was basically anything goes and into this vacuum leaped the military, and the police, with their own teams and fans were remarkably underwhelmed to see PS TNI and PS Polri playing proper games against proper teams.

PS TNI merged with PSMS with gave them a sheen of legitimacy in the eyes of the PSSI and allowed them to compete in the stop gap competitions. However PSMS later decided they wanted to go their own way again so PS TNI looked around for another way to be piggy backed into the top flight of Indonesian football, eventually 'merging' with Papuan side Persiram. It was a take over to all intents and purposes and now Persiram has all but ceased to exist.

So for the unofficial, in the eyes of the rest of the football world, we had PS TNI playing in the Indonesia Soccer Championship at Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong, a stadium far too large for their support, much of which was bussed in from local military barracks.
When the FIFA ban was lifted PS TNI remained in the rebranded Liga 1 and kept playing home games in Cibinong. A club with no fan base playing at one of the nicest venues in the country. Meanwhile the real local side, Persikabo, were struggling against relegation from Liga 2, deprived of cash yet possessing a more than decent fan base of their own.

The 2017 season was a constant struggle against relegation for an inconsistent PS TNI and it wasn't until coach Rudy Eka Priyambada came in that the team settled down and eventually ended in a comfortable mid table position. Persikabo could find dug-out saviour and ended the campaign bottom and heading for the ignominy of Liga 3.

For 2018 the powers that be decided what PS TNI needed was a rebrand so the name was changed to PS Tentara Indonesia Rakyat (Indonesian People's Army), or PS Tira for short and the club 350 miles east to Bantul in Yogyakarta. At least they had no fan base to worry about upsetting.

If the move was expected to attract more supporters it didn't work as crowds averaged less than 1500 at their new home and most of those would have been away supporters! Again the team struggled on the pitch despite the 21 goals of Aleksander Rakic and they only just escaped relegation. I guess the humiliation of PSMS and PS Tira going down would have been too great!

Perhaps in response to the poor attendances but a few weeks back PS Tira announced they would be returning to Cibinong and the rest of the football world was left wondering what had been the point of the Bantul experiment in the first place? There are military associated teams throughout South East Asia but none attract sizeable followings because, umm, they are military associated teams. Supporters are keen to follow new teams but not ones coloured with uniform influences.

Today comes the news PS Tira have merged with Liga 3 side Persikabo and for the 2019 season will be known as PS Tira Persikabo which translates as Football Association Tentara Indonesia Rakyat Football Association Indonesia Kabupaten Bogor!

One the one hand Persiram/PS TNI/PS Tira/PS Tira Persikabo seem to have learnt one lesson from their travels and that is to try and build an identity with the local community. On the other hand the military connection continues to loom large. And what about the Persikabo supporters, known as Kabomania (pictured left)? What do they feel about this merger? Were they involved in the process?

There is more to Kabomania than just a bunch of supporters on the terraces. They run a thriving SSB (football academy) and are a massive part of the Cibinong community. How are they going to react to seeing PS Tira just roll up and take over? The original Persikabo will apparently continue playing in Liga 3, under PS Tira management, which begs the question. What is in it for Persikabo and their faithful supporters?



Friday, October 12, 2018

 

Time For Supporters To Act Over Stadium Violence

It's been quite a few weeks for Indonesian football and especially the disciplinary committee of the PSSI. Following the murder of a Persija fan at the game with Persib the committee suspended all Liga 1 games while they looked into the death before ruling Maung Bandung must play their remaining home games in Kalimantan in empty stadiums, fining players and fining the club. As a fine and a punishment of playing behind closed doors is the normal finding in such cases it is difficult to understand why the league was stopped for two weeks.

No sooner does the league return and hey presto! It's Arema against Persebaya, another game with a history, and while we don't get another murder we do have pitch invasions and visiting players intimidated while they were warming up ahead of kick off. Now for me the question would have to be, with all the security presence such a high octane fixture attracts, were fans able to get on the pitch and approach players?

The PSSI have a different view and as well as telling Arema to play their remaining home games behind closed doors, because as a punishment that has proven to be so effective right(?), they have entered unchartered territory by issuing bans to the fans who ran on the pitch before the game started. The two fans concerned have been banned from entering football stadiums in Indonesia for the rest of their lives. One of the banned fans, Yuli Sumpil, is something of a terrace legend having appeared in The Conductors, a movie made by Andibachtiar Yusuf.

I have no idea of the legality of such a move, do stadiums even have ground regulations or is there a law that can enforce the action, nor am I sure of the logistics. All Indonesians have to carry identity cards with them so in theory all security officials have to do on a match day is check said ID card  and the individual would be denied entry. Simple eh?

Except security don't check ID cards. Hell, too often we have seen fans locked outside of stadiums just climb the surrounding walls to get inside.

