Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Weary Persib Count Cost Of Long Distance Travel

Today's Morning Show Podcast is now available on Periscope TV and Soundcloud.

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Persipura v Persiba 1-1 (James Koko Lommel; Kurniawan Karman)
Semen Padang v Persib 4-0 (Sacremento 2, Vendry Mofu, Riko Simanjuntak)
PSM v Bhayangkara Surabaya United 1-2 (Ardan Aras; Thiago Furtuoso, Kairallah Abdelkebir)

1 - Madura United 12 8 3 1 20-12 27
2 - Arema 11 8 2 1 17-3 26
3 - BS United 12 7 2 3 18-12 23
4 - S Padang 12 6 2 4 17-9 20

Malaysia Premier League 

Perlis v JDT II 1-0 (Mohamadou Sumareh) 1,356
PKNS v Negeri Sembilan 0-0 250
Sime Darby v Sabah 1-2 (Mateo Roskan; Maxsius Musa, Leopold Otong) 110
ATM v UiTM 3-1 (Khasan Abdukaromov 2, Faiz Ibrahim; Syafiq Syazwan) 275
Kuantan v Melaka United 3-4 (Shazalee Ramlee 2, Dao Bakary; Ilija Spasojevic, Tudosu Alexandrov 2, Yashir Pinto) 550
DRB HICOM v KL 1-0 (Kim Jin Ryong) 200

1 - Melaka United 15 10 4 1 34-17 34
2 - JDT II 15 10 1 4 32-18 31
3 - PKNS 15 9 3 3 37-20 30
4 - KL 15 8 4 3 27-19 28

Monday, July 25, 2016


Persija Humbled By Rampant Madura United

Today's Morning Show also available on Periscope TV!

Friday, July 22, 2016


JDT Thrash Sarawak

Indonesia Soccer Championship

PS TNI v Barito Putera 2-1 (Wawan Febrianto, Erwin Ramdani; Luis Carlos Junior)
Arema v Perseru 3-0 (Goran Gancev, Cristian Gonzales, Ahmad Alfarizi)

Malaysia Super League

Johor Darul Ta'zim v Sarawak 5-2 (Pereyra Diaz, Marcos Antonio, Juan Martin Lucero 2, Fazly Mazlan, OG; Gurusamy Kandasamy, OG) 13,860

Malaysia Premier League

Kuantan v ATM 0-0 250
Sabah v PKNS 1-3 1,650 (OG; Juan Manuel Corbelli, Matias Hadwa Gabril Guerra) 
KL v Perlis 4-3 (Jonathon Zorilla, Hafiz Johar, Helmi Rameli, Leonardo Moreira; Ashraf Sayuti, Park Yong Jun, Afif Amiruddin) 333
Melaka United v DRB HICOM 2-0 (Ilija Spasojevic, Yashir Pinto) 4,000
Negeri Sembilan v JDT II 1-2 (Goran Jerkovic; Paolo Rangel, Shafiq Shahrudin, Zaquan) 3,606
UiTM v Sime Darby PP


Madura United Fans Respond To Alberts 'Mafia' Comments

Fans of Madura United have responded angrily to comments made by PSM coach Robert Alberts after he had seen his team lose 4-1 at Bangkalan Stadium last weekend. Alberts was irate at some of the refereeing decisions and lashed out at the football mafia that he claimed was damaging the game.

In today's Morning Show podcast I wondered where this sudden conversion had come from. Certainly while he was coach of Arema in the year they won the Indonesia Super League he wasn't too concerned about dodgy refs though he did go on the attack ahead of an away game against Persiwa.

Of course coaches must do everything they can to fight their corner. A wrong decision leads to them fearing the axe. And Alberts is right to highlight the issue of dodgy decisions, especially in the wake of the Marcio Souza scandal (the former Persela striker has been arrested in Brazil over match fixing allegations). But the very nature of dodgy decisions means we very rarely hear a victorious coach complaining when he has benefited from official favouritism on the pitch with Madura United coach Gomes Oliveria saying he didn't want to talk about the allegations. Of course he doesn't. His team won!

Madura United fan club K Conk have replied to Alberts allegations with a series of tweets that recall Arema's ISL title winning season. One tweet asks why this sudden interest in a mafia controlling football, highlighting an Arema game when they benefited from a generous referee. 

'Why till now Robert Alberts hasn't been interested in football mafia? Why weren't you interested when you were coaching Arema?'

