Friday, December 31, 2010


Improve The Pitch

For all the Liga Primer Indonesia's promises of world class management and salaries paid on time no one seems to have said anything about pitches. For good reason I guess, most stadiums are owned by local government and their attitude is to spend as little as possible on their upkeep.

I saw one guy watering the pitch at Lebuk Bulus last week and he was watering the playing surface with a watering can! The whole pitch! And this for a stadium that was used as a training ground during the AFF Cup recently.

Now, with all these foreign coaches coming in, to both the ISL and the LPI, criticisms are mounting about the sub standard playing surfaces. National team coach Alfred Riedl recently approached the Indonesian President saying the players needed an all weather training surface, not the pot holed effort they currently used.

New Medan Bintang coach Michael Feichtenbeiner has joined the chorus, complaining about the facilities in Medan.

He's got good reason to whine as it looks like four teams could be using the same surface; PSMS, Pro Titan (both Divisi Utama), Medan Bintang and Medan Chiefs (both LPI).

That's the problem with employing foreign coaches. They're a whiney bunch who want things done their way or it's highway. But is anyone listening? Who, out there, is going to fund pitch improvements?

UPDATE - that'll learn me! Feichtenbeiner is apparently with Makassar City which makes the whole paragraph Crap! To an extent. A list of coaches with LPI teams can be found here.


PSPS Fancy Safee

AFF Cup top scorer Safee Sali is being targeted by PSPS Pekanbaru. The side from Sumatra currently sit 7th and have been without their second top scorer from last season Isnani for several weeks.


Arguments For Liga Primer Indonesia

I've written plenty of stuff about the breakaway LPI recently and not all of it has been positive. There are a couple of reasons why I haven't really sat down and analysed the arguments for it are two fold. First I covered all that ground when I started writing about Indonesian football. Second, I am not convinced it's a long term option.

Indonesia does need a regeneration though. Certain clubs do get the 50/50s. And the 40/60s and more. The blame, though being heaped on the match officials, is going in the wrong direction. Let's put it this way, there are a few teams who are in the LPI who have done pretty bloody well out of dodgy decisions. What do they expect in the LPI? They can carry on regardless?

The whole point of the LPI is to do away with that kind of shite.

Last season it was common to hear that Arema would be champions long before the end of the season. Accusers point to favourable suspensions, rearranged games benefiting Arema, so on and so forth. Oh, and the top guy at the ISL being the top guy at Arema! Whether the allegations were true or not the perception was there and for many people not fully in the know perception becomes a truth.

Both Persema and Persibo cite the over reliance on local government funding as a primary reason for switching to the LPI. In the ISL as far as I can make out only Pelita Jaya, Semen Padang, Persib and Arema try to get by without using tax payers money. The rest are dependent on local government hand outs which are erratic and late.

Clubs like Sriwjaya, Persipura and Persija shouldn't need to go cap in hand to the taxpayer. They are surely big enough to be able to get money from a variety of sources but don't seem to bother trying though I understand Sriwijaya are moving in that direction.

The LPI offers something different. All money from sponsorship etc will go into a central kitty and clubs apply for sums based on their needs. Sounds like a recipe for disaster given some of the characters involved in the game but players and clubs seem to prefer this method as they feel assured they can pay their salaries and expenses on time.

So again, clubs aren't being expected to stand on their own two feet. Rather than try and cash in on the most popular sport in the country with a population of 240 million they would rather stick their begging bowl out. Taxpayer or central fund, neither method is a long term sustainable model but then long term is an alien concept.

Apparently there are a host of sponsors queuing up to get involved in the LPI. Nobody wants to invest in the ISL given the management there but they are keen for the LPI. With eight days to go before the season is scheduled to begin we have yet to see any evidence of these sponsors but they are critical to the whole running of the competition.

Certainly the ISL has either struggled or not even bothered trying to get people n board beyond tobacco companies and they will lose that in a few years anyway when a law goes through banning tobacco sponsorship of sport.

The LPI is also promising a larger piece of the pie from TV money. At the moment the channel broadcasting live games, owned by the same family that is influential in Indonesian football at all strata, pays some absurdly small amount to show the games and the clubs don't get a whiff of it. The LPI promises to charge TV more for the rights and will share the money between the clubs.

Indonesian football is a cash cow waiting to happen. It needs professional management at all levels from the national association to the clubs, not the 24 year daughter of the club owner, it needs merchandising in place, it needs a decent TV contract that reflects the true value of the game and the clubs need cash flow to meet their commitments to their players.

The LPI promises all that plus more.


Jakarta Casual Awards 2010

OK, here we go for the 2nd annual Jakarta Casual Awards. These prestigious awards are widely anticipated by Mabel in her coffee shop so she can tell her friends and staff 'see him, I know him I do.' Dunno if anybody really gives a rubber duck or can even remember who won what last year. If you are interested the 2009 Awards can be found here.

A few awards have been done away with because the lack of real alternatives but the format remains the same as does the excuse that I can't be bothered to do it as a Jakarta Casual TV piece.

So without further ado wipe the shit off the tatty red carpet and away we go.


Any team that can take 40,000 fans to an away game as Arema did is obviously going to be in with a chance of winning this but it was a game where their team would be receiving the Indonesia Super League trophy and anyone can follow a winning team. So yes they do deserve an honourable mention. Lions All The Way have been creating a bit of a stir in Singapore recently with thought provoking posts challenging the mind set of people who claim to be fans of Singapore football. They also walked the talked by travelling to Hanoi for the AFF Cup group stage games featuring their beloved Lions. But for me the winner for 2010 is Pasoepati, the fans of Persis Solo. 2009/2010 saw their team plunge unfathomed depths of shiteness barely able to get a shot on target in the second half of the season before scoring in the final game away to Persikota. Yet despite the mediocrity they still turned out in force, averaging something like 12,000 every home game and taking 500 to Tangerang where they were rewarded with a goal and a point!


The quality of unofficial websites continues to rise, especially in Indonesia. Fans from Persiba, Persib and Arema have consistently produced quality material on their sites. However the winner this year, just shading it from last year's winner Ongisnade as well as Persib's Simamaung is Persisam's Pusam FC site which features an excellent English language section.


South East Asian football is never dull. This last year has seen Singapore choose foreign clubs over international club competitions, the birth of a breakaway league, the Liga Primer Indonesia in Indonesia and Malaysia build on their SEA Games triumph of 2009. But for me the story of the year, and one that needs to be watched carefully is in Thailand. FIFA makes a big hoo haa about keeping politics out of football. But what happens when a politician takes over a football club? What happens at Buriram PEA need to be monitored if FIFA is serious about their creed. If.


Good news this year for Kelantan fans as they finally won the Malaysia Cup. Etoile, a bunch of journeymen Frenchies came to Singapore and they conquered, winning the SLeague and the League Cup. In Indonesia Arema won the Indonesia Super League but it was Persipura who ended the season on a 17 match unbeaten streak. But the club of the year, coming from nowhere and possibly disintegrating into nothing is Etoile.


Robert Alberts dropped into Arema and won the ISL at the first time of asking with a squad that was to be fair far short of the best in the league. Still in Indonesia Rahmad Darmawan continued to collect trophies with Sriwijaya before moving to Persija. In Singapore Patrick Valle came from nowhere, collected a few red cards, upset a few people and still found time to win a couple of trophies. Indeed up until a few days back Valle was odds on to win but instead the award goes to Rajagobal, the Malaysian national team coach who has led his side to glory in the SEA Games last year and now the AFF Cup.


Khairul Fahmi (Kelantan & Malaysia)
Hamkah Hamza (Persipura & Indonesia), Bah Mamadou (Gombak United), Pierre Njanka (Arema), Zulkifli (Arema & Indonesia)
M Ridhuan (Arema & Singapore), Safiq Rahim (Selangor & Malaysia), Ahmad Bustomi (Arema & Indonesia)
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan & Malaysia), Frederic Mendy (Etoile), Safee Sali (Selangor & Malaysia)


Kawin Thamsatchanan (Muang Thong United & Thailand), Daniel Bennett (SAFFC & Singapore), Firman Utina (Sriwijaya & Indonesia), Ahmad Latiff (SAFFC), Aleksander Duric (Tampines Rovers & Singapore)


Almost half the Malaysian team would stand a chance here, especially their defenders, after their impressive AFF Cup triumph. But this one was decided several weeks back and even after the AFF Cup I see no reason to change although Khairul Fahni came pretty close. So, following the Thai keeper Kawin who won it last year this time round congratulations to Frederic Mendy for his performances with Etoile.


Among the contenders are Norshahrul Idala Talaha, M Ridhuan of Arema, Frederic Mendy and Safiq Rahim. However the winner this year is Pierre Njanka of Arema. A giant on the field, he also plays an important role off it and was instrumental not just in Arema's title in 2009/2010 but also in keeping the squad together for the 2010/2011 campaign.