Issuing stadium bans is a common deterrent in England. As of September 2015 there were 2,181 banning orders in place. A banning order is defined as 

Banning orders are issued by the courts following a conviction for a football-related offence7, or after a complaint by the Crown Prosecution Service or a local police force8. For an order to be made, the court must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to believe that making a banning order would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football match.
Orders are not imposed on individuals solely on the basis of minor convictions, like alcohol offences or similar misdemeanours. They can last between three and 10 years and can be customised to address individual behaviour patterns. Breach of an order is a criminal offence and is punishable by a maximum sentence of six months in prison or a fine of up to £5,000, or both9.
The number of banning orders does not represent the number of individuals with banning orders as one individual could be subject to more than one banning order although in general one banning order translates to one individual. Furthermore, an individual may have a ban which has conditions which apply to more than one football club therefore this would mean that the same ban would appear more than once in the figures.
There is not necessarily a correlation between the number of arrests in a given season and the number of new banning orders for the same year. This is because an individual with a ban can receive the ban one of two ways, either: following a conviction, i.e. the individual was arrested for a football-related offence which led to a ban; or the individual received a ban via the civil route (where the individual was not arrested), for example intelligence had been gathered on a particular individual and this led to a ban via the courts. In addition, the time taken to process a ban can vary in length and could mean that an individual, for example, arrested during the 2013 to 2014 season would be included in the 2013 to 2014 arrest figures but due to the time lag in processing the ban would not be included in the banning order figures until 2014 to 2015.
SOURCE 
If we look at Arsenal for example. 54 supporters received banning orders in 2014 2015 with 28 issued for offences at the Emirates and the balance at away games. Two were issued for throwing missiles, four for being in possession of flares and two for running on the pitch, the most common offences in Indonesia. Thirty one banning orders were issued for violent or public disorder while 13 related to alcohol offences.
Not only is it easy to find out the statistics for banning orders, they are easily enforced. It is no longer just a case of turning up on the day to watch a game. For clubs like Arsenal fans must join a membership scheme and receive a card that stores their information. Tickets are bought on line, their credit card details are matched against their membership details and only then is the ticket allocated to their account.
Arsenal, along side clubs like Manchester United and Liverpool tickets are hard to get using this method though many fans do take advantage of scalpers some of who have now also gone on line.
Even for clubs which don't sell out on a regular basis, purchasing a ticket isn't just a case of turning up on the day. Clubs want supporters to register their details on their database including name, address, post code, credit card details etc. Even supporters turning up and hoping to pay on the day are asked to join this database. Clubs get access to a whole treasure trove of punters who they can target for emails and advertising while of course if there is any trouble in or around the ground all police have to do is look at the ticket to find out about any naughty boy and suspend that account. It's big brother light with a dash of consumerism thrown in!
The UK has for decades said it is against identity cards yet all the while post codes, bank card details and now mobile phone numbers provide an easy measure of oversight for security officials. And I haven't even mentioned CCTV!
Is Indonesia ready to go down this path to reduce crowd violence at football matches? Football, and this includes PSSI, can't do this by itself. There needs to be legislation put in place demarcating offences and punishments, there needs to be an infrastructure in place that provides support and a flow chart for implementing such measures and there needs to be a society in place acquiescing to such a process.
Are Indonesians ready for such a sea change to the way they live their lives? My feeling is no. The informal economy is just so large, Poverty stands around 10% and according to a report by KPMG Indonesia is the second largest cash based economy in the world. Credit card checks would be a waste of time when it is estimated just 10% of the population use them. And far be it for me to go into the demographics of Indonesian football supporters but not many are driving cars to the stadiums on match day.
For these reasons alone Indonesia and the PSSI should not be going down the UK road to control fan behaviour. As mentioned earlier, legislation by itself won't solve anything. The UK response was tailored to fit the UK problem which was gangs of football hooligans who delighted in mobbing up, drinking lots of beer and having fights with opposing supporters. Infiltrating the home team's end was also considered a result. 
These issues aren't Indonesia's issues. In fact I wouldn't even say Indonesia has a football hooligan problem as we in the west would understand it. For every bitter rivalry that exists, like Arema & Persebaya, there exists an enduring friendship, like Persib & Persebaya or Persija & Arema. In part these come from the old 'thine enemy is mine enemy' but also can come about from familiarity. 
Outside the big four of Arema, Persib, Persebaya and Persija there will be very few Liga 1 games that would cause organisers many headaches security wise. Supporters from those four clubs may travel in large numbers to games across Java and to a lesser extent other islands but on the whole they tend to be self organised and very little trouble occurs beyond perhaps petty crime or theft. Away fans visiting Surabaya may be up against the feared Bonek in the stadium but now that a small restaurant in the city centre, a well known Bonek hangout, will always welcome them with food, drink, cigarettes and even a place to kip for example. 
Smaller clubs like Persela will always have a few away fans where ever they play as workers who have migrated or students will always make the effort to catch their team when they are in town and no one perceives them as a threat. They arrive at the stadium, set up their banners, eat their chicken and rice, drink their water, sing their songs and go home when the game has finished. I have seen visiting fans mingle on the terraces with home fans and nothing happens. 
While it is easy to suggest what Indonesia's supporter isn't it is harder to define what it is. The tragic deaths of Persib and Persija fans in recent years weren't the result of mass brawls between gangs of marauding hooligans. They were much more random than that. Someone noticing for example someone else wasn't celebrating a goal enthusiastically enough leading to harsh words, pre-preemptive slaps then a herd mentality kicking in and kicking off. Someone not wearing enough club colours. There is no pre-meditation as such, no desire to go out and hand out a kicking to a rival supporter, more an opportunity to dish out a few slaps as part of a mob, getting caught up in the moment, getting carried away in a rush of adrenaline.
This is of course not to condone such behaviour but before tackling it we need to understand its underlying causes and the spontaneity of Indonesian fan violence makes it all the harder to anticipate, to police, especially through legislation. 
I honestly believe many fans do a good job of policing themselves. I know because I have seen them. Just after the PSSI banned flares from stadiums I was at a game where a single supporter let one off. Immediately he was identified by supporters around him who handed him over to security officials. An attractive meme from PSSI highlighting the problems with flares may get a like or two but words from authority are just background noise. When your terrace peers tell you its wrong, then people start to listen.
Over the years I have met so many fantastic football fans, many of them well respected figures even within the clubs. Not like the moo moos at Arsenal Fan TV, these guys are often humble, quietly spoken, decent people who have proved their worth as fans and do their bit to develop the atmosphere we all enjoy in the stadiums.
I honestly believe if these guys were to get together at a national level, bring together supporters from not just Arema, Persebaya, Persija and Persib but all clubs, and come up with a range of initiatives to be implemented at fan clubs, schools and local communities around the country then we would go some way to reducing these random acts of violence that are marring the game. Promote the atmosphere a full house can bring but tell people that there are limits to displaying their fanaticism and some acts are unacceptable. Let's face it. If a politician or a policeman tells someone not to do it again does anyone really listen? However if it comes from someone they know, they recognise, they respect?
For now we have supporters beating up supporters, supporters killing supporters. Beyond a few hashtags and vain hopes the latest tragedy won't be repeated no one really cares beyond the victim's family. Politicians, with their security escorts and accompanying minders, don't connect well with people anywhere in the world. Surely it is time supporters started educating supporters? 

