Friday, December 28, 2012


Jakarta Casual Awards 2012

One thing about South East Asian football. It is never dull. The headlines off the field are often far more exciting than what happens on it. You can't make up what happens here; not without having your own sanity questioned.

2012 has been as mental as ever. Indonesia continues to be the Noah's Ark of football. Two leagues, two national associations and at one hilarious stage two national teams preparing for the ASEAN Football Federation Cup. I mean which planet are these people on?

The year has also seen the return to glory of Singapore regionally, the SLeague continue to excite and fans continue to stay away while Malaysia is in the grip of Kelantan and Thailand saw the return to glory of Muiang Thong Thani.

OK, so to the awards.


This is the fourth year of the awards and till now no one person or group has won anything twice. That ends now though to be honest I would rather the award went to someone else. The world looked the other way while Diego Mendieta lay dying in a hospital bed in Solo but not the fans of Persis Solo. They raised money to help pay his bills and when he did finally breathe his last they were the ones who let the world know. This wasn't about football it was about humanity and the Persis fans, the Pasoepati, showed a humanity sadly lacking in the corridors of power of Indonesian football.

2012 Pasoepati
2011 Lions All The Way
2010 Pasoepati
2009 Woodlands Wellington


I must admit this last 12 months I have spent a lot less time on the different websites than usual and  I think that is down to the Twitter effect. While trawl the sites when I can have them come to me? So it may not be sexy but the little sky blue bird is the winner for this year. Can the websites fight back?

2012 Twitter
2011 Thai Football Message Board
2010 Pusam FC
2009 Ongisnade


As ever no shortage of candidates for this one. The death of Mendieta, Singapore winning the ASEAN Cup, Muang Thong United rediscovering the fact they are a football club. But none come close to the insanity that FIFA continues to allow happening by sticking their head in the sand and ignore what is happening in Indonesia.

2012 FIFA
2011 Liga Primer Indonesia
2010 Buriram PEA
2009 Noh Alam Shah signing for Arema


Good showings by Arema IPL, Chonburi in the AFC Cup are worthy of a mention as is Muang Thong's dominance of Thailand after their Newin induced Gap year in 2011. In Singapore Tampines came storming through to win the SLeague in the last game of the season. But for shear consistency it comes down to a toss up between Sriwijaya and Muang Thong United with the Indonesians edging it.

2012 Sriwijaya
2011 Buriram PEA
2010 Etoile
2009 Selangor


Malaysians have won this the last years but I give you a clue. Not this year. After a few barren years the Singapore Football Association would not have upset too many people had they backed down in the face of angry letters to the local papers and allowed Raddy Avramovic to leave quietly. But they didn't. They stuck by him and Singapore reaped the benefits. The man bows out head held high.

2012 Raddy Avramovic (Singapore)
2011 Ong Kim Swee (Malaysia Under 23)
2010 Rajagobal (Malaysia)
2009 Richard Bok (SAFFC)


Kawin Thammasatchan (Muang Thong United) - Daniel Bennett (SAFFC), Baihakki Khaizan (LionsX11), Safuwan Baharudin (LionsX11), Teerathon Bunmathan (Buriram United) - Hariono (Persib), Adul Lahso (Chonburi), Safiq Rahim (Selangor) - Teerasil Dangda (Muang Thong United), Keith Kayamba (Sriwijaya), Andik Vermansyah (Persebaya)

Substitutes - Izwan Mahbud (LionsX11), Wahyu Wijiastanto (Semen Padang), Shahdan Sulaiman (Lionsx11), Mustafic Fahruddin (Tampines Rovers), Safee Sali (Pelita Jaya), Norshahrul Idlan Talaha (Kelantan)


Goalkeepers have done well in this category so far and this year is no exception.

2012 Izwan Mahbud (LionsX11)
2011 Khairul Fahmie (Kelantan)
2010 Frederic Mendy (Etoile)
2009 Kawin Thammasatchan (Muang Thong United)


What makes a good footballer? Consistency? Tick. Attitude? Tick. Responsibility? Tick. Keith Kayamba ticks those boxes and many more and just edges out a late challenge fro Thai duo Teerasil and Kawin.

2012 Keith Kayamba (Sriwijaya)
2011 Aleksander Duric (Tampines Rovers)
2010 Pierre Njanka (Arema)
2009 Greg Nwokolo (Persija)

Right, that's 2012 done and dusted and already looking forward to the new year. How much of an impact will Johor Darul Takzim make in Malaysia? How much crap can Indonesian football put up with? Will Buriram give Muang Thong a run for their money? Can the Singapore Football Association translate regional glory into bums on seats? Buggered if I know but keep following Jakarta Casual for the latest...

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


Raddy's Replacements

With Raddy Avramovic calling it a day as the most successful manager in Singapore's football history talk now turns to who will succeed him as the Lions seek to build on their AFF Cup triumph in the AFC Asian Cup qualifications which begin in February.

In the dug out during the recent tournament was Mike Wong, formerly coach of Geylang United. Whether he was appointed to assist Raddy with a view to replacing the Serb can only be conjecture of course; there is always an assistant after all.

Of course much will focus on whether the next man to take the job will be a local or a foreigner. Much vitriol was aimed at Raddy in the dark days before the AFF Cup and there is no getting away from the fact that much of it was nationalist in its make up. The feeling among many that only a Singaporean can manage the team properly.

Bollocks of course but that was an argument spewed by the English when Sven Goran Ericksson was given charge of the England national team.

If we are talking locals then two other names will probably go into the hat alongside Wong. Aide Iskander was a well regarded player in his time with the Lions while Richard Bok enjoyed phenomenal success with SAFFC during his time there.

And of course there is Sundramurthy who has done a good job with LionsX11 in the Malaysia Super League last season, providing the back bone of the Lions team in Bangkok.

Fandi Ahmad is Singapore's favourite football son. While Manchester United fans revelled in George Best's excesses off the field, Singapore fans still enjoy swapping Fandi stories which, to be fair, make him sound more like an eternally nice fella with a smile for everyone. However the nice guy is settling into a new club, Johor Darul Tizkam, just across the border and is probably drooling politely at the mouth just reading the list of players he has acquired there ahead of the new season.

One more local candidate? PN Srivaji?

The we have possible foreign applicants. Top of that list must be Steve Darby. A familiar face to Singaporeans due to his time with Home United Darby is widely viewed as an excellent man manager. He also does great interviews and is not afraid to speak out on topics; something the Singapore FA will be more than well aware of!

Alfred Riedl is another name who may well be considered. The Austrian has worked in the region before coaching Vietnam, Indonesia and Laos.

