Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Match Day 24 In Numbers

Gresik United v Pusamania 2-1 (Ghozali Sireger, Patrick da Silva; Pedro Javier) 5,417
Mitra Kukar v Persib 2-1 (David Maulana, Yogi Rahadian; Sergio van Dijk) 3,251
Perseru v Persela 1-1 (Osas Marvelous; Paolo Lima)813
PSM v Sriwijaya 2-1 (Rasyid Bakri, Ferdinand Sinaga; TA Musafri) 4,325
Bhayangkara v Persiba 1-0 (Thiago Furtuoso) 5,203
Persipura v PS TNI 3-2 (Boas Solossa 3; Erwin Ramdani, Pandi Lestalahu) 7,201
Bali United v Madura United 0-0 8,725
Semen Padang v Barito Putera 2-0 Marcel Sacramento 2) 1,927
Persija v Arema 1-4 (Greg Nwokolo; Cristian Gonzales 2, Esteban Vizcarra, Hamka Hamzah) 14,974

1 - Madura United 24 14 6 4 39-28 48
2 - Arema 24 13 7 4 30-11 46
3 - Persipura 24 12 7 5 33-20 43
4 - Bhayangkara 23 13 3 7 35-23

16 - Marcel Sacramento (Semen Padang)
14 - Pablo Rodrigues (Madura United, Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya)
13 - Luis Junior (Barito Putera)
12 - Shohei Matsunaga (Persiba)
11 - Marlon da Silva (Mitra Kukar), Thiago Furtuoso (Bhayangkara), Boas Solossa (Persipura), Cristian Gonzales (Arema)


More Tales Of Woe From Singapore

Truth be told I have all but given up on the SLeague. Albirex Niigata winning the title completes the foreign club domination of Singapore football with the Japanese side also winning the League Cup and preparing to face off against token local side Tampines Rovers in the Singapore Cup Final later this month.

As if overseas based clubs wiping the floor clean on the pitch isn't enough to feel down in the dumps about Singapore football other news in recent weeks must have made even the most rose tinted fan feel despondent.

Daniel Bennett (38) and Mustafic Fahruddin (35) have been in fine form this season without doubt and deserve their recall to the national team ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships later this year. But what does it say about the young players coming through? Are the development squads of Young Lions and below that bereft of promising young players Sundramurthy must go back in time to plan for the future?

You can almost here the despair in the voice of local legend R Sasikumar when he says some of the players in the national team are 'mediocre'.

As if that were not enough to have local fans dusting off their EPL replica shirts and turning their back for good on the local product Tampines Rovers, the nearest thing Singapore has to a glamour club, announced all its players were free to leave at the end of the season and for the 2017 campaign they would not be paying salaries of more than SG$2,500.

Way to go Stags! Bring in Jermaine Pennant on a reported SG$20,000 a month, sign up half of the LionsXII team, get Gerard Houllier to 'act' as a club ambassador, get Ronaldinho in for some selfie opportunities then decide there is no more money left.

With cash so hard to find the club announced they wanted no more to do with fruit machines, an important source of income for SLeague clubs who are incapable of marketing themselves. Apparently the Tampines owner thinks they are immoral because they encourage gambling. And his is right of course. They do. But unable to source cash from other areas why switch off the only tap they have?

It wasn't that long ago Australian smokers could cough themselves to an early grave safe in the knowledge their money was helping the national football team, known as the Winfield Socceroos, wave the national flag in foreign lands. There was no one else willing to stump up the cash.

But needs must when the devil farts in your direction and Tampines don't have many options when it comes to raising money if they do little about developing a fan base. Morals are all fine and dandy and we all should have them. But they are generally a middle class luxury. A starving vegetarian may overcome his qualms about a hamburger if there is sod all else available.

While the Stags plead poverty and put a dampner on their end of season run in Hougang United announce they have made a profit and are even returning some cash to the FAS (not investing in players?). How can Hougang, arguably a smaller club than Tampines, make money? Them darned fruit machines, that's how.

Foreign clubs cleaning up domestically. Veterans recalled to save their country again. Tampines need a begging bowl. Nope, there isn't much to be cheerful about in Singapore these days.

Thursday, October 13, 2016


Vlad The Persib Saviour

This hasn't been the best of campaigns for Persib. They have struggled for consistency, replaced their coach and their high profile strikers, including the now departed Juan Belencoso, have hit just six goals (Sergio van Dijk 4 in 13 games, Samsul Arif 2 in 16). Their last five games have produced just two wins and both of those came at home via late, late penalties.

While they have been strong at home as you would expect their away form has been poor at best with just two wins to show from their 11 games on the road and one of them was a 3-0 triumph over PS TNI in a game played in their own backyard of West Java.

Tables don't lie and Persib's current position of 9th in the 18 team league is a fair reflection of their consistency. Yet things could be so much worse. Back in 2014, the year Persib won the Indonesia Super League for the first time, it was the goals of defender Vladimir Vujovic that proved so important, especially in the second half of the season, as this piece I did for the Jakarta Globe back then shows.

Fast forward two years and Persib may not be in a position to challenge for the Indonesia Soccer championship but yet again it is the goals of their Montenegro defender that are saving them from ignominy.

With the forwards failing to find the net with any kind of consistency the journeyman defender with five goals this season finds himself the club's leading scorer. Yep, you read that right. The club who can boast the likes of Ajat Sudrajat, Zaenal Arif and Lorenzo Cabanas among their striking alumni are now reliant on the goals of a defender to save their blushes.

And as with the 2014 title winning season, Vujovic's goals are making a real difference to the team's ranking. It was he for example who equalised away to Persiba in the 77th minute to save a point. It was his late penalty at home to the same team that turned a point into three and he repeated the dose yesterday as Persib came from behind to defeat dogged Bhayangkara 2-1 in Cikarang.

Three of Vlad's five goals have changed the outcome of the game, earning his side an extra five vital points. Without those points Persib would be in the bottom half of the table and perhaps there would be some pressure swirling around the coach Djadjang Nurdjaman.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


Reasons To Be Cheerful Part 200

After 10 years writing about Indonesian football you start to take things for granted. Coaches blaming defeats on 'non technical matters', non football people involved in football, crowd disturbances leading to deaths. That kind of stuff. Back in the early days I would affect a kind of moral could this kind of thing happen here? How disgraceful. Bla bla bla. 