New On Jakarta Casual TV

I've out together a clip on Jakarta Casual TV showing some bits and bobs celebrating Malaysia's AFF Cup triumph the other day.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Record Attendances

Anyone know what the record attendance for a two legged game is? Official attendances here change like the weather in Manchester but the combined attendances for both legs of the AFF Cup Final were pretty impressive.

In KL I saw 100,000 mentioned which won't be far off the mark given that just two blocks of seats remained empty for the whole game.

Meanwhile last night it was announced over the tannoy in a momentary hush that 95,000 had been shoehorned inside the Bung Karno.

So, perhaps 195,000 over two legs.

I know that may be small fry compared to the old days at places like the Macarana or Hampden Park but anyone anorak out there got any idea how it stacks up in modern times?

My previous best was probably the League Cup Semi Final between Manchester United and Arsenal back in 1983 when if I recall 56,000 + were at Old Trafford and maybe 46,000 at Highbury.

The semi final against Spurs in the League Cup in 1987 stretched over three games, with a replay thrown in, and that attracted 45,000 at Highbury and perhaps 40,000 at each WHL game but my numbers may be rusty for both this and the Manchester United game


The Indonesian FA's In-Tray

After reaping a cash bonanza through co hosting an AFF Cup group stage as well as two semi finals and a final the Indonesian FA must now get back to more mundane matters.

Two teams have sent letters officially advising they will withdraw from the FA sanctioned Indonesia Super League and hitch their cart to the breakaway Liga Primer Indonesia.

Persema followed PSM in deciding to quit the ISL for the new league that offers plenty of cash and many unknowns.

The LPI is due to kick of 8 January, and the website still shows no fixture list though I understand Solo will play Persema at the Manahan Stadium in Solo in the opening game. It was supposed to be Arema but they dropped out.

The FA have also apparently said that they would keep coach Alfred Riedl on despite saying before the AFF Cup that he had to win it or he would be out.

So, a busy in tray. What to do with the LPI. Should players and coaches taking part be sanctioned? Should they play hard ball? How to keep the interest in the national team going (an Olympic Qualifier against Turkmenistan in February isn't likely to drag the face painters and vuvuzula blowers out in force). How to stay in the job.

Indonesian football is never dull!


Travelling Fans

The one shame about last night's AFF Cup Final 2nd Leg in Jakarta was the absence of any Malaysian fans. There were a handful sprinkled round the stadium but they were anonymous and for good reason when you consider some of the hype that comes out of certain political elements here.

But something like 20,000 Indonesians were at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Malaysia for the 1st leg and there were no brawls that I'm aware of.

I was sat next to some Malaysians in the stadium and they certainly cheered when Safee Sali gave them the lead. And around them there was no response. None at all.

Obviously there may not have been a similar reaction had they been in the Upper Tier but I do think it's a shame that Malaysian fans felt they couldn't come to Jakarta to see their team win the AFF Cup for the first time in their history.


Scary Stuff?

Apparently there was an e mail doing the rounds among some expats telling them to stay away from the Senayan area. The reason? There was a big football match taking place there and there was potential from disturbances given a number of factors colliding.

  1. Some Indonesians don't like Malaysia
  2. Possibility of extremists 'sweeping' for Malaysians
  3. Possibility of trouble because of laser incident in KL
Plus others.

Expats are a funny breed. I don't get this particular e mail from whatever outfit or embassy it is and wouldn't even know how to go about receiving it but it does show a total lack of understanding of what goes on 'on the ground' in football matches in Indonesia. As the events of the evening proved.

It was very unlikely there would have been any real disturbances last night beyond the normal things you might expect when well over 100,000 people gather in one place. The reason why is because the lads who may have 'gone on one' were priced out the game from the start.

Normal tickets prices at Indonesian games are from 10,000 to 35,000 IDR. Last night the cheapest was 50,000 IDR which bluntly speaking is beyond the means of many of the urchins who could have responded negatively.

It is very unlikely there would have been any sweeping for Malaysians last night. The people who do these type of things huff and puff for headlines. Given the human congestion in and around the stadium last night they would barely have caused a ripple thereby nullifying their cause and whole raison d'etre. And don't underestimate Indonesian's propensity for street justice when they see things they don't like.

As it happened the streets in and around the malls of Senayan were delightfully quiet as Jakartans heeded their own warnings in local media to stay away from the logjam that would occur.

Given the fact that the people who draw up these 'warnings' of dire reactions are on pretty big salaries I have decided that I need to get in on the act so there now follows my own risk assessment of watching football in the region I cover.

Singapore - if you do decide to take some football in Singapore be prepared for some seriously monotonous chanting along the lines of Go Go Go Lions Go, Win Win Win Lions Win. If you read the Straits Times don't expect any coverage of the game at all unless a player or players have been in trouble in which case expect self righteous chest thumping letters from folk in the heartlands saying football was never like this under Uncle Choo. Don't worry, the whining stops once you take off from Changi!

Malaysia - very real danger of boredom perhaps leading to sleep as you wait for the 8.45 pm kick off. If you use public transport to go to a game bear in mind you won't be able to use it after 'cos Malaysians go to bed early so you will be stuck with Malaysian taxi drivers, a fascinating, loathsome species who combine ignorance with arrogance and the ability to bleed their own sick mother dry if there is a few ringitt in it for them

Thailand - Thai football, like Thailand is a laugh. If there are red and yellow shirts in the stadium, don't worry, this is called sanuk, it means fun, and that is what Thailand is all about. Fun. The people smile alot because they are so friendly and there is no danger of violence anywhere 'cos the who country has this idea of 'mai pen rai' or no problem. If there are disturbances you will see how people are still smiling and wondering where they can have lunch.

Indonesia - it's a war zone out there. If the fans don't get you with their non stop rioting then extremists will try and make you convert or a tsunami will wash away your parked car. Somebody will blow cigarette smoke in your face, fans walking along the footpath will move very slowly as they communicate with their friends using text messages.

Alternatively ignore the charlatans and their fear mongering and get off your arse and find things out for yourself.


Indonesia v Malaysia 2-1

Congratulations to Malaysia on winning their first ever ASEAN Football Federation Cup. Despite losing 2-1 on the night, their 3-0 triumph in KL last weekend means they won the trophy 4-2 on aggregate and, coupled with the SEA Games they won in Lao 12 months ago they are now undoubtedly the football kings of ASEAN.

As for Indonesia they will forever rue that mad 12 minutes at the Bukit Jalil Stadium immediately following the interruption in play when they shipped three goals. At the end of the day it left them with just too much to do in the second leg.

And yet. Indonesia came out the blocks like a greyhound at White City. Malaysia spent much of the first half on the back foot as Indonesia tore down the flanks creating opportunity after opportunity. At half time had it been three or even four nil Malaysia would not have had too much to complain about.

Just like the opening group stage it was Malaysia who took the lead, this time through Safee Sali. The goal came about after Arif Suyono, attacking down the left, lost possession cheaply. Malaysia swept forward and Salee swept home to leave 95,000 fans stunned and Indonesia needing to win 5-1 again.

Goals from Nasuha and Ridwan, tellingly flank players, helped Indonesia bounce back and they finished strongly but will forever rue those 12 minutes in KL and the first half profligacy that has cost them the trophy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Cack Handed Ticket Sales

In the last four years Indonesia have hosted three major footballing tournaments. The Asian Football Confederation and the ASEAN Football Federation seem to like having Indonesia as host because they put bums on seats.

In 2007 Indonesia was one of four hosts of the Asian Cup. In 2008 they hco held the AFF Cup and again this year.

Yet they still seem unable to manage a viable way of selling tickets to fans.

They way it's been working is that people have to turn up at the Stadium on an appointed day, queue for god knows how long, hand over their cash and receive a coupon. They then have to return a few days later, queue some more then exchange the coupon for a ticket.

Then they go back to the stadium and watch the game.

We are now in the 21st century and it is difficult to think of a more convoluted way of selling tickets than this scheme dreamt up by the FA.

On line sales apparently haven't proved that popular but again you pay your money at an ATM, go on line and tell them you have paid then you go to their office with your printed receipt and collect the bloody ticket!

The thing with Indonesia of course is that it is a bloody big country and not everyone lives in Jakarta.

It would make sense to decentralise ticket sales. Maybe make them available through banks, mini marts, super markets, petrol stations, that kind of thing so that fans are not inconvenienced so many times.

Of course this method ain't about anybody's convenience. It's about the FA not trusting anybody else with their money. It's about keeping that lovely cash as close to hand as possible.