Then we have the others out there. The unknowns. Who we don't know. Those coming from left field.

Whoever takes over won't have much time to get to know his players. They start the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers early February.


Malaysia's 'New' Team

There will be a new name in the Malaysia Super League which kicks off early in January. Johor FC have renamed themselves Darul Takzim and have been splashing the cash in a big way.

Fandi Ahmad has come in as coach for the new season and he has been followed by the likes of Norshahrul, Safiq Rahim, Safee Sali and Zaquan Adha.

Not content with taking the best of the national team they have also added European quality with Daniel Guiza and Simone Del Nero being tempted to join the football revolution.

Hopes are high that Darul Tikzam will mount a serious bid for the Malaysia Super League which has been dominated by Kelantan in the last couple of seasons.


Sriwijaya Lift Another Cup

Sriwijaya showed they can win trophies without Keith Kayamba by lifting the Inter Island Cup on 23 December in Solo.

They were made to work for it though by Persisam who twice took the lead through Lancine Kone only for new signings Boakay Foday and Tantan, in the last minute, to take the game to penalties. Isdianto missed for Persisam while Padwa was able to convert his and ensure more silverware for Sriwijaya.

Sriwijaya's Trophy Haul

2007/2008 Liga Indonesia
2007/2008 Copa Indonesia
2008/2009 Copa Indonesia
2010 Copa Indonesia
2010 Inter Island Cup
2010 Community Shield
2011/2012 Super League
2012 Inter Island Cup


All Change At Persiba

There will be a slight Singapore feel to Persiba this season. They have brought in Precious Emeujeraye (former Woodlands Wellington, Sriwijaya, Persija) and Luca Savic (Young Lions, SAFFC, Barcelona) as part of a rebuilding that has seen coach Hans Peter Schaller leave along with a host of big names.

I Made Wirawan has moved to Persib as has Kenji Adichihara while Kenji's prolific strike partner Aldo Baretto has joined Persegres. Also moving on are Rahmat Latief, Sultan Sama, Asri Akbar and Esteban Guillen.


FAS's Double Challenge

In case you have been partying on the dark side of the moon recently you will be aware that Singapore won the AFF Cup, defeating Thailand 3-2 on aggregate.

I don't think many people anticipated that one before the competition began but the Lions thoroughly deserved their triumph.

2012 has been a good year for Singapore football what with the daftly named LionsX11 performing well in the Malaysia set up, another exciting SLeague and of course the AFF Cup success.

As ever though the game is being woefuly under supported by officialdom. Fans do turn out for the LionsX11 games and of course the semi final and final hosted at the Jalan Besar Stadium were sell outs. Football fans love to be associated with success and that is just as true in Singapore.

But how can this success be translated into bums on seats at the SLeague. Yes, when the league started back in the 1990s there were crowds of 10,000 + but most games today you are lucky to get 1% of that buying tickets and the SLeague website stopped giving attendances which were padded out by complimentaries, media and other weird and wonderful attendees who didn't turn up.

In 2013 we have already seen Gombak United decide to take a season's sabbatical meaning the league will feature 12 teams. But will any of them feel any benefit from Singapore's AFF Cup success? Granted most of the team that paraded the trophy play for LionsX11 but there were still others, like Aleksander Duric, in the SLeague with champions Tampines Rovers.

The Football Association of Singapore have a challenging 12 months ahead. How to funnel new found interested in the game to the SLeague on match days as well as replacing Raddy Avramovic as coach of the national team.

What is needed on both counts is firm action. Not business school speak about key performing indicators and strategic plans but a marketing plan to get more fans through the gate and a list of candidates who can take Singapore to the next level internationally.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Lonely This Christmas

Another tale of woe that is the reality of football in Indonesia and a consequence of FIFA sitting on their hands just hoping Indonesian football will magically make itself better.

Moukwelle Ebanga Sylvain isn't that well known a player. He doesn't even seem to have a wiki page!

Last season Moukwelle played for Persewangi Banyuwangi in the Divisi Utama of the official PSSI sanctioned league and finished second bottom last season, scoring a massive 11 goals in their 16 games. If the reports are true that players weren't paid for nine months then it's a wonder they managed double figures.

In local media it is being said Moukwelle hasn't been paid for nine months and is now receiving medication. But he can't afford to get the medication from the hospital. Oh no. He needs to go to a local clinic where they are cheaper.

He wants to go home. He has a family in France, it's Christmas and this young man wants to spend the holiday with his family. But he can't. He is quoted as saying he feels like he is in jail.

The LPIS, the body that runs the league that Persewangi play in say they have provided some assistance but it is not clear in what form.

An all too familiar tale unfortunately and one that must have FIFA beaming with pride...

SOURCE - compiled from local media reports with doses of cynicism added as appropriate


AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers

02/03 Philippines v Brunei, Turkmenistan v Cambodia
04/03 Philippines v Cambodia, Brunei v Turkmenistan
06/03 Philippines v Turkmenistan, Cambodia v Brunei

More info about this keep an eye on Filipino Football or Kingdom of Football

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Advantage Lions

In a way this was a repeat of their opening group game against Malaysia. Singapore sprang from the traps and they made sure they got in the faces of their Thai opponents early doors as I believe football people like to say.

The Thais may have come into this game as slight favourites over the two legs, and that crucial away goals will give them a massive boost back at Supachalasai, but last night they were made to look very average indeed by a harrying, aggressive, pumped up Singapore.

The home team took the lead after Aleksander Duric, did you know he is 42 years old, was felled in the box. Mustafic Fahruddin scored but was told he must retake the kick as Khairul Amri had prematurely entered the box.

It can't have been easy for Farra, the former Persija and Persela midfielder. Ahead of the first attempt the massive Kawin, Muang Thong United's excellent young keeper, took his time, caressing the posts and the crossbar looking for all the world like he was strolling in Lumpinee Park, not about to face a cup final penalty.

For the second go Kawin followed the same routine but to no avail. Farra, experienced old war horse that he is, was unperturbed and sent the keeper the wrong way. There was a concern for the Tampines player as he celebrated with a leap worthy of a 15 year old.

Second half the Thais, subdued and unable to get their expansive football flowing, did get one back but Khairul Amri spun on a 50 cent coin to restore the lead.

Datsakorn Thonglao, the experienced Thai playmaker, was little more than a non paying spectator and you could see him getting more and more wound up as the Singapore players took it in turns to take him out. Top  players would not have let it get to them; Datsakorn, moody, brooded and looked distracted, unhappy at being unable to impose himself as he would have liked.