But as I grew accustomed to them I became blase and stopped seeing them as newsworthy. Rather, the extra curricular activities that surround football are just part of its rich tapestry. I find the phrase 'it is what it is' or 'this is Indonesia' to be an abjuration of responsibility but really, what does a foreigner complaining really bring to the table? Does it change anything? Just one more whiney voice of someone who can, if truth be told, leave anytime he wants. 

For those in a position to do something, those inside the machine and reliant on the machine for putting rice on the table, they can't just leave. For better or for worse they are stuck with a system which is top heavy and which, as mere players, they are little more than chattel to be moved around at the whim of those more powerful. Speak out too loudly and there is a risk their career is over. 

The game is reforming itself, slowly, in an organic way. Back in 2006 it was Persi- this and Persi- that. Today, attrition, local political apathy, incompetence, have combined to see the fall of all but the best managed Persi-s and in their place have come clubs with a more professional management structure. Ok so there is nothing on a par with Muang Thong United of Johor Darul Ta'zim in Indonesian football but some clubs are edging their way towards a more sustainable model.

PSIS and Persik are just two of the clubs to have been left behind. Champions in recent memory, they are now competing in the ISC B Final 16s instead of taking on the big boys in the top flight. History, tradition count for little when football clubs are reliant on local bigwigs for support and growth. The fans are there but too often the will in the corridors of power isn't.

The demise of one club though does offer an opportunity for another to take their place. With PSIS and Persik in the doldrums alongside others like PSIM and Deltras newer clubs with a savvier outlook have taken their place. For example Madura United ended Pelita Jaya's presence in the top flight by buying their latest license, Persipasi Bekasi Raya, and with some clever signings off and on the field they are looking a more professional outfit than their predecessor ever did. No one mined playing Pelita Jaya on their own ground, where ever that was, but Madura away? Crossing the Samudra Bridge to play in front of the intimidating atmosphere that is Bangkalan Stadium is not for the faint hearted.

Bali United are in the process of transforming football in Indonesia's east by opening an academy in Kupang, Timor. In only their second season, Bali United came about following the split in Samarinda that saw Persisam fans form their own side, Pusamania Borneo, while the rump of the football club was bought by investors to form Bali United. Pusamania, incidentally, took over Perseba Bangkalan, and gained promotion to the top flight in 2014.

Among the more traditional clubs, Persib and Persipura have shown they are the best equipped to adapt to the fresh new wind that is trying to shift the staid, kretek smoking old guard who have been at the heart of the game for so long. Persib, with their unrivalled fan base, when they say 'West Java is ours' it is no understatement while Persipura have the advantage of deep pocketed sponsors to keep them challenging for honours; in the Indonesia Super League they have only ever finished champions or runners up.

It does seem ironic that as Indonesia floundered under a FIFA ban the game has in some respects made great strides in tidying itself up. The Indonesia Soccer Championship may not be an official league with promotion and relegation but it is an improvement on the ISL in the way it is marketed and covered. There are plenty of live games shown, advertising is coming from private companies and not just the state owned enterprises who got involved in the past for perhaps less than altruistic reasons.  There is even an attractive, easy to navigate website for the league as well as a handy app that are frequently updated. A massive leap forward compared with the creaky websites of old.

Things are still by no means perfect. Dodgy decisions aren't just a convenient excuse thrown out by defeated coaches who then remain silent when they are the beneficiaries. There is a lack of basic infrastructure like stadiums afflicting most of the country; Persija, Persib, Persela, PS TNI, Arema have all played home games at more than one ground. And there is the uncertainty the upcoming PSSI elections will bring; how will the winning candidate seek to impose his will on the organisation and how will he improve the game in the country?

But there is much to be positive about. People like to say Thailand has the best league in South East Asia. To that I say ya boo sucks. The salaries may be higher but do you want to see a game between Ratchaburi v Bangkok United or head to Indonesia and watch Persib v PSM? The former is as manufactured as it gets, clubs rise and fall at the whim of their political masters and when they do ebb the fans lose interest. Not just in their club but in football. The game lacks roots, heritage and history. Too often the Thai games I have been to are just excuses for fans to take selfies, paint their faces and spend money in the club shop. Sanuk yes but then so was collecting Snoopy figurines years back. 

Indonesian football has passion, intrigue, potential, history. It has second tier clubs attracting some of the largest crowds not just in Indonesia but South East Asia. It has a newer breed of excellent coaches doing their bit not just to build successful teams but also develop players. It  has so many things going for it yet you just know somewhere along the line there will be a step backwards to counter any progress. But that is part of development of anything anywhere in the world. 

On the international stage Indonesia probably won't win the upcoming ASEAN Football Championships later this year. It is difficult to see them qualifying for the World Cup any time soon let alone the AFC Asian Cup. Player for player they are probably behind the Thais and the Vietnamese. But at club level anyone with a truly regional vision could turn the likes of Persib, Arema, Persebaya, Persija into powerhouses.They certainly  have all the ingredients.

It is too easy to knock Indonesian football and to be fair I have at times been critical and lets face it, what a 10 years it has been. Two leagues, two associations, two national teams preparing for same competition...I could go on and I usually do. But why not also celebrate the positive and there is much to be excited about. I for one can't wait for the ISL to return and with it a second tier made of of 60, 70 odd clubs. 

Monday, October 10, 2016


Bambang Scores As Persija Go Five Unbeaten

International Friendly

Indonesia v Vietnam 2-2 (Irfan Bachdim, Zulham Zamrun;) 22,167

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Mitra Kukar v Sriwijaya 1-0 (Marlon Da Silva) 

A month ago Sriwijaya were buzzing. They defeated Persib 3-0 and came away from leaders Madura United with a 5-2 victory, the second time they had gone nap against the Madurese this season. Then came a break in the ISC and that seems to have interrupted the team's momentum,

Last time out they were thumped 4-0 by this. 180 minutes played with no goals scored, coach Widodo Cahyo Putro will be expecting more from his seasoned strike force of Alberto Goncalves (11 goals) and Hilton Moreira (seven). With his players back in action on Thursday at home to Gresik United the coach won't have that much time with his players to work on things on the training field.

