Saturday, March 31, 2012
Plight Of Persija
The name is the same as is the club crest and they both have had difficulties playing in their home city of Jakarta but that’s where the similarities end. In the eyes of the fans Persija (Indonesia Premier League (official league)) and Persija (Indonesia Super League (unofficial league)) are two very different entities. Born out of an ownership struggle within Persija at the start of the season, Persija IPL opted for the official status offered by the IPL but the fans were having none of it. They emphatically stood behind Persija ISL and from day one the IPL version were doomed.
The Persija fans, known as Jakmania, are used to travelling round the country following their team. Difficulties in obtaining the necessary permits to hold games in Jakarta have seen them take their road show to places like Semarang, Solo and Malang but each time they have been followed by a hard core of fans desperate to see their team at any cost.
Persija IPL have enjoyed no such luck. With the Jakmania firmly against them, they have been forced to take to the highways and byways of Java to play their home games, most recently in the east Javan city of Madiun, normally famous for sugar and steam railways! Before that it was Bantul or Solo.
Quite why the club owners decided to stick with the Persija brand even though the support had said they would not support them is just one of many mysteries that plagues/lights up football in this part of the world.
The IPL, not unreasonably, would have been keen for a team from Jakarta to be represented in their league. There was one last year, called Jakarta 1928 FC but they struggled to attract any kind of support. Instead of trying to build a new team and a new brand they just copied the Persija imaging and it hasn’t worked.
What the IPL is left with is a team with no home and no fans. And in the world of football that is a distinct disadvantage. Footballers thrive on security and routine. They need to know who they’re playing, when and where. For Persija the first two are usually fine; one thing the IPL has brought to the table is regular weekend games and not spreading ties over the week. The where is the problem and given the distances involved it can be quite a large problem.
The season started well enough for Persija IPL with two wins and three draws in their opening five games putting them at the business end of the table. However they couldn’t sustain that run and their next five games has seen them lose four, draw one and score just one goal leaving them 9th in the 12 team league.
Goalkeeper Aleksander Vrteski suggests that the team have missed the skills of Portuguese playmaker Jaime Braganca who started the season but moved to Rumanian side FC Vaslui.
Despite the loss of Braganca there is still plenty of experience in the team and the signing of Indonesian defender Diego Michels from Pelita Jaya in the ISL showed they have the ability to pull in big name players.
Emmanuel de Porras has earned a big reputation in Indonesia having played for teams like Persija (ISL) and PSIS Semarang, but his return of three goals this season, the last in the first week of January means the team are struggling to worry opponents too much.
Vrteski recognizes the uncertainty of where the team will play their home games is a factor in the poor run of results but says it is a part of the job players need to put to the back of their minds. ‘It's difficult physically with the extra travel involved (but) self motivation comes from yourself. Being a professional footballer you shouldn't need extra motivation playing away or home.’
To be fair to the players they do seem to be getting somethings right despite the difficult circumstances. Their poor form of late has ironically coincided with a much tighter defence; the goal they conceded away to Persijap in their last game was the sixth in their last five games. In their first five games, when they were unbeaten, they conceded nine goals!
The beauty of a 12 team league is there are only 12 teams in the league! And while the table may look none too pleasant for the players when they wake up in the morning and read the local papers, they will also recognize the fact that they are only seven points behind the IPL leaders, Persibo. With a mid season break round the corner and the possibility of fresh faces in the transfer window the players know that a couple of wins can totally change the mood around the club and send them up the table.
The long term viability of the club is a totally different matter. Having two teams called Persija isn’t the way to build a strong league and if, or when, common sense returns to Indonesian football it’s hard to see Persija IPL continuing in its current format.
(First appeared in Jakarta Globe)
(First appeared in Jakarta Globe)
I really don't understand why the IPL version keep on using the Persija name (including the emblem and the star honored for winning the 2001 Indonesian League!)
The trial to decide which side is legally eligible to use the name has been in progress since November last year, but from what I've heard, the IPL side is always forfeiting the subpoena,,
next trial will be held this month, CMIIW..
but, to be honest, I think there's a thing or two that need to be learned by the ISL side from the IPL side..