At the death Singapore were still pressing, a testament to their fitness levels, and from a late corner Baihakki Khazian hit the roof of the net from about seven inches to secure the game and give the Lions some kind of cushion ahead of the second leg.

It was a well deserved goal for Singapore and for Baihakki. Too often in the past he has been made a scapegoat, perhaps his languid style being misread but this competition he has been impressive and dominated the likes of Teerasil and Norshahrul; no mean feat for the tall defender.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Aceh Governor's Cup Semi Final

Most of South East Asia will be tuned into the first leg of the ASEAN Cup Final tonight between Singapore and Thailand at the tiny Jalan Besar Stadium.

Across the Melaka Strait it is semi final time of the Aceh Governor's Cup.

19/12 Aceh v DPMM, Semen Padang v Selangor

The final will be held on 22 December as will the 3/4 place play off


Malaysians' Overseas Friendlies

05/12 Perseman v PKNS 3-0
07/12 Persiba v PKNS 4-2
09/12 Persiku v PKNS 2-2

13/12 Thai Army (Army United?) v ATM 3-0
16/12 Rayal Thai Navy v ATM 2-2

16/12 Songkla United v Kedah 1-1

13/12 BC Rangers v Pahang 3-1
15/12 Kitchee v Pahang 2-1
17/12 Citizen v Pahang 0-1

Aceh Governor's Cup

16/12 Makassar United v Selangor 1-1
16/12 DPMM v Kelantan 1-1
17/12 Semen Padang v Kelantan 4-2
17/12 Selangor v Aceh United 0-1


East Java Governor's Cup 2012

Group A (Surajaya Stadium, Lamongan)

24/12 Persela v PSBK
26/12 Deltras v PSBK
28/12 PSBK v Persela

Group B (Kanjuruhan Stadium, Malang)

26/12 Arema v Persepam
27/12 Persepam v Persebaya (DU)
28/12 Persebaya (DU) v Arema

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


It's Persisam & Sriwijaya

Persisam defeated Persib 2-0 at the Manahan Stadium in the first semi final to reach the Inter Island Cup Final for their second time. Persib were followed by thousands of Bobotoh but while the fans put on a show not for the first time Persib never turned up on the field.

With a poor performance speculation has mounted that Persib will make a move for Sergio van Dijk, the Adelaide United striker who has long been talked about as coming to Indonesia at some stage

They will meet Sriwijaya in the final after the ISL champions defeated Arema in the second semi final. Ponaryo Astaman's spot kick on 68' was enough in a game that had 10 yellow cards.

The final is scheduled for 23 December in Solo

Friday, December 14, 2012


Gonzales Joins Arema's Aging Army

Christian Gonzales has joined Arema ISL. The 36 year year naturalised striker will join a strike force that features Keith Kayamba (aged 40) and Alberto Goncalves (31) while Safee Sali has gone to Johor FC to escape the crap that is surrounding the game here.

Gonzales of course is a familiar name here as his goal scoring record shows since arriving from his native Uruguay.

2003-04 PSM Makassar 56 games 32 goals
2005-08 Persik Kediri 106 100
2009-11 Persib Bandung 72 41
2012 Persisam 32 18

There are also 11 goals in 19 games for Indonesia.

Rumours Arema will sign Tampines Rovers' 42 year old striker Aleksander Duric are not true!


FIFA Take No Action Shock Horror

FIFA had their much hyped gob fest today to decide what to do about the nonsense in Indonesia and they decided to stick to the same tired old path that has brought us this far. They delayed taking any decision.

To recap Indonesian football in the last few days. One player has died. The PSSI weren't allowed to hold their meeting in a meeting room and had to make do with a hotel lobby. The PSSI and the KPSI have torn up their agreement. The player's union, APPI, listed which Indonesian football clubs have not fully honoured contracts. The government, who played a large role in encouraging the current PSSI when they were starting up before losing interest, have set up a task force.

We're not really surprised FIFA did nothing are we?


Inter Island Cup 2012 Semi Finals

The four group winners will go into the Inter Island Cup semi finals to be played in Solo at the Manahan Stadium on Sunday 16 December.

Persib, who won the group they hosted, will join Persisam, who won the group they hosted, Sriwijaya, who won the group they hosted and Arema, who won the group they hosted, in battling it out for the final.

3.30 Persib v Persisam
7.00 Arema v Srwiwjaya

This is the third edition of the not quite famous yet trophy. Sriwijaya won it in 2010 while Persipura won it last season.


Back To The Future

The Thai national team were worried. Back in July the coach, Winnie Schaeffer, was moved to write an open letter to the Football Association calling for them to get serious and put in place a programme for the team ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Cup.

The previous cup had seen the Thais suffer the ignomy of not getting out of the group stage and there was a feeling the nation's team had been sacrificed on the alter of a powerful domestic league with its influential club owners.

Schaeffer was well aware of this prompting his letter.

Now the Thais are back in the final where they will clash with Singapore and it is like normal service has resumed in ASEAN.

Since the biennial competition begin in 1996 both Singapore and Thailand have won the trophy three times. Only Vietnam, in 2008, and Malaysia two years ago have broken their dominance that will continue when they go head to head next week.

Based on form perhaps the Thais have the slight edge but Singapore have proved a tough nut to crack. And for the Lions there is much pride in the fact that Khairul Amri has finally shown what he can do when he spends time on the pitch and not in the treatment room; it was his cracking goal that finally defeated the Philippines in the semi final.

Singapore really got into the Philippines at the Jalan Besar Stadium with a series of crunching tackles in the opening minutes sending out a powerful message they wanted their title back.

The Thais brushed aside Malaysia quite effortlessly in Bangkok, eventually winning 2-0. A Malaysian player was mysteriously sent off just before half time but it didn't have much impact; the Thais were already dominant.

Singapore might want to double check the training facilities they get offered in Bangkok. The Malaysians were less than happy with the field and facilities they had.

1996 Thailand
1998 Singapore
2000 Thailand
2002 Thailand
2004 Singapore
2007 Singapore
2008 Vietnam
2010 Malaysia

One final word about the final. The Thais have been beaten finalists twice; Singapore have yet to lose in the final.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Persib Take It To The Fans

I've talked often about Persib. They are like Newcastle United and St Pauli rolled into one. A football club who identify an area, a lifestyle and a language.

They are about the only club in Indonesia who have attempted to support themselves with sponsorship and they have another idea to keep the tills rolling.

December sees a mobile shop cruising Bandung offering a variety of Persib merchandise for sale.

Great idea and good to see at least one club trying to reach out to fans and keep the cash coming in.

