Monday, March 31, 2014


Fab For Persita

With Arcan Iurie leaving Persita and moving to Madura to replace Daniel Roekito, former national team coach Fabio Oliviera has moved into the Persita hot seat with effect from April 1st.

He speaks excellent Indonesian does Fab. In fact the first, ok the only time I met him it was only after he left I found out he was in fact Brazilian!

Persita are a nomad team for this campaign, playing their home games at Singaperbangsa Stadium in Karawang...a bit closer to Tangerang than the season before when home was in Kuningan!

Fab will have to hit the ground running. Despite boasting an experienced side, Persita have just two wins to their name this season...Semen Padang away and at home to Gresik United.

Persita's first game under their new gaffer with be 16/4 at home to Barito Putra

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SLeague Needs More Singaporean Goalscorers?

Young Lions v Tanjong Pagar United 2-3 (Amy Saimon, Muhaymin Salim; Zerka Monsef 3)
Woodlands Wellington v Albirex Niigata 1-1 (Chang Jo Yoon' Taiyo Nishida)
Home United v Hougang United 2-2 (Bruno Junichi, Fazrul Nawaz; Geison De Carvalho Moura, Diego Gama De Oliviera)
Tampines Rovers v Harimau Muda 3-2 (Noh Alam Shah, Miljan Mrdekovic, Roberto Martinez; Akhir Bahari, Nurshamil Ghani)
Balestier Khalsa v Warriors 2-2 (Goran Ljubojevic, Paul Cunningham; Miroslavi Pejic, Nicholas Velez)
Geylang International v DPMM 1-1 (Ichikawa Yuki; Rodrigo Tosi)

The last round of SLeagie games played over the last few days. 6 games, 22 goals. Now, remove DPMM, Albirex, Young Lions (they have to choose local players, it is their raison d'etre) and Harimau Muda from that list and you are left with 16 goals scored by the 8 teams.

Only Noh Alam Shah and Fazrul Nawaz are Singaporean!

Fazrul, Yasir Hanapi (Home United 2 goals) and Taufiq Ghani (Woodlands) are the only local players, outside of Young Lions, to have netted more than two goals this campaign.

6 - Miljan Mrdakovoc (Tampines Rovers)
5 - Miroslav Pejic (Warriors)
4 - Goran Ljubojevic (Balestier Khalsa), Rodrigo Antonio Tosi (DPMM), Geison Moura (Hougang United)

The likes of Shafiq Ghani and Khairul Amri (LionsX11) and Shahril Ishak (Jhor Darul Takzim II) are playing in the Malaysia Super League.

Where does this leave the SLeague? Is it, as some claim, just a aged pit pony waiting to be put out of its misery? Or is it an opportunity for other players to stake their claim, an opportunity to raise their own individual bar?

When it comes to Singapore, I tend to be a pot half full kinda guy. I have to be or I would go crazy! Rather than complain about the terminal decline, I would rather point to the recent progress of a team like Tanjong Pagar who joined as many were waiting for the last rites. I point to the ASEAN Cup and of course LionsXII winning the MSL.

The problem lies in Lions winning the MSL last season. It puts immense pressure on the coach, Fandi Ahmad, and the players. The FA didn't help matters by having some of the biggest names join the Lions.. Which begs the question...are LionsXII designed to be a surrogate national team and if so, where does that leave the teams in the SLeague?

There are a lot of 'dead' games in the SLeague. Within the league, it doesn't really matter whether or not DPMM, Albirex, Harimau Muda or Young Lions win the league or the cup or even the toss. They can't move into any Asian club competition be it Champions League or AFC Cup.

In effect you are left with a league where 25% of the teams are essentially playing risk free (I know and understand there are professional people behind the clubs and they have the professional mentality that every game must be won) but no one in Niigata, Bandar seri Begawan or Johor will be partying in the streets if they win the SLeague.

The Singapore FA have obviously decided the LionsXII is their priority. Perhaps that needs to change. Yes, the bums on seats at Jalan Besar suggests the fans wanna see the Lions. But perhaps they need to look at what the Malaysians are doing.

They send Harimau Muda to compete in the SLeague. Not their peudo national team but a development team And it is not even their first choice development team/ The first choice are in Queensland! The lot in Singapore are Harimau Muda B while Harimau Muda C are in Malaysia.

But Malaysia's best players are in their top flight division. Malaysia is striving, in its own sweet way to build a strong, local league featuring the top players.

Maybe that is the path Singapore needs to take. They won the MSL already...why not have the Young Lions in the MSL, as LionsXII or whatever, but try and keep the best players at home as much as possible...obviously some players may well be wanted by clubs overseas but then that is called the market.  If they are good enough, they will have their price.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Messi Guides Persiram's Flying Start

Persiram are one of those teams that perennially operate beneath the radar. No one expects them to do anything except perhaps get relegated.

But at the first break of the ISL season, they are one of only four teams to remain unbeaten (Persija, Persipura and Arema are the others).

Coached by Jaya Hartono, their opening games have seen them win three and draw three, a run that sees them second in the eastern division.

Despite being based in the diving heaven of Raja Ampat, Persiram are playing their homes games at Maguwarharjo Stadium in Sleman, one of the nicest grounds in the country.

Their first home game of the season can't have enthused many in the attendance of 243...drawing 0-0 with Persiba Balikpapan,

Next came the short trip to Bantul, just the other side of Yogyakarta and Messi scored the only goal of the game to earn Persiram the three points in front of a crowd of 7,000.

Persebaya went into the season among the favourites after investing huge amounts of cash on players like Nwokolo and Kenmogne and recruiting Rahmad Darmawan. But humble Persiram soon shut up the Persebaya hardcore support, and I do mean hardcore because only 1,543 turned up at the cavernous Bung Tomo Stadium.

