Saturday, November 28, 2015


Singapore's Septimana Horribilis

It's Latin and it means bloody awful week and it hasn't been the best seven days in the history of Singapore football.

It started of course with LionsXII being unceremoniously removed from the Malaysia Super League and probably finding out about it via social media; certainly the Malaysian FA made a thing about saying how they hadn't informed their counterparts south of the Causeway.

And now we have the Singapore Cup Final which was played yesterday. Albirex Niigata lifted the trophy after defeating Home United after coming from behind to win 2-1. It was the Japanese side's first success in the trophy after finishing runners up against the same opponent back in 2011.

It also ensured a clean sweep of the major trophies for foreign sides providing a major humiliation for the FAS who talk big about strategic plans but fall well short in delivery. Before the season began Tanjong Pagar were removed from the league and Woodlands Wellington were 'merged' with Hougang United in a bid to improve the quality but that plan has, like so many others, backfired spectacularly. Hougang finished bottom of the table!

SLeague - DPMM
Singapore Cup - Albirex Niigata
League Cup - Albirex Niigata

With Albirex Niigata also finishing 3rd in the SLeague Singapore could be left scrambling for teams to fill their AFC Cup slots next season!

In a rare glimmer of good news, LionsXII keeper Izwan Mahbud, so impressive for club and country through 2015, is rumoured to be interesting Chonburi in the Thai Premier League where Hassan Sunny, his compatriot between the sticks, has been earning rave reviews for his performances with Army United.

Funny, isn't it. A decade ago the best Thai players were heading to Singapore, including a certain Therdsak Chaiman. They have long since returned and Izwan faces up to the prospect of playing alongside the evergreen Therdsak next season if the move goes through.

Friday, November 27, 2015


Al Salmyia Face Second Away Day Test

Al Salmyia lost their 100% record when they fell 2-0 to Qadsia mid week, a result that saw the Hawally based side move from 3rd to top spot in the Kuwait Premier League. The crowd certainly wasn't one befitting a top of the table clash but you could forgive a certain amount of apprehension among the home support going into the game.

They had only recently replaced their coach, striker Doris Fuakumputu was a noticeable absent as the iconic Bader Al Mutawa. Still, they got the three points and can look forward to a perhaps more comfortable day out on Saturday when they take on Al Sulaibhikat, their fourth straight home game.

Al Salmiya's good start to the season when they began with five consecutive victories could seem like a distant memory by this evening as they face a second tough away game in the space of four days. They must play reigning champions Kuwait SC on their patch and as can be seen from the nascent league standings Kuwait SC are steamrolling opposition so far. winning their last two away games by 3-0.

The champions seem unstoppable at the moment and Al Salmyia will need to focus more on the pressing that was so effective first half on Tuesdy and less on the desire to go to ground that succeeded only in breaking the game up and pissing off the fans and opposing players; a worthwhile tactic when it works but once they fell behind there seemed to be no plan B.

Another interesting match up tonight sees Kazma host Al Arabi. Kazma started the season baldy though perhaps not surprisingly given their first two opponents were Kuwait SC and Al Salmyia. Both hit Kazma for four without reply but the side led by Timor Lester striker Patrick Fabiano have slowly clawed their way back up the table, defeating Al Sulaibhikat 5-0 last weekend and holding Al Jahra 2-2 midweek.

Al Arabi may be someway off the pace at the moment but they showed their true worth away to Qadsia when they took the lead twice against their rivals and generally asked a few questions of the title pretenders in a hostile atmosphere. Kazma sit three points behind the side from Al Arabi and this game offers them the perfect opportunity to show they have in their wardrobe the arsenal to upset the big clubs and perhaps get their season back on track.

Tonight's other games sees Al Fahaheel take on Al Nasr at Al Sahel's ground while tomorrow Al Sahel host Al Yarmouk and Al Jahra host Al Shabab

1 - Qadsia 6 5 1 0 17-4 16
2 - Kuwait SC 5 5 0 0 18-2 15
3 - Al Salmyia 6 5 0 1 14-5
4 - Al Arabi 5 3 1 1 15-3 10


Why LionsXII In SLeague Needn't Be A Bad Thing

The Football Association of Singapore have moved quickly (!) to reassure LionsXII players about their future following the unanimous decision from Malaysia to end the agreement that saw the Singapore side play in the Super League for the last few years.

The FAS have told the squad they will keep the players under contract for the 2016 season opening up the prospect of LionsXII competing in the SLeague. At the same time, the FAS have said if players wish to negotiate contracts with foreign clubs or SLeague sides they are free to do so.

While this is obviously good news for the players who typically survive on season to season contracts and must wait bated breath year end for news of whether they will be retainied or not, the notion of what is effectively the national side playing in a domestic league is an interesting one and perhaps one without precedence?

For the FAS they will perhaps see a certain logic in this as it will allow at least the core of the team to stay together ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships next year and of course the much awaited, by the FAS at least, ASEAN Super League which may or may not start some time this decade.

But what would the impact be on the SLeague, won in 2015 by Brunei's DPMM? There is a risk LionsXII, with the priority afforded them by the FAS when it comes to drawing on players, will effectively hoover up the star names in the league and dominate all and sundry. Is that a bad thing? Fans around the world love Barcelona and Real Madrid for precisely that reason after all. And if it puts bums on seats is it a bad thing?

Instinctively I am against the idea of a national side playing in a league like this but could it be an opportunity to raise the profile of the local league? Could LionsXII leverage (did you notice that? I included some business school speak) on the interest shown in them in their Malaysia days to heighten awareness of the SLeague and bring more people to games? Could a fixture like Geylang International v LionsXII lead to a tasty atmosphere on the terraces which in turn could attract more people to the game?

There are down sides of course. Where would a LionsXII leave Young Lions? 

Apparently a decision could be made next week so I guess we just have to wait and see...

COMMENT - traditionalist old fuddy duddy that I am, I began this piece aiming to destroy the whole the time I git to the fifth paragraph I was in the middle of a literary epiphany!