For the victors it has been a funny old season Brian. They started the campaign on fire but then when through a bit of a middle age crisis before new coach Jafri Sastra has come in and turned things around. Five wins in their last six games have seen the team from East Kalimantan climb back up the table and they now sit 6th ahead of Wednesday's local derby away to Pusamania. Da Silva's goal was his fourth in three games.

Bali United v Persiba 1-2 (Fadil Sausu; Asnawi Mangkualam, Shohei Matsunaga)

Jaino Matos' team ended a four match winless run with the hugely impressive Matsunaga scoring his 11th of the season with a penalty on 57 minutes. Bali United ended the game with 10 men after Hasim Kipuw was red carded with three minutes on the clock.

Persija v Barito Putera 3-2 (Hong Soon Hak, Bambang Pamungkas, Greg Nwokolo; OG, Dedy Hartono)

Two wins on the spin! Persija really are on a roll after ending their 14 game winless streak. After edging Perseru last time out the Kemayoran Tigers came from behind to defeat Barito Putera with first goals of the season from veterans Bambang and returnee Nwokolo.

To be fair Persija are unbeaten in their last five games and with Emmanuel Kenmogne returning to the team to partner Nwokolo up front they look a far more solid proposition than they have for much of the season. For the first time in what seems like ages they seem to have some strength at the football club with Bambang and Ade Jantra on the bench while Ambrizal Umanailo and Ismed Sofyan didnt feature and Andritany was called up by the national team.

Two goals in three minutes completed a remarkable turn around and kept that mini revival on track. As for Barito Putera, just one win in 13 tells its own sorry tale but the club are to be commended for keeping fifth in coach Mundari Karya. But they are 17th in the ISC with 17 points from their 22 games and while Luis Carlos Junior's goals have papered over some of the team's cracks they are weak at the back having the third worst defence in the league. And next up they host Persipura; who beat them 5-4 last time round!

Indonesia Soccer Championship B Final 16

Celebest v Serang 0-2
PSIS v Persekap 3-1 6,918
PSPS v PSGC 1-1 1,453

Sunday, October 09, 2016


Perseru Late Show Earn Papuan Bragging Rights

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Perseru v Persipura 2-0 (Osas Marvelous, Petrus Towolom) 8,743

It needed two goals in the last five minutes for Perseru to claim the bragging rights in the Papua Derby as they continued their fine home record in the Indonesia Soccer Championship. They have now won eight of their 10 homes games this season and the only reason they are not running away with the title is because they are pants on the road.

They have just one away win to show for their long distance journeys, away to Persiba, but the rest of the time they struggle and they have become the latest version of Persiwa or PSPS; unstoppable at home but poor travellers. This is Indonesia so read into that what you will.

The return of Osas up front has helped ease the pressure on Gakou Amadou for goals. The Nigerian has scored wherever he has been and while he many not have been a fan favourite with Penang during his short stint in Malaysia he has been prolific elsewhere though interestingly the 29 year old Nigerian's resume reads like a roll call of footballing outposts (PSAP, Persepam, Persiram, Perseru) rather than more established big name clubs.

For Persipura this was most definitely a trip to forget. Win and they would have gone up to second in the table, an incredible turnaround from the slow start to the campaign they went through. It also ended an eight game unbeaten run which included conceded a single goal, against shot shy Persija remarkably, in seven.

Persipura, it has to be said, were deprived of inspirational skipper and striker Boas Solossa as he was called up by the national team ahead of their friendly against Vietnam later today. Somewhat surprisingly Angel Alfredo Vera went with Edward Wilson Junior and defender Paulin Bio on the bench and started with a couple of younger players up top, Yohanes Pahabol and Riky Kayame. But to blame the loss on the absent players would be lazy...both goals came while the more experienced Wilson and Bio were on the field.

For bth sides this will probably be seen as one off. Perseru must make the long journey to West Sumatra to take on Semen Padang, who boast a 100% home record, while the three time champions make the somewhat shorter hop to South Kalimantan to play Barito Putera who they defeated 5-4 earlier in the season.

Madura United v Persib 2-1 (Pablo Rodrigues, Eric Weeks Lewis; Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan) 13,000

With Arema losing away to Gresik United, the season's unlikely heroes Madura United took full points in a firey encounter in front of  a packed stadium to go four points clear at the top of the table. For all Madura's success this season just one of their players was called up by Alfred Riedl for the Vietnam friendly, keeper Hery Prasetyo so coach Gomes de Oliveria gave a start to Joko Ribowo.

Still, they are a team with some strength in depth these days after some astute recruitment and Madura started with new signing Ahmad Bustomi on the bench alongside Fellaini lookalike Ahmad Maulana Putra.

The home side took the lead halfway through the first half with Pablo Rodrigues scoring his 14th of the season. Persib's Kim Kurniawan, who went through a torrid time earlier in the season as fans turned on then coach Dejan Antonic and some of the players, pulled one goal back shortly after half time, his second in four away games.

Lewis restored the home team's lead on 55 minutes before rookie keeper Ribowo and Persib striker Sergio van Dijk were red carded after an unseemly incident shortly after the hour mark.

Persib's inconsistency continues. Despite boasting a fine squad they are struggling for goals, three in their last five games. Van Dijk has netted four since his return to West Java, the same as defender Vladimir Vujovic, and they are the top scorers! Samsul Arif has just two, Coach Djadjang was always going to get a longer honeymoon than Antonic, winning the ISL gives that little extra security, and the club may point out the ISC is not a regular competition.

But with the players at the club there is little doubt they are continuing to underperform and the table after all doesn't lie. They are 9th with eight wins and seven defeats.

Persela v Semen Padang 0-0 979 (Game played at Gajayana Stadium, Malang)

Indonesia Soccer Championship B Final 16

PSCS v Perssu 1-0 8,238
Kalteng Putra v PSS 1-3 2,105
Persita v Persepam 3-1 550

Saturday, October 08, 2016


Arema's Loss In East Java Derby Continues Poor Form

Bhayangkara v Pusamania 2-1 (Wahyu Subo Seto, Thiago Furtuoso; Ricky Akbar Ohorella) 2,052

Ok so Bhayangkara may be a new club lacking in tradition or history but surely a 4-0 win at Jakabaring Stadium against Sriwijaya was a result to make people sit up and take notice? But no. That was last week, this was this week and despite the side being on a roll, one loss in last five games, a measly 2,000 bothered turning out for this game against Pusamania to see another three points gathered and the club remain two points behind leaders.