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

 

Liga 1 Returns With More Controversy

After the break imposed on Liga 1 following the events surrounding the Persib v Persija game which saw a supporter lose his life if the PSSI and the league organisers were expecting a peaceful ride they were either naive or sadly mistaken. It doesn't matter how many fines are dished out or how many games are played tanpa penonton fans will still be allowed to get away with misbehaving in and around a stadium on match day and this round of fixtures was no different.

All eyes were on East Java as Arema hosted Persebaya at the Kanjuruhan Stadium. The last couple of seasons haven't been the best for the Crazy Lions as they have struggled for consistency and their supporters have been staying away but with Persebaya in town a full house was guaranteed. The question was, would the supporters behave themselves?

Two so called supporters ran on the pitch during the warm up and got in the faces of the Persebaya players for a start. How was this allowed to happen? How were they able to climb the fences and run unimpeded on to the field like this? We keep hearing how many security officials are on duty at big games, why did none of these guys make an effort to stop the intruders?

Fortunately some men in uniform did their job better when a scuffle broke out on the terraces and they piled in to rescue the victim(s).

We now wait to see what sanction, if any, Arema receive with Persib and Persebaya fans watching particularly closely. After being forced to play their home games in Kalimantan for the rest of the season tanpa penonton they will be expecting a similar punishment for Arema or the criticism of the disciplinary committee, already under fire for the alleged randomness of their punishments, will only increase.

Anyway, the football

Persela v PSIS 1-1 (Wallace Costa Alves; Bruno Silva) 8,032
Arema v Persebaya 1-0 (Ahmad Nur Hardianto) 26,293
Sriwijaya v Bali United 3-2 (Novan Sosongko, Esteban Vizcarra, Alberto Goncalves; Ilija Spasojevic, Melvin Platje) 8,535
PS Tira v Bhayangkara 2-0 (Dmitry Rakish, Aleksander Rakic) 102
Mitra Kukar v PSM 1-4 (OG; Guy Junior 2, Reva Adi, Ferdinand Sinaga) 2,147
Barito Putera v PSMS 3-3 (Douglas Packer, Marcel Sacremento 2; Shohei Matsunaga, Felipe Martins, Rahmat Hidayat) 3,357
Borneo v Persipura 2-1 (Matias Conti 2; Addison Alves) 3,345
Persija v Perseru 2-1 (Marko Simic, Rudi Widodo; Alberto de Paula) 16,772
Persib v Madura United

 

Dominant Clubs Gloss Over ASEAN Weaknesses

As I sit here in my chilly East Midlands abode my mind looking forward to a cold, wet trip to the north east of England, my mind often wanders back to South East Asia and of course it's football. The Jakarta Casual blog started at the start of 2006, here we are 12, almost 13 years on and how does the football landscape look now?

Well, in Singapore Albirex Niigata have just lifted the Singapore Cup for the fourth strait year, defeating Brunei side DPMM 4-1 in the final. The Japanese side also won the title, now called the Singapore Premier League. They have won that particular trophy the last three years. 