The wonderfully named Errol Ethicus Simunapendi gave the visitors the lead before Nwokolo equalised just short of the hour mark.

They played PSM in Surabaya, two rootless teams going head to head in a stadium distant from their homes. They drew 1-1, Messi with a last minute penalty cancelling out Ponaryo Astaman's spot kick but the crowd was 200!

If the draw against Persebaya didnt make people sit up and take notice then what came next surely did. Ambitious Mitra Kukar defeated 2-0, Messi's third goal of the season while Osas Marvellous netted his first.It was their second home game of the season and the fans must have been impressed by Persiram's start to the campaign...a whopping 247 saw the defeat of the leaders.

The fans' joy must have been short lived. Only 79 bothered watching the next game against Putra Samarinda. The stayaways missed a Messi penalty, seven Persiram players yellow carded and one, Elvis Herawan, sent off.

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ISL Standings

Western Conference

1 - Arema 5 5 0 0 14-1 15
2 - Persib 6 4 1 1 10-4 13
3 - Persija 5 3 2 0 9-7 11
4 - Pelita BR 7 3 2 2 9-7

Eastern Conference

1 - Mitra Kukar 7 4 1 2 11-6 13
2 - Persiram 6 3 3 0 6-2 12
3 - Persebaya 7 4 2 1 12-7 11 (3 points deducted by FIFA!)
4 - Persela 6 3 1 2 10-9 10

6 - Emmanuel Kenmogne (Persebaya), Ilija Spasojevic (Pusam)

The top four from each group will go into the play offs later in the season.

The season is on hold for the time being with political parties campaigning ahead of the general election early next start again 12/04


Knackered Before They Start

The current Indonesia U19 team have become celebrities in their own right. Winners of the ASEAN U19s, in Jakarta and the AFC Under 19 qualifiers, in Jakarta the PSSI have sensed they maybe on to something and sent the kids zigzagging round East and Central Java as well as East Kalimantan on an exhausting itinerary that saw some pretty lengthy bus trips and no doubt lashings of bakso.

To continue the punishing schedule, they are now being sent to the Middle East for yet more games...and for the Muslim lads in the team a minor haj.

After five days in Saudi Arabia, they fly to Oman for a friendly against their U19s on 9 April. They then get back on the plane for the short hop to Dubai where, and I am only guessing here, they won't be staying in that seven star hotel thing, they face United Arab Emirates U19s in a couple of friendlies (14 & 16 April) before winding down the trip with a final game against club side Al Shabab's U19s on 19 April.

There is also talk of a trip to Europe!

The AFC U19 Championships take place in Myanmar from 9-23 October. It will be easy to spot the Indonesia players...they will be the ones in wheelchairs, on stretchers and on IV.


Whatever Happened To ... Obadin Aikhena

I guess Singapore has done away with its naturalisation project. You know, the one that saw the likes of Mustafic Fahrudin, Alex Duric and Agu Casmir earn Singapore passports and go on to represent their new country.

I always thought Obadin Aikhena was being groomed to join that list. He was part of an excellent Gombak United, remember them, built by Darren Stewart and featuring the likes of Casmir, Gabriel Obatola, Goran Subaru, Fazrul Nawaz and that Kingsley geezer.

Obadin was a consistent performer at the back, part of a rearguard that had the reputation of one of the meanest in the SLeague.

But then it seemed the naturalisation project seems to have been quietly dropped amid a backdrop of Singaporeans whining about the number of foreigners in their country.

Kingsley and Obatola had their work permit applications rejected a few seasons back, leaving Gombak right up the crapper a few games into the season, while before this season Mamadou Diallo had his turned down as well.

 I have no idea whether or not Obadin had dreams of playing Singapore or not but I guess the moment has now passed. He is now playing in the Myanmar National League with Nay Pyi Taw.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Singapore's french Reunion

The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) is pleased to announce that the Singapore National Team will face the France National Under-21 Team in a friendly game.
 Details of the friendly game are as follow :
Match             : Singapore National Team vs France National Under-21 Team
Date/Date       : 2nd June / Monday
Venue             : Reunion Island
Kick-off          : 9pm
Singapore National Team Head coach Bernd Stange expresses his delight in leading the team against a top European team, saying: “ I am absolutely thrilled for the boys to have this opportunity to play against one of the top Under-21 teams in the world. This is a great platform for us to bring in and test some of our younger players against top notch opposition and we have a committed group of players in this squad who are determined to prove their place in the National Team, even for a friendly game. The exposure and experience of playing against a top international team will be essential to their development and will add value to the team’s strength and I am sure our boys will give everything they have into this game. I am looking forward to an exciting game of brilliant football and regardless of the result, I know my players will have a lot to learn from it.”  
COMMENT - wonder whether the hardcore Lions Al The Way will make the trip? To be fair, will anyone make the trip? I can't imagine there being many direct flights between Changi and that tint island in the middle of nowhere...a quick look at Skyscanner is showing a 52 hour trip cost about $4,000!
You would hope the Singapore players won't be doing that. I mean. think of poor old Aleksander Duric for a start. 52 hours squeezed on planes or stuck at boring old airports...
Would love to know the logistics behind this would hope someone out there is paying for it 'cos having such a trip mid season makes no sense! ( I know there is a mid season break from 24/5 to 4/6 but are the clubs happy about this?

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Terangganu In Plane Flare Up

Petaling Jaya: A victorious night could have turned tragic for Terengganu's football team when their Malindo Air flight had to turn back because the ATR 72-600 plane’s turboprop engine caught fire.

Terengganu midfielder Faiz Subri posted a picture of the burning engine and said the plane turned back and landed in Subang Airport.

Everyone on board the 7.30am flight was safe.

