Sunday, December 04, 2016


Barito Putera, Jacksen F Tiago & AFF Suzuki Cup

When Barito Putera host Persib this evening there will be a fluffy glow going through the veins of this unfancied football club from South Kalimantan. It hasn’t been the best of campaigns for them, they currently sit 16th in the Indonesia Soccer Championship with three games remaining and only three teams have conceded more goals. At the other end they h ave been fairly decent with 37 from their 31, the best in the lower half of the table.

With so little to cheer why the warm glow? Last week it was announced Jacksen F Tiago would be coaching the team from next season, the experienced Brazilian coach penning a three year deal. Why would JFT, a title winner with Persebaya and Persipura, hit on such an unfancied side when he surely had the pick of the Indonesian sides as well no doubt as offers from overseas?

Perhaps the clues to what makes Barito Putera so attractive lie several hundreds of miles away. In Cibinong to be exact where we can find the Pakansari Stadium. In the AFF Suzuki Cup semi final 1st leg Indonesia continued to overcome the odds when they defeated highly fancied Vietnam 2-1. And at the heart of that triumph were the performances of two players.

Let’s be honest. In an ideal scenario coach Alfred Riedl is not going to throw an untested central defender from a team with one of the worst defences in the ISC into the pressure cooker situation of a semi final. He would obviously much prefer to call on one of the more experienced practitioner of the art, one with a degree perhaps in the darker arts.

But Riedl was hamstrung by the clubs when they refused to allow more than two players from each club to be called up. Using skills more attuned to diplomacy than a football pitch Riedl called up Hansamu Yama Pranata, a 21 year old defender from Barito Putera with zero caps to his name and a role in a leaky defence.

No stranger to international football however, Hansamu cut his teeth playing in Uruguay as part of the Sociedad Anonima Deportivo Indonesia project which saw promising teenagers plucked from their kampungs and flown halfway round the world to play in the nether reaches of the Uruguayan leagues. He would go on to be part of the successful Under 19 team under Indra Sjafri later making his debut for the Under 23s, scoring against Timor Leste at Bung Karno Stadium.

Doubtless Riedl had done his homework and knew he wasn’t calling up some spotty youth to make up the numbers. Hansamu is the proverbial old head on young shoulders and when he gave Indonesia the lead last night against the strongly fancied Vietnam, anyone surprised would have been doing the lad an injustice.

Rizky Pora was less of an unknown quantity. Signing for Barito Putera in 2013 from Persita, the flying winger is the type of player Indonesia excels in producing. He made his debut for Indonesia in 2014 and has become a permanent fixture since FIFA listed their suspension on the PSSI earlier this year.

However it hasn’t been until the AFF Suzuki Cup that he has been showing some consistency and without doubt has been one of Indonesia’s star performers, first in Manila and last night in Cibinong. One flick last night was remiscient of Dennis Bergkamp’s flick and turn that bamboozled Newcastle at St James’ Park all those years back.

Ok, so the end result wasn’t the same but the impudence of the move, and that fact it came off, can only boost the27 year old’s confidence even more. JFT must be purring as he sees the Hansamu and Rizky shining at the highest level. And there is more with 21 year old midfielder Paulo Sittangang and 22 year old Adam Alis, who had a stint in Bahrain with East Riffa in 2015, looking to impress the new gaffer!

Interesting times lie ahead in South Kalimantan, don't say we haven't been warned!

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