Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Familiar Coaches Return To Indonesian Scene

The traditional managerial go round is coming to an end as Indonesian sides start the serious preparations for the new campaign. Incidentally the Indonesian Super League will be known as Liga i, Divisi Utama Liga 2, Nusantara League will be Liga 3 and so on.

Anyway a new season and a new hope for supporters of every team as  they look forward to a new coach, new players and of course new replica shirts to purchase.

One set of supporters can feel more excited than most. Barito Putera have hired the most successful foreign coach in Jacksen F Tiago. Coming off the back of a spell in Malaysia where he guided Penang back to the top flight, Tiago has won titles with Persebaya and Persipura. If anyone knows the ins and outs of the game in Indonesia it is the Brazilian who also played for a number of sides including Persebaya.

With a three year deal in his pocket Tiago will be expected to have Barito Putera challenging the established big boys within a short time and while last season may have been marked by inconsistency he can at least rely on the likes of Hansamu and Rizky Pora, fresh off their ASEAN Foootball Federation Championships exploits, to carry on their good deeds of 2016. However he will have to do without the goals of compatriate Luis Carlos Junior who has moved to Madura United.

Simon McMenemy is another familiar face returning to Indonesia after a spell abroad, most recently in Philippines. He has had previous stints with Mitra Kukar and Pelita Bandung Raya and now takes over Bhayangkara and inherits a young side that exceeded expectations last year when they finished seventh with a mostly young squad but heavily reliant on the goals and guile of imports Thiago Furtuoso, Otavio Dutra and Rudi Widodo.

While McMenemy will no doubt be heavily dependent on his experienced players there is little doubt he won't  be thrilled at the opportunity or working with the likes of Evan Dimas, Muchlis Hadi and Maldini Pali, the latter two arriving from PSM as they seek to combine a football career with one in the police force.

The club are aiming high, giving their new coach a target of finishing in the top three but after three days with his new charges McMenemy is feeling enthused enough to claim a top two target is realistic. He should get his first opportunity to see how his methods have been taken on board when Bhayangkara 'host' the Trofeo Bhayangkara in Solo. The club are hoping Arema will join in and Home United were also expected to attend but AFC Cup commitmments may have some influence on whether they travel or not.

The third familiar face is Timo Scheuneumann. The East Java born German takes over Persiba for the new season and has the added bonus of seeing the team relocate to Malang for their home games. His last stint coaching a club side wwas when he worked with Persema in the old Liga Primer Indinesia when he built an exciting side around the likes of Irfan Bachdim, Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan, Robbie Gaspar and the experienced Bima Sakti. Indeed Sakti, who was his coach back then, will now be his assistant on the training field and will provide some continuity having held the same position last year with the club under Jaino Matos.

As is often the case with Persiba finances will be tight, especially as they commute between Malang and Balikpapan and even before Timo had set up his own password on the company laptop it was announced Shohei Matsunaga, the one shining light in a disappointing campaign in 2016, was off to Persib. His goals will be a big loss though the club have moved quickly by signing Marlon da Silva from Mitra Kukar.

Football being football the hope and expectations that always accompany pre season will soon fade to disappointment and anger. Let us hope this new fresh odor that is creeping across Indonesian extends to club managements and they give their new coaches time. Surprisingly each of the three coaches in this post have been given multiple year contracts but always there is that dreaded 'evaluasi' word looming over their necks, a slient presence, often hidden by the smiles and high fives that greet a win but there all the same.

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