Taking Security Seriously

Indonesia will have almost 10,000 security personnel in place tonight in and around Bung Karno Stadium to quell any acts of violence by fans going to the AFF Cup Final. The City government is also arranging almost 300 large screen showings of the game round the city in the hope that ticketless fans will stay away


AFF Cup Most Valuable Player

First of all I hate the American term MVP. But Best Player sounds like something from the school playground while Player of the Tournament sounds like some comic super hero. And second I'm sure no -one cares what I think anyway.

Well, tough are my candidates

Safiq Rahim (Selangor & Malaysia)
Khairul Fahmi Che Mat (Kelantan & Malaysia)
Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan & Malaysia)
Safee Sali (Selangor & Malaysia)
Firman Utina (Sriwijaya & Indonesia)
Ahmad Bustomi (Arema & Indonesia)

There should also be at least one Malaysian defender in there somewhere but it has been difficult for me to select one as they have done so well as a unit.


Do Indonesia Have A Plan B?

Ahead of tonight's AFF Cup Final 2nd Leg with Indonesia 3-0 from Sunday's game that is the question I am asking in my Jakarta Globe column.


Crowd Trouble Mars Thai Play Off

Local football officials threatened to boycott games in the domestic competition after crowd violence in the game between Nakhon Pathom and Si Sa Ket left referee Apisit Onrak severely injured.

The promotion play-off match between the two sides for a place in the country's top-flight division, Thailand Premier League, ended in a goalless draw. The result appeared more in favour of the visitors, Si Sa Ket, who will face an Air Force side, who are already out of contention for promotion, in their final match.

The melee started when Nakhon Pathom fans invaded the pitch at the end of the game and assaulted referee Apisit. Soon it became a free-for-all between two sets of supporters on and off the field. Dozens of visiting fans were sent to hospital in the latest crowd violence that has marred Thai football.

Chuchai Buaboocha, the head of referee's committee of the Football Association of Thailand, while condemning the incident, said the officials would boycott the matches if there was no guarantee to their safety.

"No one wants such incidents to happen. It shows Thai football has not moved anywhere from the past. We have a new body to evaluate the officials' performance and if they make a mistake in interpreting the rules, there is a punishment to that effect.

"The officials are talking about boycotting games if the authorities fail to come up with adequate measures to guarantee their safety. There is a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) and everything will be clear then. I think the FAT and the home team should have done a better job with regard to security measures.

"I spoke to Apisit. He said he did not favour either side and that his conscious is clear. He insisted that he did not take a bribe as he didn't want to do anything that would tarnish his name as well as his family. The match commissioner also confirmed he did not make any wrong decisions during the game.

"He barely received Bt2,000 for officiating the game. It's such a paltry amount to risk one's life. He has already filed a criminal complaint for physical assault and will leave the matter to judiciary," said Chuchai.

Dr Vichit Yamboonrueng, the TPL president, confirmed there would be punishment to anyone found guilty in the incident.

"As the league organisers, I can guarantee that there would be sanctions against the guilty party in the meeting tomorrow. I can't say much at this stage as we need to collect more evidence," said Vichit.

SOURCE; The Nation

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


SAFFC Goalscorers

This list comes from the SAFFC official website and lists every every player who has scored for the club in the SLeague


Irfan's International Career

Irfan Bachdim has become the talk of Indonesia this last month. To be fair I think it's less to do with his ability and more to do with his looks but there you go. Anyway, enjoy it while it lasts girls because if he plays in tomorrow's AFF Cup Final 2nd Leg in Jakarta against Malaysia it could prove to be his last international appearance.

His team, Persema, are threatening to withdraw from the FA sanctioned Indonesia Super League and join the breakaway Liga Primer Indonesia and this story indicates they could play their last ISL game against Arema in the Malang derby early next month.

It seems unlikely, though you can never tell in this part of the world, that the Indonesian national team, run by the FA, will want to select players from a non FA sanctioned competition.

The LPI are promising big changes in the way football is run in this country but here we are, on 28 December, with their season due to begin on 8 January and still no fixture list on their website and confusion surrounding the competing teams, players and coaches.

Which sounds uncannily like business as normal in Indonesian football!

Plus ca change!


Insanity Trumps Sport

Regretfully it doesn't take much to stir anti Malaysian sentiment in Indonesia and the low life scum who decided to use lasers at the Bukit Jalil Stadium the other night have certainly stirred up a right storm.

Indonesia didn't not lose because of the lasers. They lost because they were beaten by a better team. Malaysians are not cheats because a few tossers play the prat.

However, and not for the first time in domestic policies anywhere in the world, populism wins out over common sense.

The second leg of the Final, with Indonesia 3-0 and needing a winning margin of four goals to secure their first ever trophy, is guaranteed to be played out in one hostile atmosphere. If Malaysia do win and they are presented with the trophy in front of the Indonesian fans...

What should be a very special night looks like it could well be hijacked by short termist political point scoring.


Malaysia v Indonesia 360

I have added a couple of clips to Jakarta Casual TV following on from the AFF Cup Final 1st Leg on Sunday. Yeah I know a little late but what can you do? This clip looks at the moments when the ref stopped play and the flare thrown on the pitch while this one looks at the colour and passion around and inside the stadium on the night.

Monday, December 27, 2010


The Hottest Derby In South East Asia

It’s not often I’ve been to a game and not been able to speak or here the PA over the din of the crowd. Some people may call nigh on 100,000 fans blowing vuvuzulas non stop a great atmosphere but I’m not one of them. It’s an experience much like riding 3rd class from Sungai Golok to Bangkok is an experience and kipping in the back of a car in the Alps in the middle of winter under some potato sacking is an experience. Been there, dunnit but not necessarily something I want repeated.

At the opening group stage game in Jakarta four weeks ago Malaysia had been offered 5,000 tickets. As it happened perhaps two dozen made the effort and they were soon clocked by the home support who pelted them with missiles before the security officials stepped in and moved them somewhere more anonymous.

There were slightly more than 25 Indonesian fans in the Bukit Jalil Stadium for the first leg of the final. Officially they received an allocation of 15,500 and it’s fair to assume there were more than that in the stadium, check out the clip on Jakarta Casual TV. I’s also fair to say they received a better reception from their hosts than Malaysians would have done in Jakarta had they made themselves known.

Unfortunately, without going into too many details, there are certain political elements in Indonesia who like to engage with a bit of Malaysia bashing when it suits their purpose and there is a large segment of the populace that fall for the fake jingoism.

In KL fans from both teams mingled together on the public transport on their way to and from the stadium. Perhaps it’s safety in numbers; even though they were outnumbered perhaps four to one the Indonesians never looked outnumbered.

Nothing ever looked like kicking off either inside or outside the ground that I witnessed. Even when security had to move Malaysian fans into blocks occupied by Indonesian fans, a recipe for disaster in many countries, the ‘infiltration’ seemed to pass off without incident.

It would be nice to think that Malaysia could take a similar large support to Jakarta and enjoy the trip in such a relaxed and carefree environment but unfortunately I can’t see that happening.

Incidentally, on the same day as the semi final in KL, Indonesian fans in Jakarta were queuing for the cheapest seats for the second leg three days later. They went on the rampage and caused damage inside and outside the stadium.


Oktavianus (Sriwijaya & Indonesia)

Sriwijaya winger Oktavianus has thrilled the Indonesian fans during the 2010 AFF Cup. Seemingly running on alkaline batteries he has run non stop for the Garuda on his left tit causing no end of problems for Malaysia and Laos in the opening group games.

But is he just a one trick pony?

He’s like Forrest Gump when he decided to go for a run and never stopped. He’s like the kid in the playground who loves the showboating but never gets selected for the school team.

Wingers need end product. Without it they become a luxury as England have found out over the eyars, especially with the likes of Peter Barnes. Yes, fans love to see players flying down the wing. But they also need to see a cross being met by a team mate.

Okta is still young, 20, and there are many who will forgive his youthful misdemeanors on the pitch. But only while he is on the winning side. When the results dry up fans will start to get frustrated.

I am still haunted by two memories of the Papuan flyer. One was an attempted double footed overhead kick in his own penalty are that didn’t come off but brought a big cheer from the fans if not his coach. And another time when his team were awarded a corner he diligently ran back to his allotted defensive place on the park to await a goal kick.

Coaches had soon wised up to him and after the opening two games his impact lessened. The Thais, Philippines and, yesterday, the Malaysians, had got him sussed and effectively marked him out the game. The surprise factor had ceased to be a surprise.

Tellingly, in each game he has played during the AFF Cup he has been replaced by his Sriwijaya team mate Arif Suyono who has impressed in his cameo roles. The more experienced Suyono could run at defenders as well but he also has a bit more upstairs and is able to involve himself more in what’s going on around him. Okta, when he doesn’t have the ball, will rarely go out and seek it for himself, he becomes peripheral.


