Wednesday, August 31, 2016


First Half Of ISC By Numbers

37 points - Madura United
13 points - Persela
11 wins - Madura United
3 wins - Persija, Gresik United
8 draws - Mitra Kukar
1 draw - Persela
2 losses - Madura United
12 losses - Persela
27 goals scored - Madura United, Sriwijaya
10 goals - Persija
8 goals conceded - Arema
32 goals conceded - Gresik United
+14 goal difference - Sriwijaya
-14 goal difference - Gresik United
12 goals (top scorer) - Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera)
7 goals (top local scorer) - Ferdinand Sinaga (PSM)
50,117 - Persija v Semen Padang
1,135 - Bali United v Madura United
5-4 - Persipura v Barito Putera
20,775 - Persib average attendance

Monday, August 29, 2016


Go Home Coach, You're Drunk

Gresik United fans show their displeasure with coach Liestadi. Without a win in 10 games, the coach received the dreaded vote of confidence last week but the fans are showing their frustration as the above banners show.


Indonesia Squad Announced For Malaysia Friendly

Alfred Riedl has named the 22 players for the friendly against Malaysia on September 6th at Manahan Stadium, Solo. As has been widely reported no more than two players have been called up from the clubs with some, Madura United and Persela spring to mind, providing no players for the national team.

As promised Riedl and his assistant Wplfgang Pikal have prioritised young players while leaving the door open for other players ahead of the ASEAN Football Federation Championships in November, December.

It does seem odd that Madura United, who top the Indonesia Soccer Championship at the half way point, have no players called up, especially when you consider the fine form from the likes of Bayu Gatra and Slamet Nurcahyo but this is a one off squad for a friendly and there are still a couple of months until the AFF Championships so there is still time for changes to be made.

And no, there is no call up for Wanderley Santos, the Al Nasr striker who the UAE FA website describe as an Indonesian citizen. That could be because he is in fact Brazilian but hey, who am I to question things like that.

1. Kurnia Meiga Hermansyah (Arema) 
2. Andritany Ardhiyasa (Persija) 
3. Dian Agus Prasetyo (Pusamania Borneo FC)
4. Benny Wahyudi (Arema)
5. Indra Kahfi Ardhiyasa (Surabaya Bhayangkara United)
6. Hansamu Yama Pranata (Barito Putera)
7. Dedi Gusmawan (Zeyar Shwe Myay)
8. Rodolof Yanto Basna (Persib Bandung)
9. Fachrudin Wahyudi Aryanto (Sriwijaya FC)
10. Abdul Rachman (Persiba Balikapapan)
11. Muhammad Abduh Lestaluhu (PS TNI)
12. Andik Vermansyah (Selangor)
13. Evan Dimas Darmono (Surabaya Bhayangkara United)
14. Ichsan Kurniawan (Sriwjaya FC)
15. Bayu Pradana Andriatmo (Mitra Kukar)
16. Adam Alis Setyano (Barito Putera)
17. Septian David Maulana (Mitra Kukar)
18. Irsyad Maulana (Semen Padang) 
19. Zulham Malik Zamrun (Persib Bandung)
20. Boaz TE Salossa (Persipura Jayapura)
21. Lerby Eliandry Pong Babu (Pusamania Borneo FC)
22. Irfan Haarys Bachdim (Consadole Sapporo) 


Arema's Struggles On And Off The Pitch

They may be second in the Indonesia Soccer Championship and have lifted the Bhayangkara Cup in recent months but things ain't going well for Arema. One of Indonesia's biggest clubs, the fans have been staying away for most of the season and now the team that led the ISC for so long has been suffering on the field as a poor run of results have seen them usurped by Madura United.

Think Arema and you think of their fantastic support base with crowds regularly exceeding 20,000 but it's not happening this campaign. Recent attendances have hovered around the 5-6,000 mark with the club desperately trying to work out just why the fans have been staying away. Reasons cited include kick off times and too many home games but I'm not sure. They haven't stopped people going in the past.

Then there is the reemergence of the 'other' Arema. The original Arema. The Arema that won the Indonesia Super League back in 2009/2010 before we had the years of plenty when Arema, like Persebaya, had a second team formed and use the same name. But this other Arema are the original Arema, much like the 'other' Persebaya are the original Persebaya and remember one reason why the ISL was stopped last season was because of ownership concerns over these two football clubs.

