Thursday, January 31, 2008


Persib keeping busy

While the seniors at Maung Bandung failed to secure a Play Off berth last season the club have high hopes in their youth ranks, and unrestrained by minor details such as contracts fully intend giving them plenty of work outs.

First up is next Tuesday, 5/2/08, when Malaysian second tier side Kelantan visit the Siliwangi Stadium in Bandung for a friendly. With the likes of Zaenal Arief and Patricio Jiminez either out of contract or out of the country the plan is to field a young team of under 20's.

March sees a 4 team tournament, the Kang Dada Cup, featuring Diklat Persib, Persib Under 23s, Persib Selection and Persib Liga 2007.

I bet Persib win that one!



Levan Tskitishvili

Nope, I've never heard of him either. Apparently the 31 year old Georgian is being chased by Birmingham City.

He's neen around a bit has our Levan having started his career with Dinamo Tiblisi he moved to Germany where he played for SC Freiburg and VfL Wolfsburg. Last heard of he was released by Greek side Panionis.

Alex McLeish, Birmingham's new manager, ain't no mug obviously but...

If the story is true then what the hell is he interested in this old git for, and on a short term deal at that?

Bringing anybody into the country and throwing them in the first team is risky but then it is the same with youngsters. What message does this transfer, and others of it's ilk, send to young talent in our country when aging foreigners without a club can just hop on the first plane and find a club?


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Persisam think big

Persisam Samarinda may only be looking forward to life in the Liga Premier in 2008, the second tier of Indonesian football, but they are setting their sights on the Liga Super and are hoping a string of big names will help them on their way.

They are strongly linked with Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, last season with Persitara, and another high profile linked with the Borneo based club has been Fagundez from Persik.

Persik have since made it clear they fully intend keeping their three Latin Americans, Fagundez, Danilo and Gonzalez.

Meanwhile Persisam continue to talking the talk. They are quoted as saying they are looking at players currently involved in the Liga Play Offs.

They may have mega bucks to throw around but are players from Persipura, Persija, Sriwijaya and PSMS really going to consider going down a division?


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Dalian Shide join SLeague

ESPN are reporting Chinese giants Dalian Shide will be entering a team in SLeague 2008. Liaoning were suspended for alleged match fixing.

Dalian will use Queenstown Stadium.

We might even get the fixtures before the season starts!



Indonesian football memorabilia

If anyone is interested I have a few bits and pieces for sale. Scarves, flags, pennants from Persija and Persib as well as a couple of brochures and fan magazines (in Indonesian of course!).

You can find the items here.

If you're interested please e mail me for more details.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Bambang talks about Persija

During my recent talk with Bambang which you can find on ESPN Star Sports we also discussed his attachment to Persija Jakarta. Now in his third spell with the club I wondered if he could see himself playing anywhere else in Indonesia.

'Of course as a professional I must play anywhere. After I came back from Malaysia I was looking forward to being back at this team. But if they don't want me then I must look for another club.'

Clubs in England used to be often described as a large family with many faces hanging round for decades. Bambang feels that way about Persija.

'When you play here I feel like I come back home because I know every detail of this club. I never have any problems playing here because they are like my family.'

At Persija of course the Indonesian captain is idolised but not every game is a walk in the park. Well respected throughout the game he may be when he pulls on the Persija shirt to play bitter foes Persib down in Bandung he, and his team mates are alone. Like something from the Roman coliseum the Kemayoran Tigers become lambs in front of one of the most passionate rivalries in club football here.

'After seven years playing here (for Persija) every time we play in Bandung every time we come back with the army!' With no travelling fans this fixture does make high risk games in Europe like Celtic v Rangers look like an argument over the back fence 'cos little Johnny has gone and let the tyres down on the neighbours brand new BMW (not that I know anything about neighbours driving high end German cars.)

'For me it's fine because I been doing it seven years even though it's like hell. But maybe for the new players it' can be scary.'

I wanted to know how they initiated new players into the rite of Persib away. I remember one story of Brian Clough when he took his Nottingham Forest side down to Millwall one time. A couple of miles from the stadium he stopped the bus and made the players get off and walk the rest of the way, through the mean streets off the Old Kent Road wearing club blazers and all.

'When I talked to our goal keeper at the start of the season I told him this is the real Indonesian football. This is the passion of the Indonesian people. Some players like it, some don't. Our goalie liked it! It's a funny story but it's Indonesian football!'

On the TV Persipura had scored again. With an early start the next day Bambang headed back to his room. Having won the Liga in 2001 who can bet against BP and his beloved Persija winning it a second time.



Name change

PSP, who will be playing in next season's Liga Premier, are changing their naming.

I guess PSP means little to non gamers but they are from Padang in West Sumatra and they are the locally owned opposed to Semen Padang who are sponsored by the local sperm bank*.

For the new season PS Padang will be known as PSP Minang which they feel will better reflects the culture oand traditions of their area. Minangkabau people are famous for their food, architecture and traditional matrilineal society.

Offcially modern Indonesia frowns on such attempts at ethnicity or regionalism preferring instead to show the world Indonesia as a homogenous nation but local rivalries flourish on the terraces and in the minds of people.

My wedding was a traditional Minang affair in case you're're probably not...but work is quiet and I have little else to do so...

* Semen Padang are not in fact sponsored by a sperm bank at all but a local cement manufacturer. I apologise if anybody who has ever made a deposit at such an institution has been offended in any way.



SLeague confusion

The new SLeague season is due to commence on 18th February in what could be a vital year for football in the city state.

For once the national team are mounting a serious bid for World Cup qualification, they lost 2-0 to Oman in a friendly after beating Kuwait by the same score, as they prepare for their first match with Saudi Arabia.

Domestically after an exciting three way race in 2007 Singapore Armed Forces ended up with a League and Cup double while Woodlands Wellington won the League Cup.

But with just a few weeks till the new season all is not rosy.

With Liaoning Guangyuan FC , one of three guest foreign teams in the league under investigation for alleged match fixing the League are busy scurrying round looking for a new team to replace them and keep the number at 12. A couple of foreign teams as well as one local team are under consideration.

With no one sure yet of who will be competing in the League there can be no fixtures released. The SLeague hope everything will be resolved this week.

As with last season I will be following the SLeague, giving regular updates here as well as getting to a few games...if the wife allows!



FA Cup 2008

Much is being made of the fact that with 16 clubs going into the bag today for the next round just six are from the Permiership. But when four of them are Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United don't expect to see any fresh name on the trophy. Those four have hogged it since 1995, expect them to do so for another year.

Which, unless Arsenal win it, is a shame.

It would be refreshing to see other teams have a credible chance of winning something once in a while rather than the procession we have now.

There's some great old names in the draw today. Names like Huddersfield Town. It might be a grim northern shitpit but they have had their moments in the spotlight, notably back in the 1920's when they were Champions three times, runners up twice as well as winning the FA Cup once and runners up three times.