'Remember...Arema beat Persebaya 1-0 thanks to a penalty given in 88 minutes after diving?'

'Arema were ISL champions not because (Robert Alberts) was great but because Arema were a PSSI 'pilot' club'

'How could it be a director of the league organiser could also be involved in the running of a club?'

These are of course valid questions. Too often football people remain quiet over the less than salubrious events that surround the game because it never pays to bite the hand that feeds. It is naive to expect football matches are always decided on the pitch and we are all complicit in allowing this state of affairs to continue. The players who celebrate when they score from a free kick after a tame challenge even the local TV channels are reluctant to replay; the coaches who are quick to complain when they are the losers but bask in the glow of three points now matter how earned; fans who continue to pay hard earned cash to watch their favourite team; writers who gloss over the sleaze in a vain attempt to provide a sheen or normalcy.

Alberts is a canny, experienced coach who has been round the block in South East Asian football. By shining the light on the seamier side of the game perhaps he is expecting fairer treatment in future games. An Indonesian version of the mind games the English media love to cream over in the Premier League. 


The Ramdani Lestalahu Mystery

It has been the kind of saga that would have kept English sports editors drooling for days. In Indonesia where the media is less bloodthirsty it hasn't quite attracted those sort of headlines.

Persija's Ramdani Lestalahu has appeared infrequently for his side this season seemingly without much comment as if it is  normal to just drop one of your best players. The 24 year old midfielder who made headlines around the region at the ASEAN Football Federation Championships back in 2014 when he scored twice against Laos has fallen from the headlines as quickly as he arrived and until recently no one seemed to know why.

After coming on as a late sub for Persija last weekend away to Persib, Lestalahu went to social media to say he didn't want to work with people who were out for 'revenge' against him. Pretty damning statement to make and with Persija heading to East Java for their home game with Madura United this weekend without him the debate over his future has only increased.

There was a story linking him with a move to PSM last week, a rumour the club themselves were quick to deny. Most recently PSM coach said Lestalahu was a 'good player' which of course only served to increase the speculation of the midfielder's future.

Born in Ambon, way out east, Lestalahu has been with Persija since 2007 apart from a two year spell with Sriwijaya. 2014 was a good season for him, crowned by his brace at the AFF Championships in Vietnam but with the Indonesia Super League being halted in 2015 his career has ground to a halt and the problem with Persija is continuing to block a promising career.

Hopefully his future can be sorted out when the transfer window opens next month as Indonesia needs its best players getting regular game time if they are to have any kind of impression later this year.


Podcasts And Stuff

Ok so I have tweeked the podcast format and now launched it as a Morning Show where we look at the previous night's action as well as previewing the games later on in the day and of course the latest football news from Malaysia and Indonesia. I will add Singapore to the coverage once their pointless League Cup ends its sorry journey.

The podcast is available in two formats; Soundcloud and Periscope. The beauty of course of Persicope is it offers me the opportunity to engage directly with listeners who have Periscope effect a radio phone in show but with more umms and errs!

Later on I hope to have people to talk to either on line or face to face but for now in the early stages it is just me. Also when the local leagues kick off I hope to do outside broadcasts from venues in the region but that is still a few weeks off.

The internet is an exciting place to be and since I started Jakarta Casual in 2006 I have tried to embrace as many platforms as possible as I try to provide the best English language coverage on Indonesian football...Now there is Jakarta Casual on Twitter, Instagram and You Tube as well as Blogger, Periscope and Soundcloud. No Facebook mind!

There is something punk about social media. A place where someone can make their own rules and see if anyone else is interested. My motif has been the same since I started writing...Write What You Wanna read and Film What You Wanna See. It isn't all about clicks. I will leave that for others with their endless tales of what the latest big name thinks or 5 things we learned from blah blah.

There are 240 million mostly anonymous people in Indonesia. That is 240 million stories the world ignores. Through Jakarta Casual and social media I try to tell just some of the stories because I think some of the stories are quite remarkable. I hope you do to...