Of more pressing concern to Arema coach Milomir Seslija will be the alarming dip in results in recent weeks. On paper a 0-0 draw away to Persib is no mean achievement but looked at in terms of recent performances and worries arise. 

Results wise Arema started the season well with one loss in their first 11 games even though the performances were not always convincing. Experienced players like Goran Gancev, Cristian Gonzales and Srdan Lopcic had enough about them to grind out the results and early doors skipper Hamkah Hamza was in sensational form at both ends of the field, frequently chipping in with vital goals. 

Gonzales as ever has been Mr Reliable in front of goal, six is a healthy return for a 40 year old who missed the start of the season through injury but support has been lacking. Gustavo Giron has failed to contribute significantly while Sunarto has contributed three but he isn't really considered a regular starter.

Latterly the performances have not improved and the side appear to have lost that knack of grinding out results. Recent weeks have seen them lose to PS TNI and Pusamania while Barito Putera, a team with a leaky defence, were able to enter the lions den at Kanjuruhan Stadium and leave with a point after earning a 0-0 draw. 

In short Arema have earned just one win from their last six games and that came via a narrow 1-0 win over Bali United,

The club aren't happy and are doing the dreaded evaluation thing. The football club's general manager feels things have fallen away since being held 0-0 by Persipura at the end of June. 'After (that game) our play has fallen away' said Ruddy Widodo. 'It could be down to a difficult fixture list or because of injuries...there have been games where we targeted three points but we went on to lose'.

Ironically Arema must play Madura United next weekend and the team from the island off Java's east coast have been setting the pace on and off the field They have been making astute signings in recent weeks to add to an already formidable squad while the likes of Slamet Nurcahyo and Bayu Gatra have been showing a level of consistency the Arema players can only dream of.

But while Madura have been moving quickly to add new recruits Arema have been more hesitant. Brazilian duo Rafael Tardini and Mauro Lucas were let go after failing to impress while other big names who have moved clubs recently like Greg nwokolo and Edward Wilson Junior seemed to attract little interest from this part of East Java. 

Earlier in the season Arema were held 0-0 by Madura United in the Bangkalan Stadium in a physical encounter where goalkeeper Meiga Kurnia saved the point single handedly with a superb performance between the sticks. But despite the home advantage it is the visitors who will go into the game as favourites and were they to leave Malang with a victory, and an eight point gap over Arema, the alarm bells will be ringing for the Crazy Lions.


Madura United Go Five Points Clear

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Persija v Bali United 1-2 (Ramdani Lestalahu; Nemanja Vidakovic, Yabes Roni) 6,333
Mitra Kukar v Persela 1-2 (Arthur Cunha; Steven Anderson 2) 2,870
Persib v Arema 0-0 20,581
Pusamania v Sriwijaya 2-2 (Jefry Kurniawan, Lerby Eliandry; Airlangga Sucipto, Yohanis Nabis) 5,103
Madura United v Barito Putera 1-0 (Elthon Maran) 5,216
Persiba v PS TNI 2-0 (Heri Susanto, Siswanto) 2,630
PSM v Persipura 0-0 6,754
Gresik United v Semen Padang 1-1 (Arsyad Yusgiantoro; Vendry Mofu) 3,143

1 - Madura United 17 11 4 2 27-17 37
2 - Arema 17 9 5 3 21-8 32
3 - Persipura 17 8 5 4 21-15 29
4 - BS United 16 9 2 5 23-17 29

Malaysia Cup

Negeri Sembilan v Kedah 0-0
PKNS v Selangor 3-4 (Juan Cobelli, Gonzalo Soto, Gabriel Guerra; Ugo Ukah, Hazwan Bakri, R Gopinathan, Mauro Olivi)
Kelantanv PDRM 1-2 (Indra Putra, Safuwan Bahrudin, Guilherme de Paula)
T Team v Felda United 1-1 (Safawi Rasid; Forkey Doe)

Sunday, August 28, 2016


ISC Backtrack On A License Requirement. But Only For Persib

In one of those what the fuck moments for which Indonesia is so well known, the Indonesia Soccer Championship have sort of backtracked on their demand all clubs must have an A license coach. Earlier they had demanded Persib, Persija and PS TNI find new coaches because their guys lacked the full qualifications as set out in the competition's own regulations.

