Monday, May 31, 2010


Arema - Indonesia Super League Champions

Arema, despite their youth (founded 1987), are one of the biggest clubs in Indonesia. With sound marketing and management they could become South East Asia's first truly big club though Muang Thong United may disagree.

Over the weekend Arema fans, known as Aremania, flooded Jakarta. Over 150 coach loads. Trains, one of which was reported to have been attacked Persib/Persebaya fans with one fatality. Planes. I flew into Jakarta from Batam the day before and there was one fan fully kitted out sat near me.

They estimated 10,000 would make the journey. Try double that.

85,000 filled the Bung Karno yesterday to pay homage to Arema. Persija and Arema fans are brothers. Go to Arema home games and you see plenty of Persija orange. Yesterday blue and orange were camped peacefully outside the stadium under a haze of kretek and good humoured chaos.

Arema are more than just a football club. They are a way of life. They are the St Pauli of Indonesia. A culture with in a culture. Satu Jiwa, one heart or one soul.

Not many people backed Arema at the start of the season. They looked a bit light weight and the general feeling was that they needed another striker. Instead coach Robert Alberts pushed Roman Chmelo forward and was rewarded with 14 goals.

For many the stars of the season have been Noh Alam Shah and M Riduan. Endlessy mocked in their own Singapore they have come to Indonesia, been adoped as honouree Malang folk and have become legends.

Riduan has always had pace. What has been missing has been end product and Singaporean can be a very impatient fan. Brought up on a diet of Liverpool and Manchester United they stick with winners and turn on the rest. Riduan was among the rest.

But Arema fans have warmed to the guy and he has responded with plenty of strong perfomances. Freed from the empty terraces of the SLeague where one person's barracking can echo through the heartland, he has stepped on to the Arema canvas and matured. Talk to an Arema fan and they are gobsmacked by the reaction his name gets in Singapore. In Malang he has had his moments but he has perservered and his consistency must give him a chance of being Player of the Year.

Noh Alam Shah! NAS has long been a legend waiting to happen. He ticks all the boxes of personality, character, talent and off the field persona. The guy is larger than life, his importance spreads beyond the field and into the dressing room and training field.

Had Alam Shah been born in Europe and was plying his trade in one of the big leagues you would see his name on the back of football shirts across his home country.

Arema fans recognise though what he is. The cup is always half full, he always plays with a smile on his face and the work rate he puts in, his pressing, is highly appreciated. Wayne Rooney if you like but if you're gonna get stuck in a lift with Rooney or NAS who would you choose?

But while the Singaporean lads have received the plaudits there is a strong Indonesia base to the team. Between the sticks Kurnia Meiga has been so good Markus Horison was allowed to leave. Coach Alberts rates Kurnia the best young keeper in the region. Better than Kawin at Muang Thong United.

Zulkifli, Ahmad Bustomi, Dendi Santoso, M Fakhruddin and Rahmat Affandi have also impressed.

Arema have truly had a great season. But the challenge now is to build on that. For the club to move forward they need to start thinking and acting like a professional club. The coach and players have done their part. Now it is up to management to make sure there is stability and continuity.

Amazing! 85,ooo is huge number. what's is the attendance record in indonesia?
a few years back there was i think over 100,000 for persib against psms
very nice. you put it very nice when local journos were busy speculating that Arema was already picked as the champion from the beginning.

I only saw one training session of Arema, and I have to admit that I'm amazed with club's atmosphere, not only with Aremania.

It was fun. Everybody smiled, made a joke to each other. Even coach Alberts's face never looked wrinkle, neither he screamed to the boys. Compare to Persija's or the national team under Benny Dollo with his shit-mouth.

People also almost forget about local lads contribution. NAS, Chmelo, Njanka and Esteban scored in the match. But, they surely wouldn't do that without support from Fakhrudin, Dendi and other lads. They failed to see that Alberts brought something to the club and turned local lads into such players.

Even if PSSI did put its invisible hand, could you predict where the ball go?
i have also heard about arema being 'picked' as champion before the season but decided not to go with it..way too depressing

at times arema played great football i dont think any can argue with that

i know the coach has been impressed by several of the local lads...
have you seen the Official site of Arema Indonesia?
Check at,
i think the site is better than
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