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Alberts Anger As Madura United Go Top

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Malaysia Cup Match Day 2

JDT II v Sarawak 0-0 2,622
Negeri Sembilan v Melaka United 3-2 (Alex Smith 2, Henrique De Silva; Yashir Pinto, Ferris Danial) 6,722
Perak v PKNS 4-1 (Elias De Oliveira 2, Xhevahir Sukaj, Fazrul Hazli; Gonzolo Soto) 2,800
PDRM v Johor Darul Ta'zim 1-1 (Safuwan Baharudin; OG) 3,800
Kuala Lumpur v Pahang 2-0


Match Day 10 By Numbers

Match Day 10

Pusamania v Persipura 0-3 (Riky Kayame, Eddy Boakay Foday, Ferinando Pahabol) 4,123
Semen Padang v Sriwijaya 2-1 (Irsyad Maulana 2; Mauricio Leal) 7,832
Barito Putera v Bali United 0-1 (Loudry Setiawan)
Mitra Kukar v Bhayangkara Surabaya United 2-3 (Yogi Rahadian, Michael Orah; Rudi Widodo, Otavio Dutra, Thiago Furtuoso)
PSM v Persiba 3-2 (Ridwan Tawainelle, Ferdinand Sinaga 2; Kurniawan Karman, Shohei Matsunaga)
Persib v Persija 0-0
Gresik United v Madura United (Oh Inkyun;Pablo Rodrigues, Engelberd Sani)
Perseru v PS TNI 2-1 (Yoksan Ama; Manahati Lestusen)
Persela v Arema 0-2 (Sunarto, Cristian Gonzales)

16  goals were scored by foreign players
7  goals were scored by Indonesian players
Biggest Crowd - 33,000 Persib v Persija
Lowest Crowd - 
Top Scorer - 10 Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera), 7 Pablo Rodrigues (Madura United), 6 Shohei Matsunaga (Persiba)
Average Crowd - 
Biggest winning margin season to date - Sriwijaya v Madura United 5-0, Pusamania v Gresik United 5-0
Biggest attendance season to date - Persija v Semen Padang 50,117
Lowest attendance season to date - 1,135 Madura United v Bali United

1 - Arema 10 7 2 1 14-3 23
2 - Madura United 10 6 3 1 13-11 21
3 - Sriwijaya 10 5 3 2 14-5 18
4 - Persipura 10 4 3 2 14-9 15

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Madura United Go Top & Podcast

Indonesia Soccer Championship

PSM v Persiba 3-2 (Ridwan Tawainella, Ferdinand Sinaga 2; Kurniawan Karman, Shohei Matsunaga)
Persib v Persija 0-0 35,125
Gresik United v Madura United 1-2 (Oh Inkyun; Pablo Rodrigues, Engelberd Sani) 11,777

1 - Madura United 10 6 3 1 13-11 21
2 - Arema                9 6 2 1 12-3 20
3 - Sriwijaya          10 5 3 2 14-5 18
4 - Persipura          10 5 3 2 14-9 18

Malaysia Super League

Selangor v PDRM 2-1 (Ahmad Hazwan Bakri, Ugochukwu Ukah; Guilherme Lucrecio) 2,755
Felda United v Perak 2-1 (Lutfulla Turaev, Zah Rahan; Fazrul Hazli) 3,651
Pahang v Sarawak 2-0 (Pablo Andres 2) 3,719
T Team v Penang 3-4 (Patrick dos Santos 3; Ranti Martins 2, Jeong Soek Min 2) 2,139
Johor Darul Ta'zim v Kedah 5-0 (Safiq Rahim 2, Marcos Antonio, Pereya Diaz 2)

1 - Johor DT       13 10 3 0 34-8 33
2 - Felda United 13 10 1 2 30-12 31
3 - Selangor        13  7 4 2 23-16 25

Malaysia Premier League

Kuala Lumpur v Melaka United 1-2 (Leonardo Moreira; Ilija Spasojevic 2) 2,000

1 - Melaka United 13 9 3 1 29-14 30
2 - Johor DT II      13 9 1 3 29-16 28
3 - PKNS               13 8 2 3 34-19 26
4 - Negeri 9           13 7 4 2 31-16 25
5 - KL                    13 7 4 2 23-15 25

I dropped a bollock with the recording so this is only available on Periscope!

Saturday, July 16, 2016


Kelantan Win Big In North East Derby & Podcast

Malaysia Premier League

Perlis v Negeri Sembilan 2-1 (Charles Souza 2; Goran Jerkovic) 820
JDT II v Sabah 2-1 (Paolo Rangel 2; Igor Cerina) 1,630
PKNS v UiTM 3-0 (Juan Mauel Cobelli) 13
Sime Darby v Kuantan 3-4 50

Malaysia Super League 

Terengganu v Kelantan 1-6 (Issey Nakigima; Blazhe Ilioski 4, Wander Luis, Wan Zack Hailkul)

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Pusamania v Persipura 0-3 (Riky Kayame, Eddy Foday Boakay, Ferninando Pahabol) 4,128
Semen Padang v Sriwijaya 2-1 (Irsyand Maulana 2; Mauricio Leal) 7,832

A look at last night's action can be found on the Jakarta Casual Morning Show Podcast

Thursday, July 14, 2016


Are JDT Too Big For Malaysia?