Now it seems Persib's Djadjang Nurdjaman can carry on in situ. Why? Apparently he has a 'Recognition of Competence' which was issued by the Indonesia Super League inn 2014, the season Persib won the ISL. 

Joko Diriyono of the ISC says 'In 2014 a couple of coaches were give ROCs or recognition they were coaches of the highest ability.' Djadjang was one beneficiary, the other was Daniel Roekito.

Djadjang's ROC is still valid continued Joko but Persija and PS TNI must go ahead and replace their own coaches, Jan Saragih and Suharto, because they lack both the A license and an ROC.

Yet again we have this arbitary interpretation of the rules in Indonesian football where certain clubs can get away with what they want while others have to toe the line. What is this ROC? Never heard of it before. Do other competitions have similar dispensation in the hands of the organisers? I think we know the answers.

Another question is worth asking. When the ISL was stopped in 2015 much was made of Djadjang heading to Milan to spend time with Inter. Why didn't he invest in his A license then?

Friday, August 26, 2016


Okta Maniani Quits Persiba For Civil Service

I admit to never having been one of Okta Maniani's biggest fans. The 5' 4'' inch flyer burst on the scene as part of Alfred Riedl's 2010 ASEAN Football federation Championship's squad that reached the final and along with Irfan Bachdim made people sit up and take notice after impressive performances in Indonesia's opening group stage games against Laos and Malaysia.

The goals dried up for Indonesia as they struggled to get past first Thailand and then the Philippines before losing to Malaysia in the final but fans had a couple of new heroes...Bachdim and Okta. Amid the hype there were even suggestions the diminutive winger could go on and play in Europe, an early example of a story aimed more at click bait than any meaningful analysis.

Okta, wearing 10, celebrates after Indonesia score against Laos, 2010
But for many who followed Okta's arrival on the international had come as a surprise. Then aged 20, his career had been a fairly typical journeyman career as the Papuan born youngster played for PSMS, Persidafon, Persitara before perhaps catching Riedl's eye in the more exalted company of Sriwijaya.

Fans who had jumped on the bandwagon that followed the Indonesian team to the final that year ooh and ahhed at Okta's pace ad willingness to run at players, sometimes even goalward. He would have been a defender's worst nightmare come true but without being too disparaging he made Theo Walcott look like Trevor Brooking when it came to reading the game. His playing style was simple...just run. What his team mates did was neither here nor there Okta ran and that was it. Against Laos and Malaysia he was the archtypal impact player but after a couple of run outs canny coaches knew how to nullify his threat. The media loved him for a while but soon found their new heroes and at the age of 20 he was all but forgotten as quickly as fame had embraced him.

If you think I am being too harsh on the lad then consider his career post 2010. He left Sriwijaya in 2011 and you would think the world of football was at his feet if you believed the hype that surrounded him but the bigger local clubs steered clear. Instead of for example Persipura signing him, he travelled round the islands, taking his boots to play in Papua, with Persiram, Ternate (Persiter), Kalimantan (Barito Putera), Papua again with Perseru and Kalimantan again with Pusamania. With the ISL halted last year, instead of being sought by some of the big clubs in South East Asia he ended up in Timor Leste with Carsae FC, coached by Brazilian Fabio de Oliveira who knew him well from his Indonesian days.

He started the ISC campaign back in Kalimantan with Persiba as coach Jaino Matos went with a local striker force but Okta looked a spent force. It seemed his pace had gone and like the emperor found out when his clothes were taken from him, Okta was nothing without that pace. He looked lost on the field and was unable to provide the Honey Bears with any kind of potency up top.

It seems Okta has now bowed to the inevitable and quit professional football, preferring the security of a job with the civil service closer to home. That Okta is just one of several players in recent months who have sought the safety of government service over the glamourous but pitfall ridden career of professional football shouldn't come as a suprise considering the mess the game has been in over the last few years.

His coach at Persiba doesn't seem too concerned by his loss. 'In life there are many choices,' Jaino was quoted as saying, 'Players come, players go, it's normal.'