Malaysia v Indonesia 3-0

In front of a wildly passionate crowd Indonesia, playing their first away game under Alfred Riedl, were asked questions like they never had been before as Malaysia, knowing they needed a cushion to take to Jakarta on Wednesday in the second leg, set about them from the get go.

Malaysia had done their homework. They knew that Indonesia’s greatest threat came down the flanks through players like Oktavianus and M Ridwan. Their supply dried up in the first half to such an extent that it was down to the combatative Ahmad Bustomi to provide much of the creative flair in a first half best forgotten by the away team.

The seeds of Indonesia’s defeat were nurtured during that torrid opening 45 minutes. Twice, at corners, keeper Markus Horison complained that lasers were being aimed at him. Match officials discussed with the AFF Cup officials and extra security personnel were placed round the stadium in the hope of stopping the offenders.

Before the game Indonesia had raised the topic of lasers, accusations had been made by Vietnam that their keeper had been distracted by them leading him to spill the ball twice in their 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the semi final. Indonesia had said that if they were victims of laser attack they would walk off. Each time the animated Horison protested brought a walk off closer.

Second half Indonesia started better and even had the ball in the net but the effort, by Christian Gonzalez, was disallowed. But they were playing much better, moving the ball around and getting the wide players involved more. As so often happens it looked like Malaysia could yet rue their missed opportunities.

Then came the defining moment of the Final. Another corner, this time at the end where the Indonesian fans were congregated. Again Indonesia protested a laser and this time, caught up in the moment, they walked off. The suits came down from the grandstand and hummed and haaed while the players from both sides milled around the touch line. But while Indonesia played the victim card the Malaysians did what they had done in Hanoi against Vietnam in the second leg of the semi final. They stayed focused.

The Malaysian fans responded to the walk off in a calm manner. They understood the talk of lasers and the accusations made by the Vietnamese and they wanted no truck with the idiots who may have been shining the lights. It was a mature response from the fans and, not for the first time during the evening, you couldn’t help but wonder how the Indonesian fans would have responded if the same had occurred at the Bung Karno Stadium.

When the players came back on the field to restart after a few minutes break Indonesia were beaten. Their second half momentum had been lost, their discipline gone. Malaysia retook the initiative and minutes after the restart they were in the lead. Victory was theirs.

For Indonesia it was a case of what might have been. Who knows what would have happened had they been able to build on their promising start to the second half. At a time when they needed leadership the most on the field there was nothing forthcoming. Instead they fell all too easily into victim mode.

UPDATE - OK, so it wasn't a walk off!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


Former United Star Joins LPI?

Plenty of rumours regarding big names joining the alternate Liga Primer Indonesia. Now let's throw another name into the hat. Former Manchester United and AC Milan player Jesper Blomqvist is being linked with Bandung FC!


Afternoon Kick Offs Planned For Young Lions

The outside consultants brought in add some zest to the Young Lions are planning to have one home game a month played on a Saturday afternoon, perhaps with a 4 or 5 pm kick off. The aim is to try and attract more younger fans to the game.

Good idea. But of course a report about the SLeague without a whine would be like a dog with a dry nose. Unnatural. They are planning this experiment for two months! That means two home games! Do the whole bloody season, do it for away games and ignore the laptop whiners.

Despite the general feeling of negativity surrounding Singapore football, which does seem to be like Christmas an annual occurance, following 2010 when foreign teams whitewashed domestic trophies and the national team failed in the Asian Cup qualifiers and the ASEAN Football Federation Cup, there does seem to be a number of initiatives to put some life back in the game.

First up of course we have this commercially driven project with the Young Lions. Then we have the group of fans known as United 4 United who last season took to following Sengkang Punggol and will be bringing an atmosphere of sorts to the Hougang United games this season. And of course the lads at Lions All The Way who followed Singapore to Vietnam for their doomed AFF Cup run.

Perhaps the FA should get involved with U4U and LATW somehow to encourage their endeavours...or perhaps that ain't such a good idea!

Friday, December 24, 2010


SLeague Champions Move To Malaysia?

This report suggests that French team Etoile, who won the SLeague and the League Cup in their inaugural season, may base themselves in the Malaysian city of Johore Bahru in a bid to trim operating costs.

Wonder how that would work legally. There are many folk who live in JB but cross the causeway everyday to work in Singapore, check out the border crossing at 5 in the morning.

Would Etoile need work permits for both Malaysia and Singapore because training and team meetings etc would be held in Malaysia and would/could/should be classified as work?


Between The Sticks

South East Asia is blessed with two promising goalkeepers, Kawin Thammasatchanan (Muang Thong United) and Megia Kurnia (Arema). Neither has made an impact on the AFF Cup for different reasons. Kawin was forced to pull out through injury while Megia plays second fiddle to Markus Horison in the Indonesia goal.

Their absence, and Malaysia's run to the final, has allowed another young keeper to grab the limelight in the region. Khairul Fahmi Che Mat plays for Kelantan in the Malaysia Super League and in 2010 helped them win the historic Malaysia Cup as well as being awarded the Young Player of the Year and the Best Goalkeeper of the Year.

Now he stands 180 minutes away from being crowned champion of ASEAN.

Away to Vietnam, in the cauldron like My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi, he was unflappable, his handling precise. Everything stuck to him and while plenty of chances were straight at him he still needed to complete the formality of getting the ball out of harm's way and he did this methodically and efficiently.

His handling could give Malaysia an advantage over Indonesia. Markus Horison, for all his agility and shot stopping, has a tendency at times to flap at the ball or to punch when he should be catching or to parry when he should be catching. If I've noticed it be sure Malaysian coach Rajagobal will have done and instructed his strikers to be following up.

At the other end Khairul and his defenders have shown against Thailand and Vietnam (twice) what a solid, hard working unit they are. They can expect a torrid time against Oktavianus, if fit, and Christian Gonzalez over the two legs but Khairul has shown this year he is up to the task.


Who Wants Tickets?

Ticket sales opened yesterday in both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta ahead of the widely anticipated ASEN Football Federation Cup Final between Malaysia and Indonesia. The first leg will be held in KL on Sunday with Jakarta hosting the second leg on 29 December.

In Malaysia fans headed to Bukit Jalil to snap up tickets will all the RM 50 seats already sold out. At the same time Indonesians headed to their embassy in KL to buy from their allocation. They have received 15,500 for the game at the 88,000 seater stadium.

In Jakarta 24,000 Category One tickets were sold out within four hours at the Bung Karno Stadium. Some fans had started queuing five hours before the ticket offices opened.

Indonesian officials are releasing just over 76,000 tickets for the second leg


Playing Hard Ball

With the alternate Liga Primer Indonesia due to commence on 8 January PSM Makassar are set to announce their withdrawal from the FA sanctioned Indonesia Super League and commit fully to the new league. They site the lack of funding in the ISL and the problems of what they claim to be poor referees.

PSM currently sit second in the ISL behind Persipura but won just one game in their last five dropping 11 points in the process.

If they carry through their threat then the brother of the chairman of the Indonesian FA has promised to set up an alternate PSM to play in the ISL.

Meanwhile newly promoted Persibo are also considering their future in the ISL. They site the lack of funding and the problems of what they claim to be poor referees. La di da.

These clubs sit there whining that they get their money late from local government yet none of them seem willing to get off their arses and source their own bloody income. Instead they hope that by moving to the LPI they will draw money from a central pot open to all clubs. That ain't the answer either. Clubs will need to one day stand on their own two feet or fall and it will be up to them to raise sponsorship.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Indonesia Reduce Ticket Prices

In response to a chorus of criticism led by the nation's President the Indonesian FA have reduced the price of tickets for the AFF Cup Final against Malaysia. Upper Tier tickets will now coast 50,000 IDR instead of 75,000 IDR. Other prices remain the same from 150,000 IDR to 1,000,000 IDR.

I had someone queue for tickets today and they gave up after a couple of hours. He said there was 8,000 people in the queue and after a few hours only 2,000 had been dealt with and he was getting peckish.

He also reported one of the guys selling tickets got a bit of a slap from disgruntled fans. Gotta feel for the fella, it ain't his fault. After hosting the Asian Cup in 2007 and the AFF Cups in 2008 and 2010 the FA still can't organise a reasonable and fair ticket distribution system.

As it stands at the moment fans have to go to the stadium, pay their cash and get a voucher which must be redeemed on match day.

Hello! here we are in the internet age and the best these guys can come up with with a system that was known to be inefficient in Dickensian England.

No wonder there's such a cry for reform but would a new regiem do things any better? Would they be allowed to?


Indonesia v Malaysia Past Meetings

1987 SEA Games Final

The local sports tabloid has had some interesting pieces ahead of the AFF Cup Final between the two Melayu speaking rivals.