When I read that Malaysia's captain and inspiration Safiq Rahim had announced his retirement from the national team I raised my eyebrow and thought to myself 'oh yeah, what's that all about?' Why would the player at the heart of Malaysia's successes in years past suddenly decide enough is enough.

The 29 year old midfielder from Johor Darul Ta'zim won the SEA Games in 2009 and the AFF Championship in 2010 as well as being runner up in 2014. In terms of Malaysian football he has been there and done that and at his age he patently has more to give both on the field and in the dressing room. So why quit?

He is not the only one to turn his back on the national team. Defender Aidil Zafuan, who turns 30 next month, has also decided the time is right to stop playing for the Harimau Malaysia even though he has been less of a fixture lately.

Now when something happens once well, it happens. When the same thing is repeated we think well yeah, it is a coincidence. But a third time? Pacy S Kunalan, who turns 30 in September, has also announced he no longer wants to be considered by the national team. Like Safiq and Zafuan he plays for Johor Darul Ta'zim.

Three players quit the national team. Each plays for the same team and is around the same age.

This year sees the AFFF Championship and the mass defections from the national team will be a blow for national team coach Ong Kim Swee as he tries to improve on being losing finalists back in 2016. But then the Malaysian national team hasn't had much to brag about since then as the results from this year testify.

24/03 v Saudi Arabia 0-2 (WCQ)
28/03 v Macau 0-0 (FR)
28/05 v Myanmar 0-0 (FR)
02/06 v Timor Leste 3-0 (ACQ)
06/06 v Timor Leste 3-0 (ACQ)
17/06 v Papua New Guinea 0-2 (FR)
26/06 v Fiji 1-1 (FR)

Their World Cup Qualifying campaign saw them beaten by Palestine 6-0. Twice. Oh, and that 10-0 reverse against UAE.

Over that same period Johor Darul Ta'zim have won the Malaysia Super League, FA Cup Charity Shield and for good measure the AFC Cup. They have made no secret of their desire to compete in the AFC Champions League in the neat future. They are currently two points clear in the Malaysia Super League and earlier this week began their Malaysia Cup quest with a draw at home to PKNS.

In short JDT are a club that are doing things, that are moving forward. The national team is a tired collection of players that seems, from the outside and from the record books, to lack the spirit and vitality of a club side like JDT. The national team of course is also run by the Football Association of Malaysia and there is no love lost between them and the successful club from the south of the country. 

The contrast between the two cannot be starker. JDT are, love them or loathe them, the future of Malaysian football and the FAM, and all they represent, are the past. Perhaps Safiq and co have just decided the national team offers them little in the twilight of their careers and if that is the case then it is one more sorry indictment for the suits at the FAM who singulalry failed to build on the successes Safiq and co enjoyed just a few years back.

The conclusion is clear. JDT are getting too big for Malaysian football and instead of playing politics the FAM need to take a leaf out of the upstarts book and start thinking big. And of they can't do that perhaps they should follow the lead of Penang and step aside to allow professionals to take over.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Indonesia's Classico - A Timeline Of Violence

How to describe the Persija/Persib rivalry. It may lack the historical legacy of Barcelona v Real Madrid or the religious undertones of Celtic v Rangers but when it comes to animosity it must rank among the world's fiercest derbies. 

A few years back I interviewed a Persija fan for his take on the rivalry between the two sets of supporters with the intention of balancing his view with one from the Persib camp...still not done that I'm afraid.

This is a rivalry where typically away fans don't travel in numbers. I know of one fan who did venture into bandit country and he had to stop along the highway that connects Jakarta with Bandung just to change the number plate on his car. Simply put if you have a Jakarta registered motor in Bandung on matchday, or the other way around, you are a target

I remember Bambang Pamungkas recalling a story about the derby. There were a couple of new foreign players with Persija and he says that as they were cowering on the floor in the bowels of an armoured personnel carrier on the way to the stadium they looked ashen faced. The discomfort was accompanied by the symphony of rocks and bottles hitting the surface of the APC as Persib fans sought to make their guests feel as uncomfortable as possible. 'Don't worry,' Bambang tells his shaking team mates, 'this is the essence of Indonesian football!'