I loved their old Leeds Road stadium with a large terrace down one side and the Yorkshire moors rising gently behind the away fans. This year is their centenary, they are due to play Arsenal in a game marking the event, and it would be great to see them go on a cup run.

Another grand old name in the cup draw is Wolverhampton Wanderers. Four times winners, four times runners up the Wolves have done nothing in the FA Cup since decimalisation and colour TV

There is also some romance left with Middlesbrough and Bristol Rovers who have never won the cup. Bristol Rovers are a traditional club, still wearing blue and white quartered shirts and living in the shadow of, um, everything I guess. For an old git like me they are famous for a strike partnership of Alan Warboys and Bruce Bannister back in the early 70's when they won the Watney Cup!

Oh to have Chelsea drawn against Liverpool and Arsenal play Manchester United with the winners meeting in the quarter finals but it won't happen. Not now, not these days.



Arsenal's grimmest season?

Eeh, you young 'uns, dunno thee hath been born! I tell ee, thee want hard times go back to the early 80's when times was so tough kids, kids I tell thee, regularly took Saturday jobs just so they could earn enough money to see their team.

You wanna whinge about Walcott and Diaby then read on ...



Bambang Pamungkas

My interview with Bambang Pamungkas, captain of Persija and Indonesia, can be found on ESPN Star Sports where he talks about his career, playing abroad and Indonesia.

Later on I'll be adding more here where he talks about Persija.



Charles Uchenna

As promised the other day I sat down with Nigerian Charles Uchenna for an article for the upcoming book. Uchenna has spent the last couple of seasons playing for Perseman Manokwari and spent a whole lot of time in the air. Their nearest rivals were Persipura, a mere 90 minute flight away.

I didn't realise he has his own piece of cyberspace with his blog which can be found here.

The book should be ready sometime after the Liga final though I really must get my butt in gear and find someone who can print the damned thing...


Saturday, January 26, 2008


Mansfield Town

I've been meaning to do something about Mansfield Town for a while now. In a country where football is all hype Mansfield have perhaps the lowest profile of any of the 92 clubs. Quite simply perhaps the only thing they are famous for is not having a railway station in the town. (Of course now they have one!)

The Stags as they are known play in Yellow and Blue which puts them in exalted company for in Singapore Tampines Rovers also play in Yellow and Blue. And they are known as the Stags! Bizarre innit? Or do I really have too much time on my hands?

Alvin Stardust lived there when he was young. Mansfield I mean, not Tampines.

But while for most of the football world Mansfield may as well not exist for their hardy support they are the alpha and omega of their world. While the media is focussed on the race for the Premiership down in Division Two Mansfield Town have their sights set on more realistic goals. Like avoiding the drop out of the League 2 altogether. Like beating local rivals Chesterfield.

Today however the Stags will have their moment in the spotlight as they host Middlesbrough in the FA Cup 4th Round at their tiny Field Mill ground. Beamed around the world many people in South East Asia will be seeing and hearing of the club for the first time and for once the romance of the cup will actually mean something.

Yes, eyes will be on Havant and Waterlooville's trip to Anfield and you can bet cameras will be following the thousands of H & W fans who have crawled out of the Hampshire woodwork to make the long trip north but who cares?

Mansfield are nothing. They have always been nothing, except of course to their loyal support, but today they will be something and they will make a few bob out of being something. Ideally they could earn a replay and get a share of the reciepts up at Boro but today at least they can forget about being the second worst team in the country and focus on Gareth Southgate's Midllesborough and fleeting fame.

Tuesday they are away at Lincoln City, local rivals and perhaps more important for the club and its fans. But Tuesday the cameras will have gone and Mansfield will go back to be just another team on the pools coupon.



Sumatran giants through

Persiwa v Sriwijaya 0-0
PSMS v Arema 0-1 (Casmir 30')

If I get this right then Sriwijaya play Persija in the first semi final and PSMS play Persipura in the second with interesting outcomes. An all Sumatran final? Or could we have Persipura playing Persija in a repeat of 2005 when the Papuans were victorious?

Arema today played football. You can't help thinking that had they performed as a team against Sriwjaya the East Javanese side would be contemplating their own road to Senayen. But they're not. Instead it is the tiny band of PSMS fans who are celebrating on the terraces in Sidoarjo and hey, would you believe it but on 16 December 2006 who predicted Medan for the title in some convoluted thought process that now escapes me!

Semi finals are on 6th February so we get a two week break. Great! What do I do after work now? Watch American frigging Idle???

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Newcastle are the Persib of English football

With English football dominated by the return of Kevin Keegan I've been having my work cut out explaining just why people are so excited about Newcastle United. In my time here I've only met two people who didn't suppport one of the Big 3 or Chelsea. One supported West Ham, the other Newcastle. The rest are bemused. Who cares about Newcastle they ask?

My response has evolved from just some team oop north to a much clearer, and easier understood answer. Newcastle are just like Persib. Instant recognition.

Both towns are steeped in football heritage. Both clubs are an extension of regional identity. Newcastle represent the hopes of the Geordies, north eastern folk with a penchant for funny accents and going bare chested 'doon the toon' in the most inclement weather.

They brought us Viz and Jimmy Nail!

Traditional songs fill the Gallowgate every weekend from the Blaydon Races to other stuff. Geordie identity as tough hard working folk has been cemented in TV shows like Auf Wiedersehen Pet and When The Boat Comes In. A proud people clinging to their working class roots.

Persib represent the Sunda, the original people of that region of Java. Their unofficial tag if you like is Maung Persib or Persib roars. Like Newcastle the people in the city have no time for any other team. Persib Sampai Mati, Persib till death. They hate outsiders but reserve a special emnity to their bitterest foes, Persija Jakarta

Both sets of fans look back proudly on a long tradition of success though most of the fans have never seen a trophy lifted by their heroes.

With fanatical support home and away both clubs have underachieved over the last several years. The Geordies have won nothing since the 60's. Persib were Liga champions in the mid 90's. Other than that there has been much flattering to deceive, much hype, much terrace angst and little glory.

Management issues have plagued both clubs as owners seek to extert their own influence. Quick fixes are always sought

The prodigal son has returned to Newcastle. Persib still await theirs.



Setting a good example

As I talk to people in football here I always ask about the role of foreign players and I always get the same response. They are here to pass on their technical know how and skills; they are here to set a good example.

26 year old Cameroonian Emile Mbamba is without doubt one of the most talented foreign players currently in the Liga. Strong, pacy, prolific scorer, he would benefit almost any team. Singlehandedly almost he has dragged Arema into the Play Offs since arriving in September.

His career has seen him play in Netherlands, Israel and Portugal as well as scoring in the Champions League.

