Friday, August 26, 2016


Okta Maniani Quits Persiba For Civil Service

I admit to never having been one of Okta Maniani's biggest fans. The 5' 4'' inch flyer burst on the scene as part of Alfred Riedl's 2010 ASEAN Football federation Championship's squad that reached the final and along with Irfan Bachdim made people sit up and take notice after impressive performances in Indonesia's opening group stage games against Laos and Malaysia.

The goals dried up for Indonesia as they struggled to get past first Thailand and then the Philippines before losing to Malaysia in the final but fans had a couple of new heroes...Bachdim and Okta. Amid the hype there were even suggestions the diminutive winger could go on and play in Europe, an early example of a story aimed more at click bait than any meaningful analysis.

Okta, wearing 10, celebrates after Indonesia score against Laos, 2010
But for many who followed Okta's arrival on the international had come as a surprise. Then aged 20, his career had been a fairly typical journeyman career as the Papuan born youngster played for PSMS, Persidafon, Persitara before perhaps catching Riedl's eye in the more exalted company of Sriwijaya.

Fans who had jumped on the bandwagon that followed the Indonesian team to the final that year ooh and ahhed at Okta's pace ad willingness to run at players, sometimes even goalward. He would have been a defender's worst nightmare come true but without being too disparaging he made Theo Walcott look like Trevor Brooking when it came to reading the game. His playing style was simple...just run. What his team mates did was neither here nor there Okta ran and that was it. Against Laos and Malaysia he was the archtypal impact player but after a couple of run outs canny coaches knew how to nullify his threat. The media loved him for a while but soon found their new heroes and at the age of 20 he was all but forgotten as quickly as fame had embraced him.

If you think I am being too harsh on the lad then consider his career post 2010. He left Sriwijaya in 2011 and you would think the world of football was at his feet if you believed the hype that surrounded him but the bigger local clubs steered clear. Instead of for example Persipura signing him, he travelled round the islands, taking his boots to play in Papua, with Persiram, Ternate (Persiter), Kalimantan (Barito Putera), Papua again with Perseru and Kalimantan again with Pusamania. With the ISL halted last year, instead of being sought by some of the big clubs in South East Asia he ended up in Timor Leste with Carsae FC, coached by Brazilian Fabio de Oliveira who knew him well from his Indonesian days.

He started the ISC campaign back in Kalimantan with Persiba as coach Jaino Matos went with a local striker force but Okta looked a spent force. It seemed his pace had gone and like the emperor found out when his clothes were taken from him, Okta was nothing without that pace. He looked lost on the field and was unable to provide the Honey Bears with any kind of potency up top.

It seems Okta has now bowed to the inevitable and quit professional football, preferring the security of a job with the civil service closer to home. That Okta is just one of several players in recent months who have sought the safety of government service over the glamourous but pitfall ridden career of professional football shouldn't come as a suprise considering the mess the game has been in over the last few years.

His coach at Persiba doesn't seem too concerned by his loss. 'In life there are many choices,' Jaino was quoted as saying, 'Players come, players go, it's normal.'

If his career is over it was certainly a short, eventful one. His career is also an example of how a highly hyped young player is still a long way short of being the finished article. Often with pieces like this we are left wondering what might have been but I fear with Okta there could be no doubts about his career. Never again could he reach the supposed heights of 2010 because those heights only came about because of his arrival on the international stage from anonymity. He was the one trick pony we often read about.

UPDATE - it seems Okta has put his civil service career on hold and signed for Arema! A strange move by Arema, an even stranger one by Okta.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?