Mind, their core support is the police force, the club came about because of some kind of deal between Surabaya United and PS Polri, and there not much to suggest they have managed to attract a new generation of supporter to their stadium in Sidoarjo, a city with two clubs (Deltras and Persida) with their own history and fanbase.

As such the team have tended to operate below the radar even with the precocious talents of Evan Dimas on board and the coach Ibnu Grahan is probably happy to stay their as long as the results go their way.

As for Pusamania the loss ended an unbeaten run of five games and saw coach Dragan Dukanovic, well known for his acerbic post match comments about Indonesian football, say the game needed a magician to solve its problems.

Gresik United v Arema 1-0 (Patrick da Silva) 18,417

Despite Arema's positive start to the campaign they Crazy Lions have failed to really impress, often grinding out results against robust opponents but rarely setting the ISC on fire. There have been stand out performers, skipper Hamkah Hamza and Raphael Maitimo spring to mind for example, but you rarely come away from an Arema game going woo and wow.

This loss in an East Java Derby means their poor run of form continues with just two wins in their last eight games and while they remain in touch with leaders Madura United, Arema are a point behond with the Madurese set to play Persib today, that only highlights the general lack of consistency throughout the league. Or the fact that most teams are of a fairly equal standard?

That Arema's last two wins have come against title chasing rivals Madura and Bhayangkara suggests the team has all the necessary tools in the locker to secure the ISC but the frequent dropping of points against more 'lowly' opposition like Persiba and Mitra Kukar, and of course this loss,suggests perhaps a mental challenge for coach Milo Seslija as he seeks to rediscover that grittiness that was so successful earlier in the campaign.

In a way, Gresik United's new coach Eduward Tjong, fresh from his efforts with the national Under 19s, has similar issues. He has inherited a team that can rise to the occasion in the big games, they
have defeated Sriwijaya and Persib this season as well as Arema, but have struggled to get their act together against the rest of the ISC, especially on their travels where they have shipped 30 goals in their 11 games.

It was no surprise to see Brazilian striker da Silva score yesterday. It was his seventh of the campaign and if ever the adage 'cometh the hour, cometh the man', were to ring true then it is with the homely East Java side. It was his pair that ended Sriwijaya's unbeaten start to the season while he also netted one in the win over Persib.

Indonesia Soccer Championship B Final 16

Persiraja v PSIM 1-2 7,660
Martapura v Persik 4-0

International Friendly

Singapore v Malaysia 0-0

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Singapore's Strategic Plans

Time for another Singapore rant? Why not! With Albirex Niigata seeming set for their first SLeague title after Tampines Rovers slipped up last night, losing 1-0 at home to DPMM, I thought it would be depressing to look back on my time following football in Singapore.

My first season was 2007 when I watched the East Coast Derby between Geylang and Tampines at Bedok Stadium. God, I was so excited as I followed the crowds from Bedok MRT to the stadium, crossing the road to avoid brawling hooligans near a housing block. Queues snaked out past the swimming pool as excited supporters rushed to get a ticket for this most crucial of local derbies. Nah, that's all shite.

The year 2007 saw 12 clubs in the SLeague playing each other three times.In 2012 we had 13 teams and by golly the SLeague was expanding. Surely the masters at Football Association of Singapore with their strategic plan were doing the business and driving the local game forward in the face of local apathy and negativity. 

But no, that bumper season was a one off and, no doubt as part of the much heralded strategic plan, we were back to 12 teams for 2013 and 2014 with 
The league was split into two halves after matchday 22. Teams in each half play every other team from their half once, for an additional five matches. Results in the 2nd phase were added to that in the 1st phase for overall standings.
The following season we were down to 10 as we lost two sides and currently we have nine sides in the top competition in Singapore...and three of them are foreign. Never mind, That strategic plan for Singapore football goes from strength to strength.

Since 2007 I have seen Woodlands Wellington and Gombak United leave the SLeague, hoping in vain to return. Foreign sides Super Reds, Liaonang Guangyuan, Dalian Shide, Beijing Guaon, Etoile, Harimau Muda A and Harimau Muda B and local side Tanjong Pagar have come and gone. DPMM have come, gone and come again. No doubt this constant chopping and changing of teams is all part of the said strategic plan.

Some of the clubs that have stayed have changed if you know what I mean. I used to go and see SAFFC, Geylang United and Sengkang Punggol. Now I go see Warriors, Geylang International and Hougang United. Young Lions, meanwhile, have had two sponsors affixed to their name in recent years.

Ok so there is massive uncertainty from one season to the next. Why have promotion/relegation when the league chops and changes like this of its own accord. But what about on the pitch. Surely there is much for Singaporeans to be proud of?

In 2016 two of the top three are foreign
In 2015 the SLeague champions were a foreign side. The third placed side were foreign.
In 2014 the runners up were foreign
In 2013 the third place team were foreign
In 2012 the runners up and third placed team were foreign
2011 was the last time the top three in the SLeague were local sides. 
In 2010 a foreign team were champions.

What of the much maligned League Cup? In its 10 years of existence it has been won by foreign sides seven times! (Albirex Niigata, DPMM 3 times each, Etoile).

Against that backdrop the people at the helm of the FAS feel the time is right to take their skills to a higher level. For us mere mortals the idea seems ludicrous. They have overseen the steady demise of the world's most popular game in one of the world's richest countries and beyond their strategic plan, whatever that may be, they have done little to address the issues that are damaging the game in their own backyard. That they should be rewarded seems farcical but that is the way the world works in the land inhabited by suits, PR types where hubs and leveraged are the lingua franca. Look at Tony Blair!

Singapore football is best shot of these people and the sooner the better. A new broom is needed and soon. There have been doomsayers predicting the death of the SLeague in recent years, indeed even FAS officials have been reported as mentioning it, despite their strategic plan, but I have always tried to swim against the tide on this. No longer. Singapore needs a new Football Association peopled with experienced professionals, not politicians, people with football know how and business acumen. If it doesn't get them soon then we will know for who the bell tolls. RIP.


Indonesia Soccer Champions B Play Offs

As there is no promotion/relegation I am not sure why we are going ahead with this but here goes.