Thursday, November 26, 2015


Six Indonesians Who Should Play Overseas

Ok so Rahmad Darmawan has taken the plunge and moved to Malaysia with T Team. Andik Vermansyah of course has had two seasons with Selangor and next season, if he stays, can look forward to AFC Cup football. What about their Indonesian peers? What can they look forward to? Surely some of them should be considering a career out of their comfort zone, far from the world of teh botol and bakso...

Meiga Kurnia (Arema)

I first became aware of the prodigiously talented keeper back in Arema's Indonesia Super League winning season 2009/2010, coincidentally around the time I took notice of Muang Thong United's Kawin Thamsatchanan. Then a 19 year old, I was impressed by his confidence and his presence. Even at such a young age he commanded his defenders and his penalty area with  ease. This, thought I at the time, was a player who should make the Indonesian goalkeeping position his own for years to come and for a while it looked that way.

It hasn't happened that way though. Indonesian football has lost its way and so it seems has Meiga. When Indonesia did play international football the coach, whoever he was, relied more on Persib's I Made Wirawan. Perhaps now it is time to Meiga further his career away from his comfort zone and we can see if can still be mentioned in the same breath as Kawin.

Ramdani Lestalahu (Persija)

This all action midfielder has been turning in impressive performances for his team for a number of seasons now, shining in a distinctly average Persija side. He made an immediate impact in 2014 at the AFF Championships in Hanoi, scoring twice on his debut against Laos. Surely it was to be onwards and upwards for this exciting player.

But nope, tis not to be. Another victim of the petty squabbling that blights the game, Ramdani surely has the talent to make it overseas, the question will always be has he the desire?

Evan Dimas (Surabaya United)

Enough said! I wrote this back in June and nothing has changed. He is still in Indonesia, playing for Surabaya United in the Sudirman Cup and not in a proper league.

Zulham Zamrun (Persipura)

OK, he can't go now, not after picking up a long term injury playing for an amateur side in a regional competition but what the hell was he doing playing in such a 2 bob competition in the first place? Making money of an ideal world his club, Persipura, would be competing in the ISL, they aren't so he was 'loaned' to Persib and then, between comptitions, fancied a bit of pocket money but got injured for his efforts. One more victim of the bitch fest that blights football in the country.

Yongki Aribowo (Persipasi Bandung Raya)

Striker who broke through around the same time as Meiga, he was another who impressed at an early age but has since lost his way thanks to Indonesia's lack of faith in young homegrown strikers. He is 27 now and since that brief early spell in the floodlights, his career has become that of a journeyman, moving from Persik to Arema to Persisam to Barito Putera and now West Java never quite fulfilling that early promise.

Samsul Arif (Arema)

If Yongki needs encouragement he should look no further than Samsul Arif. Born in East Java, I first noticed Samsul when he played for local side Persibo in the Indonesia Cup around about 2008, 2009. Small of stature but comfortable on the ball and a comfortable finisher, Samsul seems to be a true home boy, leaving Persibo for nearby Persela only to return to his hometown then back to Lamongan. Despite scoring goals where ever he went he never seemed to dominate games in the way he perhaps should have and it was only when he moved to Arema when they had a plethora of strikers and managed to fight his way into their first team that he started to show real consistency.

He is now 30 but still has the attributes to be a consistent scorer for any side prepared to play to his strengths and has finally become an established international

Wednesday, November 25, 2015


Al Salmiya Disappoint In Top Of The Table Clash

I was looking forward to this game. Al Salmiya went into it very much the surprise package of the Kuwait Premier League season winning its first five games and sharing top spot with 2014.25 champions Kuwait SC. Qadsia on the other hand had dropped points, drawing 2-2 in a thriller with Al Arabi.

I was disappointed. For all their pressure and pressing in the first half Al Salmiya seemed just as happy to fall to the ground as put the Qadsia keeper under pressure and any fluency was lost as a result. Second half and the home side offered a more potent threat, taking the lead just shy of the hour mark when Dari Said drove home from the right hand side of the penalty area.

Saleh Al Sheikh finished the scoring from an almost identical position 22 minutes later and Al Salmiya were left chasing the game for the final minutes to little effect. The three points catapulted Qadsia from third to top spot and a home game against Al Sulaibhikat on Saturday. Things get no better for pretenders Al Salmiya...they play Kuwait SC on Friday!


Suspended Kuwait And FIFA

On the one hand the letter says Kuwait is banned from playing anyone, then seem upset they didn't play Myanmar. I thought sanctions were already in place? How can Kuwait play Myanmar if they were suspended? What were FIFA expecting, the Kuwaiti team jump on a play to Bangkok for a game they weren't allowed to play?

FIFA is asking for any evidence why the game couldn't be played. Um, because you suspended them? Kuwait needs to reply by 1 December or may face more trouble. Like what? Remove all bibs and cones from the country?


Persija Seek New CEO

So you think you have what it takes to run an Indonesian football club? Well, put your money where your mouth is because it will be your money that pays for everything.

Persija are in the process of looking for a new CEO and have drawn up a lists of conditions applicants must fulfill to be considered for the position.

Forget the rather small fact that Indonesians have been involved in clubs as far apart as Italy, Australia and Belguim, Persija insist any new CEO must be Indonesian and must live in Indonesia. Not for them the idea of a rich sugar daddy running things remotely.

Candidates must not be involved with other clubs be they Divisi Utama or Indonesia Super League and must show an active involvement in football of at least three years.

Persija in common with many other Indonesian clubs are a football association made up of members and any candidate needs to have the support of at least five members before putting their names forward.

There are other conditions like for example following the rules of PSSI/AFC/FIFA (!) and having no criminal record but that is pretty much the gist of it.

Oh, and the money? A pretty cool $2.5 million a year. Of course if you can source any sponsors that might help...that is down to you.


FAM Make Decisions Shock

Last night the lights all but went out on LionsXII ambitions in the Malaysia Cup as they fell to a 4-1 defeat away to Pahang. An appropriate result you might say given the results of a meeting in KL that were announced while the Singaporeans were wiping their bodies clean after the post match shower. For the FAM announced some decisions last night...stop sniggering at the back...and one of them was pretty headline grabbing.

LionsXII will not be invited back to the Malaysia Super League in 2016. The Singaporean side with the daftest of names were formed at the back end of 2011 and entered the MSL for the first time in 2012, finishing second. A year later they won it and this year they won the FA Cup, not a bad return by many standards though of course many Singaporeans were still not impressed. And neither were the Malaysians.