At the start of the season they won  of their the Community Shield. As they have done the last three years. They have also won the League Cup three years on the spin. The only reason they didn't win it this year is because it was cancelled. No Singaporean team has won a domestic title since 2014 and if that isn't a cause of great humiliation I just don't know what it. They also went through the season unbeaten!

Home United finished second, a mere 23 points behind champions Albirex Niigata and 23 points clear of second bottom side Geylang International. 

But while Home finished distant brides maids at home they fared better in the AFC Cup, winning their group on goal difference ahead of Ceres Negro, but well clear of Boeung Ket Angkor and Shan United and so reached the next round which is now a zonal semi final where they were drawn against Persija. After narrowly defeating them 3-2 in Singapore they not only travelled to Jakarta in good hope. They thrashed Persija 3-1 in front of 62,000.

Verily, I asked myself, what manner of beast is this that is so limp wristed in their own backyard yet are able to enter the lions' den and crush their hosts in so complete a manner?

Home went on to overcome Ceres Negro one more time, this time in the grandly named zonal final to be crowned unofficial ASEAN club champions, earning the right to play a North Korean side. April 25th, in the next round.

Outside of their ASEAN comfort zone Home came unstuck, losing 2-0 at home and 9-1 in Pyongang! Is ASEAN football really that shit and the North Korean league that far ahead?

Crossing the causeway and guess what? Johor Darul Ta'zim won the Malaysia Super League losing just once along the way and winning 19 of their 22 league games along the way. JDT, backed by the enthusiastic deep pockets of the state royal family, have now won the last five titles.

Unlike Albirex Niigata, who are not permitted to play in Asian club football, JDT have had some success on the continent, winning the AFC Cup in 2015. With their ambitions JDT are not a club which worries too much about local cups, their dreams are much loftier.

Intriguingly JDT were drawn against Persija in the AFC Cup group stage, winning 3-0 at home and losing 4-0 in Jakarta to finish third in their group. They took a beating from Persija who took a beating from Home United who took a whalloping from a North Korean side. Whither ASEAN?

And do to Thailand. No surprise Buriram United were crowned champions. Again. In fact they have won each of the last five completed season. Muang Thong United were awarded the title in 2016 after the league was halted early when the king died.

Like JDT, Buriram are backed by a very rich local benefactor and have ambitions that extend beyond the nation's somewhat limited football borders. but while they are a regular fixture in the AFC Champions League they are yet to mount a sustainable challenge to lift Asia's grandest trophy, a quarter final appearance in 2013 being their best run to date. 

In their own league they are dominant, finishing  points clear of second place Bangkok United and 26 points clear of third place Port.

Indonesia is a different story and I'll look at them in another post but the continued success of Albirex Niigata, JDT and Buriram United cannot be good for the football in their countries. Who wants to follow a league which is only dominated by one team? And don't throw the Celtic, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich argument at me. They come from league that have far deeper roots where support for a team goes back generations. 

Next month sees the start of the AFF Suzuki Cup and the prospect of national bragging rights is at stake. But it seems the clubs are still struggling to make an impression beyond the restrictive borders of ASEAN and it is looking increasingly like JDT's success in the AFC Cup is a one off. 

JDT's and Buriram United's success in recent years really count for nothing as they are competing in leagues where clubs, associations and sponsors lack the desire to go head to head with them. Unless their triumphs can be translated into something more substantial across the continent they will have to make do with hollow victories which will count for less and less beyond their shores.

Next year sees the AFC Asian Cup in the UAE with Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam competing against such powerhouses as Bahrain and Qatar. Syria, Iraq and Yemen, countries blighted by tragedy in recent years, are in there against the best of the continent while the likes of Malaysia and Indonesia are left sitting at home licking their wounds. Malaysia ruing a series of humiliating defeats and Indonesia pondering a FIFA suspension.

ASEAN football is where it is because it deserves to be there and the sheen provided by JDT and Buriram United only highlights the dust and cobwebs that rot the game from the top down.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

 

Big Gesture Won't Solve Multi-Layered Problem

Following on from the latest tragedy to hit Indonesian football where a Persija fan was beaten to death in Bandung following their 2-3 reverse against Persib the PSSI chief Edy Rahmayadi has announced Liga 1 will be stopped indefinitely out of respect for the deceased.

The announcement follows call from the sports minister Imam Nahrawi for the league to be halted for two weeks and the players' union (APPI) announcing they would strike for the next round of fixtures which would have commenced this Friday and, incidentally, features another high octane game with Arema hosting Persebaya.

Bandung police have responded quickly to the murder of a Persija fan by making a number of arrests including a 41 year old man and some teenagers. 

President Joko Widodo has spoken out on the murder saying '16 (dead supporters in 2018) is too high. Do not let fanaticism go off the rails and turn into criminal activities. This must be stopped since sport honours sportive behaviour'. He added that all stakeholders needed to sit down and discuss the problem.

Of course 16 deaths is too much. Isn't one death? So why have the PSSI only acted now, after the 16th? Why have they done nothing before? Obviously a Persib v Persija game is high profile and carries a reputation for fan behaviour getting out of hand but don't the supporters of other, lower profile clubs, deserve a similar reaction? 