Bambang is that rare footballer who unites fans of both sides. When it was reported he would be leaving Persija there were Persib fans who said they would welcome him with open arms. Not so his team mate of many years, Ismed Sofyan, who was most definitely cast as the pantomime villain in West Java.

Tony Sucipto is now a team mate of Hariono
Yet many players do play for both clubs without problems. Atep, a current hero on the Persib terraces, played for Persija for a while despite his 100% Sunda roots. Bahaikki Khaizan and Herman Abanda have also worn the orange and blue with no problems but then they are foreign players and so considered about the rivalry.

Such is the notoriety surrounding the fixture Indonesian film maker Yusuf Andibachtiar made a film about it, taking William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and giving it an Indonesian twist...complete with violence of course. In fine Green Street tradition it starts with some fighting but soon develops into a lovey dovey tale with romance across the terraces between a Persija and Persib fan. 

There was a peace deal that was supposed to have been thrashed out with the help of various police officers and Persib fans have twice filled Bung Karno Stadium in the last year but it is difficult to erase the years of mistrust and emnity that have built up between the two sets of supporters. Memories aren't erased with a handshake for the cameras and much more needs to be done at a grass roots level before we can see both sets of fans attending a game. But beyond the smiles for the camera very little is being done and the clubs themselves are not getting involved beyond the usual mealy mouthed statements. Barely a game between the two sides goes by without a major incident and as we have already seen this year with Persija their wild element seems to be out of control.

27 May 2012

Persija hosted Persib at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta and the game ended in a 2-2 draw. However three fans lost their lives in violence that marred the fixture including one who, if I recall correctly, was attacked for not celebrating a Persija goal with the required enthusiasm causing those around him to suspect him of being a Persib fan.

22 June 2013

As the Persib bus was leaving a hotel in South Jakarta to head towards the Bung Karno Stadium for the game it came under attack from a gang of between 20 and 30 men on motorcycles. Instead of heading to the ground the bus headed straight for the highway and left Jakarta. As revenge Persib fans in Bandung attacked cars with Jakarta registration plates.

18 August 2013

As is often the case Persija found themselves forced to play home games away from Jakarta and in this instance met their fiercest rivals in Sleman, a suburb of Yogyakarta. With the supposedly neutral venue fans from both teams travelled to the game and the inevitable happened with violence inside and outside the stadium as this video shows.

8 May 2014

With a much reported truce between the two sets of fans in place Persija fans headed south for the game in Bandung only to be stopped on the highway by police who weren't keen on letting the estimated 25 bus loads continue on their way. The travelling fans weren't keen on returning home and kicked off blocking the busy road for several hours as they fought running battles with the police.

8 November 2014

Several buses carrying Persib fans back from Palembang were attacked by Persija fans as they travelled through Jakarta. The Bobotoh had seen their team win the Indonesia Super League for the first time in South Sumatra and made their return trip in joyous mood but the Persija fans were in no mood to share their enemies joy, throwing rocks and bottles at the buses in the early hours.

The two sides never met last year. Of course the Indonesia Super league was cancelled and with all those cup competitions going on like President Cup and Jenderal Sudirman Cup they only way violence could be avoided was by making sure the two teams were not in the same groups. And that seems to be the sum total of calming things down...wishing the violence away.

Persib host Persija this weekend at the new Bandung Lautan Api Stadium and Persija fans have been told to stay away. There will be the usual intimidating atmosphere and no doubt the Persija players will stay in an anoymous hotel and will be ferried to and from the stadium in APCs. Let's just hope come Sunday we are talking about the action on the pitch and not the violence off it.