The table-topping side were due to return to Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday after beating ATM FA 3-0 at the Selayang Stadium on Tuesday.

According to Terengganu FA staff, the players posted pictures of the incident on their social media pages.

According to a statement on the Terengganu FA's website, the team took a replacement flight back to Kuala Terengganu at 10am


Indonesia v Andorra 1-0

Plucky Indonesia overcame mighty Andorra 1-0 in a friendly that was played in Spain yesterday.

The goal came from a second half penalty by Raphael Maitimo.

Andorra, population 85,000, aren't exactly known as a world power in anything, even being a tax haven, the game wasn't played on a FIFA date and there is little chance the game will count for anything in the big scheme of things.

But Indonesia won and that happens so rarely.

Next up is a game against Cuba. Maybe they could fix up a friendly with Sealand sometime?

Andorra: Josep Gomes: Ildefons Lima, Oscar Sonejee (Emili Garcia), Jordi Robio, Marc Vales; Cristian Martinez, David Maneiro, Edu Peppe, Gabi Riera; Ivan Lorenzo (Leonel Alves), Marc Pujol

Indonesia: Andritany Ardhiyasa; Muhammad Roby, Zulkifli Syukur, Supradi (Novan Sasongko); Firman Utina (M. Ridwan), Achmad Jufriyanto, Zulham Zamrun (Ferdinand Sinaga), Bayu Gatra (Amirul Mukminin), Raphael Maitimo, Rizky Pellu (Lestusen);  Greg Nwokolo (Tantan)


Bad News For Persipasi

With Divisi Utama due to begin 15 April and Persipasi slated to play their first home game of the season against Persikab on that same day, the club have been told they cannot use their brand spanking new Patriot Stadium.

Why? I don't have a scooby. They played Persija in a friendly at the stadium in front of 15,000 and that seemed to go off fine. But while they could get permission to play a friendly they are not allowed to play regular league games.

It seems the local body  responsible for youth, sports and culture have nixed the idea. Yeap, you got the right. The government body charged with developing sports and activities for young people are saying the local football club can not use the stadium that would attract plenty of young people.

Shrug shoulders...

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Sunday, March 23, 2014


Wine Merchants, Expats Galore in Hong Kong

Currently in Hong Kong and went to a couple of games yesterday which were thoroughly enjoyable if not a wee bit nippy.

Rather than do any kind of match report I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the players who were lining up in the games I saw.

For example, Giovane Alves da Silva. A Brazilian striker, he has been in Hong Kong a few years now and been a prolific scorer. Yesterday, he hit a hat trick for Eastern Salon against Sunray Cave JC Sun Hei but his wiki shows he has netted 30 goals plus for every club he has been with.

In the second game, Sun Pegasus had a few interesting people in their line up.

Jaime McKee is a Hong Kong international and a grandson of a former Birmingham City player. It seems that while he was born in England, McKee grew up in an expat background and has spent most of his life in Hong Kong, hence becoming an international. He plays out wide for Sun Pegasus and looked pretty bloody quick.

Then we have Michael Campion. Born and bred in Hong Kong, one time merchant banker, he gave up flogging wine to play football professionally! You can read his story here.

Aussie Marko Jesic played for Newcastle Jets in the A League before heading to Hong Kong where he now plays for Pegasus and is a formers Aussie Under 23 international.

Also with Sun Pegasus, who must have one of the most interesting squads in the league, is Landon Ling, a music producer, singer and songwriter. And footballer who once was with Blackburn's youth set up and played in Canada and Czech Republic.

Incidentally, Pegasus were once coached by Dejan Antonic, now of course with Pelita Bandung Raya.

Talking of the Indonesian connection, maybe lining up for Yuen Long against Pegasus last night was a Brazilian striker Fabio Lopes, formerly of Persib and Persija. I say programmes and no team sheett so I don't have a scooby!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Divisi Utama 2014 Taking Shape

Divisi Utama is starting to slowly take shape with the announcement of the eight different groups featuring 63 teams (nice round number that). Only two teams will get promoted to the ISL in 2015...assuming the structure isn't changed again.

What is interesting about the second tier is it can be a real eye opener on Indonesian geography. How many clubs are looking at Group 4 for example wishing it was them?!


Every away game can be done as a day trip with no great distances involved. Not sure the local police will be so happy though!

Pity poor Perseman. Actually, I dont think the league does that much. Check out their group!


Don't be surprised if they decide to play their home games in Central Java in the way Persiram in the ISL have opted to.

Group 6 brings together Deltras and Persida in a Sidoarjo derby while Group 7 has plenty of flights for the teams from Sulawesi and Sumbawa!


Full list can be found here. The fixture list will come out on, umm, dunno but the league is due to start in April.


Geylang Play Goalie In Defence

Speaking after the match, Geylang head coach Vedhamuthu Kanan was visibly disappointed. 

He said: “We were lucky not to have conceded more goals and our tactics didn’t work in the first-half. We wanted to be very defensive and let them come at us but they [Tampines] obviously had their own plans.

“I told them that we had nothing to lose in the second-half, we are 3-0 down so we must come out and play. We were able to play and match them a little bit in the second half [which was] something to take back. We still can play if we want to play.”

He also bemoaned the absence of his Japanese defenders Kento Fukuda and Yuki Ichikawa, whom he believed would have made a difference if they had taken to the field.

“I think they will return in two weeks’ time when we play Brunei DPMM,” he shared.

“We miss them already. They’ve only played together for one match during the three games this season. It makes a lot of difference to the backline, if Kento and Ichi were playing as it would allow us to play more confidently at the back.”

Explaining his decision to play goalkeeper Siddiq Durimi at the heart of defence, Kanan said: “I don’t have a centre-back as Fabian [Kwok] and the two Japanese are also injured meaning that the three options at centre-back are all out and I don’t have any option.

