Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Bhayangkara Exchange Thiago For Spasogol

Thiago Furtuoso is a more than competent striker. In the first half of the season for Bhayangkara he scored seven goals and three assists as the police side have maintained an unlikely title bid in the face of more fancied sides. The 30 year old Brazilian striker's experience has also proved invaluable in bringing on younger players like Ilham Uddin Armaiyn (seven goals in fifteen games) and Dendi Sulistyawan. But rather like PSM and their somewhat surprising decision to release their leading scorer Reinaldo, Bhayangkara coach Simon McMenemy has decided Thiago is surplus to requirements and has been allowed to move to Mitra Kukar.

Back in 1990 Arsenal had a very good goalkeeper in John Lukic. He had won the title with us and the League Cup and as fans we were happy with him. The manager at the time, George Graham, knew Lukic was a top keeper. So he signed David Seaman from Queens Park Rangers in the pre season. Yes, Lukic was good, but Seaman was better was the manager's logic, a logic sadly evading Wenger over the last few years, and Graham was proved right as we won the league in Spunky's debut season conceding just 18 goals along the way. 

With Thiago gone McMenemy has moved quickly to sign free agent Ilija Spasojevic (pictured left playing for Pusam (orange)). The Montenegran striker is no stranger to Indonesia having played for Bali Dewata, PSM, Mitra Kukar, Pusam and Persib before moving to Malaysia to join Melaka United where he scored 30 goals in 35 games before being released earlier this season. 

The first time I saw Spasojevic play was with PSM in the old IPL and he was up against Kim Jeffrey Kurniawan and his Persema team. By then of course the IPL was dead on its feet and the fans that had once filled Persema's Gajayana Stadium had long since departed. I liked the look of Spaso though. There were elements of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in his style, similar body build, good on the ground, skillful and intelligent. Since then I have followed his career with interest and wasn't surprised when he was signed by Persib back in 2015. Sadly the Bobotoh never got to see the best of him as the league was suspended when FIFA banned PSSI and Spaso was signed by Melaka United, then in the Malaysia Premier League.

Spaso will had to an already healthy spine that has Otavio Dutra and Firman Utina as well as several promising young players like Evan Dimas, Putu Gede and the aforementioned Ilham Uddin and Dendi. Their 2-1 victory over Arema last time out was their fourth win in five games and saw them sitting second two points behind leaders Madura United. No team has more more games than Bhayangkara this season, they have 11 so far, while only Bali United, Madura United and Persipura have scored more than their 29 goals. Away from home only Bali United and Persipura have picked up more points. 

As the numbers show Bhayangkara are great fun to watch and with Spaso up front they are likely to score even more goals. While McMenemy will be delighted with his striking riches going forward he will know if his team has a weakness it is at the back. Their only loss in their last five games came against Persija when Bruno Lopes scored in injury time to deprive Bhayangkara of their first draw of the season. Likewise, defensive carelessness cost the team points at home to Barito Putera when the visitors scored from a cross. McMenemy's team haven't kept a clean sheet since early June when they defeated Persib 2-0.

The fixture list isn't kind to Bhayangkara. They are away to Perseru this Sunday and next Wednesday they travel to Cibinong to face PS TNI, a bruising encounter there is likely following a gruelling journey home from the far east of the country. No one said it was gonna be easy!

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