Basically football fans are trusted to police themselves all too often. When they travel to away games in numbers it is often left to the supporters themselves to make the arrangements and that includes liaising with the police forces of areas they pass through. This can lead to misunderstandings and confrontation as we have seen in the past where a lack of coordination and a creaking infrastructure  some leading to death. 

It wasn't that many years ago when 25 or more buses carrying Persija fans to Bandung were halted on the tollway and eventually turned back after several hours of disturbances which brought this important road to a standstill. Or the thousands of Persebaya fans heading to Bandung on a single train, including sitting on the roofs of the carriages being attacked along the route at various stations. Or the numerous incidents that have occurred, and still occur in and around Yogyakarta and Solo when fans heading to or returning from games go through a rivals' patch.

And let us not forget that most venomous of derbies, a game so fearful it hasn't been played in years. As Persita fans used to head towards Benteng Stadium they would be greeted by hails of rocks from narrow gangs as Persikota supporters took offence at their presence.

To go to games some supporters use any means necessary including physically stopping trucks in the middle of the road and convincing the driver to carry some of their mates on the back. For free of course. 

When away fans arrive at a ground again they are left to do their own thing, often for hours ahead of kick off. Most just sit around, smoking, talking, sleeping. They are the lucky ones. They will have travelled to a game perhaps far from their home city and there will have been elements of organisation albeit of a rudimentary nature. Local supporters clubs will have made their own arrangements, booked their own coach, organised their own routes. Where there is a good relationship between home and away fans there would have been a welcoming committee who would have ensured some refreshments were on hand for the weary travellers.

Clubs and the authorities play little role in these away days and they can often be a good trip for all concerned.

Not all trips are like that though. The recent DIY Derby between PSIM and PSS saw hundreds of away fans form up in a convoy and make their own way to Sultan Agung Stadium in Bantul. The narrow lanes in and around Yogyakarta must be a nightmare to police but a joy for rival fans looking to take pot shots at their foes passing through their 'manor' and in the violence that followed one local resident who had been watching the game as a neutral died.

Inside the stadium itself we often hear of the large numbers of security personnel on duty but too often their reaction to any incident be it throwing plastic water bottles or worse is to wave their arms around from the other side of the fences in a futile gesture to soothe tensions. 

I recall one game where some supporters were getting highly agitated by what was happening on the pitch. First things were thrown on the field by irate fans. Security responded by waving their arms. Then some people started to climb the fencing and get on the field of play. Rather than nip in and nick these pioneers security backed off. Of course what happened next was obvious, you didn't need tea leaves. 

Other lads saw their mates on the pitch unhindered and thought 'hey ho, I'll have some of this' and over they went. Pretty soon the situation was getting out of hand and their were hundreds of fans on the field and the players had legged it down the tunnel. The security response was to use the ground's PA system to appeal to the fan's better nature. Didn't work of course and more and more supporters were joining their mates.

Eventually security forces reacted by charging the supporters who soon turned tail and ran themselves. In situations like this were police are being faced by increasing numbers of people they have been known to fire tear gas to try and control the situation and let's be honest while I am not condoning such an extreme action, you can understand how nervous they feel when faced by hundreds of angry youths.

My point is though the situation was allowed to escalate instead of being nipped in the bud when the first few jumped the fence.

I don't see how suspending the league for an indefinite period is going to address the issues I have addressed here. Let's hope the time is used for people to get together, by this I mean PSSI, government, security services and supporters and come up with a viable, sustainable nationwide programme of measures that sees, as a bare minimum, players and respected supporters (of which there are plenty) make highly visible visits to schools and kampung RTs, maybe with family members of the victims, to discuss fan behaviour and to drum into those a little slow on the uptake that beating the shit out of someone because he may support a different team or standing on top of a fast moving vehicle just ain't cool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

 

Indonesia's Shame

In the USA a shooting spree that leads to mass casualties usually leads to the great and the good offering prayers while everyone else partakes in a orgy of hashtags before things go quiet and people move on to other topics.

Indonesia is pretty much the same whenever a football supporter dies either on their way to/from a game or during it. Prayers and pleas for this incident to be the last fill the airwaves and cyber space before people move on to to other topics.

On the one hand in this wired era where the rolling narrative ensures our attention is soon switched elsewhere society has developed the attention of a stick insect. On the other hand a cynic might suggest both in the US and Indonesia the 'wrong' sort of people are the victims and can be quickly forgotten. Be sure, if it were scions of the elite who were the victims we would be seeing action follow quickly on the heels of prayers and hashtags.

The tragedy in Bandung over the weekend which saw Hanggira Sirila lose his life wasn't of course the first this season. Because it was a Persib v Persija game it was the highest profile and made waves but who remembers William, an Persitara supporter who was beaten to death in August at a Liga 3 game? Hanggira became the 75th Indonesian to die at football in the last 23 years and if that is not a truly frightening statistic then I don't know what is

Hanggira of course is not a statistic and neither is William nor the other 73 fans who lost their lives over the years. As a body is beaten to death, or falls from a vehicle, they cease to become football supporters. They are human beings and like the rest of us their blood runs red. If all lives are precious why is this slaughter allowed to continue?

