Monday, December 19, 2016


Persipura Lift Indonesia Soccer Championship

There is something relentless about Persipura when they hit their stride. Their 4-2 victory over PSM yesterday at a rain sodden Mandala Stadium ensured they lifted the first, and perhaps only, Indonesia Soccer Champions, a trophy that had long seemed destined for Arema or Madura United.

Six straight wins at the business end of the season. Eight wins out of their last 10 games. It is a cliche but when the goings gets tough the tough get going. Lifting the trophy means the Black Pearls have finished first or second in every campaign since the Indonesia Super League was introduced in 2008/2009. And that they should have been crowned champions without the services of iconic striker Boas Solossa says much about the strength on depth accumulated out east.

Under new coach Jafri Sastra the season hadn't started especially brightly by the clubs own high standards, drawing their first two home games of the season against Bali United and Persija before losing 2-0 away to Semen Padang. Two points from nine games is not championship form but Persipura were struggling for their trademark consistency, perhaps caused by their absence from so many of the pre ISC tournaments.

A corner was turned when they narrowly edged strugglers Persela 1-0 heralding a run of four straight wins but their were concerns within the football club the imports weren't performing, especially experienced Liberian strikers James Koko Lomell and Eddy Boakay Foday who had provided just two goals in the opening 11 games.

Persipura responded ruthlessly with Jafri returning to Mitra Kukar, Alfred Angel Vera coming in and the foreign legion changed with Edward Wilson Junior among others being added to the squad in the mid season break. The rest, as they say, is history.

Boas ended the season with 11 goals, Wilson and Ferinindo Pahabol with seven each.

Switching horses mid stream is always a gamble in football. Get it right and you are a hero. Get it wrong and you face being villified. For sure Persipura benefitted from an Arema side who led for much of the campaign but did so without looking convincing while the exciting Madura United  paid the price for poor form on the road, losing six of their last seven on their travels.

But there is an element of an ustoppable machine about Persipura when they get going. Even without Boas yesterday they were too much for a PSM who had done much to feel pleased about themselves in the second half of the campaign under Robert Alberts. But first half goals from Pahabol (two), Wilson and Osvaldo Ardiles meant they could take the foot off the gas second half. The title was theirs.

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