Thursday, November 19, 2015


PS TNI The Surprise Packet

Following Indonesian football isn't easy at the best of times. God knows it's hard enough when you live there, can read some Indonesian, have some good contacts and can get to games. It's harder still when you are miles away and left reliant on alternate often contradictory sources. But know matter how you access the news, the news itself leaves you scratching your head and wondering whether ignorance is after all a better bliss.

Take the General Sudirman Cup which started a few days ago. It follows the Independence Cup and the President Cup offering a feast of football for the starved fans across the country. Now, the GSC, better known by its Indonesian acronym PJS, is also known as the Indonesian Championship. Indeed the official website bears that name along with that of  a sponsor. How can a cup be a championship? You should know by now not to ask questions like that!

Anyway the GSC for the sake of convenience features 15 teams split in three groups of five based in Malang, as ever, Bali and Sidoarjo and features 14 Indonesian Super League teams plus one other. Or does it? Surabaya United? Are they the latest incarnation of Persebaya or Persebaya 1927 or even the short lived Bonek United? Are they a totally new club? They certainly boast a badge on their shirts that is not related to the Persebayas of yore. But they do have Evan Dimas and of course the prodigious young talent spent last season with Persebaya nee Persikubar.

Then we have Persipasi Bandung Raya. Who play their home games now, if they have any, in Bekasi. But still boast the name Bandung in their name even though all previous attempts to establish a club in the heart of Tanah Bobotoh have failed miserably to attract any supporters. Persipasi refers to Bekasi Patriot, the team that took over Pelita Bandung Raya...why keep the name Bandung when it could just as easily be Bekasi?

The Pusamania/Bali United tale has been done to death but anyway who needs the misfortunes of a Samarinda based football club, that is so 2014, when you have a new conumdrum to tantalise the grey matter.

The Independence Cup was won by PSMS, one of Indonesia's big, traditional sides with a large fan base spread across the islands and time zones. It was the first time they had won anything since foobar knows when and oh how the support celebrated. The question of which PSMS seems almost irrelevant now, yep there used to be PSMS in the IPL and another in the ISL run league! But instead of which PSMS perhaps we should be asking PSMS where are ya?

Among the familiar 14 ISL teams in the GSC there is a non familiar name...well know as friendly opponents for the national team perhaps but little else. An amateur side belonging to the military, PS TNI have come from nowhere to suddenly snap up a bunch of professional players and are now competing in the GSC alongside their more illustrious peers.

Why suddenly do we have a military side entering a professional cup competition? Seriously, I have no idea. A military side that features more than a handful of players who used to play for PSMS! Now military sides in the region are of course nothing new; look at Army United, ATM, Siam Navy and even Warriors for clubs that trace their roots at least back to gents in uniform. And if so many of the players are drawn from PSMS then why not use their name and build on their recent success to attract the fans?

Whatever the reason, PS TNI have begun the GGSC in fine form, defeating Surabaya United and Pusamania Borneo in their opening two games and sitting top of the group. Persib and Persela await the uniforms and a place in the knock out stage. Football fans probably won't care too much about whence PS TNI came as long as their own team does the business but at least the name offers a touch of romance to the cup/championship for now and that ain't a bad thing.

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