Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Dedi Hopes More Indonesian Players Will Follow Him To Malaysia

With Indonesian football still carrying the burden of a FIFA suspension following allegations of government interference, it is perhaps surprising there aren’t more players trying their luck overseas. Selangor’s Andik Vermansyah leads the way of course. The flying winger is in his third season with the Malaysian giants.

Perhaps lesser known, Dedi Gusmawan is in his second season with Myanmar’s Zeyar Shwe Myay while Boas Solossa, Okta Maniani and Immanuel Wanggai are lining up for Carsae FC in Timor Leste this season.

So when Malaysia Premier League side Sabah made a move for Persib midfielder Dedi Kusnandar it was no surprise he turned to his international team mate Andik for advice. ‘When Sabah came in for me, I knew nothing about Malaysian football beyond what I had read on the internet,’ said Dedi. ‘He told me to give my best and to take care of my attitude both inside and outside of football.’

With similar language and culture, Malaysia has long been a popular destination for Indonesian players to venture overseas and it is perhaps no surprise Dedi is the latest to head north.

He started his career with Pelita Jaya when they were coached by Singaporean legend Fandi Ahmad and recalls the positive influences he took from someone who had played in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Netherlands. ‘He was my first foreign coach. I studied a lot from him about modern football, attitude as a player and how to be a professional. I really respected coach Fandi.’

That word attitude again. It was Dedi’s attitude that saw him earn moves from Pelita Jaya to Arema, Persebaya and on to Persib Bandung and while he arrived just after they won the Indonesia Super League in 2014 he was on hand to play in the AFC Cup campaign a year later, sadly cut short by the FIFA ban.

‘That was wonderful,’ he recalled. Dedi was born and raised in West Java, the heart of Persib land and the chance to play for his boyhood side on the international stage meant a lot to him. It also gave him a taste for football beyond the 17,000 island nation. ‘When I started my career I wanted to have an international career. I wanted to play overseas to improve my skill and to learn new experiences as I believe this can make me a better player.’

Dedi has only made one appearance for the national side in a friendly against Dominican Republic in 2014 but at the age of 24 is still young enough to be able to look forward to many more chances to read the red and white. ‘Someday I want to play for Indonesia again and I want to help Indonesia improve in an international event.

For now though the focus is on Sabah. It hasn’t been the best start to the season for the team based in Kota Kinabalu with four losses in their opening four league games leaving them at the wrong end of the table. That miserable run came to an end last weekend when Sabah held Melaka United to a 2-2 draw. It was a special game for Dedi as he came up against former Persib team mate Ilija Spasojevic for the first time.

Dedi feels more of his compatriots want to try their luck overseas but aren’t being given the opportunity. ‘Many players from Indonesia want to play abroad,’ he says ‘but they have little opportunity. They definitely have the skills to do so and I hope others can get the chance I have had.’

Malaysia has played host to many Indonesian greats over the years. Players like Bambang Pamungkas, Ponaryo Astaman and Eli Aiboy set the trend a decade ago and in more recent years Hamkah Hamza and Patrich Wanggai have had short stints there. With Andik and now Dedi making their mark in Malaysia’s increasingly competitive league who will be next to join the exodus north.

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