Friday, December 02, 2011
Pelita Jaya Thinking Big
After years of concentrating on young players, a policy that led them to the Copa Indonesia semi finals in 2007 but no silverware, shades of Arsenal, Pelita Jaya ditched that policy when they surprised everyone by signing Malaysian striker Safee Sali who had topped scored at last year’s ASEAN Cup, hosted by Indonesia.
Sali top scored at the regional event and settled in quickly to Indonesia, becoming Pelita Jaya’s top scorer despite playing in a poor team for only half a season.
During the pre season though the Karawang based club have been busy as the youth policy was essentially kicked into touch. The nick name Yong Guns has stayed, as has Egi Melgiansyah who impressed in that team of ’07 and indeed showed his progress during the recently completed SEA Games.
jPelita Jaya have been enthusiastic supporters fof the naturalization process which has seen players with foreign passports take up Indonesian citizenship depending on family or time spent in the country.
One of the first players to be brought in this way was full back Diego Michels who, like Egi, impressed many during the SEA Games with his robust, all action style.
Victor Igbenofo enjoyed several years with Persipura where he won the ISL twice in the last three years. The Nigerian has also decided to take Indonesian citizenship and was called up for the recent World Cup qualifiers but never got a game due to wrangling over his status.
The no nonsense defender will be a reassuring figure at the heart of the Pelita Jaya defense.
Joining Igbenofo is a fellow Nigerian turned Indonesian, Greg Nwokolo. Comfortable up front, down the flanks or playing just off the striker, Nwokolo has been one of the ISL’s most consistent performers over the last few seasons with Persija. Indeed, so impressive was he that a Portuguese club signed him for 12 months but it didn’t work out and Nwokolo was happy to return to the Kemayoran Tigers.
Every successful teams needs a strong spine. With Michels, Ibgenefo, Egi, Safee and Nwokolo Pelita Jaya look to have enough in their locker to make the move from strugglers to challengers.