Friday, April 08, 2016


PSAP's Marvelous Month Of Madness

In the wake of Jacksen F Tiago's 'resting by Penang I was reminded of one of the more curious events in Indonesia in recent times and it included a player currently being vilified by the Penang support.

PSAP Sigli aren't the biggest club in the world. They aren't even the biggest club in the province of Aceh yet for a few glorious weeks they were scoring goals for fun and even attracted a headline or two from the Java centric media.

Sigli is a district in the regency of Pidie and sits some 112 kilometers south of the capital of Aceh province, Banda Aceh. It's local football club is called PSAP and they play at the Kuta Asan Stadium. I have never been to Aceh province, it is a place that only makes headlines when local officials cane people for transgressions as it has in place sharia law as part of the peace agreement that ended a decade long insurgency. The only time I would notice the place was when crowd trouble marred local derbies and the pious image put forward by politicians.

In 2010/2011 PSAP were playing in Group One of Divisi Utama and it must have been a fun season for local fans. Not only were they in the same group as Persiraja, the team from the provincial capital, they had derbies against PSLS and PSSB while PSMS and Pro Titan (Pro Duta) were an overnight drive away in Medan.

The campaign in question was of course the same season PSM, Persema, Persibo and Persebaya withdrew from the Indonesia Super League and joined the breakaway Premier League so all eyes were on the events there. Divisi Utama kicked off late November and PSAP didn't really set the world alight in their 13 team group early doors.

Their campaign opened with a 1-1 draw away to PS Bengkulu. Next up were two home games which they won, defeating Pro Titan 1-0 and PSMS 2-0. Back on the road and their next games were against a couple of sides who would feature prominently in PSAP's fortunes that season. Persires were defeated 4-0 while PSAP lost their first game of the season on 20 December, going down 2-0 away to Persih.

Five games in and PSAP's season looked like this. P 5 W 3 D 1 L 1 8-3 10

That loss kick started a run that saw the team go unbeaten for 12 games before becoming unstuck away to Persita in the March. Again what stands out is the fact that during that run they only once won by a single goal margin and that came against Persikabo when they came out on top 2-0.

They lost their next game away to Persipasi 3-0 and it seemed their promotion charge was coming off the rails but after 19 games they were still top of the table albeit by goal difference.

1 - PSAP 19 11 5 3 28-15 38
2 - Persiraja 19 12 2 5 33-21 38
3 - PSMS 19 10 4 5 28-21 34

Then came a series of remarkable results for PSAP on their own manor.

29/03 PSAP v Persires 10-0 (Syuti 2, Osas Marvelous 5, Moussa Traore, Irfan, Suryadi Kamaruddin) 3,175
02/04 PSAP v Persih 9-0 (Osas 5, Suryadi, Moussa, Abdul Faisal, Reza Fandi) 7,125

Where did those results come from? Yes, they were top of the table and Persires were abject that season, finishing well clear at the bottom winning just one game and shipping 72 goals in their campaign. But not Persih. They were tidy, finished mid table and without this aberration had one of the best defences in the division.

The fans were obviously impressed by the win over Persires with the attendance more than doubling for the Persih game where that man Marvelous lived up to his name by netting five goals for the second consecutive game. Has that been done before?

The goal feast didn't last forever and they lost their next game 2-1 away to Pro Titan in Medan and days later in a top of the table clash watched by more than 17,700 fans they suffered another defeat, going down 2-0 to PSMS with Marvelous forced to miss the game through suspension. He was back for the final home game of the season and hit a hat trick as PSAP defeated PS Bengkulu 5-0 to finish the season as runners up and earning a place in the play offs for the ISL

Forced to play in East Kalimantan, a different island and a different time zone from Sligi, PSAP struggled with the unfamiliar surroundings. They drew two and lost one of their play off games scoring just one goal in the process and finishing third in their group of four that also included hosts Mitra Kukar, PSMS and Persiba Bantul.

They went on to get promoted anyway as the ISL sought to keep its numbers up after a few more clubs jumped ship to the breakaway league and Osas ended the campaign with 29 goals. But those 13 in three consecutive home games at the end of the season where not enough to be crowned top scorer as Persiba Bantul's Udo Fortume was able to carry on scoring in the play offs and ended with 34 for the season.

Still, how Penang fans would be wishing for Osas to repeat such a rich vein of form for them at the City Stadium.

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