Tuesday, May 31, 2016


Indonesia's Poisoned Chalice

Why would anyone want to coach the Indonesian national side? There is so much uncertainty surrounding the position at the best of times why would an ambitious coach give up the relative security of club football for the whims of PSSI?

In the 10 years I have been covering Indonesian football the following coaches have had a go at bringing success to the national team.

2004 - 2007 Peter Withe
2007 - Ivan Kolev
2008 - 2010 Benny Dollo
2010 - 2011 Alfred Riedl
2011 - Wim Rijsbergen
2012 - Aji Santoso (caretaker)
2012 - 2013 Nil Maizar
2013 - Rahmad Darmawan (caretaker)
2013 - Jacksen F Tiago
2013 - 2014 Alfred Riedl
2015 - Benny Dollo (interim)
2015 - Pieter Huistra

Who next? Among the names being linked with the job now Jose Mourinho is out of the running are Rahmad Darmawan (T Team), Indra Sjafri (Bali United), Nil Maizar (Semen Padang) and Rudy Keltjes who seems to get linked with just about every job going. Why not throw in Bambang Nurdiansyah's name for good measure. Or even Benny Dollo for a third time?

As faces change at the PSSI so the national team coach change as the new faces want to bring in their own face. Austrian Riedl brought a measure of success in 2010 when he guided Indonesia to the ASEAN Football Federation Championship Final only to lose against Malaysia. But early 2011 when the PSSI upper echelons were replaced, out he went and in came Rijsbergen though I imagine many have forgotten about his brief interregnum.

From 2011 to 2013 we had the years of plenty with two leagues and the confusion is evident five different coaches tried to lead the Merah Putih to no avail. The new faces wanted to #ChangeTheGame...they managed to #ChangeTheCoach fairly well.

Ahead of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers Pelita Bandung Raya's Dejan Antonic was a strong candidate but FIFA's suspension put a halt to his ambitions. Now that ban has been lifted his name again is being pushed...this time by Persib fans unhappy at the performances their team have been giving this season.

Indra Sjafri remains a popular choice mainly due to his relative success with the Under 19 side. However he has been unable to replicate that mojo with Bali United. In two Indonesia Super League games last season his team lost against Persipura and Perseru while in the current ISC they have managed one win from five games, last night losing 3-1 against Persiba. 

He is highly regarded for scouting new talent and is seen as a coach who thinks deeply about his profession but he is with a club that seems to be run along fairly professional lines where he is allowed to have a large say in football matters. Why would he want to give all that up for the uncertainty of coaching the national team?

The same can be said of Rahmad Darmawan. Now coaching in Malaysia with T Team, RD has been there and done that in Indonesia, coaching Persipura and Sriwijaya to titles. In Malaysia he is making more people aware of his talents and his signing of Malian Makan Konate showed he knows how to take the best from Indonesia and help them have an impact overseas.  He is at a good point in his career, why should he give it up for the national team job?

Likewise Nil Maizar. He has been doing a wonderful job with Semen Padang. He has them playing good football and is finally getting the best out of Vendry Mofu. 

With all the uncertainty surrounding PSSI still why would any ambitious coach consider the job? Yes, the thrill and honour of coaching the national team can't be underestimated but at the end of the day is that enough of a reward for the extra stress and grey hairs that would come with the position.

Apparently the PSI will make an announcement tomorrow. But they could all be out of jobs later in the year and then the whole sorry cycle would begin again. If I was a coach I would be looking for some stability at the very top before committing to the top job in the land. Perhaps that is why for now the best option would be to bring in an experienced outsider, unsullied and untainted by any associations with PSSI past and present, and have other local coaches like Nil or Indra work alongside him ahead of games and events for experience as much as anything.

Failing that there is always Rudy. Or Banur.

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