One of the reasons cited for rescinding the invitation to play was financial; LionsXII refused to shoulder the Malaysian clubs travel costs as well as accommodation...Singapore hotels are not cheap! One report suggests there were other compelling argument but gave no indication what that might be. One report also suggests the FAM had not told their Singaporean counterparts. In other words the FAS would find out by social media like the rest of us did! Way to go FAM!

So the second leg of the quarter final tie against Pahang at Jalan Besar this weekend will be the end of the road for Fandi Ahmad's men and hopefully the players will be allowed to join SLeague clubs and not wait for the promised land of the ASEAN Super League cos god knows the SLeague needs the top local players.

In this rare flurry of activity, the FAM also announced the end of the Harimau Muda project. One plays in Singapore while others play in the Premier League and the FAM League. They will be replaced by a SEA Games 2017 Project, hopefully they are not called that, to prepare for the, um, SEA Games. In 2017. This will have a knock on effect in Singapore of course with Harimau Muda withdrawing leaving the SLeague with nine clubs. Who knows, perhaps they could invite Tanjong Pagar back. Or Gombak United. Or even Super Reds.

Bad news for LionsXII perhaps but good news for Indonesian coach Rahmad Darmawan. His T Team will play ATM in a play off to see who will replace the Singaporeans in the top flight at a date to be announced. Kuala Lumper will in turn keep their place in the Premier League to make up the numbers.

The big news story from the FAM putting in some elbow grease for once sees Pahang deducted six points. This came about because they had refused to pay a former player Mohamed Borji the money they owed him in spite of a FIFA edict saying they so must.

Monday, November 23, 2015


Noh Alam Shah's 60 Second Cameo

I must admit I do like Noh Alam Shah. Such a lovely person off the field he is committed on it. So committed more than one person has suggested has suggested perhaps he should be committed.

As I started following the Singapore game he was one of the first players who made me sit up and take notice. Mainly because his name was easy to remember! Oh, and he netted seven goals against Laos for Singapore in the ASEAN Football Federation Championships back in 2007. Things like that do stick in the mind!

Then there is the other side of NAS. The side that took on a Singapore team mate in the Singapore Cup Final in the same year, an incident that saw him sidelined with a seven month suspension.

Two years later I got to see NASty side up close. Tampines were playing SAFFC (Warriors) at Tampines Stadium and NAS was sent off after lunging for the ball when it was a tad close to the keeper. From my vantage point it looked an honest attempt at going for the ball, the ref disagreed and NAS walked. Reluctanty. Sparking outrage from the home support and frantic communication between the bench and a figure sat a few rows in front of me. At one stage it looked like Tampines would walk off but sanity soon was restored and the game petered out.

Soon after NAS joined Arema, the Crazy Lions, and it seemed the perfect match. Whereas in Singapore he struggled for acceptance from a uber critical but dwindling support base who compared him unfavourably with the polite twee gentlemen who had won the Malaysia Cup back in 1994, in Malang the fans there had found a kindred spirit. He played with his heart on his shirt next to the club badge and the Arema fans loved him for it.

Even during his time in Indonesia where he also played for Persib and PSS, NAS never made any secret of the absolute admiration for the Tampines chairman Teo Hock Seng. When nobody would touch him with a barge pole there was Teo to soothe feathers, to proved sage, fatherly advise to NAS, Singaporean by birth but Bowean by temperment. When he moved to Indonesia it was with Teo's blessing and an assurance the Tampines door was always open should he want to return.

NAS is now 35 years old and there can't be many more campaigns left for him. In many other footballing countries he could probably look forward to continuing in the game either in the dug out or as a pundit but in Singapore?

Last weekend Tampines hosted Harimau Muda in their final SLeague game of the season. Theoretically they still had a chance of winning the league but they needed three points and hope Balestier Khalsa defeat DPMM.  The game also marked the end of an era with Teo stepping down straight after as chairman. Tampines struggled and fell behind after 6 minutes to Malaysia's developmental side. It wasn't a good start to the game and with DPMM rattling in goals for fun elsewhere you can see Tampines' dreams falling apart. Their season was ending with a whimper and Teo was not getting the send off he deserved from his charges.

Tosi equalised from the spot on 55 minutes but by then the writing was on the wall. DPMM were as good as champions and it can be easy to understand what was going through NAS's mind as he watched the game from the bench. The club he loved, the club he had played for more than a decade was struggling against an under 23 side from across the causeway. And the man he respected more than any other (who missed the game) was not being celebrated as perhaps he should be.

NAS came on as a sub on 87 minutes. He was red carded on 88 minutes after a challenge that left two Harimau Muda players writing in agony! It was like a scene from a western...NAS strides in to town, leaves his mark and leaves the scene...eventually. He was manhandled off the field by captain Mustafic Fahruddin and some substitutes leaving the penalty area looking like a war zone. The young Malaysian players didn't know what to make of it!

In an interesting twist to the tale, and thanks to Zheng Ming for the heads up. the ref so quick to flash the red card in this game was the same one who had done so against SAFFC. In the same goal mouth.

Football eh?


T Team Add Indonesia Super League Veterans

New T Team coach Rahmad Darmawan has wasted little time in adding new recruits for the 2016 and it will come as no surprise to learn he has called on players with Indonesian experience to lead the campaign.

In has come Mali international Abdoulaye Maiga, a 26 year old defender who signed for Sriwijaya in 2014. T Team are not one of Malaysia's more glamourous clubs but Maiga will at least have some knowledge of the football club; Indonesian international Patrich Wanggai spent part of 2014 with T Team before signing for Sriwijaya.

Maiga had been playing for Sriwijaya in the General Sudirman Cup but was due to miss the game with Persija today due to suspension.

Persib's Makan Konate has also joined T Team. So impressive for Persib in their Indonesia Super League title winning campaign last season, the 24 year old Konate is a silky attacking  midfielder, slight of frame but technically adept with an eye for the pass and the goal. Although he had yet to be called up by the Mali side his performances last season must surely have made an impression back home and while 2015 will be considered a write off from a footballing point of view he will be hoping next year will allow him to build on those successes of last year.

