Friday, July 08, 2016


Persija Struggle To Optimise Bambang Role

Bambang Pamungkas (right)
After Match Day of the Indonesia Soccer Championship everything was rosy in the Persija garden as they sat second in the table to Arema, level on points with leaders Arema but behind on goal difference. 

Andritany Ardhiyasa was impressing in goal, Ade Jantra and Amrizal Umainalo had seemingly come from nowhere to make an impression on the first team and there were still Bambang Pamungas and Ramdani Lestalahu waiting to start their seasons. What could go wrong? 

Plenty. Since those heady days in May Persija have well and truly slipped off the rails, winning just one and scoring once in their last six games and falling down the table to 12th, seven points adrift of third place Madura United. Their five goals for the season is an ISC low shared with Perseru and half the total bottom side Persela have achieved.

Where has it gone wrong for Persija?

Bambang was eased back in to the first team in the away game against Perseru when he came on as a second half substitute, a role he repeated in their first loss of the season away to Barito Putera a week later. He played the whole 90 minutes as the Kemayoran Tigers laboured to a 1-0 win over struggling PS TNI but showed enough to suggest he would soon find his mojo. Indeed it was like old times for the Persija faithful as another veteran and local hero Ismed Sofyan would launch the ball in from wide right looking for Bambang to win the ball in the air.

It was familiar stuff but it also negated some of the impact young Amrizal had enjoyed in those early games when he was involved in three of his side's goals. It was his tricky inside the area that drew a penalty against Semen Padang, He netted with a calm finish against Persela and it was his inch perfect cross, ironically from the right hand side, that was powered home by Jose Guerra in the same game.

But with the return of Bambang his effectiveness has been reduced as Persija have sought to rely more on the Ismed/Bambang partnership and despite the win over PS TNI it hasn't been effective as they have suffered losses away to leader Arema, at home to Sriwijaya and most recently in Samarinda against Pusamania. 

Now it could be argued those were three tough games anyway but the fact is if Persija do want to kick on from their bridesmaid status these are the sort of games where they need to pick up points and if they think things are going to get any better any time soon they won't. Next up are away games against Persib and Persiba. 

There has been little analysis of Persija's problems in the media recently and in part that may be due to the violent scenes that marred their home game with Sriwijaya as well as the on going soap opera of where they will play their home games now Bung Karno Stadium is to be renovated ahead of the Asian Games. But the table doesn't lie and the football club is not in a good place now and it is difficult to see any quick fix solution.

Persija and Bambang Pamungkas go together like Liverpool and Jamie Carragher and Wenger and 'I nearly signed him but' excuses. Ahead of the ISC campaign the news coming out from Persija was about Bambang and whether he would sign again or not. And when he did sign he was excused the start of the season because he had other commitments. 

Dropping Bambang could be seen as committing suicide for coach Paolo Camargo but his job now will be to tap into that youthful zest the team started the season with and marry it with Bambang's experience and know how. How successfully he does that will define his legacy at the football club.

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