Sunday, February 06, 2011
Thailand The New Indonesia For Singapore
2009 saw Noh Alam Shah lead the Singapore exodus south to Indonesia. Followed by M Riduan, Precious, Baihakki Khaizan and Mustafic Fahruddin it appeared Singapore internationals had been seduced by the glamour, and wages, of the Indonesia Super League.
NAS and Riduan went on to win the ISL in their first season, collecting the trophy in front of 85,000 fans in Jakarta.
The climax to the 2010 SLeague was again marred by late, late switches with Shahril Ishak jumping ship from Home United to join Persib while Khairul Amri left Tampines Rovers title challenge for the delights of Persiba Balikpapan and Agu Casmir took Persija's rupiah. For a second time!
But is the Indonesian dream turning sour?
Both NAS and Riduan came close to leaving Arema during the close season, opting to stay only because the Arema captain, Pierre Njanka, stayed. He has of course now moved on and Arema continue to be plagued by rumours of financial problems and late salaries. Hardly the best preparation for an Asian Champions League campaign due to start in March.
Baihakki Khaizan left Persija for the cooler climes of Bandung but in a poisonous behind the scenes atmosphere where allegations of player power have seen two coaches sacked he has struggled to make an impact and new coach Daniel Roekito has left him on the bench.
Shahril has also struggled to make an impact at Persib while Khairul, despite a sensational goal on his debut, has spent a fair amount of time injured.
Even former Albirex Niigata striker Kenji Adichihara has seen things turn sour with the Bontang striker being filmed giving a ref the middle finger.
John Wilkinson, on the other hand, has spurned the stresses of Indonesia and decided what he really wants to do is play for Police United in Thailand. He joins an ever increasing coiteree of ex SLeague names giving it a shot in the cash rich TPL.
Former Home United striker Kengne Ludovick was top scorer for Pattaya United and he has been joined by ex Gombak United striker Gabriel Obatola. And the Thai contingent, formerly quite numerous in the SLeague, has all but gone, attracted by the ever increasing salaries oop north.