Konate first arrived in Indonesia back in 2012 when he joined PSPS. After a successful spell their he moved to Barito Putera and impressed enough there to have Persib come a calling in 2013.

The two signs are an astute piece of business by Darmawan. Both are at good ages for footballers and who knows, with the right contracts and a forward thinking football club they could both have potential resale value somewhere down the line.

I will now go for a lie down...

Saturday, November 21, 2015


Geylang Run Riot Against Warriors In SLeague

If the SLeague were but five games old and not approaching its finale today the champions would come as a bit of a surprise for only one side can look back on an unbeaten run over that spell. DPMM play Balestier Khalsa knowing three points would earn them the title for the first time in their fistory but they have lost two of their last five games.

Rivals Tampines Rovers have three wins, one draw and one loss on the board recently and know they play Harimau Muda today requiring DPMM to slip up. But it is the Stags' eastern rivals Geylang International who are the form team in the league with three wins and two draws in their last five and last night they bowed out in spectacular fashion, mauling Warriors 6-0 at Bedok Stadium.

Yep, Warriors, last year's champions but 2015's whipping boys, went through the season conceding 51 goals, the worst defence in the league. People talk about Chelsea's woeful title defence but they have a rival in Singapore.

But what about the Eagles and their impressive run in which secured eighth place when for so  long they seemed a shoo in for the wooden spoon.

Their run started when they came from behind to beat Home United in a televised game at Jalan Besar, a game I managed to catch last time I was in town. To be fair if it wasn't for the saves of the experienced keeper Yazid they would have been dead and buried at half time. But they weren't, coach Jorg Steinbrunner made some changes and they came out second half rejuvenated and well worthy of the 2-1 victory with goals from Kento Fukuda and Bruno Castanheiria in the final minute.

As if that wasn't enough they hosted title challengers DPMM at Bedok a few days later and repeated the medicine, going 1-0 down in the first half but fighting back after the break with Hafiz Nor and Bruno earning the three points. Heady days for the season long strugglers indeed.

A pair of 2-2 draws followed as the Eagles were pegged back by the sides fighting with them to avoid 10th place.

Bruno made it three in three as Geylang this time went into a 2-0 lead against Young Lions but were denied the three points after a stirring second half comeback which saw Huzaifah Aziz put through his own goal 11 minutes from the end. Four goals in the last 18 minutes against Hougang United resulted in another point for the Eagles and another goal from the on fire Bruno.

Then came the Warriors. For so long the dominant force in Singapore football, this vintage seems a pale imitation of their former selves. Two more goals by Bruno, two for Jozef Kaplan plus contributions from Ichikawa Yuki and Hafiz Nor did the damage with four coming in the last 12 minutes.

Geylang International bowed out in style but such an impressive run at the end of the season must have people asking what they are capable of if they could produce that form over the course of a season? Whatever the SLeague looks like next season...

With Warriors' Fazrul Nawaz kept quiet at the other end, Bruno and Kaplan's brace apiece left them with 12 goals each for the season...a decent enough return for a side long destined to 10th place

Friday, November 20, 2015


Persija Kick Off Sudirman Campaign With Three Points

Bambang Nurdiansyah has been kicking round as a coach for a good few years. Among the clubs he has worked with include PSIS, Pelita Jaya (in various guises), a short lived spell with Arema, Jakarta FC (from the IPL days) and most recently Cilegon United. The former Indonesian international striker has, it is fair to say, not really made much of an impression until he moved to Cilegon United where he helped them win promotion from Division One in 2014.

His appointment as coach at Persija came as something as a surprise then when he replaced the Malaysia bound Rahmad Darmawan and with Persija failing miserably in the President Cup, not getting out of the group stage, not winning a game and scoring a single goal along the way, the Jakmania would have been looking forward to the General Sudirman Cup with typical supporter optimism but little expectation they would actually do well.

However Banur as he is known has made some astute moves in the transfer market, bringing in Raphael Maitimo, ex Persija and Persebaya striker Emanuel Kenmogne (Pacho) and Mbidia Messi and to be fair their preparations ahead of the tournament for which they are based in Malang have gone pretty well, winning three friendlies ahead of the main event and perhaps just as importantly, keeping three clean sheets along the way.

Their first real test came yesterday when they came up against Persipasi Bandung Raya who also had a new coach in the dug out with national technical director Pieter Huistra replacing Dejan Antonic. An interesting match up from a coaching point of view, Banur the solid Indonesian with the journeyman background up against Huistra, the former Dutch international who had played for a number of Europe's biggest clubs in a glittering career.

And it was Banur who came out on top with Persija winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Maitimo and Kenmogne in a game that saw PBRs Leonard Tupamahu red carded after a reckless challenge on Pacho in the first half.

12 minutes later Persija took the lead, Pacho turning home from close range after fine work down the left and in the second half Maitimo finished the scoring when he was left unmarked 12 yards out. And another clean sheet.

It was PBR's second defeat of the competition, losing 4-2 against Arema last time out while Persija picked up three points in their first game. Sunday sees PBR take on Gresik United while the Kemayoran Tigers face Sriwijaya Wednesday.

1 - Arema 2 2 0 0 8-3 6
2 - Persija 1 1 0 0 2-0 3
3 - Sriwijaya 1 1 0 0 1-0 3
4 - Persipasi BR 2 0 0 2 2-6 0
5 - Gresik United 2 0 0 2 1-5 0

Thursday, November 19, 2015


PS TNI The Surprise Packet

Following Indonesian football isn't easy at the best of times. God knows it's hard enough when you live there, can read some Indonesian, have some good contacts and can get to games. It's harder still when you are miles away and left reliant on alternate often contradictory sources. But know matter how you access the news, the news itself leaves you scratching your head and wondering whether ignorance is after all a better bliss.

Take the General Sudirman Cup which started a few days ago. It follows the Independence Cup and the President Cup offering a feast of football for the starved fans across the country. Now, the GSC, better known by its Indonesian acronym PJS, is also known as the Indonesian Championship. Indeed the official website bears that name along with that of  a sponsor. How can a cup be a championship? You should know by now not to ask questions like that!