After a mammoth ISC B season spread acorss three time zones and split into eight groups we are now at the first knock out phase of the ISC B campaign with the top two clubs in each group facing off in four new groups.

Group A - Perssu Madura United, Persiraja, PSIM, PSSC
Group B - Persita, PSS, Persepam, Kalteng Putra
Group C - Persik, Persrang, Martapura, Celebes
Group D - PSIS, PSPS, PSGC, Persekap

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed some heavy hitters among that little lot with Persik and PSIS having been crowned Liga Indonesia champions in the not too distant past. PSS have regularly attracted the largest home crowds in the country while PSIM have their own long proud history.

The island of Madura continues to shine on the football map. Following in the wake of Madura United's success, Perssu and Persepam are flying the flag for the island in ISC B with Perssu getting off to a good start, defeating PSIM 1-0 in their opening game.

And a word for Celebes. A new club based in Palu on the island of Sulawesi, they have found themselves sponsors galore and seem to be a club of real promise focussing on the young players from that often overlooked part of the country.

Match Day 1 Results

Perssu MU v PSIM 1-0
PSS v Persepam 1-1
Kalteng Putra v Persita 3-6
Persik v Perserang 0-0


Indonesia v Vietnam Squad

Indonesia are bumbling their way towards another friendly as they gear up for the ASEAN Football federation Championships in Manila next month. They are due to host Vietnam at the Maguwoharjo Stadium in Sleman on 9th October but have yet to receive the necessary security clearances from the local police.

The original request from the PSSI had the game slated for 9th September,,.an administrative cock up of the first order. The body responsible for arranging the game issue a letter with the wrong information!

Organisers are also unaware whether Vietnam will be bringing any supporters to the game but if they do then a block of 500 seats in the West Stand will be set aside for them. Ticket prices range from 30,000 Rp to 150,000 Rp.

While AFF Championships group rivals Singapore have gone back in time by calling on golden oldies like Daniel Bennett and naturalised Mustafic Fahruddin, Alfred Riedl has gone for a more youthful look with a squad built around younger local players meaning no place for the likes of Cristian Gonzales and Raphael Maitimo.

In keeping with the squad for the recent game against Malaysia there remains a limit on two players per club being called up, a request that came from the ISC clubs, a demand that does of course force Riedl to be almost political in his approach to calling together a squad as he strives to meet that demand with the need to weld together a squad capable of challenging for the title later this year.

Still we do get the chance t see players wearing the merah putih who otherwise would have struggled for a call up had the Austrian coach had a freer hand with Pusamania duo Jefri Kurniawan and Lerby Eliandry being recognised for their fine performances in the ISC.

Up front Riedl has called upon the two leading local goalscorers, Boas Solossa and Ferdinand Sinaga who each have eight for the campaign so far. After slow starts with their respective sides both strikers have rediscovered form and consistency in recent weeks and fans will be keen to see how the pacy duo fair against Vietnam's disciplined defence.

Despite the importance of the friendly there is still a full round of games in the Indonesia Soccer Championship this coming weekend.


1. Andritany Ardhiyasa, Persija Jakarta
2. Jandia Eka Putra, Semen Padang
3. Hery Prasetyo, Madura United


4. I Putu Gede Juni Antara, Bhayangkara FC
5. Manahati Lestusen, PS TNI
6. Benny Wahyudi, Arema Cronus
7. Hansamu Yama Pranata, Barito Putera
8. Dominggu Fakdawer, Persipura
9. Abdul Rahman Sulaiman, Bali United
10. Fachrudin Wahyudi, Sriwijaya FC
11. Rudolof Yanto Basna, Persib Bandung
12. Abdul Rachman, Persiba Balikpapan
13. Muhammad Abduh Lestaluhu, PS TNI


14. Andik Vermansyah, Selangor FA
15. Septian David Maulana, Mitra Kukar
16. Evan Dimas Darmono, Bhayangkara FC
17. Ichsan Kurniawan, Sriwijaya FC
18. Bayu Pradana Andriatmoko, Mitra Kukar
19. Dedi Kusnandar, FC Sabah Malaysia
20. Zulham Malik Zamrun, Persib Bandung
21. Rizki Rizaldi Pora, Barito Putera
22. Jefri Kurniawan, Pusamania Borneo FC


23. Irfan Haarys Bachdim, Hokkaido Consodole Sapporo
24. Boaz Theofilius Erwin Solossa, Persipura Jayapura
25. Lerby Eliandry Pong Babu, Pusamania Borneo FC
26. Ferdinand Alfred Sinaga, PSM Makassar

Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Match Day 21 - Bhayangkara Crush Sriwijaya

Pusamania v Madura United 1-1 (Flavio Beck Junior; Pablo Rodrigues) 6,141
Arema v Mitra Kukar 0-0 21,653
Persipura v Persela 5- 0 (Yohanes Pahabol 2,  Edward Wilson Junior,  Boaz Solossa,  Riky Kayame  (13,051)
Barito Putera v PSM 1-2 (Luis Carlos Junior; M Rahmat,  Willem Jan Pluim) 1,377
Persib v Persiba 2-1 (Sergio Van Dijk,  Vladimir Vujovic; Shohei Matsunaga) 16,120
Sriwijaya v Bhayangkara 0-4 (Otavio Dutra,  Thiago Furtuoso,  Evan Dimas, M Hargianto) 15,725
Persija v Perseru 2- 1 (Emmanuel Kenmogne,  Gunawan Dwi Cahyo; Osas Marvelous) 1,372
PS TNI v Gresik United 2- 0 (Aldino Herdianto,  Manahati Lestusen  (951)
Semen Padang v Bali United 3-0 (Irsyad Maulana, Lee Kilhoon,  Marcel Sacramento)

1 Madura United 21 12 5 4 35-26 41
2 Arema 21 11 7 3 24- 9 40
3 Persipura 21 11 6 4 30-16 37
4 Sriwijaya 21 10 7 4 38- 20 36
5 Bhayangkara 20 11 3 6 31- 20 36

13 Pablo Rodriguez  (Madura United), Marcel Sacramento  (Semen Padang, Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera)
11 Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya)
10 Shohei Matsunaga  (Persiba)

Thursday, September 01, 2016


Persija Appoint Ex Indonesia U23 Coach

Persija have finally found a new coach. They were forced to do so after the Indonesia Soccer Championship said they would not allow caretaker Jan Saragih to stay in his post because he lacks the required A licence.