Back in 1987 they met in the SEA Games Final in Jakarta with Indonesia winning 1-0 thanks to a Ribut Waidi goal in injury time, not much has changed eh, in front of 110,000 fans.

Lining up for Indonesia that day were names like Robby Darwis (Persib assistant coach), Rully Nere (Pro Titan coach) and Jaya Hartono (Persik coach and formerly with Darwis at Persib). The name Ricky Yacobi also looks familiar.

2004 AFF Cup Semi Final

After losing the first leg 2-1 in Jakarta Indonesia travelled to Malaysia hoping to turnaround the score on the field and reach the final.

Things didn't start well with Khalid Jumlus giving the home team the lead on 26. That gave Malaysia a 3-1 aggregate lead with just over an hour left to play. Kurniawan DY (now with PSMS, then with Persebaya) pulled one back but there was still a lot of work to be done.

On 74 Charis Yulianto, dropped by coach Alfred Riedl from the national after being captain under Benny Dollo pulled one back and within 10 frantic, unforgettable minutes Indonesia were 4-1 up as Ilham Jayakusuma and a teenage Boaz Solossa numbed the Bukit Jalil crowd into silence.

Indonesia's squad for 2004 can be found here while Malaysia's can be found here.


Here Comes The Airheads

One piece of wallpaper, looks good but serves no real purpose, has said that her favourite player in the current Indonesian team is Oktavianus Mariani, the Sriwijaya winger.

The reason? 'Cos he runs like a horse.

At least I hope that's what she said. Never can tell with my rusty translation skills.


A Pet Whine

Malaysia and 8.45 pm kick offs!

What the heck? Apart from the fact it's way past my bed time I'm sure many locals also find this time to be a great inconvenience, especially the relative inaccessability of most of the stadiums in the country.

The easiest grounds to get to as far as I'm aware are the City Stadium in Penang and Larkin Stadium in Johor. The latter is a short walk from the Larkin bus station meaning it is possible to stay in Singapore and pop over the border to take in a game.

Unfortunately, for me at least, both teams were relegated at the end of the 2010 Malaysian Super League and, unfortunately for me and them, they look like they're staying relegated.

Melaka's stadium looks fairly accessible, at least according to old map, but they aren't even in the second tier Premier League having, as we used to say in England, fallen so low they dropped of coupon!

I have actually visited the Kelantan stadium in Kota Bahru, many many years ago when I was still living in Thailand and had to do frequent visa runs to keep myself semi legit. It's walkable from the centre of town.

The Pahang stadium looks to be in the heart of Kuantan should I ever make it there one day.

In fact one year I recall being in Penang and buying the local paper planning to do visa runs based around football matches! I was looking at train trips from Bangkok south every month or so and stopping off in places like Kangar, Alor Star as well as Kota Bahru and Penang.

Never came to 'owt mind. Half the time I just didn't bother crossing the damned border...


Tampines Striker Jailed

Tampines Rovers striker Aliff Shafaein has been fined and jailed after the latest in a series of driving incidents. However, in shades of Tony Adams' case with Arsenal back in 1990, the club have said they would stick by their player despite originally deciding they would let him go


The Big Question

Which of the two leagues in Indonesia will be best placed to cash in on the success of the national team during its run to the AFF Cup Final.

Will it be the Indonesia Super League? The official league approved by the local FA with the local and overseas' stars, entry to the Asian club competitions but perceived to be poorly run.

Or the Liga Primer Indonesia? An alternate league set up to offer a free and independent football future for Indonesians due to kick off next month but with many questions still remaining unanswered, mostly unfamiliar names and a whole lot of promises to be delivered upon.


Christian Gonzalez (Persib & Indonesia)

Just been watching a re run of Indonesia's first AFF Cup semi final against the Philippines and for a moment I couldn't believe my ears. One of the commentators was describing the hard work being put in by one of the Indonesian strikers. The pressure he was giving defenders, the tracking back, his movement.

Who the bloody hell was he on about?

Then the name Gonzalez was mentioned!

I've been watching Gonzalez for a few years now and his clinical ability inside the box has never been questioned. Since winning the Liga Indonesia to a good AFC Champions League Cup run in 2007 to a phenomenal second half to the 2009/2010 when he averaged over a goal a game (he'd netted once in the opening seventeen games) the man known as El Loco has been attracting headlines and interest from fans in Indonesia.

I've seen him do nothing for 90 minutes then a subtle nudge on a defender allows him enough space to bury the ball and rescue his team from certain defeat.

I've seen him when his body language has got the better of his own performances. Hands on hips, a steely stare, looking at the ground in front of him. These are common reactions when the ball doesn't go where the newly Indonesian striker wants it.

Work rate has never been high on his list of qualities though. The squat, barrel chested striker prefers to let others do he running round. Just give him the ball where he wants it and he will do the business.

There have been moments when he has run his socks off for the greater good. A Persik game away to Persija springs to mind when he was the first line of defence for much of the game allowing his partner Budi Sudarsono the space and time to pounce twice.

His performances during the AFF Cup have been more of the latter and less of the former and it is no surprise to see that he is the leading scorer with three goals.

What is a surprise is that one of his total came from 25 yards out and another, in the first leg against the Philippines, came straight from the old style Indonesian play when they would knock diagonal balls into the box for Bambang Pamungkas!


Former SLeague Coach Enters Indonesian Fray

Jorg Steinbrunner has been appointed coach of Liga Primer Indonesia side Medan Chiefs. Steinbrunner ended 2010 helping Patrick Valle coach Etoile to the SLeague title. Before he has worked with Woodlands Wellington and Sengkang Punggol.

Medan Chiefs are a privately owned club. The same owners have Pro Titan in the Divisi Utama Group One


Jakarta Globe Column

My preview of the AFF Cup Final between Indonesia and Malaysia in the Jakarta Globe has been the most read page on the website apparently!

The Globe by the way has excellent coverage of the game throughout the paper...


AFF Cup Final Ticket Prices

These are the prices for the first leg in Kuala Lumpur this coming Sunday

Covered Seats - RM 50
Uncovered Seats - RM 30
Under 12 Years - RM 5

Compare with the prices from the game in Jakarta!


Liga Primer Indonesia Launch

1. Aceh United – Coach Lionel Charbonnier (France), Stadium Harapan Bangsa, Banda Aceh (40.000)

2. Bali Dewata – Coach Willy Scheepers (Netherlands), Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium, Gianyar (25.000)

3. Bandung FC - Coach Nandar Iskandar, Siliwangi Stadium, Bandung (25.000)

4. Batavia Union - Coach Roberto Bianchi (Brasil), Tugu Stadium, Jakarta (20.000)

5. Bogor Raya - Coach John Arwandy, Persikabo Stadium, Cibinong (15.000) and Pajajaran Stadium, Bogor (12.000)

6. Cendrawasih Papua - Coach Uwe Erkebrecher (Germany), Mandala Stadium, Jayapura (30.000)

7. Jakarta 1928 - Coach Bambang Nurdiansyah, Lebak Bulus (25.000)

8. Kabau Padang – Coach Divaldo Alves (Portugal), Agus Salim, Padang (28.000)

9. Ksatria XI Solo – Coach Branko Babic (Serbia), Manahan, Solo (25.000)

10. Makassar City - Coach Michael Feichtenbeiner (Germany) Stadion Andi Mattalata, Makassar (20.000)

11. Manado United - Coach Muhammad Al Hadad, Stadion Klabat, Manado (20.000)

12. Medan Bintang – Coach Rene Van Eck (Netherlands), Teladan, Medan (20.000)

13. Medan Chiefs – Coach Jorg Steinebruner (Germany) Teladan, Medan (20.000)

14. Persebaya -Coach Aji Santoso, 10 November Stadium, Tambaksari, Surabaya (35.000)

15. Persema - Coach Timo Scheuneman (Germany), Stadion Gajayana, Malang (30.000)

16. Persibo – Coach Sartono Anwar, Letjen Haji Sudirman, Bojonegoro (15.000)

17. Real Mataram – Coach Jose Basualdo (Argentina), Maguwoharjo, Sleman, Yogyakarta (30,000)

18. Semarang United - Coach Edy Paryono, Jatidiri, Semarang (25.000)

19. Tangerang Wolves, Coach Paulo Camargo (Brasil), Benteng Stadium (25.000)

Some of them capacities are just fanciful and what can you expect when some pitches, Benteng Stadium, Teladan Stadium, are being used by three or more teams? Persebaya, Persema and Persibo have the same coach as the Indonesian Super League? 12 foreign coaches have been recruited by the 19 teams.

Season still slated to start 8 January. The official website can be found here and many more star names are being promised.


Meeting The Demand

Indonesia's national airline are laying on extra flights to carry supporters to and from Kuala Lumpur for this Sunday's final. Extra flights have been laid on from both Jakarta and Surabaya to meet the demand of fans keen to take in the AFF Cup Final. Flights will return to Indonesia immediately after the game.