“I don’t have a Prime League player who is strong enough and I didn’t want to take the risk to play another Prime League player in an already inexperienced backline.

“I thought Siddiq did very well and worked his socks off and although he cramped [towards the end], he recovered very fast for the counter-attacks. He did very well.”  

SOURCE - SLeague

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Persepam's Search For A Coach

Since Daniel Roekito stepped down as coach of Persepam Madura United, to give them full title, the race has been on to find a replacement with some familiar names being linked with the position.

Ivan Kolev is a bit like the Gary Megson of Indonesia. Except he is Bulgarian. At various times he has coached Persija, Mitra Kukar, Persipura and Sriwijaya as well as the national team. And he has been linked with a lot more!

Another name being linked is Robert Alberts who led Arema to the title back in 2009/2010 but is now coaching Sarawak in Malaysia.

Former Persija and Persebaya coach Danurwindo has his name linked as does Timo Schenuemann, one time gaffer at Persema.

Paper talk is great fun. How much credence should be given to these names is another thing.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


No Creature Comforts For Home

Home United must be one of the most frustrating teams in the SLeague. They are usually among the favourites to pick up some silver ware yet season after season they infuriate their fan(s) with their consistent consistency.

Against DPMM, they weren’t bad. Limited yes but there was enough about them for a top half finish. Which in a league where four teams effectively make up the numbers and don’t have the carrot of Asian football should they win the title (Albirex Niigata, Young Lions, Harimau Muda and DPMM), that is really praise heavily fainted!

They play nice, pretty football at times and the fact that DPMM were content for them to do so says it all. They were hardly in dangerous areas; it was cup cake looked good but lacked depth. Camera was a threat, lively and pacey down the left but he was under utilised.

Frequently, he was an outlet but Home preferred their pretty triangles in the congested centre of the field which delighted the visitors no end.

Is there scope to use Camera down the middle? He has attributes no defender likes, pace and movement. By having him play more central Home would go someway towards unnerving defenders; a backpeddling defender brick outhouse of a defender is always liable to stick his leg out a bit too late.

As for DPMM, they showed the value of signing foreigners who can add something on the pitch and not just to their bank balance. Tosi has been a prolific scorer since he made the move to Brunei while new signings Roy O’Donovan who netted his first goal for the club, and Joe Gamble both put in a shift.

Coached by Steve Kean, DPMM look like they will be in the mix at the end of the season. Physically strong, quick on the break and disciplined. The win puts them top of the table, three wins from their three opening games and yet to concede a goal.

Early days yet, but DPMM could be the first foreign team to win the SLeague since Etoile. Whether that is a good thing for Singapore football or not is another question!

Some images from the game, including a look at DPMM's away shirt which may be familiar to Arsenal fans, can be seen on Asian Football Pictures.

Friday, March 14, 2014


A Journeyman's Tale

Not too long ago it was annonced Wayne Rooney had secured a new deal with Manchester United worth something like 300,000 quid a week. A week. The guy could buy four houses a month and still have more money left than most of us earn in a year.

Yet hardly anyone raises a voice in protest. The media, with so many ex pros on the pay roll came out with blurge like 'supply and demand' if we need economics lessons from them!

Truth is, who else, beyond Chelsea, really expressed an interest in 'world class' Rooney playing in the 'best league in the world'?

At the other end of the scale is all those players released after their contracts end and are left scrabbling for a team while clubs snap up below par foreigners on the cheap.

Happens everywhere, not just England and has long since ceased to be a story.

Yet it was exactly this type of story that has made so many waves in Singapore.

Duncan Elias will admit he is no world beater. In fact, he said just that when we met yesterday. His wiki page hasn't been updated since 2012 for god's sake!

Just another player kicking a ball for a living and loving the job. No 300,000 grand a week for him. No being stopped in the street and asked for autographs or pictures.

But his story has gone viral in Singapore...which means more than a hundred people read it I guess!

Many players get released every season. Some find clubs; some don't. When Singapore international goalkeeper Lionel Lewis decided to hang up his gloves, there was little reaction why someone supposedly at the peak of their powers, should feel it better to find a career away from football.

But Elias' tale seems to have caught the imagination. Not because it is unique and not because he is a super star but perhaps because he is the antithesis of all that. No glamour, no headline, no profile. Just a normal guy doing a job.

What makes it interesting is that Elias is lifting the lid on something that is never talked about in Singapore football. He highlights the fragility of a career in the game in a city state not exactly known for any passion towards the local game. And, perhaps, he tells a story that many would prefer remained untold.

Lionel Lewis has called for a player's union to be set up in Singapore like they have in Indonesia...but the idea that footballers be seen as stakeholders in the game seems far off in Lion City. Players are chattels and treated as such, especially local players.

Elias told me the kind of money he would have accepted. Annually, a fraction of Rooney's weekly wedge. The club said no.

Clubs are being encouraged to spend big on 'marquee' foreign players by the Singapore FA yet the jury is out as to whether that particular policy has been a success yet. But another price is paid when good, honest pros are driven out of the game to make way for them.

Don't shed too many tears though for Elias. The story went viral and he received offers from a number of local clubs, as well as the support of many players past and present, but former Singapore international Sasikumar stepped in and offered him some work.

'It's ironic, I am more famous now I have stopped playing than I was as a player,' said the former full back, now excited about new opportunities talking about the game he loves.

Catch the original story here

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Persipasi Boast New Stadium

Persipasi Bekasi will kick off the new Divisi Utama season with a new stadium.

Patriot International Stadium will see its first action when Persipasi host Persija in a friendly on Saturday with the Jakarta club already making noises about using the new venue for their own home games in the future.