Yesterday against Sriwijaya he was lucky to stay on the pitch for the full 90 minutes. After being pulled up for handball, rightly so proved the TV replays, Mbamba picked the ball up and raced for the linesman, throwing the ball at the official's head. Last week the fans, this week a player.

The referee gave a yellow card. It should have been red. He should be on his way out of the Arema. I wonder, would he have acted so pathetically in Europe? Would he have done that when he played against Juventus in the Champions League? I somehow doubt it.

He showed great disrespect to Indonesian football with that act. An act that couldn't be described as childish as I can imagine no child acting so dumb.

Of course he is not alone in getting upset when decisions go against him. Football is an emotional game and fans like to see their players show feeling on the pitch. But not assaulting the match officials. Not one week after the incidents of Kediri. Not ever.

The rest of the game he was a spoilt brat in a toy shop not allowed to buy anything. He complained to the ref, he complained to the linesmen. He complained at his team mates. For 90 minutes he shrugged and scowled at anything and everything.

Standards in the game here may not be what he is used to but as a professional he has a responsibility, not least to himself. If he wants a new contract back in Europe, in Indonesia or wherever he needs to rise above the fray. Let his undoubted talent hog the headlines and lead by example.



Arema v Sriwijaya 0-2

The Arema players wanted Miroslav Janu, their Czech coach, out. They got their wish. Now at the vital Play Off stage their dream of Liga glory is falling apart amid petulance and ill discipline.

Sriwijaya brushed aside a poor Arema side at the Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo in their relentless march to an unprecedented domestic double and this must rank as one of their easier performances.

Second half goals from Lenglolo and Charis were enough to decide this messy game littered with free kicks.

With Arema fans banned some 8,000 'Wong Malang', or Malang people, made the short journey to support their team without wearing colours. If only their team had shown the same dedication or passion they might have got a result

The Sumatran side have four points from two games and on Saturday they play Persiwa. Arema meanwhile have one point from their two games and need something special against PSMS to reach the Liga semi finals.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


PSMS v Persiwa 2-1

44' - Saktiawan (PSMS)
45' - Sunday Seah (Persiwa) pen

73' - James Koko (PSMS)


Woe, woe, woe is me

I’m a bad loser at the best of times. Against that lot from up the Seven Sisters it hurts more. When you throw in such an inept performance as last night then I’m sorry, it just don’t get any worse. Until 3-0 I was still quietly confident. When the 4th went in it was good night Wembley and good night Jakarta. I reached for the remote and hit the sack.

I’m not going to talk about individual performances. Indeed I’d rather not talk about the showing full stop. Instead I will limit my comments to a couple of players, one who played and one who didn’t. Given that Kolo Toure was going to be absent for a fair while at the African Cup of Nations and given that we would be a bit thin on the ground in the middle of the defence why oh why did Arsene Wenger let Matthew Connolly leave? And what is it with playing players out of position? Abou Diaby wide left? Puh-leese.

Let the Cockrels crow, hurt though it does. It’s their first win over us this millennium.

Remember the last time they beat us in a semi final? In 1991 we went on to win the Championship! Remember the last time we lost in the League Cup 6-2? We went on to win the Championship!

I hope this acts as a kick up the arse for the team. We better get the Premier League at least now, the idea of them muppets having bragging rights for at least six months sickens me.

That’s the crux. All this fancy football is la di da but we need a trophy. Nay, we demand a trophy. We’ve had a couple of barren seasons of poor League campaigns and failure in various finals, this May we want a celebration. If there is nothing, all that intricate football counts for nothing. I don’t wanna be a neutrals friend, let them flock back to WHL…I want silverware.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Persipura v Persija 0-0

God this was dull. Persipura had already qualified, Persija needed a point, nobody went home upset from the Delta Stadium in Sidoarjo.

With Samosir replacing Evgeney in the Persija goal both him and his opposite number Jendry laid out a mat in the centre circle and played chess while digging into to some fried chicken and coke while their team mates did a bit of running around.

If anything the Jakarta team tried that bit harder with substitute Rueben Ceco getting booked for being fouled and having his boot come off.

Both teams had made changes with Robertinho injured and Persipura putting Jeremiah on the bench.

Umm ... that's about it



Strike forces collide

Today's crucial Play Off between Persija and Persipura at the Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo, throws up four of the most prolific strikers in the Indonesian game today.

Persija boast of the only local partnership in the Liga with Bambang Pamungkas and Aliyudin. Bambang made his first appearance in 1999 and has since scored 101 goals for the club he calls home while Ailyudin, also 27, has hit 70 sine he first appeared in 2002 for Pelita Krakatau Steel. But while Bambang has only played for Persija, his strike partner has also hit the net for Persikota where he played from 2003 - 2006. Both have 17 goals in the Liga this season.

The Papuan Black Pearls maybe without their own local hero, Boaz Solossa has made cameo appearances in the Play Offs, but they have their own hot shot imports.

Ernest Jeremiah, 22, was brought in to replace Boaz when he got injured playing for Indonesia and in 17 games hit 10 goals including a wonderful bullet header that started the route against Persik last Saturday. His partner is Brazilian Alberto Goncalves, 27, in his first season in Jayapura. Beto, as he is known, has 18 goals from 34 starts and the pair of them provide pace and strength aplenty for Persipura.

In the recent Copa semi final at Bung Karno Persipura tore Persija apart and coach Isman will be hoping his defence is more disciplined this afternoon than on that hot afternoon. The head to head however points to Persipura. The last four meetings, all in the Copa have gone the Papuans way with three victories and a single draw.

Persija will be hoping Robertinho recovers from a leg injury in time for this afternoon's kick off.

The other game sees Persik play Deltras in Solo and Persik's aim is clear. With a negative goal difference they must ripple the Deltras net at least four times and hope Persija lose to stand any chance of qualifying. The Sidoarjo side have failed to impress in their first Play Off appearance and will be keen to give their supporters a show in the East Java derby. If any team can score goals for fun though it is Persik Kediri but much will depend on whether the FA enforce the two match suspension given to striker Christian Gonzalez for his role in the handbags after the game with Persija.


Monday, January 21, 2008


Persiwa v Arema 2-2

After the riot that halted this game last Wednesday Arema and Persiwa fronted up at an empty Delta Stadium in Sidoarjo and kept the referee's whistle working over time with a series of petty fouls that filled the final 18 minutes.

Play continued where it ended in Kediri, with a goal kick not the riot! Mbamba beat the offside trap and saw his effort cleared off the line. He did however level the fixture, 2-1 first time around if you haven't been keeping up, with a sweet 20 yard drive.

At the death Arema should have won it. Mbamba turned provider for Akhbar but he hit his effort against the keeper and Persiwa saw out the corner.


Bits and pieces

Following their three year suspension Arema supporters club the Aremania have hired a legal team to help them appeal the sentence. Various local officials have also put their weight beyond the cause recognising potential future backers/voters!

