Monday, January 16, 2017


Coach Timo Faces Tough Task With Persiba

It has certainly been a busy few days for Persiba Balikpapan. The Honey Bears as they are known have lost a coach and their star import, been forced to move their home base to another island, another time zone, found a new coach, found a new striker and have decided they won't be competing in a pre season tournament.

Under Brazilian coach Jaino Matos they struggled to find any consistency and their total of 38 goals scored during the Indonesia Soccer Championship 2016 was one of the lowest recorded in the division. Certainly players with big reputations like Syamsir Alam and Okta Maniani failed to deliver and without the 13 goals of Japanese import Shohei Matsunaga it could have been a very poor season indeed.

With the season ended the club cast around for a replacement coach and it wasn't long before ex West Ham player Peter Butler's name was linked with the club having worked their before. He vehemently denied the link and it was soon announced Brazilian Osvaldo Lessa would be taking over. The one time assistant to Jacksen F Tiago at Persipura had only a short stint in the hot seat at the Black Pearls behind him and soon the club were backtracking saying in fact he hadn't be selected.

While the debate surrounding a future coach was going on Matsunaga announced he would be returning to Persib for a second stint. The 28 year old attacking midfielder from Japan had first signed for the Maung Banding un 2011 and after his performances in the ISC it was no surprise he was the target of a bigger club.

Persiba meanwhile decided Timo Scheunemann would lead the team in the rebranded Liga 1 in 2017 with Bima sakti continuing in his role as understudy. It is the German coach's first club appointment since his time with Persema when they were in the Liga Primer Indonesia back in 2011 and the first thing in his in tray was to find a goalscorer.

With Persiba Stadium unavailable for the team this season Persiba also cast around looking for a new stadium. They have decided to use Gajjayana Stadium in Malang, close to where coach Timo lives, while they wait for their new stadium to be finished. With a home town on one island and a stadium in another requiring a flight and a two or three hour bus ride it remains to be seen how Persiba's pre season preparations will be impacted.

There is already talk the club will not join the pre season president Cup if, as suggested, it goes ahead at the end of this month or early February. Timo says he feels his squad won't be ready so soon and while he is open to competing if it is held at a later date as things stand they won't join.

It's a squad that needs a lot of work. While one or two young players came in and did a good job in difficult circumstances last year Timo knows he will need a lot more experience in the squad going into what will certainly be a tougher competition. Striker Marlon da Silva has come in from Mitra Kukar in a bid to replace the experience and goals of Matsunaga but more is needed and with funds tight Timo will know he has his work cut out if Persiba are to make an impact in the upper reaches of the table.

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