Timeline of Shame

1995 a Persebaya fan died watching his team play PSIM
1996  3 Persebaya fans fell from a train
1999 9 PSIS fans in a train incident in Jakarta
2001 1 PSIS fan beaten to death at a railway station in Jakarta
2002 1 Persijatim Solo fan in a truck accident
2002 1 Semen Padang fan beaten to death at a Persija game'
2002 1 Indonesian fan fell from a bus
2003 1 Persebaya fan in a truck accident
2003 1 Persebaya fan hit by a sharp object at a friendly against Persija
2005 1 Arema fan hit by a sharp object in an away game at Persekapbas
2005 1 Arema fan crushed to death in the crowd watching Persija
2005 1 Persija fan beaten to death in a game with Persipura
2005 1 PSIS fan fell from a train
2006 1 Persipura fan at a derby with Persiwa
2008 1 Persija fan attacked outside ground at a game with Persipura
2008 1 Persitara fan stabbed to death in game against Pelita Jaya
2010 2 Persebaya fans fell from a train heading to game at Persib
2010 1 Persik fan crushed to death in the crowd watching Persib
2011 1 PSIS fan fell from a train
2011 2 Persita fans killed in a brawl
2011 1 Pelita Jaya fan killed by a samurai sword
2011 1 Persela fan in an incident on a train
2011 2 Indonesian fans crushed at the SEA Games Final in Jakarta
2011 1 Persebaya fan in a brawl in Sidoarjo
2012 1 PSIS fan in a brawl between rival supporters of the same team
2012 1 PSIM fan in a brawl between rival supporter groups of the same team
2012 5 Persebaya fans in an incident when their train to Bojonegoro
2012 3 Persib fans in Jakarta
2012 1 Persebaya fan tear gassed
2012 1 PSCS fan returning from game in Solo attacked in Sleman
2013 1 Persebaya fan in a brawl with Arema fans
2013 1 PSPS fan in a brawl between rival PSPS supporters
2013 1 PSM fan stabbed at a game with Persepar
2014 1 Persiba Bantul fan in a brawl between Persiba fans
2014 1 Sriwijaya fan stabbed to death at a game with Persijap
2014 1 Persis fan in crowd violence after a game with Martapura
2014 3 Arema fans in a brawl with Persebaya fans on a toll road
2015 2 Arema fans in a brawl with Persebaya supporters
2016 1 Persija fan in an incident outside the ground
2016 1 PSS fan in a brawl with PSIM fans who were returning from an away game
2016 1 Sriwijaya fan in a brawl between Sriwijaya fans
2016 1 Persib fan fell from transport after a game
2016 1 Persib fan attacked after a game in Cikarang
2016 2 Persija fans died returning home from Solo. One fell from a vehicle, the other attacked
2017 1 Persija fan after seeing his team play Bali United
2017 1 Persib fan attacked
2017 1 Indonesian fan after being  hit by a firework at a friendly with Fiji
2017 1 Persita fan attacked at game with PSMS in Cibinong
2018 1 Arema fan following disturbances following a game with Persib
2018 1 neutral caught up in an incident in Bantul after local derby between PSIM and PSS
2018 1 Persitara fan part of a group of supporters involved in an incident in a market
2018 1 Persija fan in Bandung

So many deaths so many questions. Why are fans of the same team kicking the shit out of each other? I have been to numerous games where different fan groups don't even acknowledge the existence of other groups. One game had two different groups in an away end; one lot would stand up and sing then sit down and the other lot had their turn. In between they ignored each other. Who is allowing this shit to happen?

Why are supporters being allowed to travel on top of vehicles be they trains or mini buses. Oh yes, they do make for excellent photo opportunities but surely security officials don't need special health and safety training to know there is a danger of falling off a fast moving vehicle?

Fact is everyone shares a responsibility. Supporters for perpetuating irresponsible behaviour and football for taking no action. How many times do we hear about supporters trashing stadiums? It even happened this year after an expensive refit ahead of the Asian Games. Whose fault is that? Too often fans are quick to blame PSSI and yes, there are things that can be laid at their door. But not trashing stadiums, not throwing rocks and not beating the shit out of each other.

I've been here before. English football in the 1970s, 1980s wasn't a place for the feint hearted and no one wanted to take responsibility for the violence. Football said it was society's problem. The government said it was football's problem. meanwhile the police lapped up the over time and took the opportunity to dish out a few slaps at the weekend with no comeback.

It took and the Bradford City fire, which killed 56, and Hillsborough and the death of 96 fans to eventually force the government to knock heads together. Hopefully Indonesia doesn't need such disasters to force any kind of action. Anyway comparisons with England are not helpful. Indonesia has a vibrant football culture that has spread out across ASEAN but the beauty of the terrace choreography is on occasion marred by an ugliness that lies simmering under the surface.