In the meantime the linesmen who got slapped get quietly forgotten about.

After the nonsens at the end of the Persija v Persik game the FA met quickly and dished out a few judgements. Among them both Evgeny Khamarac, Persija keeper, and Christian Gonzalez, the Persik striker, were each fined 25 million rupiah, just under 3000 USD, and banned for two games. This being Indonesia both played Saturday!

Apparently some letter hadn't been recieved. In truth I'm avoiding this story 'cos it's so damned fluid, it changes every bloody minute. Sod that, let the local media get their copy from it.

Persipura were bloody impressive on Saturday against Persik. I watched the game with the Persija assistant coach Isman Jasulmei and he was purring at the performance of Ernest Jeremiah and Alberto Goncalves up front. Pace and strength plus support from the midfield it's going to take something to stop these guys. Isman wan't taken with my tactical nous - cut their legs off.

Back to the Manahan Stadium. This is widely considered one of the best stadiums in the country. One covered stand, the rest of the stadium is open terracing ste behind a running tarack so it some distance from the pitch. Also the terraces end quite high up so for fans to get on the pitch they need the agility of a cat.

I sat in the main stand and around me were mostly local families just enjoying the football. Behind one goal, to my right, there were the Persik and Deltras following, both small. Opposite in their usual place was the main body of Persis support who were quiet and again just enjoying the games. To my right was the Persija support, rowdy and colouful as ever, they put on a show that had the locals clapping in appreciation.

One thing that struck me was the lack of police pitch side. They were inside the stadium but they kept a low profile. Instead there were security guards who spent the game focused purely on the spectators, unlike the local cops who just sit and watch the game. I dunno how effective the security chaps would be if something did go off but inside the stadium for the game I saw there was a distinct lack of tension. All rather pleasant actually.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Them vicious football fans

Another podcast or whatever you wanna call them. It lasts about eight minutes, is about 8 MB and you can copy and paste the link and play it in i-Tunes. If you don't have i-Tunes you can download it free. We did!

While in Solo I met up with some of the Persija support and asked them their opinions of recent events including the riot in Kediri and the kerfuffle including their own team in Solo.

After spending an hour or so with them and I walked back to my hotel near the stadium and recorded the story while it was fresh in my mind. It was a long old wobble for sure and at the start you hear me wheezing like a fat old 40 something. I also say umm and and alot!

Rather like the other day when I interviewed the Arema fan I just pass on what they say without comment. Later in the evening I met with assistant coach Isman Jasulmei and Bambang Pamungkas and passed on some of the fans comments regarding conspiracies and they heartily poo pooed any such suggestion.

Don't get me wrong. Although I do extol the virtues of the Persija fans there is a hooligan element among their support. There are lads who would like to engage in mindless violence and have done in the past. But at the moment they seem a pretty loyal bunch of fanatics intent on supporting their team as best they can.

After the Gonzalez goal in the first match fans with other clubs would have reacted in a negative manner but the Jakmania didn't. You could say the thugs were on the pitch instead!

With Persipura and Persik fans in town as well as Sidoarjo there is always an element of risk. But strog coordination between the fans, and excellent arrangements by the Persis Solo fans, Pasoepati, ensured nothing happened. And of course nothing stories they never get heard.

At the end of the game the Persija fans started waving at the Solo support and singing thank you very much. We used to do that against Tottenham but we'd be thanking them for another three points and we waved something a little less polite.

The highlight of the trip for someone like me who doesn't like Liverpool but pines for the old English style terrace atmosphere was when the Jakmania started singing You'll Never Walk Alone in Indonesia complete with scarves raised aloft. An impressive sight and sound.

Poor Isman. The squad had to fly to Surabaya the next morning to prepare for the final Play Off with Persipura, both teams on the same flight, and because there weren't enough seats on the plane Isman and some other members of the back room staff had to make do with the train leaving at 1 am. The glamour of top flight football eh?

While the Persipura v Persik game was on I sat down with Bambang and discussed his career, Persija and the national team. That interview should appear over the next couple of days.

Pictures of the day can be found here and here.



Football is back

After the apocolyptic tales that have been describing Indonesian football my trip to Solo was all rather dull.

Persija huffed and puffed before finally turning over Deltras 1-0 thanks to Aliyudin who performed heroically all afternoon.

Meanwhile in the other game Persik fell apart in front of Persipura's pace and strength, falling 4-1, giving themselves a real mountain to climb in the secon leg against Deltras. Anything though is possible for this team and with Persija playing bogey team Persipura they have a chance.

No riots, no pitch brawls and no plastic water bottle throwing. Like I said all rather dull...

Friday, January 18, 2008


Friday on my mind

After all the fun and games, and even football, of the last couple of days today really has been dullsville but I think it's just a calm before the storm.

Tomorrow I hit Solo for a whirlwind 24 hours where I will take in the Persija v Deltras game. There's a few other bits and pieces on my to do list including finding someplace to take in the Arsenal game as well as catching up with some of the Persija support who are kipping over in a royal palace.

I hope to catch a couple of people in the Persija camp as well; if they're in a good mood!

Back on Sunday when I hope to touch base with another chap caught up in the Kediri mayhem on Wednesday.

Only snippet of news I have today is Persija coach Sergei Dubrovin has been suspended for two years but will probably still be on the bench tomorrow!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Exclusive interview with Arema fan

With Arema fans making the news for all the wrong reasons I decided to try and get their side of the story. ** was one of some 15,000 fans who made the journey to Kediri last night.

I asked him if he had been in a good position to see the first two goals the referee disallowed.

I hadn’t been in a good position to see any of the disallowed goals. there was no problem with the goals disallowed, rather when Persiwa scored their second which didn’t cross the line

When the linesman was knocked over in the first half what was the reaction of the fans near you and how did the police react?

Fans jumped onto the pitch and the police ran away.

How easy was it to get from the stands to the pitch?

It’s a small stadium and with only a small number of police what did you expect?

Did any Aremania stewards try and stop fans getting on the pitch?

There were no Aremania stewards. It’s in Kediri and we don’t have organization, they don’t have controlling system. It’s like in Britain 15/20 years ago

How many fans invaded the pitch and who cleared the pitch?

The police finally cleared the pitch

How much damage was done in the town and how did you get home?

Kediri was dead last night, no electricity. We walked to Blitar and got back to Malang at 4 am.

How do fans feel about being banned from games for 3 years?

We feel very strongly we are being set up. We believe there is a conspiracy against us and that people don't want us to win the Liga

Will Arema fans still go to the remaining play off games?

Don’t know yet

Have the fans heard anything from the club or the players?

Not yet.

Can they appeal the ban?

We hope so. We want to arrange a meeting with BLI/FA

What did they hope to achieve by rioting and trashing the stadium?

