Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Bali United Pusam
They eventually purchased the rights to Perseba Super Bangkalan, renamed them Pusamania Borneo and entered the second tier Divisi Utama. Pusam (pictured left in orange playing PSM in 2014) were left to play their games at the cavernous but almost inaccessible Palaran Stadium, built to host the National Sports Week back in 2008, but despite the best efforts of striker Ilija Spasojevic they could only finish mid table.
Their new city rivals on the other hand were thriving. Pusamania Borneo won promotion to the ISL and the fans were turning up in large numbers after a hesitant begining. The East Kalimantan provincial capital was faced with the prospect of a local derby on the banks of the Mahakam River.
However, it wasn’t long before rumours started surfacing about Pusam’s future. The rift with their support base had made life uncomfortable for them in Samarinda and they started scouting around for a new home. News reports linked them with Sleman and Martapura before it was finally confirmed earlier this week they would in fact be moving to Bali.
The idea of football clubs moving willy nilly round the country is nothing new to Indonesia. Sriwijaya Palembang, for example, began life as Persijatim East Jakarta before heading to a new city on a new island.
For all the history of clubs moving, the choice of Bali caught many surprise. Despite the island’s riches it has lacked a top flight football club for several years although the short lived Indonesia Premier League did possess a Bali Dewata for its short existance and next season PS Badung will play in Divisi Utama for the first time.
The club’s owners are naturally bullish about the move which sees the club renamed Bali United Pusam and have signalled their intent in another suprise move by announcing the highly rated Indra Sjafri will be their coach.
The former national Under 19 coach had been strongly linked with the position at Persela Lamongan but is plainly excited by the switch to Bali United saying he shares the club’s vision for a football club. ‘They not only want to concentrate on the ISL but they also want to develop their own players through their system,’ said the coach who had guided Indonesia to the AFC Under 19 Championships in Myanmar. ‘That is for me an attractive challenge.’
Another challenge will be to build a team for the new season. David Pagbe will provide plenty of experience to a side that will be young and relatively untested and already the club are saying their target for 2015 is survival.
With a coach committed to a long term contract and sponsors already in place, Bali United Pusam are laying the groundwork for success but it remains to be seen whether or not the Bali football public take to the club being parachuted into their backyard, especially with PS Badung making their Divisi Utama debut.