SOURCE - Persib official website


The Late Payers

A few years back the PSSI listed players they had put on their blacklist who could not play in the country again. They did of course but you know what a I mean.

According the Indonesian footballers' union the following clubs have either been late playing salaries or have not paid contracts up in full.

Sriwijaya, Pelita Jaya, Persiba Balikpapan, Persija, PSMS, PSPS, Persidafon, Deltras, Arema, Persela, PSAP from the Indonesia Super League, the current rebel league. That is 11 out of 18 clubs. Two more, Persiwa and PSAP to be confirmed

Bontang, Persiba Bantul, Persema, Persija IPL, PSM, Persiraja from the official Indonesia Premier League. That is 8 out of 12 clubs. Two more, Persijap and Persibo to be confirmed.

A tale of shame indeed and remember that is just the top divisions. The picture may well get worse as you go down the divisions.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The Farces Never Stop

The much heralded PSSI meeting yesterday to ultimately decide the fate of football in the country took place in the lobby of a hotel! Not in a meeting room but a lobby!

It seems the local security forces refused to give them permission to hold a meeting in, um, a meeting room.

How daft is that eh? As daft as saying Microsoft sponsor the league perhaps? Or sacking the most successful manager in recent years from the national team then losing a game 10-0? Or having a team called Persija Jakarta who were not allowed to play in their home city?

I will miss them when they are gone but rest assured no matter when one circus leaves town they always leave a few clowns behind to entertain us.


Wilkinson's New Home

After a less than thrilling time in the Land of Smiles with Police United former Singaporean international John Wilkinson is packing his backs once more.

This time he is heading east to India where he will team up with fellow Englishman David Booth at Salgaocar in the I League.

Salgaocar play in the one time hippy beach resort of Goa on India's west coast and Wilkinson won't be short of company; as well as the well travelled Booth, former Arsenal and Wolves winger Rohan Ricketts plays for Dempo who share the same stadium as the former SAFFC player's new club.

Other familiar names in the I League, perhaps to regular readers of this here site, include Ebi Sukore (formerly Persik, PSIS, Persis, Semen Padang), Anoure Obiora (Sriwijaya, PSM, Crawley Town(!), Persebaya), Boubacar Keita (Persitara, Pelita Jaya, Arema) and Gbeneme Friday (Persih, Semen Padang)


The Poison That Chokes Football

Football clubs in South East Asia are nothing like the image we have of football clubs in the west. They are not the oligarch run club with deep pockets exuding arrogance neither are they the plucky non league club held together by one old chap who collects the money at the turnstile, produces the matchday programme and cuts the grass on the pitch.

Football here doesn’t even fit in between those two extremes. Most clubs in Indonesia, Malaysia and even Thailand have some connection with local government. The people who run the clubs have some kind of connection with local government.

As such their default mode is too wait for a subsidy. They don’t market their clubs because they don’t know how to. Cash flow is something they see in the casinos of Singapore and Macau, not in their football club.
Those clubs that are privately owned often have owners with their own agenda and motives. In Thailand for example politicians and big business have jumped on the football bandwagon that begun in 2009. And these are a breed who don’t take defeat kindly. Not when it’s them that lose.

Malaysia and Indonesia have a handful of privately run clubs but it is obvious the experiences learnt rent seeking or running a near monopoly business aren’t being applied to the football. Who the hell can come up with football club names like My Team, LionsX11, T Team, PLUS (a highway), SPA etc?

The average chain smoking, Blackberry wielding club official may be a decent enough bloke. But there is nothing in his background that equips him for his football role. If he has no money he just won’t hand anything over. He won’t publicise it, won’t make a song and dance out of it. He’ll just do nothing. Because that is what he is used to.

In his real world people don’t complain too much. They can’t. Government officials yield a lot of power and they are usually answerable to other government officials who will usually side with their own when it comes to disputes; unless they decide it is in their interests to do otherwise.

Local governments are not the best at being transparent. The officials are surly and believe they are doing you a favour by even being allowed in their hallowed domain. You are their under sufferance and you are made to know it.

There will be no leaflets telling citizens their rights, no charter and no hint of rules and regulations. The law sits behind a desk and is a petty potentate of all he surveys. He is a big fish in a small pond with a pension and job security.

These guys don’t repair the roads. They may have black and white lines painted on the kerb to prove they have spent their annual budget and can they please have an increase next year but actual repairs are carried out haphazardly and as cheaply as possible. Graffiti is allowed to stay on bus shelters while trash accumulates due to the lack of any organized collections.

People arrive late to work, run their own business from their desk and go home when they want.
Against this background there is little wonder footballers don’t always get paid. It’s the way they have been brought up. They have sinecures without responsibility. Theirs is a mindset of trivia, point scoring and regulations. Sticklers for paperwork being in the right order when it suits them they have the power to make nothing happen for a long time if they feel they are not being adequately respected and all that entails.

And these are the people who, with some exceptions of course, who run the majority of football clubs in this country.

Football, says Sir Alex Ferguson, bloody hell. The knight of the realm, I fear, doesn’t know the half of it.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Malaysia FA Cup 2013 1st Round

Sarawak v Malacca
Preach Khan Reach (Cambodia) v PBAPP FC
Kuala Lumpur v Pos Malaysia
UITM FC v Negeri Sembilan
PDRM v Penang
KL Spa v Terengganu
Kedah v NS Betaria
Darul Takzim FC v Perak
Sabah v Felda United
Selangor v ATM
Johor v Pahang
Kuantan Port v Tentera Darat
T-Team v Perlis

Kelantan and ATM enter 2nd Round


High Profile Visits At Risk

Indonesia it seems is moving ever closer to the precipice. FIFA are thought to be in the mood to really do something to settle the nonsense once and for all that has seen a country divided into two governing bodies, two leagues and for a moment two national teams.

If FIFA does what it should have done years ago and ban Indonesia from international competition then we can kiss goodbye to Arsenal coming here next year. There is little chance the English FA would sanction a trip to a country that is under FIFA sanction and I cannot see Arsenal wanting to come for fear of the damage it would do to their brand.

Much depends on the next few days. The Indonesian FA hold a meeting today then FIFA meet later in the week to discuss the situation. If they decide enough is enough then Arsenal could be the third EPL team in recent years to be touted as coming here yet never actually making it.

Manchester United's visit was cancelled when a bomb ripped through the hotel they were due to stay at while Everton were supposed to come earlier this year but that to never happened for some reason.