Bekasi is to all intents and purposes a suburb of Jakarta even though it sits, politically at least, in the province of West Java - home of Persija's bitterest foes Persib.

Recently a handful of Persija fans made the journey to Soreang when their team took on Pelita Bandung is expected several thousand will make the much shorter journey on Saturday...let us hope similar scenes aren't repeated.

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Balestier Khalsa's Laudable Efforts To Bring In The Fans

Balestier Khalsa moved to the top of the SLeague after this narrow victory over Tanjong Pagar at the Toa Payoh Stadium.

It wasn't the most exciting of games, not bad but not thrill a minute.

It seems the home team have done something about bringing the crowds in with more than the last time I was here and even a bit of an atmosphere, mostly provided by a couple of middle aged geezers but hey...they made an effort.

So, I bought my ticket and after getting my bag searched, that is one thing you can consistently rely on, I was given a goodie bag with three boxes of crisps and a donut!

Given Balestier's efforts to reach out to a young support base is this the type of food we want to be foisted on young children?

You know, football, sport, healthy and all that shit. And 'rewarding fans' with a bunch of food that is anything but healthy! What kind of message does that send?

Put it this way, I would hesitate to take my son to a game where the club is giving out stuff that is only gonna damage his teeth later on down the line...and if you have met me you will understand where I am coming from.

Watching kids munch on their donuts or crisps, they may as well have been at home munching and pushing buttons on the TV remote.

On the one hand you gotta applaud Balestier's efforts. While the stand was by no means full it looked a lot better with quite a few punters in it...but free sugery foods? And you probably know what I think of giving away freebies to entice people through the gate.

Anyway, large numbers of the kids went home at half was a school night after all and this is Singapore...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Results 11/03

AFC Champions League

Buriram United v Pohang Steelers 1-2 (Adisak Kraisorn;) 10,610


Arema v Hanoi T&T 1-3 (Cristian Gonzales;) 29,130

After a good performance in Malaysia against Selangor in their first group game, this was probably a wake up call for Arema. Hands up...who knows anything about Hanoi T&T? Me, I know, um, they are based in Hanoi. Which is in Vietnam.

To be fair, Arema probably didn't know much more than that and I don't think many people in Indonesia do either. And I certainly don't. But if clubs want to make a point at this level then they need to get off their butts and watch these clubs. 

Home United v Persipura 1-1 (Yasir; Ferinando Pahabol) 2,085

Good result for Persipura, coming from behind to nick a point from Home United, Singapore's great underachievers.

The draw puts Persipura top of the group, Home bottom.

Maziya Sports v Selangor 1-1 (;Steve Panalides) 880

Aussie defender Pantalides gave Selangor the lead just before half time but the home team equalised just after. Ex Persebaya winger Andik Vermansyah started, as he did against Arema, but was yellow carded second half.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


PSMS At Risk Of Losing Divisi Utama Spot

Indonesian football is in danger of losing PSMS Medan after having a couple of seasons when there two of them thanks to the duelism nonsense that existed.

Following the recent verification process of applicants keen on joining the Divisi Utama that starts next month, 51 teams 'qualified'. PSMS are one of the teams that needs to address some issues before they will be admitted.

While things have been pretty quiet for the Medan time in recent years, back in the day, and I am referring to be 'professionalism' arrived in the country, they were one of the big teams in the country.

Indeed, just recently I was chatting with a chap who was playing for Persib against PSMS at the Bung Karno Stadium in front of more than 100,000!

Football owes no club a living. Wolverhampton Wanderers were arguably the biggest team in England in the 1950s; now they play in the third tier.

PSMS have support, they have passion. They just seem to have no money and no one with any vision.

Other clubs at risk include Deltras and last year's relegated sides, Persiwa, Persidafon and PSPS.

Three teams that have been disqualified are Perssin Sinjani, PSSB Bireuen and Persemalra Langgur.

The full list can be found here.


Doe A Deer, A Deer Saviour

Kelantan coach Steve Darby hailed striker Forkey Doe for his superb finish in the 2-1 win over reigning champions LionsXII in a Super League match at Jalan Besar Stadium on Saturday.

It was a sweet win for Kelantan as despite Shakir Ali's sending off in the 80th minute, they kept on attacking to inflict Lions' first league defeat since July, 2012.
Darby believes his team are finally showing their true potential and warned others that Kelantan could only get better.
The former champions lead the standings with 12 points followed by Darul Ta'zim and Terengganu, who have 10 each.
Doe netted from a defensive mistake one minute into stoppage time after latching onto Amar Rohidan's diagonal pass. The Liberia international dribbled past Lions goalkeeper Izwan Mahbud before slotting home from close range.
Lions, who fielded seven senior internationals, dominated proceedings in the opening minutes and deservedly took the lead in the 26th through Khairul Amri Mohd Kamal, who volleyed home a Shahfiq Ghani's cross for his fourth goal of the season. A mix-up between Lions' keeper Izwan and his backline led to Kelantan's equaliser through Ahmad Fakri Saraani five minutes after the breather.
Darby said his team showed character to bounce back with two goals after the break. "We were lucky. I would have been happy with a draw. I am pleased with my players' character and effort ... you can't coach these things," said Darby in Singapore on Saturday.
"I've got some great professionals in the team and I don't just mean the foreigners. Everyone played well, including our keeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat who was great throughout the match. Doe scored with the hardest of three chances but I don't care as we won this match."
Lions' coach Fandi Ahmad attributed the defeat to miscommunication between his defenders.
"We lost concentration at the back. There was miscommunication. Kelantan played long balls and took their opportunities," said Fandi.

SOURCE - New Straits Times


Jakarta Globe Column

After what was undoubtedly a disappointing end to the AFC Asian Cup qualifying stage for South East Asian nations, it was back to the bread and butter of league action in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and a big surprise in the Thai Premier League.