Sadly these kind of disturbances aren't going to go away any time soon. The will isn't there and role models are few and far between. Players are only too happy to chase match officials if they feel hard done by. Some supporters are only too happy to try and go to and from a game, often travelling large distances, without paying a penny. 

There are positive role models out there. Well respected supporters at different teams who do their best to project best behaviour. But they can't change things alone. They need to be supported by the PSSI, the government and the clubs in a sustained way. They need to work together at a national level in a high profile way perhaps with some well respected players. They need to be out in the schools, working with security sending out positive messages beyond the usual, bland 'we ware all brothers'. 

There are initiatives at a local level but they need to be more consistent and better coordinated if they are to have any real impact in the kampungs and the gangs which are home to so many supporters.

However in a week when we have seen the head of the PSSI slap a supporter on the terraces and then go on TV and ask a reporter what right he has to ask questions you just know there is no will in high places to put an end to the deaths. 

Perhaps there will be talk about stopping the Liga 1 for a while. Perhaps play a few games behind closed doors. But these quick fix solutions won't solve the underlying issues that sees young lads climb on top of buses and trains, fight supporters of their own team or gang up mob handed on smaller numbers.

Just like in the USA meaningful action won't be taken and parents are left wondering who number 76 will be.


Monday, July 16, 2018

 

What Next For Djadjang After Medan Axe

Back in 2014 it seemed Djadjang Nurdjaman could do no wrong. He had just guided his beloved Persib to their first Indonesia Super League title and was looking forward to helping the club he once played for conquer Asia as they prepared to compete in the AFC Cup the following year. Djanur, as he is nicknamed, was going places. Or so it seemed.

The first set back came the following year when the AFC announced the Sumedang born coach would not be allowed to take charge of the team in the Asian club competition because he didn't have the appropriate coaching badges. In fact domestic club regulations also require coaches to have been trained to a minimum standard but as is too often the case in Indonesia the implementation of these rules is not always consistent.

As it happened the 2015 season was brought to an abrupt halt when FIFA suspended the PSSI and Djanur, at a loose end, was farmed out to Inter Milan to learn his trade as it were and finish off his badges.

Suitably qualified and, you would think, bursting with new ideas following his stint observing one of Europe's finest clubs on the training field, Djanur returned to Indonesia and Persib. He was soon to learn, however, what works well in Italy may not work so well in Indonesia. Despite boasting a team including new additions such as Michael Essien and Carlton Cole Persib were a club in off the field turmoil with an interfering management wanting their input on the eleven which took the field and Djanur just wasn't strong enough to face down the different factions.

A 2-2 draw at home to PS TNI was the final straw and the supporters quickly vented their fury against their hapless coach. It seemed his position was untenable and asresults didn't improve so the anger on the terraces and social media increased. Djanur wanted to resign but he wasn't allowed to which pretty much summed up his position. Here was a coach lacking the strength to handle a febrile atmosphere being told he had to stay and he accepting it.

Eventually of course Djanur was allowed to leave the club but only when a new coach had been found but his reputation was undoubtedly tarnished. 

It was therefore something of a surprise when PSMS, one of the biggest names in the Indonesian games but lately fallen on bad times, turned to the former Persib man to guide them to promotion in 2017.

PSMS of course were promoted, finishing runners up behind Persebaya and Djanur had another success to add to his resume. But starved of finances the team from Medan have struggled back in the top flight with all their points coming from home wins and, most recently, four defeats on the spin. Unlike Persib however no one at PSMS was willing to give their coach the benefit of the doubt and last week he was sacked after a run of four straight losses including home turf humiliations against Persipura and Persib.

What next for the coach? In Indonesia as elsewhere the best coaches are rarely out of the game for long but doubts remain as to how good Djanur really is despite his impressive pedigree and whatever lessons he learned in Milan. His next appointment could tell us alot.



Friday, July 13, 2018

 

Sriwijaya Player Exodus Amid Rumoured Money Issues

Back in March in the Jakarta Casual Liga 1 Season Preview I asked if two-time champions Sriwijaya are back after they had appointed Rahmad Darmawan as coach and they had signed a number of big names for the coming campaign. Surely after a few seasons below the radar the addition of quality players like Hamkah Hamza and Patrich Wanggai meant the South Sumatran side meant business?

Early results seemed to bear out those early predictions as a run of just two losses in nine games kept them close to the upper reaches of the table. A convincing win over Persela (5-1) meant Laskar Wong Kito went into the Ramadhan break in confident mood and surely that euphoria would have only been enhanced when they defeated PS Tira 4-1 after the break.

Then the rumours started to swirl in earnest. That Sriwijaya were having money troubles. There were suggestions at the start of the month the players hadn't been paid for June and there were doubts July's money would be paid.

Quite why this problem should arise is not clear though people have suggested a link with local elections which may or may be true. Politics in football? Hard to believe innit?

It's very frustrating for all concerned of course, including the fans who get excited about their team's chances only to see the wayang master slam shut the wallet.

