Sunday, June 11, 2017


Bali United Decimated By International Call Ups

Most leagues around the world tend to stop their domestic competitions around the time the national team is in duty. Frustrating for many fans, myself including, this notion is designed to give the national side the fullest support possible as they bid on the world stage for international glory.

Indonesia used to embrace this idea big time. The national league would go into lengthy hibernation for something like the SEA Games, a regional Under 23 competition, as the nation's best young players were sent off to join the national team in their preparations.

This idea seems to have quietly dropped. During the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, for example, the national competition carried on regardless as clubs mobbed together to insist no more than two players from each team were called up for national duty. It didn't seem to harm Indonesia as they surprised everyone by reaching the final, losing to Thailand.

Indonesia travelled to Cambodia last week and defeated their hosts 2-0. Next up they face Puerto Rico in Sleman. But Liga 1 carries on in its own merry way. This time Luis Milla wasn't hampered by the two player per team restriction but some teams have not been impacted by call ups in the way other teams have.

Take for example Bhayangkara. Their promising midfielder Evan Dimas wasn't called up. None of their players were in fact. Last week they travelled to Bali United who had seen four of their players representing their country in Phnom Penh. Four! Irfan Bachdim, Yabes Roni, Ricky Fajrin and Miftahul Hamdi. And these are not bit part players.

Bhayangkara won the game 3-1 and climbed above Bali United into 3rd place in the Liga 1 standings. But given the number of players the home side were missing surely there was a case for rearranging the game? Fans expect their team to field their strongest line up and with Bali having a chance to go up to second had they won 13,700 supporters turned up hoping for their team to at least have a fighting chance. 

It's not just Bali United who can feel aggrieved by the cavalier attitude PSSI seem to have to players and international call ups.

Last night Arema were held 0-0 at home by Perseru. The Crazy Lions were without Kurnia Meiga, Hanif Sjahbandi and Bagas Adi. Perhaps feeling short changed, perhaps taking into account recent results, the Arema fans stayed home, less than 5,000 saw the goalless draw.

Clubs and fans expect a level playing field and when you're without nearly a third of your team while your opponent is at full strength one team is at a definite disadvantage. Perhaps PSSI need to reconsider an international break to be fair to all sides.

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