Tuesday, April 04, 2017
Madura United Confirm Odemwingie Signing
After what seemed an interminable process Peter Odemwingie has finally arrived in Indonesia to join his new team mates at Madura United. The 35 year old Nigerian international, born in Uzbekistan, was introduced to the local media in a bar in Jakarta the other day.
The English media, in their usual sensitive manner, decided to lift a picture from the Madura United twitter feed to say how unhappy Odemwingie looks at the launch session. Not having anyone on the ground, not having any idea where Madura maybe they wrap themselves in Little England bullshit. I mean come on, how can someone leave the delights of Rotherham United, where he was on a short term deal, and move halfway round the world to a place no one has heard of. Different reaction had he moved to China or Thailand of course.
Anyway, I digress. Why has Odemwingie decided to come to Indonesia? 'As a child I liked cartoons. In those films you could see Komodo dragons and they were interesting.' He said he would be bringing his family with him and added he had heard about Indonesia from a friend. 'A friend from my country invited me to come here. I like Indonesia including Bali.'
He will soon find out despite their proximity Madura is no Bali. Where the latter is the archtypal tropical island with them swaying palm trees and sun kissed beaches Madura is a dry island in more ways than one. The soil there is not given to producing the food products that proliferate across much of tropical Indonesia so much of the population either head to mainland Java or get by farming crops such as kretek for the local cigarette market.
Football in Madura has come a long way over the last few years. It wasn't that long ago when Perseba Super Bangkalan were about the only side in the top two divisions of the national league. However they were bought out and Persepam Madura Utama found themselves the islands top side. Based in Pamekasan their initial season in the top flight saw them play at Bangkalan Stadium, about an hour's drive from Surabaya on mainland Java and the nearest airport.
They got relegated from the top flight Indonesia Super League in 2014 but it seems the island had gotten the football bug and in 2016 the owners of Persepam MU bought the licence of Persipasi Bekasi Raya (formerly Pelita Jaya) and shifted the club to Madura, rebranding them Madura United and guaranteeing a seat at the top table. Serious investment has gone into the football club and they have a new stadium in Pamekasan, about a three hour drive from Surabaya.
2017 promises to be quite a year for Madura football. As well as Madura United in the top division, Liga 2 sees Persepam, Perssu and Madura FC bidding for top flight football. How aware Odemwingie will be of the other sides on the island remains to be seen.