It was impulsive. Come on, we were angry, who’d think of an impact

In closing they apologized to the people of Kediri and said less nice things about the Indonesian FA who they believe have an agenda against them.

This interview was carried out by text message with an Arema Malang fan who was at the game and got caught up in some of the incidents. The responses are his as translated by movie maker Andibachtiar Yusuf. The only censorship I have done is regarding his remarks about the FA but I’m sure you can guess.

This interview is not designed to take sides. Rather it is to give a voice to someone who may not normally get the opportunity. Rather like Fox News, you decide!



Crowd trouble

Yet again the ugly head of out of control fans dominates the headlines here. On ESPN I have just added a new column that looks at the problem here

With so much vitriol directed at officials the next target is a ref. I hope that can come about soon; who the hell would be a ref eh?


Conspiracy theories

Arema fans are convinced they are victims of a conspiracy to prevent them being Liga Champions 2007 and they point to having three goals disallowed in last nights clash with Persiwa as evidence.

They also complain there were not many police inside the stadium last night. This ties in with what someone else tells me regarding the policing, or lack of it.

Indonesia is rife with tales of deals done in smokey rooms, of corruption and it is no surprise such allegations arise in football. I have heard of at least instance where players were paid to throw a match and fans with much closer links to clubs than I have also hear the same.

Given the wide spread corrupt practises it is no surprise people point so quickly to nefarious characters and dodgy deals done on the side.

Any 'perceived' dodgy decision that goes against a side is going to be looked at in that light and it is no surprise that during the hoo hah that marred the end of the Persija game earlier this evening the coach, Sergei Dubovrin, was heard to mention the word money as he complained about the decision that cost his side two valuable points.

TV evidence last night was unclear but, for me anyway, the linesman got the first two correct. The third from Mbamba was a goal, I could not see how the linesman could give it as offside. There was a coming together off the ball in the box but it didn't impact either Mbamba or the Persiwa keeper Charles Woof.

The issue is though if a decision goes against a team and they start bleating about match fixing then we are not going to end up with a football league. We're going to end up with a farce.

Going back to the Persija game. Just what did Dubovrin hope to achieve by puffing his chest out against the officials and at one point refusing to play? Was he expecting the ref to say, 'Oh sorry Sergei, you're right, scratch that goal.' How many times has that happened?

Some Arema fans at least, ok I guess most of them, are disgusted at what happened last night and have sent a letter of apology to the city of Kediri and to the media. If I get a copy I'll post it on here.



Persipura v Deltras 4-0

1' - Jeremiah (Persipura)
9' - Jeremiah (Persipura)
28' - Paulo (Persipura)

72' - Ian Luis Kabes (Persipura)

Half time. More fun and games after the third goal, which was classic Charles Hughes route one, when one of the floodlight pylons failed!

Rather boring actually, this was a football match that Persipura dominated and nobody whinged too much. Except for Sasa, Deltras, when he was subsituted.

No ref beaten up, no coach going mental...what's the point?

Biggest cheer of the night was for Boaz Solossa when he came on the 87th minute for his first appearance in 6 months.


Revised Semi Final and Final dates

The Liga semi finals and final dates have been changed again. They will now take place over the Chinese New Year.

6 Feb - Semi Finals
9 Feb - Final

Fixtures will still be at Bung Karno.


Persija v Persik 2-2

14' Danilo (Persik)
27' Aliyudin (Persija)

62' Bambang (Persija)
81' Gonzalez (Persik)

A great game of football unfortunately the post match analysis will centre on controversy, not skill as Persija took umbrage at the way Persik equalised.

Abanda and Gonzalez battled for the ball inside the penalty box and Abanda slipped leaving the lethal Uruguayan to pick his spot and equalise. Then it began...

Persija coach Dubovrin went for the linesman, players surrounded the ref and mayhem reigned for 10 minutes as Persija pleaded, in vain, that Abanda had been impeded. Maybe he had but it looked slight in the replays and anyway much worse is seen during games and let go.

Dubovrin was incensed while his fellow Moldovan, Evgeney, in the Persija goal made a big show of not putting his gloves back on having chased the ref 50 yards to have his say.

Persija were further incensed when the ref played just 10 more minutes, no doubt figuring they were wasting their time and nobody elses and when he blew the final whistle, well wouldn't you know it, away we go again.

A punch was thrown at Gonzalez, more pushing and shoving, it took Bambang, Rueben Ceco and Uncle Tom Cobley n all to try and calm down the Moldovan coach who was livid. Hamkah Hamza got involved and it all got very ugly.

Yesterday the bad sports were on the terraces. Today they were on the pitch. Either way it was unseemly and undignified.

It' s a shame because as a football match this was full of entertainment and fair play. There was no rolling around, no theatrics. Just a good game of football. Until the 81st minute.

At least the fans seemed to behave themselves.

Hmm, wonder about that Bambang interview on Saturday?



Aremania banned for 3 years

The Indonesian FA have acted quickly in the wake of the shameful scenes last night at Brawijaya Stadium, Kediri, where Arema fans rampaged.

The Arema supporters club, Aremania, have been banned for three years from attending games in Indonesia. Not sure what that entails. If they form a new club can they go?

The remaining fixtures from the group based in Kediri have been rescheduled as follows (Venue in brackets):

21 Jan Persiwa vs Arema Malang (Sidoarjo)
23 Jan Persiwa vs PSMS, Arema vs Sriwijaya FC (Sidoarjo)
26 Jan Sriwijaya FC vs Persiwa (Sidoarjo)
26 Jan Arema vs PSMS (Surabaya, Gresik or Solo)

The semi finals will now be played at Bung Karno in Jakarta on 30 January with the Final on 3 February at the same venue.

On a final note perhaps it would be nice if the idiots who were responsible for last night's carnage could be sent back to Kediri, explain their actions to the locals and tidy up their bloody mess!


A right kerfuffle

Persik fans were unwilling to allow Arema fans to travel in the first place. A meeting involving local government, Aremania and police gave the go ahead for 11,500 fans to travel. The result is one smashed Brawijaya Stadium and a schedule up in the air.

FA and club officials meet this afternoon in Kediri, after the smoke has literally cleared, to decide what to do with the remaining four fixtures now that the Brawijaya has no further part to play.

Today and Saturday's games go ahead as planned in Solo while the Arema v Persiwa game that was cancelled after 70 minutes will be replayed on 21 January in Solo. The final games from the group of four based in Solo will now be played on the 22nd. With me so far?

The outstanding fixtures from Kediri will possibly be relocated to Solo, Gresik of Surabaya. The latter will be attractive because for sure no Arema fans will travel!

Their is a chance the semi finals and final will be put back a week.

Questions must be asked though. Why was the Brawijaya Stadium selected? Under the FA's own guidelines there are only five stadiums in the country of the highest quality at the moment. Solo, Sidoarjo, Sleman, Soreang and Palembang. Another, dafter, question, is what were the 1,000 police and security doing while fans went mental?


Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Arema Malang v Persiwa

The ugly side of Indonesian football reared its head during the Arema v Persiwa Play Off at Kediri. Patricio Morales had already seen one goal disallowed for handball after 10 minutes and Arema, roared on by some 15,000 travelling fans had fallen behind when a defensive mix up had allowed Oscar Mariano a free header.

A second Arema goal was disallowed, this time for offside but while the replays showed the officials had made the correct call some Arema fans didn’t see it that way. Objects were thrown on the pitch and one oaf attacked a linesman, decking him before getting caught. Play was held up for 15 minutes while the official received treatment and order was restored on the terraces.

Persiwa, from the Papuan Highlands had started aggressively, attempting to intimidate both their opponents and the fans but Arema soon got in their stride. Emile Mbanda was soon wound up and was haraunging the ref at every opportunity but some football was being played, notably by Elie Aiboy for the Malang side and Foday for Persiwa who looked somewhat incongruous for a team bidding for their first championship. What’s the matter lads, couldn’t find a shop with a complete set of socks?

Second half was more of the same. And worse.

On 52 minutes Mbamba had a goal disallowed, Arema’s 3rd of the night. It takes very brave officials indeed to do that in this country. Moments later Jaenal hit the post with his first touch after coming on as substitute.

Just on the hour Persiwa were two up. Arema were commited up front and the Papuans broke at pace. Foday crossed and Pieter had a free header. Straight down the other end and Mbamba this time had a goal allowed but tensions were brewing off the pitch. The Kediri stadium has fences round the running track and there was a lot of movement as fans prepared to make their own move, incensed at the refeering that had cost them three goals.

On 70 minutes a linesman was felled for the second time in the match and it all went off. Some moron carrying a fluffy lion charged the pitch and slapped one of the officials and he was followed by others. The ref and his linesmen were led off the pitch surrounded by security officials as fans vented their fury.

The TV cameras returned to the studio for about 15 minutes. When they returned to the stadium the terraces were empty. One goal was ablaze, another fire was raging on the far touch line. The other goal had been trashed. Litter was scattered all over the pitch while security personnel scratched their gonads and wondered what to do.

The game was over. The officials were evacuated from the stadium somehow while Arema fans ran riot outside. The morons had won.



Sriwijaya v PSMS 2-2

1' James Koko (PSMS)
29' James Koko (PSMS)
43' Ambrizal (Sriwijaya)
69' Zahraham (Sriwijaya)

If Sriwijaya are to achieve a unique domestic double they are going about it the hard way. Two down within half an hour against PSMS they came up against an inspired Markus Horison in the Medan goal but well deserved at least a point in this Sumatran affair.

Played in the puddles of Brawijaya Stadium in Kediri PSMS were two up early on, the second goal coming after Ferry Rotinsulu, the hero on the Copa win against Persipura on Sunday, palmed a Gustavo Chena free kick on to the post. Koko reacted first and PSMS were coasting.

Sriwijaya are made of stern stuff though and when Horison failed to hold a free kick at the other end Ambrizal had a simple tap in to bring the Palembang back in the tie. Some PSMS player got a red in the second half and Zahramah levelled with a beauty.

I get to watch American Idol before the second match...jealous eh?



Play Offs start today

The Liga Play Offs kick off in Kediri today with Copa winners hoping for a first ever domestic double. They play PSMS in an all Sumatran affair first up then Arema play Persiwa in the evening game.

PSMS will be without Agus Cima and Rommy Dias Putra for their game against Sriwijaya who a couple of weeks back beat them in the Copa 4-0 after extra time.

Arema will be without the suspended Ponaryo Astaman and Sutaji for their clash with Papuans Persiwa. They also lost Czech coach Miroslav Janu last week so this clash sees both sides coached by Joko Susilo. Not the same one obviously.

Tomorrow sees the attention switch to Solo where Persija play Persik and Persipura take on Sidoarjo.

There is though a spanner in the works. Former President Suharto lies ill in a Jakarta hospital and were he to die it is highly probable the Play Offs would be delayed. He is to be buried near Solo and rumours have it the government would call for a period of mourning for the man alleged to have bled the country dry during his 32 years on the throne.

Muggins here has booked to go down to Solo this weekend so you better hang on in there old fella!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Booing your own players

Fans need a scapegoat. Someone they can blame when things go wrong. It's as natural as a buring ringpiece after a particularly spicey vindaloo. It's as natural as Tottenham 'going to' sign someone.

But why?

Two years ago at Arsenal Gilberto was getting it from fans. Last year he was among the top scorers and everyone loved him. Last season fans were knocking Adebayor and Hleb. Now they're god's gift.

But fans still need their victims and this year it seems to be Senderos and Walcott. For the love of Zippy, what's all this about eh? Senderos comes in, plays a game and a half, makes a mistake and gets slated. Toure last year, or was it the year before, made some glaring errors but no one ever had a pop at him. Senderos was part of the team that went 7,875,783 games without conceding a goal in the Champions League. Bad players don't do that.

Walcott still has his nappy changed at half time. What the hell are people giving him grief for? See him in the Under 21's he looks the mutts nuts, the guy has got talent. Don't believe me, Arsene Wenger signed him, he knows you know.

Not everyone can be a Fabregas or Ronaldo. Some young players take time to settle in.

Tony Adams came in aged 17 and looked like a cart horse. Not a donkey. I groaned a few times when I saw his name in the programme but he was given time and hey with time comes games and with games comes experience. It ain't rocket science.

Another name. Thierry wotshisbleedin' name? French geezer. First few games I saw him and I was thinking don't sneeze or he'll fall over and may not get up. I think he turned out all right.

I've talked before on here about how the fans that plonk their arses on seats today are quick to criticise. Don't get me wrong, we've had enough duffers at the Arsenal over the years to fill a book. Young players need time and games. So do experienced ones. I bet if you went back to Arsenal today and asked for a fan who booed Martin Keown when he joined the club for the second time not one will stand up. But they were there.

You wanna boo Walcott and Senderos then obviously that's your right as someone who follows the herd and doesn't want to have their own opinion unless they conflict with the 'majority'. Slag away numpties while I draw up my own nightmare XI!



Nicholas P


I'm sure others could come up with Wenger's wobbles but they were mostly after my time. And Ray Hankin didn't get enough game time to be considered. I saw him get a minute at Highbury in one of his two games, I forget how many he minutes he got at Anfield.


Uruguay bound

In a couple of hours time 25 of Indonesia's youngest brightest footballing talents will be jetting off into the great unknown. For many, kampung kids brought up in the rural backwaters, this will be the first time outside the country and culture shock is going to kick in big time.

For four years these kids will be living and breathing Montevidean air far, far from home and some won't last.

Families are tight in the boonies and homesick is bound to effect some of the lads.