In addition local travel agents are reportedly offering one night packages including flights, one night at a hotel, match ticket and transportation to and from the stadium for the price of 400 USD!


Indonesia's Allocation

It is being reported that Indonesia will receive an allocation of 15,500 tickets for the first leg of the AFF Cup Final to be held in Kuala Lumpur on 26 December. The Bukit Jalil Stadium holds 88,000.

One bright spark has suggested the tickets could be sold through the Indonesian embassy in KL!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


A Stag Once More

Ahmad Latiff has turned down a chance to stay with SAFFC and decided to return to Tampines Rovers. Latiff has been in fine form this last 18 months and could be considered unfortunate not to have been considered for the national team who were crying out for some creativity during the recent AFF Cup.

Tampines, on the other hand, are in need of attacking options having lost Khairul Amri and Qiu Li. Just Aleksander Duric remains so reckon on the Stags continuing to look for striking options.


Muang Thong United Sign Pakistani International

Thai Premier League Champions Muang Thong United have picked up Zesh Rahman from Bradford City after the Pakistani international fell out of favour with manager Peter Taylor.


Bok's Young Warriors

After an unusually barren season SAFFC are currently rebuilding their squad. In have come Luka Savic (Young Lions), Daniel Hammond and now Bah Mamadou (Gombak United).

All they need now is some forward presence!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


No Oscar For Liga Primer Indonesia

Former PSM striker Oscar Aravena has been clubless since the end of the 2009/2010 Indonesia Super League season and has been reportedly courted by potential LPI club Bali Dewata. However this report suggests he is worried about potential sanctions from the official FA.


Now Everyone's A Fan

Indonesia's progress through to the final of the AFF Cup has seen everyone jumping on the Indonesian football bandwagon. Politicians, celebrities and even people you work with are suddenly fascinated by the game and are clamouring for tickets, preferably free, while those who week in, week out follow the likes of Persija and Persita are left on the sidelines wondering what all the fuss is about.

Hardly a day goes by now without with some gushing celebrity, whose fame usually comes from being famous, expressing nationalist/patriotic sentiments while making sure the camera gets their best side.

They all seem to think Oktavianus is the best thing since the last best thing, and probably as long lasting, while Irfan Bachdim is so cool and has to be followed on Twitter.

I'll be glad when it's all over and we can get back to the normal service of dodgy pens, rock throwing fans and diving players.


Tickets For Bukit Jalil

Anybody know where I can get tickets for the first leg of the AFF Cup Final in KL this weekend?


Results 20/12

Divisi Utama

PSSB v Persikabo 1-1 (Daniels Ose Bikoi; Susanto) 2,015
PSLS v Persitara 2-1 (Anton Irawan 2; Masril Mahmud) 4,573
Persih v PSAP 2-0 (Leanardo Veron, Friday Gbeneme)
Persires v Persiraja 1-3 (Nanang; Christian Bekatal 2, Andria) 100
Persikab v Persiram 1-1 (Ebus Angel Cnuchukwu; James Debbah) 3,225
PSCS Cilicap v Perseman 0-0 10,734
PSIS v Persemalr 2-0 (Prananda Aditya, Denny Rumba) 8,525
Persekam v Barito Putra 1-0 (Abdul Rohki) 4,350
Perseru v PSS 1-1 (Yoksan Ama; Agus Setyawan) 3,246
Pesidafon v Persiba Bantul 2-1 (Abel Quioh, Patrick Wanggai; Anwarudin) 25,832

Persiraja made it five wins from five after defeating Persires comfortably while Persidafon top Group 3 after inflicting Persiba's first defeat of the season

Monday, December 20, 2010


Thais Less Than Rosy Future

Indonesia has the SAD project. Under 16s spend the year in Uruguay competing against Uruguayan kids of the same age. This has been going for a couple of years now and Samsul Alam is set to move to Penarol on loan in the new year.

Malaysia has Harimau Muda. Dedicated teams, there is an A and B, where promising young players compete against the best teams Malaysia has to offer. Indeed some of these lads have also had a couple of stints in Slovakia this year, honing their skills against professional teams there.

Singapore have had the Young Lions for several years although there have been concerns that recently the talent had dried up but then when you go and suspend some of the best players it will look that way won't it.

What do the Thais have? Seemingly nothing beyond a 'mai pen rai' attitude and delusions that they are and will continue to be the South East Asian powerhouse.

Unless they take a leaf from their neighbours they may well find their dominance at national level is over, just at the time their league is powering ahead.


AFF Cup Final Ticket Prices

Just received a text message giving the following prices for the AFF Cup Final 2nd Leg to be played in Jakarta on 29 December.

VVIP - 1,000,000 IDR
VIP West - 500,000 IDR
VIP East - 350,000 IDR
Category 1 - 200,000 IDR
Behind Goal - 150,000 IDR
Upper Tier - 75,000 IDR

One reason for the worsening atmosphere at the recent Indonesian home games has been the expensive ticket prices that are surely pricing out the fans who regularly follow their club side and create such a good atmosphere. They are being replaced by people who think vuvuzulas are cool and need blowing as often as possible.

These prices to be confirmed...


Results 19/12

ASEAN Football Federation Cup Semi Final Second Leg

Indonesia v The Philippines 1-0 (Christian Gonzalez) 70,700

Divisi Utama

PSIM v Mitra Kukar 0-1 (Bayu Sutha)

Persik v Gresik United 1-0 (Adrian Trinidad)

Mitra Kukar, coached by former national team coach Benny Dollo, rebounded from their 4-0 disaster last time out against Persik with a narrow victory away to early pacesetters PSIM. And a second penalty by Adrian Trinidad was enough for Persik to overcome Gresik United who must be thoroughly pissed off with away games, having lost to PSIM to a penalty as well.

1 – PSIM 6 4 1 1 8-2 13

2 – Persik 6 4 0 2 9-4 12

3 – Mitra Kukar 5 4 0 1 8-4 12


AFF Cup Attendances

Indonesia v Malaysia 29,730

Indonesia v Lao 29,951

Indonesia v Thailand 53,570

The Philippines v Indonesia 61,600

Indonesia v The Philippines

Interesting numbers. The stadium officially holds 88,000 so what they’re saying is that on two occasions the ground ws less than half full. In fact one third full. Not sure about that.


Indonesia v The Philippines 1-0

Indonesia reached their first ASEAN Football Federation Cup Final since 2004 after defeating the Philippines at the Bung Karno 1-0. The 2-0 aggregate victory sets up a clash between Indonesia and Malaysia with a new name guaranteed on the trophy.

Christian Gonzalez scored the only goal of the game just before half time with a screamer from outside the box giving him three for the tournament. It also meant the Philippines had to try and score twice in 45 minutes and that was never gonna happen given their striking options. Three goals in their previous 400 plus minutes meant the game as a contest was over.

There were some nervy moments in the second half for the Indonesians caused, it must be said, by themselves rather than their opponents. Goalkeeper Markus Horison showed his old knack for fumbling balls driven hard at his midriff rather than catching them and several long throws had the defence panicking.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Waiting For The Fat Lady

Indonesia stand just 90 minutes from an appearance in the 2010 ASEAN Football Cup Federation Cup Final. They go into the game with the Philippines, really a home game this time, with a 1-0 lead and favourites to play Malaysia in the final.

All the focus no doubt will be on the Indonesians, what with them being the hosts, perennial underachievers blah blah but they will also have all the pressure and you can be sure the Philippines will be going into the game in a relaxed frame of mind.

They've been upsetting everyone since the group stage started and they see no reason to stop that now. They upset the Vietnamese, beating them 2-0 away from home, and seriously pissed people off in Singapore by defeating the Lions 1-0. The Myanmar 0-0 was irrelevant 'cos the job was as good as done.

Indonesia were forced to work bloody hard to get that 1-0 in the first leg and you can be sure they will be asked a lot more questions today. Breaking down well organised defences ain't easy as Wenger keeps reminding us whenever the Arse can't pummel someone 6-0.

Can the Philippines stay as focussed and disciplined as they have been in their last four games? Can Indonesia keep up their intensity that has brought them 14 goals so far?

The first goal is always important. So is the second and the third. But especially tonight. An early go for Indonesia and the Philippines will have to show a lot more up front leaving gaps at the back. But if the Philippines get that early goal expect the capacity crowd to get on their own players' backs and expect the Indonesians to feel the pressure.

Malaysia are waiting in the final and most people I have spoken to want the Indonesians to play them. OK, the survey wasn't that scientific, carried out among half a dozen Indonesians, but surely 160,000 fans watching the Final over two legs is gonna be more exciting than watch a football pitch resemble a bus drivers convention?