Arsenal Players In South East Asia

Not many one time Arsenal players have found themselves playing in South East Asia. Perhaps the most notable being the great, late, David Rocastle who had a short spell with Sabah in the late 1990s. Funnily enough Rhys Weston, who played precisely one game for the Arsenal away to Newcastle in 2000 has just signed for Sabah who are coached by David McCreery.

Last season a couple of ex Arsenal trainees trialled with Geylang United. One was Oliver Nicholas who was released just before the season started while the other was Rhema Obed who played a dozen or so games before moving to an Israeli team.

Rohan Ricketts seems to have been around since the ark yet is still under 30! He is now playing in India with Dempo and is making a name with himself on line and as a writer. India is his seventh country!

Then we have Christopher Wreh. One of Arsene Wenger's early signings Wreh never really settled at the Arsenal and after a pillar to post existence found himself playing for Perseman Manokwari in Papua in the far east of Indonesia. he only had half a season with them before moving on...where I do not know!

The last one I can think of is Niall Quinn. After a fall out with Manchester City Quinn headed to Malaysia where he played a couple of friendlies. One, for Selangor who hoped to sign him, was against Middlesbrough.

The best story of all though was the IPL team who wanted to sign Dennis Pergkamp! That caused much merriment I can tell you...

UPDATE - thanks to Ron, Chris Kiwomya had a short spell with Selangor in 1997. He also had a short spell with Arsenal being among George Graham's last signings before he was sacked in 1995.


Imitation The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

I noticed last week during the ASEAN Cup in KL the Malaysian fans were singing a few songs that would  be familiar to Indonesian football fans. The same thing could be clearly heard during yesterday's Semi Final 1st Leg against the Thais.

There weren't enough visiting fans to fill a tuk tuk so it was down to the Malaysians to turn Bukit Jalil Stadium into a fortress and they did their best. And their best included a couple of Indonesian football songs with words amended of course.

Fair play to them. What football lad is going to sing the drivel you hear in the SLeague or the Thai Premier League? They're dross. The Indonesians though do have the best songs and make the best atmosphere. Better than Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia. There is no shame in using their songs.

That view however doesn't take into account the sometime strained relations between the two countries. An element of the Indonesian political elite, who may or may not go shopping in KL, are quick to blame Malaysia for anything be it abuse of migrant workers, stealing their culture or looking down on their bigger neighbours.

Malaysian football fans singing Indonesian football songs riles up a certain element of Indonesian nationalism. They may not know how to play gamelan, what Balinese masks mean or the names of the kings of Kediri but if they feel Malaysia mocking they get the face paint out.

There is a wonderful irony here. Many young Indonesian kids love K pop. I don't recall Koreans getting upset about them getting dressed up or copying the music. Many young Indonesians have woolen football scarves of English Premier League teams even though it never gets chilly enough for them in Jakarta. Celtic fans do a wonderful job singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' but you don't hear the Kop or Radgers & Hammestein getting too upset about it.

You want more? The Casual movement from the terraces of 1970s and 1980s UK. The Ultras come from Italy. Hamburgers come from Germany despite the claims of American fast food restaurants to the contrary.

It's called globalisation and it's be going on for centuries. Indonesian football fans should be proud another country rates their songs enough to echo them on their own terraces, not retreat into a petty, nationalist rhetoric .

UPDATE - I understand from Twitter that the song Ayo Indonesia, Kita Harus Menang was originally a Chilean football song. So, the Malaysians copied it from the Indonesians who copied it from the Chileans!


Jakarta Globe Column

Not many in Indonesia’s expat circles would have heard of Diego Mendieta. The 32-year-old Paraguayan would have gone unrecognized had he ventured into the regular haunts of the varied oil and gas types, diplomats or teachers who call Indonesia home. 

Mendieta was a footballer. He had left his family in his native Paraguay behind to come to Asia to ply his trade. He certainly got to know this region fairly well with short stints with Aceh’s PSSB Bireuen, Persitara North Jakarta and Johor in Malaysia. His travels would have taken him to the furthest flung edges of nusantara , usually by the cheapest mode possible. 

I think it is fair to say had he ventured into a regular expat hangout one could have spent an enjoyable couple of hours in his company and probably come away wondering whether you were both living in the same country. 

Diego Mendieta died on Monday evening in the Central Java city of Solo. 

How had a fit, healthy young man wasted away so dramatically? It was reported he had lost 17 kilograms in his last three weeks. And what a tragic last few weeks he faced as he was shifted from one hospital to another. 

Last season he played for Persis Solo in the unofficial Divisi Utama. His club didn’t pay his wages, thought to be $3,000 a month, for a few months; a common enough occurrence in both the official and unofficial set ups. 

Diego would lie in his government hospital bed telling his few visitors he didn’t want to be in Indonesia. He didn’t want to die here. He wanted to go home but he was owed money and couldn’t afford it. The tragedy is no one beyond the hospital staff, a few Paraguayan colleagues and his agent were listening. 

Despite his life slipping away neither his club, the governing body nor his embassy seemed to be in a rush to help him. Apparently his colleagues had tried to contact the embassy but to all intents and purposes he was left to die alone, far from his family and loved ones. 

A few Persis fans, known as Pasoepati, did their best. They raised just over $300 to help their former player. But it wasn’t enough. He was slipping away and no one bothered to help him. 

He died and the loyal Persis fans posted it on Twitter. They at least would not just let him go and be forgotten. They bombarded the players’ unions, FIFPro, trying to get something done because as he breathed his last, lying in that Solo hospital in a Real Madrid shirt, there was no idea what to do next. 

Common sense, humanity, dictated his body be returned home but moving a corpse and coffin by air is a complicated and expensive activity. The Persis fans kept the story online while the agent bemoaned the fact that no one seemed to be willing to come to Solo and actually do anything. 

The Persis fans’ efforts started to pay off. The story was picked up and even run on The Guardian website. The international football players union was scathing in their statement describing the treatment of Diego a “disgrace.” 

Earlier this year a Premier League footballer stopped breathing on a football pitch in North London and the social networks went crazy with messages of support for Fabrice Muamba. 

The Bolton Wanderer was guaranteed the best possible treatment of course, and as we know, he recovered. 

Diego lacked that publicity. He ceased to exist even before he died.

SOURCE - Jakarta Globe

Thursday, December 06, 2012


Don't Pay, Won't Play

The Indonesia Footballers' Union, known locally as the APPI, is finally playing hardball. On Twitter at least.

They have been actively involved over the last couple of days in the tragic case of Diego Mendieta and trying to repatriate his remains and have now turned their venom on the games governing bodies.

In a couple of fairly blunt tweets, in plain English, they called upon players to not play if they do not receive their salaries for last season and do not have adequate insurance.