Today saw Sriwijaya officially announce nine players would be released as well as Rahmad, the coaching and medical staff. Among those leaving Palembang are Adam Alis (Bhayangkara) and Hamka Hamzah who has been snapped up by Arema after rejecting offers from five other teams. Alfin Tuasalamony, Novan Sasongko, Pierre Paulin Bio, Patrich Wanggai, Rahmad Hidayat, Makan Konate and M Ndiaye have also been told they are no longer required with Alfin following Hamka to Malang.

Where this leaves Sriwijaya for the rest of the season. It looks like they have retained some experienced players like Esteban Vizcarra, Alberto Goncalves as well as youngsters like Teja Paku Alam and Ichsan Kurniawan while there has been suggestions Subangkit could replace Rahmad. But would a new coach be given funds to go out and replace those departures? Most unlikely. 

One thing is for certain. The 11 players who will line up for Sriwjaya next Tuesday away to Mitra Kukar will be a very different line up to the team that fought valiantly for a draw at home to Persija last time out.





 

Barito Putera Two Points Clear Despite Goalless Draw

Round 15

PS Tira v Mitra Kukar 0-0 67

As you know I do like to watch the odd game of football now and then and I do love my trips down to Yogyakarta. Hand on heart though there is no way I would have headed down for this particular game. PS Tira have struggled all season, both on the field and off it attracting fans to their new ground in Bantul, while Mitra Kukar, despite boasting Englishman Danny Guthrie and free scoring Rodriguez in their ranks just don't do well in their travels.

Sriwijaya v Persija 2-2 (Esteban Vizcarra 2: Ivan Carlos, Rezaldi Hehanusa) 19,151

This was more like it. Home side Sriwijaya have been plagued by financial woes with rumours of a mass exodus during the transfer window but Rahmad Darmawan's men came from behind twice to secure a point against Persija in a game that featured nine yellow cards. Vizcarra's brace made it four in four for the Argentine striker as Laskar Wong Kito keep up their title challenge.

Bhayangkara v Persebaya 3-3 (OG, Vendry Mofu, Alsan Putra Sanda: Osvaldo Haay, Irfan Jaya, David Silva) 1,200

Now this was a game and a half as Persebaya played their second game in a couple of weeks at the tiny PTIK Stadium in Jakarta. Champions Bhanyangkara, on a roll after a slow start to the season, led 2-0. Persebaya, with just three losses all season, fought back with Irfan levelling on 83 minutes later to set up an almighty climax to the game. Sanda restored the home side's lead a minute later before Silva saved a point for the Green Force with tow minutes remaining.

Barito Putera v Arema 0-0 6,827

Barito Putera coach Jacksen F Thiago may have been disappointed to see his team drop vital points in their bid for a first ever title but seeing his nearest rivals drop points would have gone some way towards brightening his mood. And anyway despite Arema's inconsistencies this season this was after all a game between the two best teams in the land on current form.

Bali United v PSM 2-0 (Ilija Spasojevic, Stefano Lilipaly) 15,425

You don't become a bad striker over night and although Spasojevic has not had his most productive season so far he will always be a threat. His opener against title challengers PSM was just his third of the season and Bali fans will be hoping it will kickstart his and his team's season as they have struggled to find the consistency that saw them push Bhayangkara all the way last season.

Persela v Borneo 2-0 (Loris Arnaud, OG) 9,098

Unfancied Persela continue to show their pedigree after this win put them within four points of the leaders Barito Putera with one of their former players, Eddy Gunawan putting through his own goal to secure another win for the home side. Persela just don't lose home games.

Perseru v Persib 0-0 836

Perseru recently beat Persija 3-1 at home, not a surprise in itself. No, what raised eyebrows was the team scoring goals full stop! In their 15 games this season they have netted just nine times. Normal service was resumed here.

PSIS v Madura United 0-0 8,415

With just one win in their previous four games Madura United have, rather like Bali United, struggled to imitate the consistency that marked their campaign last season. Gomes de Oliveira has returned as coach and may view this as a useful point earned on their travels but with a team boasting players like Fabiano Beltrame, Zah Rahan, Raphael Maitimo surely more is expected?

PSMS v Persipura 1-3 (Dilshod Sharofetdinov: Immanuel Wanggai, Boas Solossa, Hilton Moreira) 11,150

Persipura's longest awayday of the season saw them pick up a comfortable three points in North Sumatra against newly promoted, and bottom placed, PSMS. Winless in their previous five games the Black Pearls badly needed three points to restore some confidence; next up is a home game against relegation candidates PSIS and a local derby away to Perseru!

1 - Barito Putera 15 8 3 4 27-21 27
2 - PSM Makassar 15 7 4 4 21-18 25
3 - Sriwijaya 15 6 5 4 28-20 23
4 - Persela 15 6 5 4 25-20 23
5 - Bhayamgkara 15 6 5 4 19-19 23

12 - Ezechial N'Douassel (Persib)
11 - Fernando Rodriguez (Mitra Kukar)
9 - Loris Arnaud (Persela), Stefano Lilypaly (Bali United), Aleksandar Rakic (PS Tira)
8 - Samsul Arif (Barito Putera)

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