Melaka's Spaso Continues Goal Spree

Selangor v Kuala Lumpur 1-0 (Adam Nor Azlin)  3,371
T Team v Johor Darul Ta'zim II 2-2 (Dilshod Sharifudinov; Zaquan Adha, Paulo Rangel) 3,785
Johor Darul Ta'zim v PKNS 2-2 (Safee Sali, Juan Martin Lucero; Gabril Miguel Geurra, Juan Manuel Corbelli) 7,430
Kelantan v Pahang 1-0 (Wan Zaharulnizam) 12,751
Melaka United v Terengganu 2-1 (Ilija Spasojevic, Surendran; Bogdan Milic) 9,000
Felda United v Negeri Sembilan 3-1 (Christie Jayaseelan, Francis Forkey Doe 2; Annas Rahmat) 1,638
Kedah v Sarawak 4-3 () 17,000
Perak v PDRM 1-2 (Xhevahir Sukaj; Guilherme Lucrecio, Safuwan Baharudin) 5,300

Tuesday, July 12, 2016


Quest For Malaysia Cup Glory Begins

The 2016 Malaysia Cup kicks off tonight with 16 teams looking to lift South East Asian football's oldest trophy. Cynics could ask why not just hand it over to Johor Darul Ta'zim...they win everything else but they have yet to win this particular pot and you can be sure their owner, the crown prince of the state, is keen to address that anomaly.

With the Super League, FA Cup, Charity Shield and the AFC Cup already in the bag, JDT begin their assault on the Malaysia Cup tonight with a repeat of the FA Cup Final as they host PKNS at the Larkin Stadium. The other group game sees PDRM travel north to Ipoh to take on Perak.

In Group A there is a Persib alumni meet of sorts as T Team host JDT II. Rahmad Darmawan's team boast Makan Konate while Bahakki Khaizan and Sharil Ishak will be lining up for the opponents while Kedah meet Sarawak in the other tie.

Group B sees the Klang Derby as Selangor host KL at the Shah Alam Stadium. KL have been busy during the transfer window bringing in Diego Inostroza and Jonathon Cantillana while letting strikers Mario Karlovic and Casagrande leave.

Kelantan have also been busy in the transfer window releasing Jonatan Lucca and Dramane Traore. In their stead have come Wander Luiz and Morgaro Gomis from Hearts. The club still has financial problems and recently the players were slated for their attitude by their coach after a friendly. They seek solace in the Malaysia Cup against a Pahang side that has seen a number of high profile departures in recent months with pakistan international Zesh Rehman the most recent to leave.

In Group D Super League surprise packet Felda United take on Negeri Sembilan in Jengka while Melaka United, featuring another ex Persib player Ilija Spasojevic, meet Terengganu.

Saturday, July 09, 2016


The Longstayers

I love this kind of stuff. These are the players who have spent the longest amount of time at one club and obviously Persela's keeper Choirul Huda leads the way having started his career with his local side at the tail end of the last century.

No mention of Boas Solossa...remember he had a short spell with Timor Leste side Carsae earlier this year. Hengky is in his second stint with his local side. He first joined his local side in 2000 but in 2006 he moved to Persikabo.

Choirul Huda (Persela) 1999 - 
Ismed Sofyan (Persija) 2003 - 
Ian Louis Kabes (Persipura) 2005 - 
Atep (Persib) 2008 - 
Hariono (Persib) 2008 - 
Kurnia Meiga (Arema) 2008 - 
Hengky Ardiles (Seman Padang) 2008 - 

It would be interesting to see which players have played for the most teams!

Friday, July 08, 2016


Persija Struggle To Optimise Bambang Role

Bambang Pamungkas (right)
After Match Day of the Indonesia Soccer Championship everything was rosy in the Persija garden as they sat second in the table to Arema, level on points with leaders Arema but behind on goal difference. 

Andritany Ardhiyasa was impressing in goal, Ade Jantra and Amrizal Umainalo had seemingly come from nowhere to make an impression on the first team and there were still Bambang Pamungas and Ramdani Lestalahu waiting to start their seasons. What could go wrong? 

Plenty. Since those heady days in May Persija have well and truly slipped off the rails, winning just one and scoring once in their last six games and falling down the table to 12th, seven points adrift of third place Madura United. Their five goals for the season is an ISC low shared with Perseru and half the total bottom side Persela have achieved.

Where has it gone wrong for Persija?

Bambang was eased back in to the first team in the away game against Perseru when he came on as a second half substitute, a role he repeated in their first loss of the season away to Barito Putera a week later. He played the whole 90 minutes as the Kemayoran Tigers laboured to a 1-0 win over struggling PS TNI but showed enough to suggest he would soon find his mojo. Indeed it was like old times for the Persija faithful as another veteran and local hero Ismed Sofyan would launch the ball in from wide right looking for Bambang to win the ball in the air.

It was familiar stuff but it also negated some of the impact young Amrizal had enjoyed in those early games when he was involved in three of his side's goals. It was his tricky inside the area that drew a penalty against Semen Padang, He netted with a calm finish against Persela and it was his inch perfect cross, ironically from the right hand side, that was powered home by Jose Guerra in the same game.