The Kemayoran Tigers have turned to Zein Alhadad to fill their hot seat and the low key appointment perhaps sums up where Persija are these days as a football club. Without a home while Bung Karno is being renovated, without a win in 10 games and struggling to find players from those cast off or rejected by other clubs Persija are a pale shadow of their former selves and the appointment of the little known Zein seems to confirm that suspicion.

Zein did work with the Indonesia Under 23s alongside Aji Santoso at the SEA Games in 2015 when Indonesia reached the semi finals but were thrashed 5-0 by Thailand. They ended up finishing fourth in the competition after losing to Vietnam by the same score in the 3rd/4th place play off.

Whether he can do much to change Persija's fortunes is a moot points. The problems lie elsewhere. However for a guy used to working with young players Zein has some promising players to choose from as he sets about trying to turnaround a disappointing season.


Persikota Are Back!

When I started following Indonesian football Persikota weren't a big team but they were always there and there abouts in the top flight. They attracted decent crowds to Benteng Stadium in Tangerang and caused problems to bigger sides who came to visit.

The last few years they have been in the football wilderness much as the city of Tangerang has been. With Benteng Stadium a shadow of its former glory, weeds and grass taking over the terraces where thousands once sang and swayed, fans in the industrial city to the west of Jakarta have been denied top flight football for a while now. Persita have been playing home games in Karawang, to the east of Jakarta while Persikota have all but become a memory.

I did see them play in Division One back in 2014 but they played those games in Cilegon and failed to secure a place back in Divisi Utama but now fans have the chance to see them aga
in as they compete in the third tier Liga Nusantara.

Persikota have been drawn alongside Persitangsel, Persic, Serang Jaya and Bantara SC and will play their group stage games at Mini Ciputat Stadium near Bintaro.

04/09 Persikota v Persitangsel
07/09 Persikota v Bantara SC
09/09 Persikota v Serang Jaya
14/09 Persikota v Persic

Wednesday, August 31, 2016


First Half Of ISC By Numbers

37 points - Madura United
13 points - Persela
11 wins - Madura United
3 wins - Persija, Gresik United
8 draws - Mitra Kukar
1 draw - Persela
2 losses - Madura United
12 losses - Persela
27 goals scored - Madura United, Sriwijaya
10 goals - Persija
8 goals conceded - Arema
32 goals conceded - Gresik United
+14 goal difference - Sriwijaya
-14 goal difference - Gresik United
12 goals (top scorer) - Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera)
7 goals (top local scorer) - Ferdinand Sinaga (PSM)
50,117 - Persija v Semen Padang
1,135 - Bali United v Madura United
5-4 - Persipura v Barito Putera
20,775 - Persib average attendance

Monday, August 29, 2016


Go Home Coach, You're Drunk

Gresik United fans show their displeasure with coach Liestadi. Without a win in 10 games, the coach received the dreaded vote of confidence last week but the fans are showing their frustration as the above banners show.


Indonesia Squad Announced For Malaysia Friendly

Alfred Riedl has named the 22 players for the friendly against Malaysia on September 6th at Manahan Stadium, Solo. As has been widely reported no more than two players have been called up from the clubs with some, Madura United and Persela spring to mind, providing no players for the national team.

As promised Riedl and his assistant Wplfgang Pikal have prioritised young players while leaving the door open for other players ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in November, December.

It does seem odd that Madura United, who top the Indonesia Soccer Championship at the half way point, have no players called up, especially when you consider the fine form from the likes of Bayu Gatra and Slamet Nurcahyo but this is a one off squad for a friendly and there are still a couple of months until the AFF Championships so there is still time for changes to be made.

And no, there is no call up for Wanderley Santos, the Al Nasr striker who the UAE FA website describe as an Indonesian citizen. That could be because he is in fact Brazilian but hey, who am I to question things like that.

1. Kurnia Meiga Hermansyah (Arema) 
2. Andritany Ardhiyasa (Persija) 
3. Dian Agus Prasetyo (Pusamania Borneo FC)
4. Benny Wahyudi (Arema)
5. Indra Kahfi Ardhiyasa (Surabaya Bhayangkara United)
6. Hansamu Yama Pranata (Barito Putera)
7. Dedi Gusmawan (Zeyar Shwe Myay)
8. Rodolof Yanto Basna (Persib Bandung)
9. Fachrudin Wahyudi Aryanto (Sriwijaya FC)
10. Abdul Rachman (Persiba Balikapapan)
11. Muhammad Abduh Lestaluhu (PS TNI)
12. Andik Vermansyah (Selangor)
13. Evan Dimas Darmono (Surabaya Bhayangkara United)
14. Ichsan Kurniawan (Sriwjaya FC)
15. Bayu Pradana Andriatmo (Mitra Kukar)
16. Adam Alis Setyano (Barito Putera)
17. Septian David Maulana (Mitra Kukar)
18. Irsyad Maulana (Semen Padang) 
19. Zulham Malik Zamrun (Persib Bandung)
20. Boaz TE Salossa (Persipura Jayapura)
21. Lerby Eliandry Pong Babu (Pusamania Borneo FC)
22. Irfan Haarys Bachdim (Consadole Sapporo) 


Arema's Struggles On And Off The Pitch

They may be second in the Indonesia Soccer Championship and have lifted the Bhayangkara Cup in recent months but things ain't going well for Arema. One of Indonesia's biggest clubs, the fans have been staying away for most of the season and now the team that led the ISC for so long has been suffering on the field as a poor run of results have seen them usurped by Madura United.

Think Arema and you think of their fantastic support base with crowds regularly exceeding 20,000 but it's not happening this campaign. Recent attendances have hovered around the 5-6,000 mark with the club desperately trying to work out just why the fans have been staying away. Reasons cited include kick off times and too many home games but I'm not sure. They haven't stopped people going in the past.

Then there is the reemergence of the 'other' Arema. The original Arema. The Arema that won the Indonesia Super League back in 2009/2010 before we had the years of plenty when Arema, like Persebaya, had a second team formed and use the same name. But this other Arema are the original Arema, much like the 'other' Persebaya are the original Persebaya and remember one reason why the ISL was stopped last season was because of ownership concerns over these two football clubs.