Anyway the GSC for the sake of convenience features 15 teams split in three groups of five based in Malang, as ever, Bali and Sidoarjo and features 14 Indonesian Super League teams plus one other. Or does it? Surabaya United? Are they the latest incarnation of Persebaya or Persebaya 1927 or even the short lived Bonek United? Are they a totally new club? They certainly boast a badge on their shirts that is not related to the Persebayas of yore. But they do have Evan Dimas and of course the prodigious young talent spent last season with Persebaya nee Persikubar.

Then we have Persipasi Bandung Raya. Who play their home games now, if they have any, in Bekasi. But still boast the name Bandung in their name even though all previous attempts to establish a club in the heart of Tanah Bobotoh have failed miserably to attract any supporters. Persipasi refers to Bekasi Patriot, the team that took over Pelita Bandung Raya...why keep the name Bandung when it could just as easily be Bekasi?

The Pusamania/Bali United tale has been done to death but anyway who needs the misfortunes of a Samarinda based football club, that is so 2014, when you have a new conumdrum to tantalise the grey matter.

The Independence Cup was won by PSMS, one of Indonesia's big, traditional sides with a large fan base spread across the islands and time zones. It was the first time they had won anything since foobar knows when and oh how the support celebrated. The question of which PSMS seems almost irrelevant now, yep there used to be PSMS in the IPL and another in the ISL run league! But instead of which PSMS perhaps we should be asking PSMS where are ya?

Among the familiar 14 ISL teams in the GSC there is a non familiar name...well know as friendly opponents for the national team perhaps but little else. An amateur side belonging to the military, PS TNI have come from nowhere to suddenly snap up a bunch of professional players and are now competing in the GSC alongside their more illustrious peers.

Why suddenly do we have a military side entering a professional cup competition? Seriously, I have no idea. A military side that features more than a handful of players who used to play for PSMS! Now military sides in the region are of course nothing new; look at Army United, ATM, Siam Navy and even Warriors for clubs that trace their roots at least back to gents in uniform. And if so many of the players are drawn from PSMS then why not use their name and build on their recent success to attract the fans?

Whatever the reason, PS TNI have begun the GGSC in fine form, defeating Surabaya United and Pusamania Borneo in their opening two games and sitting top of the group. Persib and Persela await the uniforms and a place in the knock out stage. Football fans probably won't care too much about whence PS TNI came as long as their own team does the business but at least the name offers a touch of romance to the cup/championship for now and that ain't a bad thing.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Sixth Place Finish Not Good Enough For Home

If such a sleepy league as the SLeague can have a sleeping giant then the odds are it is Home United. Last nightthey defeated Young Lions 2-1, after coming from behind, but the win sees them cement 6th place in the table, their lowest finish since 1998 when they finished seventh, the SLeague had bigger crowds and there were 11 teams in the league.

There are now 10. The sides beneath the Protectors are Harimau Muda, Young Lions, Geylang International and Hougang United with the first two being developmental sides for their Malaysian and Singapore national sides. And if Harimau Muda win their final game of the season they would finish a single point behind Home and with more SLeague victories under their belt.

Since their second and final SLeague title back in 2003, Home United fans have had little to cheer beyond Singapore Cup wins in 2005, 2011 and 2013. Not a bad haul surely but we are talking about the small SLeague where Home are considered one of the bigger fish in the pond.

They went close in 2011 and 2013 under South Korean coach Lim Laeng-saeng but ultimately fell short despite lifting cup trophies and new man Patrick Aw, promoted from within, has been charged with effecting a change in fortunes for the Bishan based club.

Last nights win saw them end a bruising run of four straight defeats, including a 2-1 loss against Geylang International which saw the Protectors unable to turn dominance into goals in the first half. They still have a chance of silverware with the Singapore Cup semi final second leg against SLeague champions elect DPMM but surely the Home support must be hoping for a more consistent league showing in 2016...however the SLeague looks!


RD Heads To Malaysia

It's finally confirmed. Rahmad Darmawan will coach T Team in Malaysia's Premier League next season making him the second Indonesian coach to try his luck overseas after Rudy Eka Priyambada headed to Bahrain to take a position with Al Najaf earlier in the year.

RD, as he is better known, saw success with Persipura and Sriwijaya in the mid to late naughties but has found lifting a trophy harder to achieve in more recent seasons with clubs like Persebaya and Persija known for their management issues.

A familiar sight on the touchline with his trademark baseball cap, RD has also flitted in and around the national team on a number of occasions without leaving his mark.  In fact his downturn in fortunes pretty much has coincided with the mess that has enveloped football in Indonesia since 2011 so let's hope the relative calm of Malaysian football (!) can allow the Lampung born coach to focus on the training field alot more.

It remains to be seen whether RD brings any Indonesian players with him to Malaysia though it would be good to see Evan Dimas for example try his luck in a more professional league.

Hopefully he can rediscover his mojo in the north east of Malaysia and if he needs any advise about his new side he could always ask Patrich Wanggai who had a short spell there in 2014.

Interestingly RD says he chose T Team over Super League side Terangganu...


2005 - Liga Indonesia with Persipura
2007/08 - Liga Indonesia with Sriwijaya
2007 - Indonesian Cup with Sriwijaya
2009 - Indonesian Cup with Sriwijaya
2010 - Indonesian Cup with Sriwijaya

For the record only Jacksen F Tiago has been more successful in Indonesia in recent seasons and he to has turned to Malaysia to improve his career, joining Penang ahead of the 2015 season and guiding them to promotion from the Premier League. No doubt T Team, not as glamourous as Penang, will be hoping history repeats itself as they take the Indonesian route.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Persib Pay Price For Football's Continued Woes

In the last 12 months Persib have won the Indonesia Super League and the President's Cup. Throw the Padang Mayor's Cup and arguably you have their most successful era for a quarter of a century.

While it comes to professionalism they are streets ahead of their rivals even they are being hampered by the ongoing suspension of Indonesia by FIFA and the dispute between the government and the PSSI.

Persib's preparations for the upcoming General Sudirman Cup have been hampered by overspills from the disarray in football and the biggest without doubt concerns one of the few shining lights in Indonesia over the last 12 months or so.

