Monday, March 11, 2013


Persija Lack Vision

The Indonesia Super League table doesn't make pretty reading for fans of Persija Jakarta. Their team sits rooted firmly to the bottom with two wins a meagre return from their opening 11 games and last weekend saw a comprehensive 3-1 thrashing by their bitterest rivals Persib Bandung.

The defeat away to Bandung meant the feint ray of hope that followed the narrow 1-0 triumph of Persita Tangerang soon disapated and the club are facing some harsh decisions.

As one of the biggest clubs in the country Persija's attempts at cashing in on their name have come to zilch and it must have been painful for any beancounters within the football club to have seen how far Persib are ahead of them in this regard.

Advertising boards rimmed the pitch while the players' shirts were adorned with various other sponsors keen to be attached with the football club. And it's not just local state enterprises, there are a number of well known international brands. In fact at last count there is something like 22 sponsors paying for their name to be linked with Persib.

Persija's problems are more immediate. There has been talk of salaries going unpaid which has impacted their ability to move in the transfer market; iconic striker Bambang Pamungkas has yet to sign for the new season and is perhaps one reason why they have struggled to find the net on a consistent basis; just 11 games in those opening nine games while 17 have been shipped at the other end.

The team nicknamed Macan Kamayoran have struggled to find any kind of momentum or consistency this season and fans have been quick to blame their coach Iwan Setiawan but with the club starved of cash it seems they have been focussing their ire on the wrong target. Even a coach like Sir Alex Ferguson or Jose Mourinho would struggle to motivate players who worried about where their next pay packet would come from.

With a couple of home games on the horizon they would ordinarily be looking forward to perhaps an easier time on the pitch but here in Indonesia nothing is straightforward. Their regular stadium, Bung Karno, has been double booked, by a K pop concert, so not for the first time in recent years the team find themselves preparing for a home game in a different part of Java.

Given the dearth of stadiums in Indonesia's capital city, and again how they must secretly envy Persib who boast two they can choose from, Siliwangi and Si Jalak Harapat, with one more due to open later this year, if Bung Karno is unavailable Persija have to look further afield and given that they are none too popular in West Java that further afield usually involves flights and hotel accomodation; an unnecessary expense when funds are already tight.

This Sunday they will play their home game against Persela at the Manahan Stadium in Solo, Central Java. Over the years they have also used stadiums in Samarinda, Malang, Yogyakarta and Semarang so when it comes to playing at home away there is a certain amount of experience within the football club though it is perhaps an experience they could do without.

Such is the closeness of the table that a couple of wins on the road could well see Persija rise to the top half of the table and they perhaps will take comfort from the fact their opponents, Persela and Persegres, both have problems of their own.

Potential is a word often bandied around about Indonesian football and Persija without doubt are one of the clubs who do have potential. However it is far from being realised at the moment.

Persib have shown what can be done when it comes to attracting sponsors while Sriwijaya and Persipura have shown what consistency can do for a football club. And Arema have invested heavily in experience in a bid to get back among the honours.
But Persija keep fudging. There seems to be no plan at the club beyond getting to the next game and until they start to show some vision their future will continue to a fudge.

SOURCE - My Jakarta Globe column

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