But with the return of Bambang his effectiveness has been reduced as Persija have sought to rely more on the Ismed/Bambang partnership and despite the win over PS TNI it hasn't been effective as they have suffered losses away to leader Arema, at home to Sriwijaya and most recently in Samarinda against Pusamania. 

Now it could be argued those were three tough games anyway but the fact is if Persija do want to kick on from their bridesmaid status these are the sort of games where they need to pick up points and if they think things are going to get any better any time soon they won't. Next up are away games against Persib and Persiba. 

There has been little analysis of Persija's problems in the media recently and in part that may be due to the violent scenes that marred their home game with Sriwijaya as well as the on going soap opera of where they will play their home games now Bung Karno Stadium is to be renovated ahead of the Asian Games. But the table doesn't lie and the football club is not in a good place now and it is difficult to see any quick fix solution.

Persija and Bambang Pamungkas go together like Liverpool and Jamie Carragher and Wenger and 'I nearly signed him but' excuses. Ahead of the ISC campaign the news coming out from Persija was about Bambang and whether he would sign again or not. And when he did sign he was excused the start of the season because he had other commitments. 

Dropping Bambang could be seen as committing suicide for coach Paolo Camargo but his job now will be to tap into that youthful zest the team started the season with and marry it with Bambang's experience and know how. How successfully he does that will define his legacy at the football club.

Thursday, July 07, 2016


Persipura's Threatened Foreign Strikers

It's been a slow start to the season for Persipura but it looks like Jefri Sastra's men have turned the corner as they enter the Eid break with four wins in their last six games. However their 1-0 loss away to Sriwijaya was a reminder the current Black Pearls squad lacks the intimidating factor of recent years. Opponents think they have a chance, Barito Putera put four past them at Mandala Stadium before losing 5-4 while eight of their 11 goals scored came in just two games.

James Koko Lommel 1
Lukas Mandowen 1
Bio Paulin 1
Yustinus Pae 1
Boas Solossa 3
Feranindo Pahabol 2
Riky Kayame 2

Unfortunately for the foreign players their names seem strangely absent from that scoring list with the exception of Koko Lommel's opening day penalty versus Persija. Boakay Eddy Foday and Thiago Fernandes have yet to hit the net and with a reduced squad going through training in Maang the club are looking at their options.

It won't have escaped the club's notice that Brazilian striker Luis Carlos Junior has been scoring for fun with struggling Barito Putera, 10 goals in nine games, And Malaysian Premier League side Perlis recently released their Liberian striker Edward Wilson Junior, a player well known in Indonesian after a successful spell with Semen Padang.

Perspiura sit fifth in the Indonesia Soccer Championship, five points off leaders Arema and while things have improved from the early days of the campaign when they drew two and lost their opening three games the lack of a prolific striker is proving a cause for concern. 

Boas Solossa has long been a Persipura icon but even when he was at his imperious best he was ably supported by the likes of Ernest Jeremiah and Alberto Goncalves. Now Boas has lost a yard or two of pace it is imperative the other strikers pull their weight and that has not been happening and there must be a sense of disappointment the likes of Boakay, so prolific in his time with Persiwa, has not been contributing as much as would have been expected. 

The Black Pearls next game is a week tomorrow when they travel to a resurgent Pusamania, three wins on the spin and always a tough nut to crack on home turf. Sastra will be hoping to have sorted his striking problems by then.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016


Singapore Squad For Japan/Cambodia Tour

24/07 Albirex Niigata v Singapore
28/07 Cambodia v Singapore

Two more games to be added in Japan

Headlines all about Bennett returning to the squad...having seen him play a couple of times this season for Geylang it is hardly a surprise. What is interesting is the call up for Madhu Mohana. I saw him play for Singapore Under 19s a few years back in Bandung and was impressed by his efforts then. Seven players from Tampines? That's why they spent the big bucks!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016


Earthy Gonzales Trumps Hulk's Bling

Hulk made the headlines recently after signing for Shanghai SIPG for a mouth watering 320 grand a week. A phenomenal wage packet for a guy who will turn 30 in the near future but seemingly small change for the newly minted Chinese league.