Zulham Zamrun signed for Persipura at the start of the 2015 ISL season but when that was shut down like other players he was left twiddling his thumbs. The Black Pearls sat out the President Cup so he joined Persib for the duration, helping the side to go on and win the trophy.

With a window between the President Cup and the General Sudirman Cup Zamrun joined amateur side Persipare Pare Pare for the Habibie Cup in South Sulawesi, a local event that featured a number of big name boots for hire.

Even though Persipura decided to enter the General Sudirman Cup they still allowed Zamrun to stay 'on loan' with Persib. It was then announced he was in fact injured and could be out for up to eight months.

In a double whammy, inspirational defender Vladimir Vujovic announced he would not be returning to Persib. He preferred to look for a new club overseas rather than commit to another short term period of gainful employment and rumours were suddenly rife another key part of the ISL winning side, Makan Konate, would also be looking abroad for a regular pay packet. He will however be available for the group stage games, Persib have been drawn with Persela, Surabaya United, PS TNI and Pusamania Borneo in what is effectively a non FIFA recognised tournament. The story doing the rounds is Konate has been signed by a Malaysian side though which one is not yet clear.

Much has been made in recent days of a sponsorship Persib have in place with an insurance company so were Konate to be injured in the upcoming competition no one should be too worried about compensation. But how would the Malaysian side feel if he does get injured? Where would that leave the deal?

Players like Konate and Vujovic have shown Persib tremendous loyalty over the last nine months, staying with the club even though their season ended prematurely. They could have gone earlier in the year and surely been within their rights to do so. They may have been under contract to Persib for the whole year but are those contracts still valid given the lack of recognition extended by FIFA to Indonesia? And what of Zamrun? Who picks up the tab for his lengthy medical treatment over the next few months.

Persib's first game in the GSC is on Sunday when they take on Persela but unfortunately they go into the competition hampered by the loss of two of their big names and in the knowledge a third will have half an eye on next season. Hardly the best preparation but that is the legacy of Indonesian football at the moment.

M Ridwan, their influential wide man is also missing according to some reports but at least Persib's Bobotoh have something to look forward to. The name of Gian Zola has a fine pedigree in world football and has also been making waves in Indonesia youth football circles in recent years. He scored in a recent friendly and has been called up for the group stage games in Surabaya!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Persija Add Maitimo & Kenmogne

While Persib, Indonesia Super League winners and President Cup winners, stress continuity on the field and in the dug out, Persija continue to muddle along as best they can ahead of the General Sudirman Cup that begins today.

The Kemayoran Tigers have been drawn with Persipasi Bekasi Raya, Arema, Sriwijaya and Gresik United in Malang and have a new coach to guide them. Bambang Nurdiansyah who most recently tasted some success with Cilegon United is the man at the helm and it is fair to say he has not had the best of times coaching big clubs, most notably a short lived spell with Arema which won't be too fondly remembered by the fans of the Crazy Lions.

He has however added a couple of smart signings to the squad, bringing in naturalised midfielder Raphael Maitimo to bring some stability. Persija will be the third club Maitimo will have played for in 2015 having started the year with Sriwijaya in the ISL then moved to Persita for the recent President's Cup.

The signing though that will have Persija fans excited is the return of Emmanuel Kenmogne. He had a spectacular stint with the club a couple of years back and only the traditional dithering over player recruitment ahead of the new season saw him move to Persebaya. Most recently Pacho, as he is known, played in Malaysia for Kelantan.

Persija struggled for goals at the President Cup despite having local hero Bambang Pamungkas back in the ranks, scoring just one and they will be hoping Pacho's return will have them worrying opposing defenders and goalkeepers this time round.

They need the goals. At the weekend Persija defeated PS Jaguar 1-0 in a friendly in Malang. PS Jaguar? Nope, never hear of them...


Myanmar v Kuwait WCQ Cancelled Shock

Friday, November 06, 2015


General Sudirman Cup 2015/16 Draw

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


Who Wants To Win The SLeague

I know it's boring but this is another exciting end to the SLeague campaign. Their are two teams in the running but neither seems in a hurry to lift the bloody thing. On Monday night Tampines Rovers were held 0-0 by Warriors which left the way clear for DPMM to stretch their lead at the top when they took on Geylang International last night.

The Eagles haven't had the best of campaigns and ahead of their game against Home United last Friday were 10th in the table, you couldn't get much lower.

DPMM took the lead at Bedok Stadium on 28 minutes through Rafael Ramazotti, his 18th of the campaign, but just as they did against Home last Geylang waited for the second half before overturning the scoreline, first through Hafiz Nor shortly after the restart and then Bruno Castanheira, the Brazilian turned Japanese striker.

The result leaves Steve Kean's men five points clear of Tampines but the team from the east now playing in the west have two games in hand though they may not relish their next couple of games which are away from home:

05/11 v Balestier Khalsa
08/11 v Home United

DPMM will hope their next game away to Albirex Niigata will allow them to revert to winning ways especially after the Japanese side slipped up badly at home to Young Lions last time out.

Yep, not for the first time in recent years excitement is mounting in the race for the SLeague!


PSM Makassar - 100 Years Old

This year Birmingham City celebrate their 140th anniversary as a professional football club. It hasn’t 
been much of a history with a second tier play off success, a couple of League Cups and a third tier title
taking pride of place in their trophy cabinet. 

Sharing England’s second city with Aston Villa, Birmingham are still able to attract fans through the 
turnstiles with an average of 16,000 watching their home games at St Andrews’ during the 2014/15 

To commemorate their 140th year, the club have introduced a one off badge and along with it a range of
souvenir merchandise, all of which of course is designed to encourage the supporters to dig deep in their
pockets and hand over their money to the club.

Given how many football clubs there are in England somewhere some club is celebrating something 
every year and each club do what Birmingham do; produce a range of products promoting the 

Closer to home, one Indonesian football club is celebrating its centenary this year. PSM Makassar from
the island of Sulawesi boast the distinction of being the oldest football club in the country and so 
November 2nd sees football entered unchartered territory when it comes to remembering its past.