Malaysia's Bright New Future

Losing 5-1 to Indonesia in their first group match, it was easy to see how people were quick to right Malaysia’s chances off in this competition but, as regular readers may recall, I have been touting them as a dark horse for many weeks now.

For many years now football in Malaysia has been a laughing stock both domestically and internationally. So much so it’s difficult to decide when the nadir was reached. Was it when they wanted to ignore the Asian Cup they were hosting because they wanted to play Manchester United in a pointless friendly? Was it when relegation was canceled at the end of a season because a certain team’s owner didn’t fancy the drop? Was it those friendlies last year against a club side masquerading as Zimbabwe? Or was it when UAE came to KL and thumped the local heroes 5-0 meaning their Asian Cup 2011 qualifying campaign was over even before the players had rheir first half time Bovril?

But there has been a quiet revolution going on in Malaysia behind the scenes, away from the usual talking heads and publicity seekers. I first sussed something was going on three years ago when Indonesia hosted an Under 16 tournament featuring the hosts, Singapore, Australia, Bahrain and Malaysia. The Aussies of course won, beating Bahrain in the final.

That though, for me anyway, wasn’t the story. I had come to the games not to praise Malaysia but to bury them in yet more opprobrium. But I couldn’t. The Malaysians were by far the best ASEAN team on show, both in terms of performances on the pitch and professionalism off it.

They were doing things I hadn’t seen since I started covering football in the region. There was nonstop communication between the players on the field and especially from the keeper to his back four. And off it, when they weren’t playing, they were often in the stand not just watching the other games but making notes, listening to their coaches, asking questions.

Their Indonesian and Singaporean counterparts meanwhile were as quiet as a desert landscape on the field and in the stands they were cocooned their own private i-Pod or Nokia world.

And those lads are still three or four years away from the national team. But if those habits that were being instilled in spotty teenagers in Jakarta being replicated through all the national team levels then surely this would start to bear fruit.

And there’s more. The generation between the heroes of Ha Noi and the zit faced youth of Jakarta have spent much of this year playing together in Slovakia against professional European opposition on a regular basis. The SEA Games triumph last year was just the beginning; potentially Malaysia has enough talent coming through to keep them at the forefront of South East Asian football at least for the next 10 to 12 years.

And that’s without turning to players based overseas but with a claim on citizenship through a parent, a path taken by Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand, or by naturalizing players, like Singapore, after they meet certain criteria.


Vietnam v Malaysia 0-0

Make no mistake this was a superb performance by Malaysia. But it also highlighted Viet Nam’s frailities in front of goal as they huffed and puffed then gave the ball comfortably to Malaysian keeper Khairul Famri.

Beating Myanmar 7-1 is one thing but Viet Nam, highly fancied by many, have since struggled against the Philippines, lost 2-0, Singapore, won 1-0, and these two semi finals against Malaysia. Their return fom those four games? Just one win and one goal scored.

I guess the Vietnamese will start finger pointing now but I wonder how much of a miss was their star striker Le Cong Vinh?

But enough of Viet nam, this is all about Malaysia. Their coach Rajagobal should now be a leading candidate to replace Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. Or at least get himself appointed defensive coach there. Tonight his team, especially the defense, were immense in front of sustained wave after wave of Vietnamese pressure down the flanks and through the middle.

For a young team, subjected to such a torrid night in such a volatile atmosphere, not to crack showed an immense maturity that bodes well for Malaysia’s future dominance of South East Asian football.

Viet Nam had a player red carded for diving, Malaysia could have nicked it at the end but now it doesn’t matter. Malaysia are in the final with the first leg being played at the Bukit Jalil on 26 December against either Indonesia or the Philippines.

There will be a new name on the ASEAN Football Federation Cup in 2010 and who’s to say it won’t be Rajagobal’s boys?


Persita v PS Bengkulu

Wanting three points to return to the top of the Divisi Utama Group A perhaps Persita underestimated a Bengkulu side who sat 10th in the 13 team division at the start of play with just one win from their opening seven games.

Both sides had goals disallowed and while Persita shaded the first half their deadly strike force of Christian Carrasco and Agus Salim rarely troubled the visiting keeper. Second half PS Bengkulu offered more, taking a grip in the middle cutting the supply to the home team’s strikers.

The longer the game went on the more you sensed the visitors would take the lead. The longer Persita trailed the more you sensed divine intervention.

More on this game:

Jakarta Casual TV, Christian Carrasco, Asian Football Pictures, Persita Fans


Last Minute Penalties

I have written a fair bit about contentious last minute penalties but that has been from afar, safe with my laptop, a cold beer and a plate of chips. When you’re actually in the stadium, the home side are trailing 1-0, the game is entering injury time and fans are throwing missiles on to the field from all sides of the stadium there is only one thought crossing my mind. My motor is parked right outside the stadium. If a dodgy pen is what saves it from being trashed then so be it! I’ll take the pen!!

Once Persita had fallen behind it was always on the cards that alarge, restless crowd was gonna respond and they did in the only way they know how. By throwing things on to the field. As the visiting players started getting cramps and generally timewasting this only wound the fans up even more and perhaps put more pressure on the match officials, especially, the linesmen, who were closest to the terraces.

One missile throwing incident was stopped by arm waving stewards who reacted quickly while police looked on from the running track, occasionally waving their arms in a futile gesture to halt the barrage. Moments later at the other end it all went off again. This time a ball boy got one in the head and he was off. PS Bengkulu had a corner but no one seemed in a hurry to take it, both for reasons of time wasting and personal safety.

By the time injury time came some police and security officials were being kept permanently busy waving their arms…a dangerous thing to do near an airport and totally ineffective against irate fans on the other side of the fence.

Four minutes were indicated by the 4th official and, luckily for everyone except the visiting team, the ref saw fit to give a pen for Persita. Was it a pen? Who cares? I didn’t want the car damaged!

There then followed a lengthy delay while Bengkulu players pointed out politely to the ref that, with respect, they felt his decision was slightly erroneous and could he please change his mind. One visting player aimed a kick at the ref and was quickly shepherded away before he could be punished.

Finally the pen. Agus Salim made it 1-1, the whistle went and most people went home a bit more relieved and a whole lot happier than if they had lost.


The Road To Benteng Stadium

Most supporters’ clubs around the world pre arrange transport to and from home games for their members and they often liaise with local police to ensure a trouble free day out. Fans know what time to be at the pick up point and roughly what time they will get home by.

It’s less formal in Indonesia. Groups of fans living in gangs and kampongs mob up then walk in the middle of the road stopping lorries to jump on the back. If the lorry ain’t keen they throw rocks at it. Police lined the route to the main road heading into Tangerang forcing all sorts of shit to be thrown off the back of the trucks!

One lorry carrying a large nimber of fans was stopped and they were made to get off but plenty others were allowed to carry on one part of the journey somebody came from the other side of the road and threw rocks at a lorry load of Persita fans. Gotta say that took balls. There was a large number on the back of that particular truck and for him to get back to the safety of his own little side street (gang) he would have had to dodge through a fair amount of traffic.

The things people do for their art!


Maths 'O'Level

Unlike their Tangerang rivals Persita, Persikota have had a less than stellar start to the season. They can though take comfort from the fact that while they are not impressing many people on the field, off it their current position in Group B of Divisi Utama makes for the perfect Maths question.

Persikota 5 2 1 2 3-2 7.

They won their last game 2-0. Using the information in this post can you say the scores from their previous four games?

Winner will get a life time free subscription to Air. Terms and conditions apply. No cash alternative available. No correspondence will be entered into regarding this competition and if you don’t want the Air well, tough titty.


Maths 'O'Level

Unlike their Tangerang rivals Persita, Persikota have had a less than stellar start to the season. They can though take comfort from the fact that while they are not impressing many people on the field, off it their current position in Group B of Divisi Utama makes for the perfect Maths question.

Persikota 5 2 1 2 3-2 7.

They won their last game 2-0. Using the information in this post can you say the scores from their previous four games?

Winner will get a life time free subscription to Air. Terms and conditions apply. No cash alternative available. No correspondence will be entered into regarding this competition and if you don’t want the Air well, tough titty.


Christian Carrasco (Persita)

Chilean striker Christian Carrasco has been kicking around the region quite awhile. Among the clubs on his extensive resume are Persija, Persipura, Persebaya and BEC Tero. Now he finds himself in the Divisi Utama with Persita Tangerang and has been instrumental in the Tangerang’s side esplosive start to the season. Their opening four games have seen them unbeaten with three wins and a draw without conceding a goal. Carrasco has netted his share of their nine goals with each goal celebrated by the Chilean slipping on a Spiderman mask!