Mendieta, a Paraguayan striker, was forced to move from hospital to hospital in Solo during his recent illness before he died because he had no money and no insurance; he was owed something like four months salary from his previous club, Persis, and it seems they did nothing to help him in his tragic situation.

Now it seems APPI, emotionally exhausted from picking up the shrapnel of this disaster waiting to happen, have called on their players to take care of themselves first.

Two of their tweets from earlier today:

APPI strongly urges all players To not play in the new season of IPL / ISL if theres still no settlement of the last season's salaries.

APPI also strongly urges all players To not play in new season of IPL/ISL if theres still no health insurance cover stated in the contract.

The astute will have noticed the APPI specifically highlight concerns with both leagues. Neither party has a clean record in this regard, despite some of the spin coming out of certain parties in one corner, and implicitly point out this is a national problem, not something that canbe brushed aside as petty politicking.


Aceh Governor's Cup

More clubs seem to have been invited to this friendly tournament that you would find in a Vegas casino.

The organisers seem to have held a meeting  today to announce the following groupings:

Group A - Aceh United, Makassar United, Selangor
Group B - Semen Padang, DPMM, Kelantan

Starts 15 December and finishes a week later. Who plays when I don't know and probably never will but the venue seems to be the Harapan Bangsa Stadium in Banda Aceh.

Tampines Rovers and Bangkok United are among those who were thought to be coming but didn't.

15/12 Aceh v Makassar United, Semen Padang v DPMM


AFC Cup 2013 Groups

Below are the groups for the AFC Cup 2013. Haven't bothered with the other groups as usual. Indonesian clubs Semen Padang and Persibo may yet be forced out of the competition if FIFA actually go ahead and throw the Indonesian football federation out.

Group E
Kitchee (HKG)
Singapore Armed Forces FC (SIN)
Semen Padang (INA)
Churchill Brothers (IND)
Group F
Yangon United (MYA)
Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei (HKG)
New Radiant SC (MDV)
Persibo (INA)
Group G
Kelantan (MAS)
Ayeyawady (MYA)
SHB Da Nang (VIE)
Maziah Sports & Recreation Club (MDV)
Group H
Tampines Rovers (SIN)
Selangor (MAS)
Kingfisher East Bengal (IND)
Saigon Xuan Thanh (VIE)

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Singapore v Philippines Ticket Details

The Football Association of Singapore is pleased to announce the ticketing details for the upcoming AFF Suzuki Cup 2012, Semi-Final match (2nd Leg) between Singapore and Philippines, scheduled to be played at Jalan Besar Stadium on 12 December 2012, 8pm.

 Singapore topped Group B on goal difference after they secured wins over Malaysia (3-0) and Laos (4-3) and will now look forward to meeting Philippines in the semi-finals which will be played in a Home and Away format. The 1st Leg match will be played at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, Manila on 9 December and the 2nd Leg match on 12 December at Jalan Besar Stadium, Singapore.

Both matches will kick off at 8pm. As part of the pre-match sales initiative, the match tickets for the AFF Suzuki Cup 2012, Semi-Final match (2nd Leg) between Singapore and Philippines will go on sale, on Friday, the 7th December, from 10 am to 8 pm and on Saturday and Sunday, the 8th and 9th of December, from 12 pm to 6 pm. Ticket sales for this period will be open to HOME (Singapore) fans only. For fans of the AWAY team (Philippines), the sale of tickets allocated to Philippines fans will be on Monday and Tuesday, the 10th and 11th of December, from 12pm to 8 pm. We would like to advise fans to adhere to all security measures set in place for the match and purchase tickets only allocated for the team that you are supporting as there will be designated seating arrangements at the stadium on match-day. We seek your kind cooperation and understanding on this matter.

 The ticketing details are as follow:
 Pre-Match Sales for HOME (Singapore) fans only
Each person is entitled to purchase only up to four (4) tickets upon showing your NRIC at the sales counter. Date & Time: Friday, 7 December – 10am to 8pm Saturday, 8 December & Sunday, 9 December – 12pm to 6pm Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium, North Gate (next to the swimming pool)

(For HOME Fans - Singapore) Prices are as follow: AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 – Semi-Final Match (2nd Leg) Category Price Singapore vs Philippines Wednesday, 12 December 2012, 8pm
Grandstand S$18
Gallery S$10
King George’s Stand (S$10 *Concession (Gallery & KGS) S$3*Students (Primary, Secondary, ITE, JC Students Only) and Senior Citizens have to produce their concession passes upon entry into the stadium. Concession tickets are also applicable to children aged 7 and below whom require a seat in the stadium.

Pre-Match Sales for AWAY (Philippines) fans only Each person is entitled to purchase only up to four (4) tickets at the sales counter. Date & Time: Monday, 10 December & Tuesday, 11 December – 12pm to 8pm Venue: Jalan Besar Stadium, North Gate (For AWAY Fans** - Philippines) Prices are as follow: AFF Suzuki Cup 2012 – Semi-Final Match (2nd Leg) Category Price Singapore vs Philippines Wednesday, 12 December 2012, 8pm Gallery S$10

 **Away (Philippines) fans travelling on their own and/or with travel groups are advised to look out for the designated seating area at the match venue for Philippines fans. FAS urges all fans to stay safe and to be on their best sporting behaviour at all times. Kindly ensure that all security and safety measures set in place by the Tournament Organisers at the match venues are strictly followed at all times so as to facilitate the smooth running of the match-day operations. We seek your kind cooperation and understanding on this matter.

 SOURCE Football Association of Singapore


International Footballers' Union Outrage Over Mendieta

FIFPro is shocked by the news of the death of Diego Mendieta. FIFPro - the worldwide representative of all professional football players - demands that the Indonesian football association make an end to the structural mismanagement of countless football clubs.

Diego Mendieta is a Paraguay footballer who has, for several years, been earning his living in Indonesia. His last club was Persis in Solo, where he appeared last season.

Recently, the 32-year-old striker was admitted to hospital. He was found to be infected with typhoid and was suffering with a liver disorder.

An additional problem was that Mendieta had insufficient money to pay his hospital bill, partly because he was still owed around 12,500 dollars by his last club Persis Solo: four months’ salary.

Fans of Persis organised a collection, but without much success. Mendieta spent time in three different hospitals in Solo.

He died in the night of Monday to Tuesday. The exact cause of death is still unknown, but it was probably a virus infection..

Before his illness, Mendieta suffered several bouts of homesickness. He wanted to return to his family in Paraguay, but lacked the financial resources to pay for his return.