PSM were founded on 2nd November 1915 as Macassaarsche Voetbal Bund by a gentleman named 
M L Hartwing, an employee of the Dutch government who at the time ruled the archipelago. The club 
attracted a smorgasbord of players with Dutch, Chinese and local players on board and they certainly 
had plenty of opponents with the likes of Prosit (founded 1909) made up of colonial Dutch players and 
Bintang Priajoe (1910) featuring local players while in 1914 the Chinese community formed their own 
club, Sportvereeniging Excelsior, which played at Lapangan Karebosi.

Little is known of MVB’s early days even though two names do live on, Sagi and Sangkala but don’t expect much in the way of You Tube clips or mementos to turn up on Ebay any time soon.  

On 2nd July 1928, a touring Australian team, preparing for the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, stopped off in Makassar and earned themselves a moral boosting 2-1 victory in unfamiliar territory.

The Second World War saw Japan invade the Dutch Indies but there was still football and amid the 
carnage a humble becak rider from Barru in South Sulawesi made the first tentative steps towards a career that led one pundit to describe him as the original ‘Special One’. 

Rusli Ramang grew up playing sepak takraw, a mix between volleyball and football known for its 
graceful and athletic movement getting a rattan ball over a net. He moved to Makassar after he got 
married and soon came to the attention of PSM after scoring seven goals in one game for his then club 
Persis All Sulawesi. 

1n 1952 he was called up by the national team and on a tour around Asia taking in the Philippines, 
Hong Kong and Thailand, he netted an impressive 19 goals. 

The 1950s were a glorious time to be a PSM fan. With Ramang rattling in the goals for fun they won 
the Perserikatan (the nearest thing Indonesia had for a national league in the years before and after 
independence) in 1957 and 1959 before adding back to back titles in 1965 and 1966 and a final one in 

When professional football was introduced in 1994, PSM had one more sniff of success when they 
were crowned champions in 1999/2000, their last piece of silverware.

With the title in their pocket, PSM set about conquering Asia in the Asian Club Championship, later to 
become known as the AFC Asian Champions League. They started their campaign with a flourish, 
defeating Vietnamese side Song Lam Nghe An 4-1 on aggregate in the First Round to earn a tie against 
the Royal Thai Airforce.

The goals kept flowing as PSM battered the Thais home and away, winning 6-1 and 5-0 respectively.

The goal glut ensured PSM’s place in the quarter finals which they were chosen to host. Joining them 
were Japan’s Jubilo Iwata, South Korea’s Suwon Samsung Bluewings and Shandong Luneng Taishan. 
The goals continued to flow but unfortunately for the home fans, known as the Macz Man, they were in 
the wrong goal. 

They lost their opening game 3-1 against Shandong with the fans waiting until the 90th minute before 
Suwandi Siswoyo gave them something to cheer about. 

Their next game saw them take on Suwon and this time the fans didnt have so long to wait, legendary 
striker Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto scoring on 35 minutes. Unfortunately its impact was the same as 
Suwandi’s, little more than consolation as the Koreans had raced into a five goal lead in the opening 25 minutes! PSM went on to lose the game 8-1!

Jubilo Iwata coasted to a 3-0 win in the final game leaving PSM bottom of the group  winless and 
pointless; a sour tasting lesson but a harsh reminded of the gap between the best Indonesian football 
can produce and the rest of Asia. How sad the lessons have yet to be learnt.

They were back in 2004 and 2005 but in a much enlarged competition they continued to struggle and failed to get out of the group stages on both occassion, winning just three games out of 
12 over the two years.

And that has been pretty much it. Success has evaded PSM as the likes of Persipura and Sriwijaya 
Palembang have dominated the domestic scene and the Eastern Roosters have failed to keep up. 
In 2011 they backed the wrong horse when they opted to withdraw from the Indonesia Super League
and join the breakaway Liga Premier Indonesia when football split into two opposing camps.

Despite the lack of success they still remain a special club as Persib's Montengran striker Ilija Spasojevic found out during his spell in Makassar. He spent two seasons with the club and recalls '
Supporters are very loyal and they always support the club no matter what. When I think about my time there I have great memories, especially about my coach at that time Petar Segrt. He is definitely one of the greatest coaches I ever had. I am happy I was once part of such an amazing club with rich history.'

When it comes to local legends though look no further than Syamsul Chaeruddin. Born in South Sulawesi, Syamsul is a 5.6 bundle of energy who began his career with PSM back in 2001 as a 17 year and apart from short stints in Persija and Sriwijaya has played for the club since then. In short one of those players who bleed for their club. He also impressed for the national team at the 2007 AFC Asian Cup when his tireless efforts in the midfield against the likes of Saudi Arabia and South Korea ultimately went unrewarded but received plenty of plaudits from the punters and pundits.

With the game reunified in 2014, PSM found themselves once more back in the ISL but they were 
forced to play their home games in Surabaya, East Java as the authorities deemed their Andi Mattalatta 
Stadium to not meet their guidelines. Home games were thus played in a cavernous 60,000 seater bowl 
on the outskirts of Indonesia’s second city in front of crowds that rarely topped four figures.

The 2015 season saw them return home and a good start saw them defeat Persiba Balikpapan 4-0 and 
draw 3-3 against highly fancied Sriwijaya before the season was stopped due to infighting between the 
government and the football association that saw the government refuse to recognise the PSSI.

Compromise may be in the air and the ISL are hoping to start a new league in October. Until then 
Makassar is hosting Gresik United, Persipasi Bekasia Raya and Pusamania Borneo in the President Cup. 

The clock however is ticking towards their 100th anniversary and it doesn’t look like much, if indeed 
anything, is being planned to celebrate the occasion. When Indonesian football clubs are forever 
whining about the lack of cash they have it does seem a bit remiss nothing is being done to take 
advantage of this unique event. Which is a shame really because surely having the oldest football club
in the region is surely something to be proud of?


Suppport Your Local Team

I have more than once wobbled on about how Persib Bandung act as a focal point for the 'state' of Sunda in the same way as Newcastle United lie at the heart of the mythical Geordie nation.

This excellent infographic from Persib fan site Stadion Siliwangi showing just how many of their current squad are true local lads.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2015


A Singapore Trilogy

Ok so it was a family holiday but there was no way I was going to miss the chance of catching some local football in Singapore.

