Monday, January 28, 2008


Bambang talks about Persija

During my recent talk with Bambang which you can find on ESPN Star Sports we also discussed his attachment to Persija Jakarta. Now in his third spell with the club I wondered if he could see himself playing anywhere else in Indonesia.

'Of course as a professional I must play anywhere. After I came back from Malaysia I was looking forward to being back at this team. But if they don't want me then I must look for another club.'

Clubs in England used to be often described as a large family with many faces hanging round for decades. Bambang feels that way about Persija.

'When you play here I feel like I come back home because I know every detail of this club. I never have any problems playing here because they are like my family.'

At Persija of course the Indonesian captain is idolised but not every game is a walk in the park. Well respected throughout the game he may be when he pulls on the Persija shirt to play bitter foes Persib down in Bandung he, and his team mates are alone. Like something from the Roman coliseum the Kemayoran Tigers become lambs in front of one of the most passionate rivalries in club football here.

'After seven years playing here (for Persija) every time we play in Bandung every time we come back with the army!' With no travelling fans this fixture does make high risk games in Europe like Celtic v Rangers look like an argument over the back fence 'cos little Johnny has gone and let the tyres down on the neighbours brand new BMW (not that I know anything about neighbours driving high end German cars.)

'For me it's fine because I been doing it seven years even though it's like hell. But maybe for the new players it' can be scary.'

I wanted to know how they initiated new players into the rite of Persib away. I remember one story of Brian Clough when he took his Nottingham Forest side down to Millwall one time. A couple of miles from the stadium he stopped the bus and made the players get off and walk the rest of the way, through the mean streets off the Old Kent Road wearing club blazers and all.

'When I talked to our goal keeper at the start of the season I told him this is the real Indonesian football. This is the passion of the Indonesian people. Some players like it, some don't. Our goalie liked it! It's a funny story but it's Indonesian football!'

On the TV Persipura had scored again. With an early start the next day Bambang headed back to his room. Having won the Liga in 2001 who can bet against BP and his beloved Persija winning it a second time.


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