They're going to miss Ramadhan, they're going to miss pulang kampung. Birthdays, weddings, harvests.

Family pressure might bring people home. It did with Fandi Ahmad. A young player in Holland, one minute he was talking to Johann Cruyff, the next he was heading home because his family wanted him nearer.

This programme is costing the Indonesian FA a million dollars US a year. They tried once before, sending kids to Sampdoria, the most famous graduate being Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto. None made their mark in Europe and many pined for home.

Surely the money would be better spent developing a national football college here, just like they don't have in England. Staff it with the best coaches. Keep training the best coaches. Import the best coaches to give workshops. But allow the kids to be near their families.

Later this year these kids will be breaking the fast in a foreign culture. I don't know how many Muslims there are in Uruguay but I do hope this is an area that has been considered.

It's a sweeping statement, look what we're doing to develop our football, but sometimes it's the smaller gestures that have the bigger impact.


Never make predictions!

Over on ESPN I stuck my neck out and predicted Arema, Sriwijaya, Persipura and Deltras would make the Liga semi finals.

That was because I expected Claudio Pronetto and Jose Sebastian to line up for the Sidoarjo Deltras. Now I hear they may not! Contract issues blah blah...

Those guys are integral to the Deltras, removing them is like removing two legs of the Eiffel Tower; the team are going to struggle without them.

If they don't come back then Persija will go through, along with Persipura.



Dollo takes over

Benny Dollo has been confirmed as the new national coach of Indonesia it was announced yesterday evening.

Bendo recently quit as coach of Persita after they failed to reach the Copa semi finals.

He has signed a 12 month contract, effective 1 February 2008 and is likely to have a busy year if plans go ahead. The Indonesian FA will be hosting the ASEAN Football Championship in December as well as a tournament in July.

10 friendlies are also anticipated including Jamaica and Bayern Munchen but we'll see eh? With clubs unlikely to start pre season training till March or April Benny has plenty of time to reorganise the furniture in his new office.


Monday, January 14, 2008


Cough up

Sriwijaya's bank manager is going to be a happy little bunny as the club receive 2 billion rupiah for winning the Copa Indonesia from the sponsors including 500 million to help transport costs in the Asian Champions League. Which they won't need.

Both the Copa and the Liga are heavily sponsored by tobacco companies and it's probably fair to say if they withdrew their support the game as it is would probably collapse.

The Copa sponsors invested 8.77 billion rupiah in the 2007 Copa, nearly double the 4.85 billion that went on the 2005 Copa. Big money with lots of zeros. (1USD - approx 9300 rupiah).

So where does the money go? This seasons' pot is shared among 92 clubs and goes something like this:

Qualification round:
- Winner 25 million
- Loser 20 million

Round One (home and away)
-Winner 25 million
- Loser 20 million

Round Two (home and away)
- Winner 50 million
- Loser 20 million

Round Three (home and away)
- Winner 75 million
- Loser 30 million

Quarter Final (home and away)
- Winner 100 million
- Loser 40 million

Semi Final
- Winner 150 million
- Loser 60 million

Copa Winner - 2 billion
Runner Up - 750 million
3rd Place - 350 million

Best Player - 75 million
Top Scorer - 75 million
Fair Play - 75 million
Best Fans - 50 million

Persija for example received a total of 660 million for coming 3rd if I have done the maths correct. (25 + 50 + 75 + 100 + 60 + 350 = 660 million)

Take away the tobacco company and you have nothing. It ain't perfect but there are probably no companies in Indonesia that have pockets deep enough to get involved at the moment.

Even if you lose the money the clubs get may not cover their expenses. Perseman Manokwari from Papua lost their first leg at home to Sriwijaya 1-2. There was no way they were going to win the second leg so they decided to forfeit the game. They saved something like 100 million in travel expenses plus the awkwardness of flights here.

No doubt it's easy for us from the west to get on our moral high horse about the evils of tobacco getting involved in sport but it wasn't that long ago in England we had the Rothmans Isthmian League. On a similar scale the Australian Socceroos used to be sponsored by a tobacco company. As was the rugby league.

People want football. The sponsors and the FA are happy that attendances, well guesses, are up and some of the football has been of the highest standard. Top players thrive in top competitions and the likes of Goncalves and Ferry have shown the country the quality in Indonesia is of a high standard.

The rights and wrongs of tobacco involvement in sport should be debated and I believe here they will at some time but not yet.

Despite going to a good few games here in both the Copa and Liga, also sponsored by tobacco, I have never once felt tempted to try one of their products. I don't have a bank account with the people who sponsor the Premier League but I must admit I do enjoy the beer that sponsors Liverpool once in a while

Face it. The game is stuck with tobacco for the near future.



Malaysian Super League scores

DPMM v Pahang 1-1
Johor v Sarawak 3-1
Perak v Kedah 2-5
MyTeam v Perlis 4-2
Negeri Sembilian v Penang 2-1
Selangor v PDRM 4-1

Three teams tie for spot after Negeri Sembilian, Kedah and Selangor all won last time out. MyTeam finally won their first game of the season but Sarawak lost again and remain rooted at the bottom of the table.

Tomorrow sees Terangganu host Selangor. Victory could see Selangor go clear at the top...the big game though sees Negeri Sembilan travel to Kedah


The Longest Season

Having got through the holiday period with the usual whinges about too many games I thought it would be fun to play the sad old git and recall Arsenal's 1979/80 season when we...well, you can read it here!

Odd but the Birmingham result Saturday didn't really click. We drew to bloody Birmingham at home, jeez, but they worked hard. Played a bit of football as well. But Birmingham at home? Remember a young David Seaman having a blinder for them in 85. Also remember a draw at Highbury over Christmas time in 83. God, grim days...Birmingham?!


The Jakmania and money!

After winning 50 million lovely jubblies yesterday as the Best Supporters Danang and the gang are planning a trip to England to take in some Premier League games..., they're not. They're going to use the money to subsidise travel and accomodation for fans keen to go to Solo for the Play Offs on Wednesday.

It was the fans what won it, it's the fans what benefit.

Not being a fan I have to pay my own way (grumble, grumble!)



Indonesian goalkeepers

Ferry Rotinsiulu's role in helping Sriwijaya win the Copa Indonesia underlined the strength in depth Indonesia has between the sticks.

At the other end Persipura had Jendri Pitoy, another full international. Pelita Jaya, who finished fourth, have their own young gem in Dian Agus whose last gasp save in the Quarter Finals against Persita ensured Pelita Jaya's semi final appearance.

With the Play Offs beginning on Wednesday it is noticable both Arema and PSMS possess strong local keepers. PSMS have Markus Horison, another international while Arema go one better. They have Hendro Kartiko and Achmad Kurniawan who have both represented their country.

They may be lacking in other areas on the pitch but in goal at least Indonesian football is well served.



