Thursday, April 30, 2009


Persipura Champions?

They're eight points clear of nearest rivals Sriwijaya and Persiwa. They have a game in hand on the champions from Palembang who have drawn their last two games, dropping vital points. Their goal difference is far superior to anyone else's in the ISL. With just eight games to play the title is Persipura's to lose.

But tonight they face a tricky game away to Persita. The Benteng Viola as they are known have looked sharp at home, until they were turned over by Persib 4-2, and recently defeated Sriwijaya 2-1 coming from behind in the process.

But with Persiwa facing a challenging away game at Persijap victory could see Persipura 11 points clear.

Despite changes to the coaching staff at the Jayapura club, previous coach Raja Isa was sacked after a draw at home to Deltras if I recall correctly, there is a stability hanging over the Black Pearls with several players having been around a few years and tasting title glory in 2005.

Now with Jacksen Tiago at the helm, incidentally the last foreigner to coach a side to the champion ship with Persebaya, there is an invicibility coarsing through the veins of this tough side. From former international keeper Jendri Pitoy through defensive rocks Paulo, Ricardo Salempessy and Victor Igbenefo, through the aging but still hard as nails Eduard Ivakdalam through to the most potent strike force in the country in Goncalves (17), local lad Boas Solossa (16) and Ernest Jeremiah (13) there is quality all over the pitch.

There is also a seemingly neverending production of young local talent with players like Emmanuel Wangganai and Ian Luis Kabes given their chance to shine alongside the bigger name stars.

They're not champions yet. Not mathematically. But with near rivals Sriwijaya and Persija consideratley losing points in their quest to play catch up and perhaps Persib, their one in form rival, having too much ground to make up (10 points behind with two games in hand) they're not that far off.

But you can't help wondering how this side would fare in Asian club competition, especially seeing the maulings poor Sriwijaya, coached by Rahmad Dharmawan who led Persipura back in 2005 to their last title, have been recieving.

This Papuan side are bigger and stronger than most of their rivals in Indonesia. But would that extra fitness and body strength manage to handle to best of Japan and South Korea?

And of course where would they play? 'Cos for sure no club would fancy the five to seven journey from Jakarta out east after long haul from their own country...

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