Friday, April 17, 2009


Worrying times for Persib

Many clubs wouldn't mind sitting 5th in the ISL with five games in hand on leaders Persipura. But Persib aren't like many clubs. They are the Newcastle United of Indonesian football and their fans see them as gods. They see titles and trophies as their divine right.

But this season has been another poor one. Knocked out of the Copa Indonesia by Sriwijaya, they host the Palembang side this evening knowing that coach Jaya Hartono is hanging onto his job by his fingernails.

Jaya's side boast the second best defensive record in the league with just 22 goals conceded in 21 games. Players like Nyeck Nyobe, Nova Arianto and Maman Abdurahman would be on any coaches' teamsheet. But the problems lie at the other end.

Christian Gonzales has struggled to repeat the form he showed week in, week out for Persik Kediri since his arrival while partners Hilton Moreira and Rafael Bastos have struggled to find the net consistently. Hilton has netted just six goals in the ISL while Bastos has scored nine. Playmaker Lorenzo Cabanas has chipped in with six as well.

With a midfield boasting the likes of Eka Ramdani, Cabanas and the newly capped Hariono it's difficult to see why Persib have struggled so much this season.

Three points would mean so much for coach Hartono but recent form suggests he will be disappointed and that axe will be getting closer. Two wins in their last five ISL games, four of them at home, have effectively seen Persib's title challenge flounder but while Hartono might point to back to back wins in the last two games, with due respect to Persiba and PKT, these are games his charges should be winning comfortably.

For Sriwijaya the challenge is different. They are currently 3rd with a game in hand on runaway leaders Persipura. But they are 10 points behind, with a game in hand, and a worrying record on the road which has seen them win just three times.

Defeat tonight would not be the end of their dreams of keeping the title they won last year. But a 10 point gap with eight games remaining will be one hell of an ask for Rahmad Darmawan's men, especially as they try to juggle CI and ACL commitments.

It's a vital game tonight for both sides. Recent form suggests three points for Sriwijaya, they have beaten the Bandung side in their last two league meetings as well as having the upper hand in the recent CI tie. But tonight is different and, as Benny Dollo once said, the ball is round.

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