Other Copa awards

Winners - Sriwijaya
Runners up - Persipura
Third place - Persija
Best Player - Bambang Pamungkas (Persija)
Top Scorer - Alberto Gocalves (Persipura) 6 goals
Fair Play - Pelita Jaya
Best Fans - Jakmania (Persija)

Bambang winning the Best Player award comes as a surprise. For me Ferry in the Sriwijaya goal deserves the plaudits but the Persija striker is such an all round good egg and model professional they probably thought what the hell! I met Bambang on Saturday and have been promised an exclusive interview, possibly next Saturday during the Play Offs. Watch this space.

Congratulations to Danang and the Jakmania on winning 50 million as Best Supporters. They certainly put on a show yesterday on a sunny afternoon when little was at stake. I hope to have a few words with him later this week as well as some snaps of the trophy, won by Arema fans the last two years.

Fandi has done a great job at Pelita Jaya, not just moulding a team from nothing but also instilling a sense of playing the game the right way. It's right that the club end up with something tangible at the end of the season.

Talking interviews, yesterday I met a former Perseman Manokwari player, Charles Uchenna. Regular readers of this blog, both of them, will know I have had a macabre interest in Perseman over the past season, what with their outpost location as well as the Arsenal connection, Christopher Wreh. Uchenna had some great stories about his time in Papua and I hope to sit down with him soon and have a chat for my upcoming book.

Likewise I have been assured of a meet with Indonesia's highest profile referee Jimmy Napitupulu, who officiated yesterday's final. I hope this comes off as it would be great to hear from refs what it's like out there on the pitch .


Sriwijaya v Persipura 1-1

For the third consecutive cup tie Siriwijaya were taken to extra time and for the third consecutive tie the Palembang emerged triumphant as they won the Copa Indonesia for the first time in their short history.

Perspiura started strongly and Sriwijaya keeper Ferry Rotinsulu was called on early to hold back the Papuan onslaught but he had no chance when Ernest Jeremiah drove home from an acute angle, crashing his shot in off the underside of the bar.

Keith Kayamba Gums scored in the second half to take the Final into extra time.

Sriwijaya won the penalty shoot out 3-0, Ferry again inspired in goal.

With the Copa secured coach Rahmad Darmawan's men now have their sights on a unique domestic double. Next week the Liga Play Offs begin and they are up against Arema, PSMS and Persiwa.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


Persija v Pelita Jaya 2-1

Persija secured a consolation 3rd spot in Copa Indonesia 2007 thanks to an almighty defensive mix up that will have the normally placid Fandi Ahmad spitting bullets for a month.

Persija took the lead from a smartly worked free kick that released Bambang down tghe right. His side footed pass across the goal was turned in by Aliyudin and the rowdy Persija fans in an otherwise empty stadium celebrated.

Second half saw Alfonos equalise for the hard working Pelita Jaya who went close on a couple of other occasions before disaster struck.

A high cross into the box should have been meat and drink but promising keeper Agus Dian jumped and left it as did the Brazilian defender Wagner. Substitute Rueben Ceko, on for Bambang, had a free header and everyone looked at the ref.

It was hot in the beer garden before the game, it must have been sweltering out on the pitch for both sets of players and perhaps you could have forgiven Persija for resting a few players with the upcoming Play Offs.


Sriwijaya to win 1-0

The Governor of South Sumatra interupted a vital round at a prestigious Palembang golf course to tell the world Sriwijaya would win the Copa final against Persipura 1-0.

Sriwijaya's support numbered about 1,000 for last week's semi final with Pelita Jaya but today many more are expected to make the long journey over land and sea.

Victory today would be Sriwijaya's first major honour.

They started life in 1976 when they were based in East Jakarta and were known as Persijatim. They relocated for a while to the Central Java city of Solo where they were known as Solo before upping sticks to Palembang in 2004.

Coach Rahmad Darmawan is in his first season with the club having joined from Persija after failing to lead the Jakarta to glory in 2006. In 2005 he won the Liga with Persipura.



Sergei does a Rafa

Persija coach Sergei Dubovrin will make some changes to his side for today's 3/4th place play off against Pelita Jaya.

Having lost to Persipura in the semi final last Thursday all eyes are on the upcoming Liga Play Offs which start next Thursday.

Persija are grouped with Deltras, Persik and nemesis Persipura with games being held in Solo and Sleman.


Increased security for Copa final

Nearly 2,500 security personnel will be on duty at today's Copa Final between Persipura and Sriwijaya at Bung Karno Stadium. It is feared by authorities trouble could break out between football fans and families visiting the nearby furniture exhibition, especially if some mindless fans attack a brand new two piece sofa.

OK, the last bit is a bit of an untruth.

Quite what the increased numbers of security will do is unclear. At Thursday's semi finals the odd tear up in the stadium was brought under control by supporter's club officials and indeed it was noticeable the Persija fans who 'indulged' were not part of the main body of support that filled the East Stand that had been block booked by the Jakmania. Rather it was the fringes, behind the goal and in a corner where minor incidents occured.

It was the security personnel who stood idly by as the main group of Persipura support flooded the pitch. Little, sorry nothing, was done to stop this and it was lucky there was no response from the Persija contingent.

Behind one goal some orange clad kids threw plastic water bottles on the pitch. This is a normal occurance at matches here, sometimes they get filled with piss, but there were three layers of 'security' to go through before entering the stadium and the bottles had to be emptied into plastic bags. Obviously not all were. Plenty of 'ammunition' was also on sale inside the stadium which rather defeated the whole idea.

Outside an official told me four cars were damaged but trouble was light while Danang from the Jakmania said the only things broken were the hearts of thousands of Persija fans.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Christian Beckamenga goes French

Cameroonian Under 23 international Christian Beckamenga could be on his way to parley Francais.

After his contract expired at the end of November it was strongly rumoured he would be on his way to Malaysia.

His agent Onana Jules Denis tells me he hasn't signed yet but 'as he's not with the squad for Ghana 08 he will join Nantes ASAP.'

Of course being out of contract means Persib miss out on making a few bob out of a young talent but all the time clubs here think short term then they will continue to do so.



Perfect final but ...

Tomorrow's Copa final between Sriwijaya and Persipura at Bung Karno in Jakarta has all the makings of a classic. Two attack minded teams, quality players you couldn't ask for more. Could you?

I was milling around a press conference earlier today and a couple of people told me it wasn't the perfect final. Far from it.

With Persija consigned to battling for 3rd spot with Pelita Jaya the attendance tomorrow is likely to fall way short of Thursday's semi finals when some 70,000 fans attended.

While football neutrals, that loathsome spieces which includes me, look forward to a non Javanese final, beancounters are less happy at the prospect. I jokingly suggested the ideal scenario was Persija, Persib, Persebaya and Arema Malang competing and you should have seen their eyes light up.

The police and security personnel would have been less happy!

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