Champions Buriram United won the lot last season; Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup. They also reached the quarter finals of the AFC Champions League for good measure.

All that in a season when they had three coaches! Last Saturday, however, saw them held by Ratchburi 0-0 at their New I Mobile Stadium, a draw that allowed perennial rivals Muang Thong United to open up a two point lead as they overcame TOT 3-0. Teerasil Dangda gave the visitors the lead on 47 minutes before adding a second on 89 minutes. Muang Thong put some shine on the result when Mario Gjurovski added the third deep into injury time.

Bangkok Glass are the only other side with a 100% record after the opening two rounds, with defender Jetsadakorn Hemdaeng scoring early in the second half. Big spending Suphanburi find themselves at the bottom of the table after losing 4-2 against BEC Tero making it two defeats on the spin.

In the Malaysia Super League, leaders Terengganu saw their game away to Selangor called off allowing Kelantan and Johor Darul Takszim to overtake them at the top of the table. Kelantan defeated last season’s champions LionsXII in Singapore while Johor Darul Takzim also secured an away win, 2-0 at bottom placed Sime Darby.

During the week, Malaysia Cup winners Pahang announced coach Ron Smith would be leaving the club, citing differences of opinion. The War Elephants seemed to take the announcement in their stride, defeating ATM 4-1 on the east coast.

In the Indonesia Super League, Barito Putera continued their hapless start to the season, losing at home to high flying Persib Bandung. The defeat can only have been compounded by seeing their former striker Djibril Coulibaly score both goals.

The three points takes Persib to second place in the western conference, two points behind leaders Arema who have a game in hand.

Persija Jakarta left it late before salvaging a point at home to Sriwijaya Palembang. More than 21,000 fans saw the away team take the lead through Lancine Kone but Rahmat Affandi scored at the death. With Persija’s move for former West Bromwich Albion and Wigan Athletic striker falling through, they opted for Bosnian Zelimer Terkes to partner Ivan Bosjnak in an experienced Balkan strikeforce. Terkes had a short spell previously with Perak in Malaysia while former Croatian international Bosjnak was with DPMM in last season’s SLeague.

There was a surprise in West Sumatra when Semen Padang lost 1-0 at home to Persita Tangerang, Japanese striker Kenji Adichihara scoring on 28 minutes.

Just one game played in the eastern conference saw Persebaya Surabaya continue their inconsistent start to the campaign, drawing 0-0 at Persiba Balikpapan. Persebaya’s point cements their third place but coach Rahmad Darmawan may well be feeling disappointed as his expensively assembled squad has yet to really gel with three wins from their opening games and just a single point to show from their travels.

Sunday, March 09, 2014


Malaysia Upset At Asian Cup Failure

With the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers done and dusted and no representatives from South East Asia planning flights and hotels to Australia for next January, the recriminations have begun and nowhere, it seems, more virulently than Malaysia.

Critics there have been quick to point out to the money spent on sending Harimau Muda to play in Slovakia, Singapore and this year to compete in the Queensland Premier League in Australia.

Apparently, the critics opine, it is all a waste of money...because Malaysia failed to qualify for the Asian Cup and failed to earn a medal at the SEA Games last year.

Now, far be it for me to speak out in support of the Football Association of Malaysia. They have been the butt of much mirth over recent years and for good reason.

But this time I feel no blame can be sent their way.

Everybody needs to invest in youth but that investment comes with no guarantees. Stick your KPIs. Kids need to be given a chance to develop and given the crappy set ups in most countries in this region, the best way to do that is overseas.

The FA is right to give the kids the chance. In fact, if there is one criticism, they should be working with younger players.

But the young players change like they do all around the world. The promise shown as a 16 year old doesn't always translate into a medal fuelled career. Just google Wayne Harrison, John Bostock and Peter Coyne for examples.

Kids change. Their bodies change. They discover girls, beer, even, whisper it, drugs. They lose their focus, their interest, their desire.

Youth policies rarely produce a never ending conveyor belt of talent. Fergie will tell you the batch that included the Nevilles, Scholes and Beckham was exceptional. Since that era? Tom Cleverley, a 24 year old midfielder with less than 50 league games and more than a dozen caps for England!

Arsenal have long had great success with youth players. Take a deep breath; Brady, O'Leary, Stapleton, Rix, Thomas, Adams, Parlour, Keown, Davis, Rocastle, Cole. It's only under Wenger has it rusted.

West Ham? Cole, Lampard, Ferdinand? The current batch at Southampton.

But these are like me buying a round in the bar. They're pretty bloody rare.

There is no reason to think Malaysia should have found the holy grail of youth policies just because they have spent a heap of money on it. If it was that easy....

No nation has a divine right to success. Except England and their media. And, it appears, Malaysia.

Strange as it may seem, other countries are not standing still and a nationalist sports media does its self and its readers no favours by ignoring what is going on elsewhere.

Indonesia is placing great hope on the current Under 19 set up. The Thais are never far away from a good national team; much depends there on who is wagging the FA and for the last few years it has been the Premier League.

Then we have Singapore where a number of players in recent years tried their luck in Indonesia while LionsXII lifted the Malaysia Super League in 2013. And, of course, they won the ASEAN Cup in 2012.

But Asean is a tiny pond, more a puddle really, in the game of football. It's a place players and clubs come to for extracting cash.

To better compete with the Japan's and Iran's much needs to change. Playing abroad is one. So is diet. Is any player going to be a world beater growing up on a diet of bakso and bottled tea?

Back to Malaysia. When it comes to the Asian Cup qualifying stage, they were by far the best Asean representative. And until things change at a structural level, are they measured by Key Performance Indicators, that is the best they can hope for.