FIFPro regrets the death of Diego Mendieta and wishes his family and all relatives every support. 

‘If the news is true that Diego Mendieta’s death was partly due to gross negligence by his club, then this is simply disgraceful,’ says Frederique Winia, secretary general of FIFPro Division Asia. ‘It is a disgrace for the whole of professional football in Indonesia.’

‘I know countless stories of players who are intentionally not paid by their club and have to wait for months for their salary. But I have never before heard a story where a seriously ill player has been left completely to his fate by a club.’

‘I assume that both the club and the national football association of Indonesia realise that they have seriously failed and that they have much to explain, particularly to the family and relatives of Diego Mendieta.’

‘The least the club can do is to pay the arrears in salary to his family; his wife and children.’

FIFPro has heard from the Indonesian players union APPI that there are currently considerable problems with transporting the body of Diego Mendieta, because of the high transport costs. If a solution is not found, FIFPro will pay these expenses.

FIFPro is now awaiting all documentation about the death of Diego Mendieta. Winia: ‘Once we have received it, then we will bring this sad affair to the attention of FIFA.’

FIFPro demands that the Indonesian football association bring an end to the mismanagement at many clubs, for in Indonesia there are countless players who wait for months in vain for what they are contractually promised: their salary. It is a disgrace that clubs should go unpunished when they continue to ignore the most important condition for professional football: paying the players.


Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Safee Escapes Indonesian Meltdown

Malaysian international striker Safee Sali is returning home; at least for next season.

Sali moved to Indonesia after a successfull ASEAN Cup in 2010 when he top scored and helped Malaysia to win the title for the first time.

He spent last season with Pelita Jaya but after they were merged/bought out by Bandung Raya he followed the club owners and coach to Arema.

The problem is both clubs are under the umbrella of the Indonesia Super League which is not fully recognised by the world governing bodies despite some MoU in place.

Sali will join Johor and link up with national team strike partner Norshahrul and coach Fandi Ahmad; a move that is likely to see Larkin Stadium attracting bigger crowds than recent years.


Rhinos Sign Former Welsh International

Sabah, coached by David McCreery, have signed Rhys Weston. The former Arsenal trainee also played for many Malaysians new favourite team Cardiff City as well as Walsall, Dundee and KR Rekyavik most recently.

From Iceland to Malaysia eh?


Diego Mendieta RIP

I first came across the name Diego Mendieta when he was playing for PSSB in 2007. It was a name I clung on to because it was easy to remember.

Soon after the Paraguayan striker was blacklisted; banned from playing in Indonesia, at least the 2008 season.

He would be back though. After a short spell with Johor FC in Malaysia he returned to Indonesia and in 2010 was looking for a new club. He trialled with Persikota before eventually signing for Persitara.

Last season he was playing for Persis in the Divisi Utama.

The 32 year old Paraguayan died last night in a hospital in Solo and his final days are a tragic end.

About 10 days ago, just as Indonesia were preparing to play Laos in the ASEAN Cup in Kuala Lumpur the Persis fan site, Pasoepati, reported their former player had been hospitalised with Typhoid and they were concerned enough to raise funds for the player who had apparently gone four months without receiving any all too familiar occurrence here.

During his final days Mendieta moved hospital three times; he had no money to pay the bills. The Pasoepati raised about 300 USD for their ex player but there no sign of his outstanding salary; thought to be about 12,000 USD.

As the end approached Mendieta was quoted by a local paper as saying 'I have no money, I want a ticket home, I don't want to die here, I want to be with my mother.'

Persis fans were quoted on Twitter as saying he had lost 17 kilograms in weight and a final picture shows a cadaverous young man wearing a Real Madrid shirt

It's impossible to try and imagine his last few hours. Lying in a government hospital, far from family, dying a slow, death with a few Persis fans for company.

A tragic way for anyone to go; especially a footballer in good condition.

Not much to add really. Except perhaps to compare Mendieta's situation with that of Fabrice Muamba. When the Bolton midfielder collapsed at White Hart Lane the world went into mourning. #prayforMuamba was tweeted around the world by people who had never heard of Bolton Wanderers let alone the former Arsenal player.

With oxygen of publicity that comes with the English Premier League Muamba made headlines round the world with thousands of Indonesians passing on their best wishes.

Mendieta had none of that. No one knew really beyond Solo and their amazing fans. No RT's, no hashtags, no Facebook pages. Just the ignominy of moving from one hospital to another to escape the mounting bills.


Indonesia's Tough AFC Asian Cup Qualifying

Things don't get any easier for Indonesia. After failing to qualify from the group stage of the ASEAN Football Federation Cup the Garuda now look forward to the qualifying rounds of the AFC Asian Cup.

Except looking forward perhaps ain't the best word choice. Check their record against their opponents.

v China 11 1 1 9 7-30
v Saudi Arabia 11 0 1 10  4-32
v Iraq 5 0 1 4 3-14

Out of 27 meetings with their opponents Indonesia can boast a single victory! And 17 goals...

06/02 Iraq v Indonesia
22/03 Indonesia v Saudi Arabia
15/10 Indonesia v China
15/11 China v Indonesia
19/11 Indonesia v Iraq
05/03 Saudi Arabia v Indonesia

Time for the PSSI and the KPSI to stop PISSing around and start putting football first.


Lewis Hangs Up Gloves

Home United keeper Lionel Lewis is retiring from football. He is 29 years old!

He is leaving the glamour of the SLeague to work at a polytechnic.

The guy is 29 years old, one of the best goalies of his generation and he's out of the game? A sad indicator of the game in Singapore.

Surely he could have found a club overseas for a year or two?

Sunday, December 02, 2012


Malaysia & Singapore Look Forward To Semi Final Dates

I always felt Group B was the trickiest and most interesting group of the 2012 ASEAN Football Federation Cup. Holders and hosts Malaysia went into the competition on the back of a string of poor results in friendlies and their opening defeat against Singapore had a hysterical nation all but calling for Rajagopal's ouster.

One national paper went so far to describe the current pathetic state of football in Malaysia. Remember this pathetic state has seen Malaysia win two SEA Games titles to go along with their AFF Cup 2010 and despite their 3-0 reverse at the hands of Singapore they were not finished this time round.

Laos on the other continued to surprise the uninformed; which apparently included the Indonesian manager who described them somewhat smugly as not well developed. As it happened it was Indonesia who were lucky to escape with a draw in their opening game thanks to Vendry Mofu's opportunism from close range.

Going into the second match day and it seemed many Malaysian fans agreed with the bullshit that followed their opening defeat, despite the fact that two years previously they had been routed 5-1 by Indonesia in their opening game and went on to win the game.

