Thursday, April 07, 2011


Persija v Persiwa

What a bloody awful game this was. Dire, painful. Excruciating.

FIFPro, the players union in Indonesia, had just held a meeting in Jakarta and, with recent events in the country there was no doubt a lot to talk about.

I wonder if the topics of player simulation ever cropped up? Of diving? Of falling to the ground when the other team had a break on to try and break up the momentum? I guess not.

When you consider Persija still held hopes of overhauling Persipura at the top of the Indonesia Super League this was a bloody poor show indeed. Until M Ilham came on as a second half substitute they lacked any kind of verve or pace or spark.

Yes, it was bloody hot out there but hey! Players complaining about the conditions is like taxi drivers complaining about traffic jams or teacher complaining about naughty kids. It is what it is, get on with it.

Persiwa players were falling like nine pins from the first half, time wasting an hour before even the most cynical European teams would try it on. They would fall spectacularly to the floor, look to where the ref is, stick a leg in the air and say 'ow!'. Play would be stopped and on would run the cumbersome medics, some of whom covered more ground than the more illustrious players on the field.

Then there was giving the ball away. This happened so often especially second half, that one person near me rubbed his thumb and forefingers together. His insinuation was clear. When you have professional footballers in acres of space passing the ball to the nearest opponent what are the fans supposed to think?

As a game of football this was offensive to the paying spectator on so many levels. Footballers should not be asked to play under such sweltering conditions. And professional footballers, how many times do play call themselves professional and say they must behave professionally, on the field and mostly pretty well paid, took the piss with their theatrical dives and downright sloppy passing.

Persija's outside chance of being champions this year has become almost zero. A miserable two points from their last nine shows an Arsenal like propensity for wilting under the pressure. And, yesterday at least, the heat.

Such cynicism is endemic in Indonesia. The worst part is seeing goalkeepers write in agony and call for last rites whenever an attacking player comes within a foot of them. It makes it awfully hard to convince people to support the domestic game when the local teams consistently display the worst the sport has to offer.
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