Thursday, May 19, 2016


Keith Kayamba Gumbs Excited By Sriwijaya Return

Keith Kayamba Gumbs is back in Indonesia, he is back with Sriwijaya and he is excited about the coming campaign. With Laskar Wong Kito having started the Indonesian Soccer Championship season unbeaten I asked Keith about his return and his thoughts about Sriwijaya.

Keith Kayamba scoring for Sriwijaya against Pelita Jaya
Now aged 43, the former St Kitts and Nevis international enjoyed a lengthy career including stints with Oldham, Hull City and Sturm Graz before arriving in Hong Kong in 2001 where he played for Happy Valley. He spent some time in Malaysia playing for Sabah before returning to Hong Kong were he played for Kitchee at a time when Persib's Dejan Antonic was coaching them.

In 2007 he joined Sriwijaya and the rest, as they say, is history. He was part of the team that dominated Indonesian football for a couple years winning Liga Indonesia, Indonesia Cup (three times), Community Shield, Inter Island Cup and the Indonesia Super League. Seven trophies provided a glittering twilight to his career and after a cameo season with Arema he hung up his boots in 2013 and headed to Australia.

Ever since his name has often been linked with a return to Palembang.Finally he is back and he is loving it. 'Good to be back in the atmosphere and for a bit of experience coaching and not having to play.'

As for the rumours? 'The links to come back to Sriwijaya FC were mostly rumour because since I left the club after the 2012 season I hadn't talk to the management about coming back. I was in touch with the club and keeping up to date with football in Indonesia but weren't very keen to come back. One of my reasons for coming back now is, because I am now venturing into the coaching circles and looking for some much needed experience. So when this opportunity came along I thought about it for a while and decided it would be a good start for me. '

Pre season Sriwijaya's recruitment policy seemed to revolve around players in their 30s and if they had played for Persib all the better but Kayamba, as befitting an old hand who played into his 40s, doesn't see age as a handicap. 'They say where I came from age is just a number. Remember I played here in 2013 and I was 41 years old. The thing is with good soccer conditioning training, good dieting, staying away from alcohol, cigarettes and maximising your rest time. This can prolong the life of a footballer's career for well over 30. '

Sriwijaya have started the season well. Vital points were picked up on the road at Persib and Persiba, tough places to play at the best of times, while Madura United were put to the sword last weekend, Sriwijaya hitting five without reply. And while the old hands like Beto Goncalves, Hilton Moreira and Firman Utina draw the plaudits it is two younger players who have caught the eye of more seasoned observers. 

Teja Paku Alam has been in fine form between the sticks this season, conceding just one goal but playing with a maturity and confidence beyond his years. Former international Hendro Kartiko is the goalkeeping coach and no doubt he would have been aware another one time international, Markus Horison, was available but the management team opted for youth. 'At first there was to some extent a desire to bring in an experienced goalkeeper. But I think with the competition being as it is, now similar to the tournaments held before but this being a longer format. I thought it would be better to bring in the younger, fresh blood for some much needed game time experience which bodes well for SFC and the future of Indonesian football. '

And then there is Ichsan Kurniawan. He too did a good job against Madura United, scoring an impressive goal to add shine to his outing and coach Kayamba is excited by what he sees. 'I have heard so much about Ichsan and have read the newspapers. But when I got here, I saw firsthand the raw talent that he is and the hunger he shows in training day in day out is remarkable. It is no surprise to me he is doing well. He just needs to learn and keep understanding the game more and this will come with increased playing time.'

After three rounds Sriwijaya sit two points off leaders Arema and Persija. This weekend they face a tricky away trip their third of the season, when they travel to East Java to take on Bhayangkara Surabaya United. The Cops were comfortably defeated last time out 3-0 by Arema and have one win from their first three games. They drew their last home game v PS TNI but Kayamba has been around long enough to know there are no easy games in Indonesia and BS Uniited away will be no different.

Still, Kayamba has a good feeling about the squad Sriwijaya coach Widodo Cahyo Putro has assembled and thinks this could be an exciting campaign for the fans. have learnt that the potential in the squad is endless and all of the players are still willing to learn more. There's a family vibe amongst the group and it reminds me of our championship winning team of 2011-2012. So I have a good feeling for this season. '

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