Of more pressing concern to Arema coach Milomir Seslija will be the alarming dip in results in recent weeks. On paper a 0-0 draw away to Persib is no mean achievement but looked at in terms of recent performances and worries arise. 

Results wise Arema started the season well with one loss in their first 11 games even though the performances were not always convincing. Experienced players like Goran Gancev, Cristian Gonzales and Srdan Lopcic had enough about them to grind out the results and early doors skipper Hamkah Hamza was in sensational form at both ends of the field, frequently chipping in with vital goals. 

Gonzales as ever has been Mr Reliable in front of goal, six is a healthy return for a 40 year old who missed the start of the season through injury but support has been lacking. Gustavo Giron has failed to contribute significantly while Sunarto has contributed three but he isn't really considered a regular starter.

Latterly the performances have not improved and the side appear to have lost that knack of grinding out results. Recent weeks have seen them lose to PS TNI and Pusamania while Barito Putera, a team with a leaky defence, were able to enter the lions den at Kanjuruhan Stadium and leave with a point after earning a 0-0 draw. 

In short Arema have earned just one win from their last six games and that came via a narrow 1-0 win over Bali United,

The club aren't happy and are doing the dreaded evaluation thing. The football club's general manager feels things have fallen away since being held 0-0 by Persipura at the end of June. 'After (that game) our play has fallen away' said Ruddy Widodo. 'It could be down to a difficult fixture list or because of injuries...there have been games where we targeted three points but we went on to lose'.

Ironically Arema must play Madura United next weekend and the team from the island off Java's east coast have been setting the pace on and off the field They have been making astute signings in recent weeks to add to an already formidable squad while the likes of Slamet Nurcahyo and Bayu Gatra have been showing a level of consistency the Arema players can only dream of.

But while Madura have been moving quickly to add new recruits Arema have been more hesitant. Brazilian duo Rafael Tardini and Mauro Lucas were let go after failing to impress while other big names who have moved clubs recently like Greg nwokolo and Edward Wilson Junior seemed to attract little interest from this part of East Java. 

Earlier in the season Arema were held 0-0 by Madura United in the Bangkalan Stadium in a physical encounter where goalkeeper Meiga Kurnia saved the point single handedly with a superb performance between the sticks. But despite the home advantage it is the visitors who will go into the game as favourites and were they to leave Malang with a victory, and an eight point gap over Arema, the alarm bells will be ringing for the Crazy Lions.


Madura United Go Five Points Clear

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Persija v Bali United 1-2 (Ramdani Lestalahu; Nemanja Vidakovic, Yabes Roni) 6,333
Mitra Kukar v Persela 1-2 (Arthur Cunha; Steven Anderson 2) 2,870
Persib v Arema 0-0 20,581
Pusamania v Sriwijaya 2-2 (Jefry Kurniawan, Lerby Eliandry; Airlangga Sucipto, Yohanis Nabis) 5,103
Madura United v Barito Putera 1-0 (Elthon Maran) 5,216
Persiba v PS TNI 2-0 (Heri Susanto, Siswanto) 2,630
PSM v Persipura 0-0 6,754
Gresik United v Semen Padang 1-1 (Arsyad Yusgiantoro; Vendry Mofu) 3,143

1 - Madura United 17 11 4 2 27-17 37
2 - Arema 17 9 5 3 21-8 32
3 - Persipura 17 8 5 4 21-15 29
4 - BS United 16 9 2 5 23-17 29

Malaysia Cup

Negeri Sembilan v Kedah 0-0
PKNS v Selangor 3-4 (Juan Cobelli, Gonzalo Soto, Gabriel Guerra; Ugo Ukah, Hazwan Bakri, R Gopinathan, Mauro Olivi)
Kelantanv PDRM 1-2 (Indra Putra, Safuwan Bahrudin, Guilherme de Paula)
T Team v Felda United 1-1 (Safawi Rasid; Forkey Doe)

Sunday, August 28, 2016


ISC Backtrack On A License Requirement. But Only For Persib

In one of those what the fuck moments for which Indonesia is so well known, the Indonesia Soccer Championship have sort of backtracked on their demand all clubs must have an A license coach. Earlier they had demanded Persib, Persija and PS TNI find new coaches because their guys lacked the full qualifications as set out in the competition's own regulations.

Now it seems Persib's Djadjang Nurdjaman can carry on in situ. Why? Apparently he has a 'Recognition of Competence' which was issued by the Indonesia Super League inn 2014, the season Persib won the ISL. 

Joko Diriyono of the ISC says 'In 2014 a couple of coaches were give ROCs or recognition they were coaches of the highest ability.' Djadjang was one beneficiary, the other was Daniel Roekito.

Djadjang's ROC is still valid continued Joko but Persija and PS TNI must go ahead and replace their own coaches, Jan Saragih and Suharto, because they lack both the A license and an ROC.

Yet again we have this arbitary interpretation of the rules in Indonesian football where certain clubs can get away with what they want while others have to toe the line. What is this ROC? Never heard of it before. Do other competitions have similar dispensation in the hands of the organisers? I think we know the answers.

Another question is worth asking. When the ISL was stopped in 2015 much was made of Djadjang heading to Milan to spend time with Inter. Why didn't he invest in his A license then?

Friday, August 26, 2016


Okta Maniani Quits Persiba For Civil Service

I admit to never having been one of Okta Maniani's biggest fans. The 5' 4'' inch flyer burst on the scene as part of Alfred Riedl's 2010 ASEAN Football federation Championship's squad that reached the final and along with Irfan Bachdim made people sit up and take notice after impressive performances in Indonesia's opening group stage games against Laos and Malaysia.

The goals dried up for Indonesia as they struggled to get past first Thailand and then the Philippines before losing to Malaysia in the final but fans had a couple of new heroes...Bachdim and Okta. Amid the hype there were even suggestions the diminutive winger could go on and play in Europe, an early example of a story aimed more at click bait than any meaningful analysis.

Okta, wearing 10, celebrates after Indonesia score against Laos, 2010
But for many who followed Okta's arrival on the international had come as a surprise. Then aged 20, his career had been a fairly typical journeyman career as the Papuan born youngster played for PSMS, Persidafon, Persitara before perhaps catching Riedl's eye in the more exalted company of Sriwijaya.

