Thursday, August 30, 2012


Michiels Stuck In The Middle

Diego Michiels was one of the handful of players brought over by the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) to add some zest to what had become a predictable national team.

With an Indonesian father, Michiels was eligible and to press his claims he gave up his career in the Netherlands, where he played for Go Ahead Eagles, and was snapped up by Pelita Jaya.

The 22 year old left back made an immediate impression in the 2011 SEA Games when Indonesia just lost out to Malaysia on penalties in the final. But Michiels performances impressed many and, unlike Kim Jeffrey Kurinawan and Irfan Bachdim before him who were both brought over from Europe to play in the national team, Michiels had attitude which many related to.

Unfortunately he was soon unwittingly caught up in the imbroglio that continues to harm Indonesian football. Pelita Jaya, the club he had signed for, played in the unofficial Indonesia Super League and when the PSSI announced no played in the ISL would be called up for the national team he was in a quandary.

Playing for the national team was major motivation for him in taking Indonesian citizenship.

After a couple of games he switched clubs, joining Persija in the officially sanctioned Indonesia Premier League.

That made him eligible, again, for the national team and with continued good performances for his new club he was called up by the full national team for his debut in a World Cup Qualifier away to Bahrain. It was a debut to forget as Indonesia lost 10-0!

With a busy September lined up for the national team, coach Nil Maizar called up the 22 year old for the training camp ahead of the friendlies.

But games against the likes of Everton, Galatasaray and Espanyol failed to materialize and in the meantime Michiels had signed for Arema on loan with the aim of playing in their AFC Cup quarter final against Al Ettifaq later in the month.

Michiels reportedly quit the training camp to join his new Arema team mates as they prepare for their crucial games later in the month, putting him directly in conflict with the national team who have friendlies that clash with the Arema game.

Clearly Michiels has decided to put club before country and Maizar has responded by dropping him from the team. Considering playing for Indonesia was a major motivator, what changed?

Where that leaves Michiels is as unclear as where Indonesian football stands. For a young man just wanting to play football, he finds himself caught in the middle of the maelstrom that surrounds the game and is damaging the very assets it is supposed to protect and develop.

UPDATE - since I posted this Diego has been on Twitter giving his side of the story.

#1 You ask me to stay few times but I told you I have a contract and they need me and that I'm back next month if u still need me
#2 few other players go out for many days you don't know where they are, but about that I don't hear you talkin about
#3 I have a contract I must follow the contract 26th september my contract ends and I told you to come back then

poor lad..
yep, sympathy and all that
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