But turkey's rarely vote for Christmas.

Malaysia 6 2 1 3 5-7 7
Singapore 6 1  0 5 4-17 3
Indonesia 6 0 1 5 2-8 1
Thailand 6 0 0 6 7-21 0

Thursday, March 06, 2014


Vietnam International banned 28 Games

VIETNAM - Vietnam international defender Tran Dinh Dong has been handed a record 28-game suspension by the country's football federation after breaking the leg of an opponent in a domestic league match.
Dong of Song Lam Nghe An was also fined 20 million dong (S$1200) for the foul on Hung Vuong An Giang midfielder Nguyen Anh Hung, who is expected to be sidelined for a year.
Dong, who is not eligible to return to action this year, said he would appeal the verdict which also stipulated he should pay Hung's medical bills.
Song Lam Nghe An coach Nguyen Huu Thang said the Vietnam Football Federation (VFF) had not acted fairly in deciding upon the punishment for last week's incident.
"I will fine him if he does wrong. I think the VFF issued the fine under pressure from public opinion, not based on reality," he was quoted as saying by local media earlier this week.
"We will appeal because his absence would strongly affect our name and V-League results."
The VFF said they handed out the record punishment for a local player in order to send a message that similar incidents were not acceptable.
"The punishment is meant to be a warning to players throughout the nation, where violent behaviour on the field has gradually become more popular," the VFF said in a statement earlier this week.


Selangor's Grounds For Concern

Despite a pretty decent home record, Selangor can't wait to get back to Shah Alam Stadium.

They have played their opening two Malaysia Super League games at MBPJ Stadium, defeating T Team and Pahang, but there have been complaints by their players about the state of the pitch.

Their game against Terengganu slated for this weekend has been put back to May while the club hope to return to Shah Alam for their game against Kelantan 22/3.

One player who may not miss the MBPJ is striker Paolo Rangel...he scored all three of the Red Giants goal!


Pahang Release Smith

Barely three months into his appointment, Pahang coach Ronald Smith became the first "managerial casualty" of the season after parting ways by mutual agreement.

  Smith, a former technical director of the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) from 1999 to 2002, confirmed yesterday that he is no longer the head coach and will be returning to Australia today.
  Disappointment was written all over his face as Smith, who led Pahang to victory in the Charity Shield on Jan 17, said the decision was mutually agreed to by both parties.
  "The Pahang Football Association (PFA) president (Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah) and I have agreed to cancel the contract because of differences over football philosophy and team management. There can only be one person in charge so it's best I leave.
  "No hard feelings but I am disappointed. I have enjoyed coaching the team and had a strong relationship with my assistant (Zainal Abidin Hassan) and the players," he said after bidding farewell to the players and coaching staff at the Taman Gelora training ground yesterday.
  The 64-year-old said he was saddened that things did not work out as he had expected.
  "Maybe there were differences on how the management and I wanted things for the team. No hard feelings on my part for as a coach anything can happen in football and I must be prepared to face the situation.
  "As for now, I do not have any plans and will return to Australia to continue and complete some things which have been left unattended, including managing my website," said Smith.
   His departure will see Zainal, who guided Pahang to the Super League title in 2004, taking over the duties and he has pledged to continue Smith's unfinished mission.
  "The management instructed me to take over the team after our match against Terengganu last month and I am only following their instructions.
"I know the players well and I hope they will be able to give their full commitment to help the team excel," said Zainal, who has been conducting training sessions since March 1.

Read more: Smith parts way with Pahang - Soccer - New Straits Times

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


Persija v Sriwijaya Tickets

Category Normal Persija Card
VVIP Rp 200.000 Rp 150.000
VIP Rp 150.000 Rp 100.000
Category 1 Rp 80.000 Rp 60.000
Category 2 Rp 40.000 Rp 30.000      

Decent discount for fans who buy a Persija Card...any idea how to get one of them?

The game is 9/3 at Bung Karno, kick off 3.30 pm


Ambitious Persikabo Target ISL Return

Goalkeeper: Tema Mursadat, Arik, Edi Kurnia

Defenders: Boby Satria, Saeful W, Wahyu Korpriana, Joe Tsimie, Nopianto, Rojali, Wahyu Seyianto, Supriyono, Munadi, Edi Hafid

: Septian Belo, Johan Juansyah, Rezky, Andi Sopian, Rio, Edo, Wawan Susilo, Indra Lesmana, Nazar

Forwards: Aldo Baretto, Budi Sudarsono, Rudi Widodo, Eki Nurhakim, Aliyudin, Mustopa Aji

There is certainly a fair amount of quality, especially up front for Persikabo this coming season as they attempt to reach the ISL.

Baretto has been a prolific scorer everywhere he has been in Indonesia; indeed it is something of a surprise to see him sign for Persikabo, no disrespect to this ambitious and well supported club from Cibinong, West Java.

Budi Sudarsono, in his day, was for me perhaps the most exciting player in the country while Aliyudin was a cult hero during his time with Persija playing alongside Banbang Pamungkas.

Meanwhile, the likes of Eki Nurhalkim, Mustopa Aji and Johan Juansyah have proved their worth over the years and Bobby Satria has certainly done the rounds without actually settling down anywhere.

If I have any doubts about this strong squad it would be the midfield though perhaps as Sudarsono ages, he may play a deeper role ala Steve Gerrard.

With a new stadium being built as well, it promises to be an exciting season for Persikabo fans.

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T Team's Wasted Trip

With a bit of a lull between Super League games in Malaysia and Indonesia caused by the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers this week, T Team flew over to Jakarta, apparently to play a couple of friendlies against Persija and Persib.

The only problem with that is security permission. No one it seemed had bothered to get clearance to hold the games, certainly in Jakarta.