The fans stayed away and missed seeing their team, after some early struggles, finally crush Laos 4-1. History will record a convincing victory but for long periods it was in doubt and shows the value of quality players in times of adversity.

In the other game that day Indonesia somewhat fortuitously defeated Singapore 1-0 thanks to Andik Vermansyah's late free kick, echos of Ronaldhino and Seaman in 2002, and found themselves on top of the group despite convincing few. Beyond Vermansyah there seemed little in the team beyond the roar of their supporters to get the ball forward as quickly as possible.

On the final match day of the group stage everything was still to play for. Malaysian fans, buoyed by the victory over Laos, started believing again while 15,000 Indonesian defied logic and filled one end of the Bukit Jalil Stadium hoping for a miracle.

Not for the first time Andik was left on the bench; perhaps Nil Maizer's strategy was to inspire fear into his opponents by implying what started was his first eleven...and Andik couldn't get in that team. As a mind game it is doomed to failure as any coach will know once he sees how Indonesia played. Aimless puts a positive spin on it.

Without the promising Andik, who recently spent time on loan with DC United in the US MLS, not because of their extensive scouting network but because their owner is an Indonesian, there was little inspiration for the merah putih though the likes of Taufik, Wayhu and Vendry Mofu did their best tomake an impression.

Malaysia on the other hand boasted players like Safee Sali and Norshahrul as well as one of the new, younger breed coming through Wan Zack, players who could do something. And did.

The hosts run out comfortable 2-0 winners on a passionate evening in front of a near capacity crowd and Malaysia were looking forward to a semi final date with Thailand less than a week after their fans started leaving the stadium in droves after Duric had made it 3-0 for Singapore.

Such has been the wow factor of Group B that at one stage Indonesia, despite being 2-0 down, were actually contemplating a semi final spot of their own. Over at Shah Alam Stadium Laos were leading Singapore 2-1 at half time. But the Lions clawed their way back into the game and eventually run out narrow 4-3 winners to secure their own spot in the semi finals.

1 - Malaysia 3 2 0 1 6-4 6
2 - Singapore 3 2 0 1 7-4 6
3 - Indonesia 3 1 1 1 3-4 6
4 - Laos 3 0 1 2 6-9 1

Semi Finals

08/12 Philippines v Singapore
09/12 Malaysia v Thailand
12/12 Singapore v Philippines
13/12 Thailand v Malaysia

Saturday, December 01, 2012


IPL Champions Stay Put

Semen Padang have decided to stay with the Indonesia Premier League. The inaugural champions had flirted with the idea of switching to the rival Indonesia Super League for next season but it seems they got fed up waiting for the ISL to make a decision.

Another reason that may have swayed them is the fact they will be competing in the AFC Cup next year. It is not clear whether they would take in part if they were playing in the ISL.


A Unique South East Asian Experience

Saturday will feature the latest installment in the football soap opera between Indonesia and Malaysia at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. 

It might not be the oldest rivalry in Southeast Asia, that honor belongs to Singapore and Malaysia, and dates back to the 1920s when they started going toe to toe in the Malaysia Cup. 

If it’s not the oldest, it’s perhaps the most volatile. And football loves volatile. It puts bums on seats in the stadium, coffee shops and living rooms. 

Everything you need in a rivalry is there. 

They’re geographic neighbors, of course, which always helps. The countries have much more in common than the chest-beating nationalist bravados like to acknowledge; they prefer to focus their fear and loathing on the issues that they feel divide them. 

Indonesians like to accuse Malaysia of stealing “their” culture to use in TV commercials to promote Malaysia as a tourist destination. Rather than asking themselves why they didn’t do it first, they find it far easier to blame the neighbors. And in this case, Malaysia fits the bill perfectly. 

As arguments go they are along the lines of Germany blaming the United States for “stealing” hamburgers and claiming them as an American food. 

In the 2010 Asean Football Federation Suzuki Cup, Indonesia and Malaysia met in the final. The first leg was played in Kuala Lumpur and the Indonesians went into the game accusing the home team supporters of using unfair tactics like flashing lasers in the opposition players. 

Malaysia won the first leg, 3-0, but the Indonesians tried, somewhat lamely, to claim the moral high ground by claiming the laser incidents distracted them. The fact is they were never in the game. 

For the second leg in Jakarta, Malaysian fans knew to maintain a very low profile, keeping their shirts and scarves hidden if they had them at all. A hostile home crowd ensured that the visiting team went to and from the stadium tucked inside of an armored personnel carrier that was pounded by a symphony of rocks and bottles. 

Despite being down after the first leg, Indonesians turned out in force; in part encouraged by the near-celebrity status of new pin up Irfan Bachdim, whose presence on the team ensured a steady stream of celebrities at the game. 

Indonesia won that match, 2-1, but Malaysia lifted the trophy at Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta with its 4-2 aggregate victory. 

About 185,000 fans attended both games combined, numbers Barcelona and Real Madrid would struggle to match. 

A year later, the Malaysian under-23 team defeated Indonesia in the Southeast Asian Games final on penalties at the same stadium. 

Indonesia has to feel that it is payback time. Despite not playing especially well in its group games a late goal against Singapore on Wednesday will give the team a much-needed boost of confidence going into Saturday night’s big showdown. 

With the group standings what they are (Indonesia leads Malaysia and Singapore by one point), everything will hinge on the game at Bukit Jalil Stadium. It promises to be another passionate, tense affair with the crowd giving off enough electricity to power a small city. 

In fact if you are free this weekend, why not head over to KL for the game? Have a few pre-match beers before heading out to the stadium to soak up the atmosphere. Malaysia playing Indonesia will give you a Southeast Asian experience you’ll never find in a guide book.

SOURCE - Jakarta Globe


Vietnam Go Home

They won the ASEAN Cup back in 2008 but since then Vietnam have struggled to make any real impact in the quest for regional bragging rights.

The 2012 vintage will head home today no doubt to a crescendo of jeers after failing to make an impression in this year's edition.

They drew their opening game 1-1 with Myanmar before losing to Philippines 1-0. The Azkals seem to becoming their own personal hex; this is the second event in a row when the Vietnamese have had their dreams dashed by the Philippines.

In their final game Vietnam lost 3-1 to the Thais who reached the semi finals with a 100% record.

In the other game Philippines defeated Myanmar 2-0 to reach the semi finals for the second successive time.

The final Group B games will be played later today with Malaysia playing Indonesia and Laos meeting Singapore. Indonesia just need a draw at Bukit Jalil at what is likely to be a very firey affair!

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