Saturday, May 07, 2016


Meiga Saves Harried Arema In Bangkalan Cauldron

Persiba v Sriwijaya 0-0 5,274

You know that pressing game that is all the rage in England? None of that here as both sides were content to sit deep and let sides come on to them. Persiba started the game with an all Indonesian strike force with Okta Maniani and Rahel Radiansyah starting up front and while they were quick and mobile as you would expect they were well marshalled by the visitors' defence.

Okta has a reputation as a bit of a one trick pony, using his pace to cover up other alleged failings and this performance in this game did little to counter that argument. Instead it was Japanese midfielder Shohei Matsunaga who shone but his good work and good passes were to no avail in teh absence of a striker who had the physical presence to win the ball and hold on to it.

While Persiba dominated the ball Sriwijaya keeper Teja Paku Alam did well in goal while in front his defenders moved quickly to cut out any nascent danger. It wasn't until the 80th minute when Persiba coach Jaino Matos replaced Okta with Vinicius that the home side were able to add a bit of guile to their pace but by then the game was all but over. Sriwijaya had long since had the measure of Persiba and deserved their point.

Two tough away games for Sriwijaya and two points is not a bad start to the season for coach Widodo Cahyo Putro and his players have until Sunday to recharge their batteries when they will face another test of their credentials. They host Madura United.

Persiba: Alfonsius Kelvan; Abdul Rachman, Ledi Utomo, Dirkir Glay, Iqbal Samad, Kurniawan Karman (Syamsir 61'), Ledi Utomo, Shohei Matsunaga, Rahel Radiansyah (Heri 82'), Okto Maniani (Vinicius 80'), Abdul Aziz.
Subs: Yoewanto Beny; Absor Fauzi, Fengky Turnando, Siswanto, Heri Susanto, Syamsir Alam, Vinicius Reis.
Sriwijaya FC: Teja Paku Alam; Ngurah, Achmad Jufriyanto (Ichsan 90+1), Fachrudin Aryanto, Supardi, Wildansyah, Firman Utama ( Yohanis 71'), M Ridwan (Mushafry 10'), Yu Hyun Koo, Hilton Moreira, Beto Goncalves.
Subs: Yogi Triana; Eka Ramdani, Ichsan Kurniawan, Zalnando, Airlangga Sucipto, TA Mushafry, Yohanis Nabar.

Madura United v Arema 0-0 12,500

This was brutal! Like them games in the school playground it was harem scarem for the whole 90 minutes and if there was a surprise there was just one red card, for Arema's Hendro Siswanto in the second half.

Going into the game the news from Arema was all about those who would be absent. Cristian Gonzales, Dendi Santoso who were injured against Persiba last weekend and of course Aremania who were asked not to travel for fear of disturbances as they passed through Surabaya. 

It may have been reckless and breathless but there were some gems. For Madura United Slamet Nurchayo and Bayu Batra impressed, the latter's surging runs causing problems for a back pedalling Arema defence. And at the heart of the Madura body was the experienced Fabiano Beltrame putting in the kind of shift that has made him one of the most sought after foreign players in the country.

With the single terrace packed with a large baying crowd and fans spilling on to the running track the atmosphere was as wild and passionate as you can get; just as well there were no away fans!

Arema weren't their to provide cannon fodder and a 35 yard free kick from skipper Hamka Hamzah stung the finger tips of Heri Prasetya in the Madura goal. But up front Aussie striker Gustavo Giron struggled to make an impact as the Madura defence did their job solidly and physically. That Arema could leave with a point was down to the heroics of Meiga Kurnia in goal for them who turned in a man of the match performance, single handedly keeping the home team at bay.

Given the playground feel of the game it was appropriate the game should have been held up twice; first because an Arema free kick tore the net open and second when Srdan Lopicic's shirt was tirn and needed replacing. 

Not one for the Wenger style purist but loads of fun if a tad too physical! While I enjoyed it Arema coach Milomir Seslija was less impressed. After the  game he said the ref had 'protected' the Madura players while letting the Arema players 'die' on the field. Milomir also touched upon the build up to the game, trying to stay anonymous in a Surabaya hotel and travelling to Madura in an armoured personnel carrier and the fear factor for his team. 

Two games into the season and Arema have faced two strong, physical opponents. They have come out of it with four points and share top spot at least temporarily with Madura United but at some cost with Gonzales and Dendi facing lengthy absences. At least they get a good break between games. Next Sunday they host BS United...

Madura United: Heri Prasetya; Ahmad Maulana, Asep Berlian, Fabiano Beltrame, Gilang Ginarsa, Munhar, Slamet Nurcahyo (Toni 84'), Bayu Gatra, Engelberd Sani (Jeong 80'), Rendy Siregar, Pablo Rodriguez.
Subs: Joko Ribowo; Guntur Ariyadi, Jeki Arisandi, Jeong Kwang Sik, Rishadi Fauzi, Toni Mossi, Elthon Maran.
Arema: Kurnia Meiga; Hamka Hamzah, Goran Ganchev, Ryuji Utomo, Ahmad Farizi; Raphael Maitimo, Hendro Siswanto, Ferry Arman Saragih (Antoni 56'), Srdan Lopicic, Esteban Vizcarra; Gustavo Giron (Sunarto 70').  
Subs: I Made Wardhana; Beny Wahyudi, Junda Irawan, Arif Suyono, Juan Revi, Antoni Putro, Sunarto.

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