Sunday, May 08, 2016


Indonesia's First Uniform Derby

Unlike the rest of South East Asia Indonesia's police and military have long since avoided professional football. For them it was enough to wheel out their teams, PS Polri and PS TNI, for the occasional friendly against the national team when they were needed.

That has changed and now both are represented with the military taking over from Persiram and the Cops merging with Surabaya United and both meet today in the country's first Uniform Derby in Sidoarjo.

Now known as Bhayangkara Surabaya United, or BS United for short, the Cops can rely on support from their own ranks, something Surabaya United were never able to do considering the ongoing polemic with Persebaya. Their nickname is actually the Great Alligator, an animal symbolic with Surabaya but I have been calling them the Cops for obvious reasons.

Their side is a mixture of youth and experience with the star name being Evan Dimas. Highly touted as part of the successful national Under 19 side, Dimas has made headlines with his trials at Spanish clubs but this is the season he needs to turn that obvious talent into performances. Whether BS United is the right club to do that remains to be seen; win today though and they go top.

Other familiar names at BS United include experienced Brazilian defender Otavio Dutra first came to Indonesia back in 2010 when he signed for Persebaya 1927. Since then he has played for Persipura and Gresik United and this season he will be one of the older heads at BS United.

Lining up for the Cops is also the first Guam international to play in Indonesia. Shane Malcom is a 24 year old attacking midfielder who was born in Jamaica and last played for Stirling Lions in Australia.

Another experienced player in the Cops' ranks is striker Rudi Widodo who is now with his 14t club since making his debut in 2002 with Persiku. A reliable player rather than being a consistent goal getter. Fandi Utomo is a local lad and the son of a former Persebaya player Yusif Ekodono and one wonders how Dad feels about his lad playing for the enemy!

BS United won their first game away to Barito Putera 2-1 with goals from Otavio and Rudi.

Unlike the Cops, PS TNI are keeping their name alive and last week's season opener against Madura United saw 10,000 head to the Siliwangi Stadium in Bandung, their new base. An impressive crowd for a game deep in Bobotoh territory.

Also unlike the Cops, PS TNI aren't bothering with foreign players, coach Edward Tjong focusing on local lads and serving military personnel. There are some familiar players in their ranks including keeper Teguh Amiruddin and the highly rated midfielder Mahahati Lestusen who spent time in Belgium with CS Vise not too long ago.

Off the field there has been a lot of rivalry between the police and the military with a number of incidents making the news. It remains to be seen whether that follows on into the stadiums when the teams meet. Putting that aside at least both clubs can rely on for support from local cops and soldiers where ever they play this season and today, the first Uniform Derby, will be a indicator of how strong that support is.

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