Hulk won't mind. He has scored goals everywhere be it J2 in Japan, Porto in Spain or more recently Zenit St Petersburg and no doubt will score a few in China when the league kicks off there. But apart from the headlines is it a good signing for Chinese football? Is this journeyman striker, a rich journeyman striker, going to benefit the game in China? Is he going to provide the impetus to help the nation qualify for the AFC Asian Cup. Or is he just going to take 16 million quid a year out of the economy?

Let us compare Hulk with another foreign striker...Cristian Gonzales of Arema. Nicknamed El Loco, Gonzales turns 40 next month and has been playing in Indonesia since 2003 when he signed for PSM. Since then he has played for Persik, Persib and Persisam before moving to Malang in 2012 and has scored more than 220 goals in more than 320 games. He has become an Indonesian citizen and gone on to represent his country scoring at almost a goal every two games and shows no sign of slowing down. Gonzales' goals took Indonesia to the final of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in 2010 before losing to Malaysia.

It is highly unlikely Hulk will stay in China 13 years, become Chinese or even become as highly respected as Gonzales has in Indonesia. Will Hulk even stay 13 months? Will he be remembered when the minted Chinese go after another bling recruit, all smiles, flash car and gold credit card taking money from the local game?

Some other comparisons between Hulk and Cristian Gonzales.

1 - Hulk's salary is equivalent to 545 Gonzales
2 - Hulk's salary could cover the cost of 24 Indonesian teams
3 - Hulk's salary could cover the salaries of every player in Indonesia for one season
4 - One week of Gonzales pay packet is equivalent to 215 minutes for Hulk
5 - One year salary for Hulk is equivalent to 545 years salary for Gonzales
6 - Hulk's salary is the same as selling 136 million Indonesian replica shirts

Bling is bling because that is all it is. It glitters, it shimmers. But all that glitters is not gold. Chinese football is welcome to the headlines Hulk attracts but they are not my kind of headlines. They are not the headlines of football. They are the headlines of sheer, naked opportunism and greed. They are the headlines of a league that sees headlines as an end. The bling is the thing. But when someone sits down to write about football in China and Indonesia whose legacy would be worthy of a chapter? Gonzales or Hulk?


Indonesian Crowds Fall Over Fasting Month

Arema 15,320
Bali United 10,889
Barito Putera 4,883
Bhayangkara Surabaya United 5,721
Madura United 5,269
Mitra Kukar 6,707
Gresik United 10,093
Persela 8,086
Perseru 4,641
Persib 19,741
Persiba 3,699
Persija 43,416
Persipura 10,378
PS TNI 6,680
PSM 9,772
Pusamania 3,257
Semen Padang 6,175
Sriwijaya 14,563


Madura United average for four games. I have found no attendance for home game v Persiba
Gresik United average does not include alleged 1,200 PS TNI fans who entered without paying
Persija average for three games. I have found no attendance for home game v Sriwijaya
Persib played first three home games at Si Jalak Harapat, two at GBLA Stadium
PS TNI played two home games at Siliwangi Stadium, two at Pakansari Stadium
Two lowest average attendances are from teams in East Kalimantan

Crowds across the Indonesia Soccer Championship fell off drastically over the fasting month. For example Arema's last two home games saw a combined 15,167 attend the games while 47,000+ attended their first two home games of the season. 

From an opening day high of 8,178 v BS United, Barito Putera have seen their attendances decline in every home game before reaching the lowest, 2,037, last time out v Perseru. And yet they are the great entertainers with their nine games featuring 34 goals.

Persipura's first game of the season saw 21,000 watch them play Persija. Their third home game saw 2,500 for their local derby v Perseru!

Credit to PSM and Persela fans who have continued to support their team in numbers despite poor starts to the season.

Nearly 30,000 saw Arema host BS United in their second home game of the season. Last time out, against Semen Padang, just 5,021 turned out. For the table toppers!

The average crowd on Match Day 3 was 14,524. Last weekend, Match Day 9, saw an average of 
5,404 watch games across the country despite the likes of Arema, Persib and Sriwijaya playing at home.

Given the fall off in attendances over the fasting month, despite the later kick offs, the organisers may want to reconsider the idea of playing in Ramadan. Many fans have their eyes on other matters during the fasting month and last weekend, Match Day 9, saw many Indonesians setting off for their home villages. 

It is a tough shout. The ISC may have thought by allowing the games to continue as normal clubs could at least have some cash flow through what is traditionally an expensive month but then the ISC B stopped and Malaysia also halts the league. Would it  be better to stop the football for the last two weeks of Ramadan and the holiday after?

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