Friday, January 27, 2017


Greater Certainty Can Improve Club's Pre Season

Pre season goes up a gear this weekend with the Trofeo Bhayangkara taking place at the Manahan Stadium in Solo. As well as Bhayangkara, Arema and Persija have been invited to this one day affair which sees each team playing two 45 minute games. Personally don't get the point of these affairs but I'm sure the clubs see some benefit...especially when an estimated 9,000 Arema fans are expected to attend.

A few days later and the President Cup starts. Twenty teams split into five groups as I explained a couple of days back. Ironically hosts Arema have been drawn with Bhayangkara and Persija as well as PS TNI!

Meanwhile in Thailand Muang Thong United are jetting off to Hong Kong to play in the Lunar New Year Cup. Alongside the Thai champions are Kitchee, Seoul FC and Auckland City. In recent days Bangkok has played host to J League Asia Challenge Inter League Cup. Bit of a mouthful I know but a pretty strong pre season competition featuring local sides Suphanburi and Bangkok United facing off against Japanese sides Kashima Antlers and Yokohama F Marinos. 

Buriram United have also been busy. They took part in the Mekong Cup which featured the likes of Lanexang United, Yadanarbon, SHB Danang and Boeung Ket Angkor, winning 2-1 on aggregate over the Lao side in the final. Ok Buriram were given a bye to the final but they next played a friendly against another ambitious Cambodian side, Phnom Penh Crown as well as hosting Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta'zim.

Indonesia? Let's give the benefit of the doubt, they are after all returning from a FIFA imposed suspension that essentially wiped out two years of competitive football, the 2016 Indonesia Soccer Championship may have been competitive on the pitch but it was still unofficial. But Indonesia remains massively isolated from the rest of ASEAN. 

Yes there was talk of Pusamania heading to Cambodia to play in a tournament but even such an ambitious club as that was forced to defer a decision as they waited for the President Cup. Bhayangkara hoped to invite Home United for its Trofeo but seemed to overlook the Singapore side's AFC Cup commitments. And another ambitious local side, Madura United, did mull over a trip to Penang but nothing came of it.

But why was no one considering an approach to JDT? Invite them over for a friendly? It's easier for the Malaysian side to come here than to go to Buriram after all from a logistics point of view.

The other point to take into consideration is one of timing. The ISC only finished before Christmas. January has seen most clubs look at firming their plans for the new season and they could only do that once the new PSSI leadership had laid out its road map as to how the year will look. With the limit on foreign players and age limit restrictions imposed a few clubs suddenly found themselves backpedalling.

Indonesian football's biggest enemy for so long has been uncertainty. With more positive sounds emanating from the PSSI it would be nice if a greater certainty could envelope the game and allow clubs the luxury of organising a better quality pre season. Which ASEAN, or even Australian, club wouldn't want a few days on Bali ahead of the serious business. Why should the Thais get all the big fish?!

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