Results 17/12

Divisi Utama

PSCS Cilicap v Persiram 4-0

Persebaya v Persiku 4-2

Persigo v PSIR 2-0


No More Flares

Indonesian officials are warning they may lose the right to host the ASEAN Football Federation Cup Final if they qualify. This follows incidents during the semi final 1st leg against the Philippines when they were multiple incidents of fireworks and flares going off before and during their narrow 1-0 victory.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Sriwijaya Want More Strikers

Indonesia Cup, Charity Shield and Inter Island Cup Winners Sriwijaya are looking to boost their firs power ahead of next year's AFC Cup. On the radar are Persibo duo Samsul Arif and Rudi Rudi Widodo


A Blight On The Beautiful Game

Being almost Crimbo I decided to do my best Ebeneezer Scrooge and have a whine about what I see is wrong with the modern game

1 - the pre kick off huddle - what's the point? It doesn't help you win the game does it? I mean have you ever heard Fergie say that they beat Blackburn 7-1 'cos of the huddle before the game started. And it looks so gay. People do it 'cos everyone else does it and that surely has to be reason enough not to do it.

2 - the mexican wave - reality TV for the masses, has no place in a football stadium

3 - players carried off on stretchers - guys you look pathetic. It's humiliating. Does it feel good to have four grown men carry you off the football field everybody watching thinks you're a tosser?

4 - high hats - oi pricks, there's folks behind you who wanna see the game, not look at your freaking stoopid hat that stands about three feet above your empty head

5 - over elaborate goal celebrations - if you could pass the ball as well as you celebrate your rare goals you may even be able to earn a pay rise

6 - clubs 'resting' players' numbers as a sign of respect, players numbers and players names on the back of shirts

7 - ex players who can't find a real job after they have retired so they feel fit to bore us with everybody else's defensive errors

8 - not doing any work for 9 months and doubling your salary

9 - Big Sam and his apologists

10 - face painters - please, why?

11 - players obsession with adjusting their shin pads before taking a free kick. Help, does it?


Champions Sign Anon

BEC Tero's striker Anon Sangsanoi has signed for Muang Thong United. He was the Thai Premier League's top goalscorer in 2008 and 2009 and it remains a mystery why he has not featured more prominently in the Thai national team. Perhaps a move to the champions may see that become a reality?


Liga Primer Indonesia Participating Clubs Part 3,287

According to the official Liga Primer Indonesia website the following 18 teams will be competing in the inaugural LPI season that is supposed to kick off on 8 January.

Bali Dewate, Bandung, Batavia Union, Bogor Raya, Cement Padang, Deltras Sidoarjo, Jakarta 1928, Makassar City, Manado United, Medan Chiefs, Persebaya, Persema, Persibo, PSMS Bintang, Real Mataram, Semarang United, Solo, Tangerang United.

No sign of a fixture list yet.


Malaysian Super League 2011

Anybody got a link to the fixtures yet?


Will Sime Darby Break The Mould?

KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby FC plans to continue their fairytale run. The club which was officially launched in March this year has been promoted to the Premier League after winning the FAM League.

They were unbeaten in the league, winning eleven games and three draws. The club is now looking to win fans by making an instant mark.

"We have set our target of a top two finish and qualify for the Super League. We are in the second year of a threeyear plan. This will be an important year, therefore everyone needs to be focused,"said Tengku Ahmad Shah, deputy president of Sime Darby FC.

"The biggest setback we have is the fan base. Now we only have employees of Sime Darby behind us. But I'm sure if we keep winning then our fan base will grow."

Sime Darby FC plans to buck the trend of clubs ceasing to exist after several seasons.

Question marks always linger when a new club is formed. The main concern is how long they will last.

In the past, clubs such as KL Plus and My-Team ceased to exist after ambitious plans at the very beginning.

"Clubs usually lack strong grassroots. We have the backing from Sime Darby Group and Yayasan Sime Darby. Also we are in the planning stage of building a training academy in Bukit Jelutong.

"We will be run professionally. There will be no issue of players salaries not being paid and the club being in debt," said Ahmad Shah.

COMMENT - I'm not convinced they will be around for the long term. Straight from the start they are making a wrong move by naming themselves after a corporate entity. Who the hell is going to support a team named after a company when the rest of the world is supporting their local team, something they can identify. Not sound like the brother of the Thai assistant coach Steve Darby!


Some Selected Divisi Utama Attendances

While the focus now is on the AFF Cup, and I have a bit of free time I thought now would be a good time to have a look at some attendances in the second tier Divisi Utama so far this season.

Persis v Perseman 12,103
PSIS v Persik 15,246
Persis v Persiram 12,360
PSMS v Persikabo 12,576
PSIS v PSIM 11,355


Results 16/12

ASEAN Football Federation Cup Semi Final 1st Leg

The Philippines v Indonesia 0-1 (Christian Gonzalez) 70,700

Divisi Utama

PSSB v Persitara 1-2 (Rizal; Hari Salisbury, Masril) 2,000
PSLS v Persikabo 1-1 Afrizal; Jibby) 4,000
Perikab v Perseman 0-2 (Karubaba 2) 4,236
PSBI v Barito Putra 1-0 (Arifin) 7,890
Perseru v Persiba Bantul 0-1 (Udo Fortune) 3,400
Persih v Persiraja 1-2 (Veron; Djibril, Fahrizal) 3,200
Persires v PSAP 0-4 (Suryadi, Osus 2, Pondra) 300
Persidafon v PSS 6-0 (Ernest Jeremiah 2, Patrick, Cirelli, Worabay, Abel) 25,869*
Persikota v Persemalra 2-0 (Adolfo Souza 2) 3,275

Fahrizal's 73rd minute winner saw Persiraja move to the top of Group 1 ahead of four teams on 10 points with Persita playing tomorrow having a chance to leap frog them. Persiraja are the only team in the 39 team Divisi Utama with a 100% record.

* this figure comes from the official league website but I'm not convinced. Their other home attendances are 10% of this suggesting a typing error


Is Indonesian Football Getting Sexy?

It is widely accepted that Euro 96 held in England completed the transformation for English football from a game where hooligans held sway to a family day out where face painters and brass bands created a totally different atmosphere. Are we seeing history repeat in Indonesia?

Alfred Riedl’s team have given a buzz to Indonesians and they have responded by rushing to buy replica shirts and match tickets. Everybody it seems wants to be a part of the party, everyone from politicians to celebrities.

This sea change reflects the change that has come over Indonesia over the last few years. Political stability coupled with economic growth, especially while much of the rest of the world has been suffering a nightmare economic crisis, has brought the confidence back to a country usually associated, in the minds of the main stream media, with terrorism and natural disasters.

Two years ago Indonesia reached the semi final of the AFF Cup but there was no real feeling that they would go on and win the trophy. They blustered their way past Myanmar and Cambodia but come the big boys, Singapore and Thailand, they slipped into default mode and succumbed with barely a whisper.

Not now. The team is flying, playing good football and the new breed of fan have their own heroes in Oktavianus and Irfan Bachdim.

The big question though, and one that the FA needs to address, is translating this support for the national team into more bums on seats at the Indonesia Super League and the Divisi Utama. Will the new fan follow their local team in a league where incompetence is rife? Where blatant favouritism occurs, where crowd misbehavior is fairly commonplace?

Are the FA up to the task?


The Philippines v Indonesia 0-1 (Christian Gonzalez)

Indonesia sure made hard work of this ASEAN Football Federation semi final 1st leg tie at the Bung Karno Stadium in Jakarta. Officially it was a home game for the Philippines but when you have over 70,000 fans braying down your neck finding any sympathy is always going to be difficult.

For all the Philippines discipline and work ethic three goals in four goals tells its own story and while they may have stunned the Vietnamese fans in Ha Noi last week, the result and performance that catapulted them on to the ASEAN stage, last night’s toil produced little that truly threatened Markus Horison in the Indonesian goal.

They had their moments for sure and they may well have been enough against an earlier Indonesian vintage but not these guys, not under Alfred Riedl. I

’m not going to pretend I watched the Philippines with any great care and attention. I am still blown away by Indonesia’s all round play, especially defensively. Yes there was the odd moment when the old failing of lack of communication came to the fore, one time when Horison and Nasuha went for the same ball, but in this game, and indeed against the Thais, they defended solidly and as a unit. And that’s something you rarely say about Indonesian football.

Back in 2006 Maman Abdurahman was Player of the Year while he was with PSIS. In the past, at national level, he could have been accused of ball watching but now he is looking cool and impressive both on the ball and in the air. Next to him Hamkah Hamza seems to have refound his appetite with yet another commanding performance alongside Maman.

Christian Gonzalez’ fifth goal in six internationals has given Indonesia the slimmest of margins and given the way the Philippines set out this game is far from over.

But as it stands just 90 minutes now separate us from the dream final; Malaysia v Indonesia!

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