Saturday, May 06, 2017


Unknown Setiawan Upstaging High Profile Imports

The idea behind the marquee player policy may have made some sense on one level but with the possible exception of Madura United's Peter Odemwingie and to a lesser extent Michael Essien at Persib none have really set the league on fire. Understandable really considering the gap between local football and what they have grown used to in more mature leagues.

While fans wait for the aged pros to adapt to local conditions it has been local young players who have been making the headlines.

Four games in and Boas Solossa is where we would expect to see him; top of the goalscoring charts with three goals alongside Odemwingie and Mitra Kukar's Marclei Santos. But wait, there is another name with three goals to his name and he is much less familiar.

Step forward Dedik Setiawan. hands up if you had heard of him before the season began? Hands up who thinks he would have been a started had Cristian Gonzales been available for the early part of the season. The 22 year old striker played for Persekam last season, another Malang based side, who he first joined back in 2011 but it is only in the last few weeks have people outside the hilly East Java city taken notice of his ability.

With Gonzales starting in the first game of the season against Persib, Setiawan was an unused substitute but as the naturalised striker took time out from the game to go on a pilgrimage and marquee signing Juan Pino not yet ready it was the 22 year old unknown who took his place in Arema's first home game of the season against Bhayangkara while the likes of Beny Wayhudi, Juan Pino, Ahmad Bustomi and Dendi Santoso sat in the dug out.

And it was Dedik who marked his debut with a goal, his left foot drive from 15 yards looping off a defender and over Wahyu's head. It had taken 18 minutes to score his first goal. To show it was no fluke he scored the only goal of the game against Persiba. Outpacing the home side's defence, Setiawan chested the ball down, his first touch set up the shot and he finished with a firm drive into the far corner. 

Barito Putera were in Malang last night but it seems Setiawan cares not one jot about the opposition. He pounced on a poor clearance to make it 1-0 and that was enough for Arema to secure the points and ensure this young lad had a pretty impressive three goals from his first three games. Easy game football, eh?

No sign of arrogance yet from the young lad. "All players have chances to score goals,' he said in a recent interview ahead of the last game. 'Probably for the last two games (the chances) were for me.'

Arema currently sit second in Liga 1 level on points with PSM. Football is a team game of course but Setiawan's three goals 75% of Aremas total, are what is keeping the Crazy Lions in such a lofty position. After his flying start clubs will now be aware of the Malang born striker who has come from nowhere and he faces tougher challenges ahead. For now his exploits are putting so called bigger names to shame.

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