Fans who had jumped on the bandwagon that followed the Indonesian team to the final that year ooh and ahhed at Okta's pace ad willingness to run at players, sometimes even goalward. He would have been a defender's worst nightmare come true but without being too disparaging he made Theo Walcott look like Trevor Brooking when it came to reading the game. His playing style was simple...just run. What his team mates did was neither here nor there Okta ran and that was it. Against Laos and Malaysia he was the archtypal impact player but after a couple of run outs canny coaches knew how to nullify his threat. The media loved him for a while but soon found their new heroes and at the age of 20 he was all but forgotten as quickly as fame had embraced him.

If you think I am being too harsh on the lad then consider his career post 2010. He left Sriwijaya in 2011 and you would think the world of football was at his feet if you believed the hype that surrounded him but the bigger local clubs steered clear. Instead of for example Persipura signing him, he travelled round the islands, taking his boots to play in Papua, with Persiram, Ternate (Persiter), Kalimantan (Barito Putera), Papua again with Perseru and Kalimantan again with Pusamania. With the ISL halted last year, instead of being sought by some of the big clubs in South East Asia he ended up in Timor Leste with Carsae FC, coached by Brazilian Fabio de Oliveira who knew him well from his Indonesian days.

He started the ISC campaign back in Kalimantan with Persiba as coach Jaino Matos went with a local striker force but Okta looked a spent force. It seemed his pace had gone and like the emperor found out when his clothes were taken from him, Okta was nothing without that pace. He looked lost on the field and was unable to provide the Honey Bears with any kind of potency up top.

It seems Okta has now bowed to the inevitable and quit professional football, preferring the security of a job with the civil service closer to home. That Okta is just one of several players in recent months who have sought the safety of government service over the glamourous but pitfall ridden career of professional football shouldn't come as a suprise considering the mess the game has been in over the last few years.

His coach at Persiba doesn't seem too concerned by his loss. 'In life there are many choices,' Jaino was quoted as saying, 'Players come, players go, it's normal.'

If his career is over it was certainly a short, eventful one. His career is also an example of how a highly hyped young player is still a long way short of being the finished article. Often with pieces like this we are left wondering what might have been but I fear with Okta there could be no doubts about his career. Never again could he reach the supposed heights of 2010 because those heights only came about because of his arrival on the international stage from anonymity. He was the one trick pony we often read about.

UPDATE - it seems Okta has put his civil service career on hold and signed for Arema! A strange move by Arema, an even stranger one by Okta.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Persipura Snap Up Wilson

It hasn't been the best of campaigns for Persipura in the Indonesia Soccer Championship. The three time ISL champions have struggled for consistency and goals in the first half of the campaign though three straight wins suggest a corner has been turned in recent weeks.

The Black Pearls started the campaign with Jafri Sastra but he was released and Argentinian Angel Alfredo Vera and he has done a good job steadying the ship.

Veteran striker James Koko Lommel was released while Eddy Boakay Foday has struggled to replicate the form he showed with neighbours Persiwa. Naturalised Greg Nwokolo has been added to the ranks as he ended his Thailand adventure while Boas Solossa looks to be finding his form in recent games. 

Now Persipura have added Edward Wilson Junior to their ranks. The goal getter was prolific during his time with Semen Padang and since leaving Indonesia has played for Felda United and most recently Perlis. 

Vera will be hoping Nwokolo and Wilson's experience in Indonesia will mean they won't need time to acclimatize and they can hit the ground running as the club look to mount a late run for top spot. With Arema stuttering in recent weeks Madura United have been the one team to look impressive but with Persipura flexing their muscles again the newbies from East Java could have their work cut out as they look to lift their first every trophy. 

Persipura are six points behind Madura United on 28 points in fourth place but face tricky away games against PSM, Bali United and Persija over the next few weeks. 


JDT Edge Felda In Jengka Thriller

Johor Darul Ta'zim pretty much confirmed their third successive Malaysia Super League title after defeating closest challengers Felda United 3-2 last night, The win puts them seven points clear with three games in hand and pretty much ended Felda's plucky title challenge.

Veteran striker Amri Yahya gave the visitors the lead on 30 minutes before Juan Martin Lucero doubled the lead six minutes later. Felda clawed themselves back in to the game when Syahid Zaidon pulled a goal back moments. The home support went ballistic right on half time when Hadin Azman levelled the scores. 

With 16,640 fans packed into the new Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka, tension was high but it was the visitors, been there done that, who ended triumphant when Zafuaan Razak scored the winner on the hour mark. Felda ended the game with 10 men as Fazly Alias was red carded. Handbags towards the end saw players thrust their chests at each other and fans threw stuff on the pitch which must have been fun.

Unbeaten this season, JDT face Terengganu and T Team at home before ending the season away to Selangor. Felda United on the other hand have just one win from their last four games and must rely on some shock results at Larkin Stadium if they are to reignite their flickering chances. 

They face T Team away, sandwiched between Malaysia Cup ties against the same opponents, before ending their season with a home game against Sarawak and an away game at Kedah. We may only be in August but the last game of the season is at the end of October!

Felda United v JDT 2-3 (Syahid Zaidon, Hadin Azman; Amri Yahya, Juan Martin Lucero, Zafuaan Razak) 16,640
Sarawak v Selangor 1-1 (Junior Guimero; Adam Nor Azlin) 548
Kelantan v Kedah 1-2 (Wan Zack Haikal; Abdul Halim Shaari, Baddrol Baktiar) 2,048
Perak v Penang 4-1 (Kenny Pallraj, Fazrul Hazli, Ridzuan Azli, Elias Fernandes; Ranti Martins) 3,680
PDRM v T Team 1-2 (Fakrul Aiman Sidid; Hakim Hassan, Dilshod Sharofetdinov) 150
Terengganu v Pahang 1-1 (Issey Nakajima; Pablo Vranjican) 421

1 - Johor DT 19 15 4 0 46-12 49
2 - Felda Uniited 19 13 3 3 42-20 42
3 - Kedah 19 8 7 4 23-25 31

15 - Francis Forkey Doe (Felda United), Juan Martin Lucero (JDT)
13 - Jorge Pereya Diaz (JDT)
11 - Baze Iliojski (Kelantan)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


R Sasikuamr - Football Legend Turns Successful Businessman

Check out my piece about the Singaporean international who conquered the world of business!

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