T Team ended up playing on a field in the capital city against a bunch of guys without clubs...

No news yet as to whether the game in Bandung will go ahead.

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Johor Darul Takzim In The Dock

Petaling Jaya: The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) have charged Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) for the alleged tunnel fracas at the Larkin Stadium.

FAM secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin said that the secretariat sent a charge sheet to JDT on Monday for breaching article 28.1 of FAM’s disciplinary code.

“They have a week to respond (until March 11) before the FAM disciplinary committee decides on the next course of action,” said Hamidin on Tuesday.

Article 28.1 covers the failure to provide adequate security personnel or failure to provide safety measures in line with FAM’s requirement to ensure the wellbeing of the teams, officials, players, spectators or supporters of the home and the visiting team.

On Feb 1, a fracas breaks out in the tunnel during half-time of the FA Cup second round match between JDT and T-Team at the Larkin Stadium. The game is abandoned after T-Team stage a walkout following a bust-up between a senior JDT official and two T-Team players as the teams leave the field. JDT is then leading 2-1.

On Feb 2, T-Team striker Evaldo Goncalves, defender Fabio Flor de Azevado, fitness coach Stefano Impagliazzo and chief operating officer Mohd Syahrizan Mohd Zain lodged reports at the Kuala Terengganu district police headquarters about the FA Cup incident.

Goncalves alleged that he was punched in the nose by a top Johor FA official while Impagliazzo claimed he was kicked in the groin by the official’s escort in the Larkin Stadium tunnel during the FA Cup second-round match against JDT. As a result T-Team abandoned the match, refusing to come out after half-time, citing “security reasons”.

On Feb 4, the Johor Football Association (JFA) also lodged a police report alleging JDT coach Cesar Jimenez was assaulted by a fitness coach and a striker from T-Team.

On Feb 6, JDT were awarded a 3-0 win by the FAM as punishment to the T-Team for walking out of the match.

JDT are also being investigated for two other incidents – the fracas outside the Darul Makmur Stadium after a league match against Pahang on Feb 7, and the vandalism claim by Perak FA after the team manager’s car was damaged outside Larkin Stadium after a league game on Jan 18.

Another case of an alleged racial abuse by JDT’s Argentinian players Pablo Aimar and Luciano Figueroa on Pahang’s Jamaican defender Damion Stewart is also being investigated by the FAM.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Kean's 100% Start In Brunei

Former Blackburn Rovers boss has started life well in the oil rich kingdom of Brunei.

His DPMM lead the SLeague with six points from their first two games, making them the only unbeaten team alongside reigning champions Tampines Rovers.

With St Patrick's Day on the horizon, at least two of the team will be hoping for a weekend away from dry Brunei. Irishmen Joe Gamble and Roy O'Donovan both had spells with Hartlepool United, is there a wider contrast than Hartlepool and Singapore, will hopefully line up with their team mates at Jalan Besar Stadium against Home United a couple of days before the annual Guiness slug-fest and they will be hoping for a couple of days compassionate leave no doubt!

In fact, I saw O'Donovan just last year line up for Northampton Town against Torquay United at Sixfields. No pictures from that was bloody freezing, snow had been swet from the field, I was still jet lagged and ill equipped for the conditions!

It was however the more familiar name of Rodrigo Antonio Tosi who secured Kean's first points in the SLeague with a 16th minute penalty against Albirex Niigata in the first game of the season.

Kean no doubt will rely heavily on the Brazilian now in his second spell with the club. Last season Tosi hit 10 goals in his 14 games while his first stint with the club back in 2005-2006 saw his score 25 times in 40 games according to Wiki and in the absence of any definitive Singapore football annual that must do.

There was quite an Anglo feel to DPMM's next game as they took on Warriors. Formerly known as SAFFC, they are coached by Alex Weaver and feature Kevin MacCann, who is Scottish and played previously for Hibs, Greenock Morton, Livingstone and Raith Rovers (places I could not find on a map!), Thomas Beattie and Singaporean international and more Singaporean than MRT and lah, Danie Bennett.

It was Tosi who gave DPMM the lead at home early in the second half while Rosmin Kamis sealed the points in injury time.

With a 100% record and two clean sheets, Kean has hit the ground running. Next up is Home United, always a tough nit to crack if somewhat inconsistent.

It would be interesting to know how the ex Blackburn gaffer is getting on in this part of the world, far from the madness that engulfed Rovers. Certainly, the pressure will be just a fraction of what he was used to in Lancashire but at least there it was out in the open...

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Monday, March 03, 2014


Malaysia FA Upset By 'Hooliganism'

Petaling Jaya: The FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) “Love Football, Stop Hooliganism” campaign is not working at all.

Officials at the FAM were left red-faced on Saturday when ultras unleashed flares and smoke bombs during Malaysia’s friendly international against the Philippines at the Selayang Stadium.

The match, which ended 0-0, was halted for eight minutes in the first half by referee Mohd Amirul Izwan Yaacob.

About 1,000 ultras were among the 8,000 crowd and they maintained a 30-minute silence as soon as the match kicked off at 8.45pm as a protest against the FAM. Banners deriding the FAM for the state of affairs of football in the country were seen inside the stadium. The ultras also sang derogatory songs insulting the FAM.

FAM secretary-general Datuk Hamidin Mohd Amin was visibly angry, saying the FAM could face sanctions from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) for the incident.

“The fans should go through proper channels to voice their grouses instead of interrupting a match,” said a fuming Hamidin on Sunday.

“We had several VIPs attending the match, including officials from the Philippines embassy and these fans’ action have embarrassed the country.

“We are working on this issue but it seems that harsher measures are needed to curb hooliganism. We will find a way to tackle this problem,” he vowed.

COMMENT - this counts as hooliganism?

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