Geylang International v Home United 2-1

Eagles keeper Yazid kept the home side in this game despite going 1-0 down with a series of fine saves in the first half when it looked like the floodgates would open for Home. Never happened though and Geylang coach Jorg Steinbrunner juggled things around at half time and they emerged second half more purposeful. I missed the equaliser, I do like Tiger Beer, but saw the late late winner which sent the Geylang Ultras into raptures and took the Eagles off the bottom spot at least temporarily.

A few Geylang fans tried to drum up a bit of support in their section but despite a large number wearing green t shirts many didn't really seem connected with the game and when it came to eating their chicken rice in the car park at half time they still didn't seem connected to anything beyond the t shirt. I wonder how many of them knew who was who in their line up or what the score had been in their last home game.

Hougang United v Balestier Khalsa 1-1

I had been looking forward to seeing this game. Balestier have had a good season and at one stage threatened to mount a title bid of their own but that seems to have fizzled in recent weeks despite remaining well placed. But you know when you look forward to something and it turns into a wet fish? The first half was bloody hard work and at one stage I could have sworn there would have been 15 minutes injury time, so often were players going down in agony.

Miroslav Kristic has had a good season for Khalsa netting 14 goals so was always going to be interested in his contribution today and based on his second 45 minutes at least I came away thing he was a Balkan Noh Alam Shah! He was involved in a couple of meaty challenges, dishing out and receiving but he always got up ready to do battle once more. One unsavoury moment saw him drive a ball with full power at ballboy. Dunno how intentional it was but he did at least hold up a hand in apology.

Balestier Khalsa levelled the scores right at the death to secure a point but in fairness it was a game only a coach could love.

Albirex Niigata v Young Lions 0-1

Ah Albirex Niigata. Home of the youngest cheerleaders in the league? The manic drummer man who after several years banging the drum, must have realised by now that he is most definitely on his and no one is going to join him.

The Japanese side had been on the fringes of the title race all season but like Balestier fallen behind in recent weeks while Young Lions went into their game with just two wins in their last 10. Mind you those wins came against Warriors and Tampines suggesting they have something about them.

I started the game wondering what the hell Jordan Webb, now aged 27, was doing with the Young Lions. I ended it marvelling at his man of the match performance which included scoring the only goal of the game just before half time.

This was an impressive performance by Young Lions against an always committed Albirex side. Second half they weathered the expected onslaught with discipline and indeed could have nicked a second of their own on their breaks. And Irfan Fandi came on for a cameo showing presence and guile in equal measure.

Yeap, thoroughly enjoyed the game!


Tampines Teo Steps Down

At the club, he is known only as “boss” but, more than just exercising authority at the workplace, Tampines Rovers chairman Teo Hock Seng commands respect, breathing life into the “gotong royong” spirit that is synonymous with the S.League giants.

It is never going to be the same, though, after Teo called time on his chairmanship of the club he has helmed since 1999. Speaking to The New Paper yesterday, Teo, 69, said: “I’m getting older, I’m not well health-wise and I tire easily. “I’ve come in and tried to do things with an open heart, but there’s a limit to it and I’ve got to look after myself. “I’ve tried my best, I play to win and got the best fulfilment when the team do well.

“In these 16 years, the football fraternity has been good to me and I think I’ve earned respect.” Teo revealed he had informed all relevant parties of his decision to step down a month ago. Club vice-chairman Murali Krishna Ramachandran will take over as chairman. Tampines won the league title five times during his term, including a three-year reign at the top from 2011 to 2013.

The Stags also won the Singapore Cup three times, and remain the only team to have won the now-defunct Asean Club Championship in 2005. “I must thank (Tampines adviser) Yatiman Yusof, who gave me a lot of support through the years,” said Teo, who has promised similar support for his successor. “Krishna is dedicated, astute and he’s got the energy for it. I think I picked the right person. He will put together a team to take over and continue our work.

“They will have to draw up their business plan depending on how they want to move forward. I will continue to do what I can to help.” Teo was asked to be the chairman of the Singapore team in the Asean Super League (ASL), which is set to kick off in 2017, but he has turned down the request for the same reasons he is stepping out of the S.League. “We talked about (the ASL team), and I already said no earlier. If I did, I’d want to win it, do things properly, and the stress levels are very high,” he said. “One thing I won’t miss is the exhausting element of the work.”

Balestier Khalsa chairman S Thavaneson says Teo will be a hard act to follow. “He’s given more to football than can be expected. More than just a colourful character, he’s supported the sport with his passion, finances and has even taken local players who’ve had experienced difficult times under his wing,” said Thavaneson. “Singapore football will miss him.”

Along with the now-retired Geylang International chairman Patrick Ang and Gombak United chief John Yap, Thavaneson and Teo were the most outspoken of S.League chairmen. And Thavaneson will soon follow Teo out of the league. “We’ve given a fair share of our lives to football and we’ll have to see how things pan out, but it will probably be in the next 12 months,” said Thavaneson.

“There is too much uncertainty that makes things very difficult,” he added, referring to supposed changes to the form and structure of the S.League. “We must find good people to come forward to take over leadership. I’m a few months younger than Hock Seng and we’re well into senior citizenship! “We’d like to enjoy football without the stress.”

Ang, who left Geylang in 2012, agreed. “Hock Seng’s departure is a sad occasion for Singapore football. If people like him and Thavaneson leave, there’s little chance for the league,” said Ang, who hopes the Football Association of Singapore will pay more attention to the S.League.

 Teo, who received a 10-match touchline ban in 2009 for approaching a match official in what was perceived as an aggressive manner, does not see his passion for football fizzling out. “I’m probably the only chairman who got sent off like that, and that shows how much emotion I put into it,” he said. “And I will still enjoy watching, I won’t mind paying $5 to come and watch a game.”

Everything has got to do with handling people. If you respect your players and your staff, they will do the same and, on the pitch, they will play for you. Winning the players’ hearts is very important. — Teo Hock Seng People know him as the “boss” but he is more than that — a great man with a great heart. His door is always open to you, whatever you need, not just in football. I want to say ‘thank you’ to him and I’m sad that he’s leaving.

SOURCE - Tampines Rovers

COMMENT - big story this. Never heard a bad word said about the guy from players

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