Thursday, June 08, 2017


Newbie Strikers Hit Ground Running

The problem with saying it takes time for foreign imports, especially strikers, to adapt to the local game and its culture is that it is not always true. Everyone remembers Juan Belencoso for example who signed for Persib after impressing in Hong Kong and also in the AFC Cup before firing blanks in West Java.

Let's take for example Liga 1's current joint top leading scorer Ivan Carlos (left) who plays for Persela. His wikipedia entry sadly doesn't shed much light on his past career noting only the 27 year old Brazilian played in Myanmar for Hanthawaddy United before heading to Indonesia. Seven goals in his opening eight games show he has had little trouble adapting to life in Indonesia though being with Persela, a friendly small club in East Java, no doubt has helped him to settle. 

PSM's Reinaldo Costa is another who has settled well though the way PSM play their football perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. He is surrounded by fast, skilful players, all he has to do is be in the right place at the right time. Like Carlos he is and though there wa some criticism recently he wasted too many chances his brace against Persipura at the weekend means he has six goals for the season.

Reinaldo also packs a pretty impressive CV. Before signing for PSM he had played in China, Brazil, Malaysia, Australia, South Korea, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. coupled with a pretty decent scoring rate. And no doubt his short spell with Borneo during the President Cup helped him to get used to Indonesian football in pretty quick time.

Another foreign striker who has hit the ground running is Peter Odemwingie at Madura United. Mind, the Russian born Nigerian international also played for Stoke City so he is used to unfashionable footballing outposts. He returned to the first team last night after serving a suspension and was back on the scoresheet, his sixth of the season, crediting his goal to the  memory of ex Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote who passed away recently. 

Other new strikers have also made their mark in quick time including Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United) and Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar) which begs the question. Just what is it in the player's armourary that allows some to settle quickly and others to struggle for a few weeks or months. Indonesian is of course a brutal place to play football and adaption is demanded yesterday. Time and patience are luxuries in the cut and thrust world of football club management and if a player does managed to hit the ground running their value immediately rockets.

Tellingly the strikers I have mentioned are playing at clubs where the spotlight is never full on. They play for teams which are perhaps among the second tier of Indonesian football. At the bigger clubs the story is a different one. Arema for example recruited Juan Pino. Persija have two new strikers, Bruno Lopes and Luis Junior who have netted four goals between them. When Persija picked up only their second win of the season they did it having dropped the latter! Yet I am reluctant to suggest strikers who are bought by smaller clubs will automatically do better then ones who sign for a bigger clubs. Football isn't that easy. Musch depends on a player's attitude, his experience in different surroundings, his team mates and how he is treated by the club. So many variables. 

If only coaches knew which part of a player's DNA could guarantee immediate success they need never be out of work long!

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