If his career is over it was certainly a short, eventful one. His career is also an example of how a highly hyped young player is still a long way short of being the finished article. Often with pieces like this we are left wondering what might have been but I fear with Okta there could be no doubts about his career. Never again could he reach the supposed heights of 2010 because those heights only came about because of his arrival on the international stage from anonymity. He was the one trick pony we often read about.

UPDATE - it seems Okta has put his civil service career on hold and signed for Arema! A strange move by Arema, an even stranger one by Okta.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Persipura Snap Up Wilson

It hasn't been the best of campaigns for Persipura in the Indonesia Soccer Championship. The three time ISL champions have struggled for consistency and goals in the first half of the campaign though three straight wins suggest a corner has been turned in recent weeks.

The Black Pearls started the campaign with Jafri Sastra but he was released and Argentinian Angel Alfredo Vera and he has done a good job steadying the ship.

Veteran striker James Koko Lommel was released while Eddy Boakay Foday has struggled to replicate the form he showed with neighbours Persiwa. Naturalised Greg Nwokolo has been added to the ranks as he ended his Thailand adventure while Boas Solossa looks to be finding his form in recent games. 

Now Persipura have added Edward Wilson Junior to their ranks. The goal getter was prolific during his time with Semen Padang and since leaving Indonesia has played for Felda United and most recently Perlis. 

Vera will be hoping Nwokolo and Wilson's experience in Indonesia will mean they won't need time to acclimatize and they can hit the ground running as the club look to mount a late run for top spot. With Arema stuttering in recent weeks Madura United have been the one team to look impressive but with Persipura flexing their muscles again the newbies from East Java could have their work cut out as they look to lift their first every trophy. 

Persipura are six points behind Madura United on 28 points in fourth place but face tricky away games against PSM, Bali United and Persija over the next few weeks. 


JDT Edge Felda In Jengka Thriller

Johor Darul Ta'zim pretty much confirmed their third successive Malaysia Super League title after defeating closest challengers Felda United 3-2 last night, The win puts them seven points clear with three games in hand and pretty much ended Felda's plucky title challenge.

Veteran striker Amri Yahya gave the visitors the lead on 30 minutes before Juan Martin Lucero doubled the lead six minutes later. Felda clawed themselves back in to the game when Syahid Zaidon pulled a goal back moments. The home support went ballistic right on half time when Hadin Azman levelled the scores. 

With 16,640 fans packed into the new Tun Abdul Razak Stadium in Jengka, tension was high but it was the visitors, been there done that, who ended triumphant when Zafuaan Razak scored the winner on the hour mark. Felda ended the game with 10 men as Fazly Alias was red carded. Handbags towards the end saw players thrust their chests at each other and fans threw stuff on the pitch which must have been fun.

Unbeaten this season, JDT face Terengganu and T Team at home before ending the season away to Selangor. Felda United on the other hand have just one win from their last four games and must rely on some shock results at Larkin Stadium if they are to reignite their flickering chances. 

They face T Team away, sandwiched between Malaysia Cup ties against the same opponents, before ending their season with a home game against Sarawak and an away game at Kedah. We may only be in August but the last game of the season is at the end of October!

Felda United v JDT 2-3 (Syahid Zaidon, Hadin Azman; Amri Yahya, Juan Martin Lucero, Zafuaan Razak) 16,640
Sarawak v Selangor 1-1 (Junior Guimero; Adam Nor Azlin) 548
Kelantan v Kedah 1-2 (Wan Zack Haikal; Abdul Halim Shaari, Baddrol Baktiar) 2,048
Perak v Penang 4-1 (Kenny Pallraj, Fazrul Hazli, Ridzuan Azli, Elias Fernandes; Ranti Martins) 3,680
PDRM v T Team 1-2 (Fakrul Aiman Sidid; Hakim Hassan, Dilshod Sharofetdinov) 150
Terengganu v Pahang 1-1 (Issey Nakajima; Pablo Vranjican) 421

1 - Johor DT 19 15 4 0 46-12 49
2 - Felda Uniited 19 13 3 3 42-20 42
3 - Kedah 19 8 7 4 23-25 31

15 - Francis Forkey Doe (Felda United), Juan Martin Lucero (JDT)
13 - Jorge Pereya Diaz (JDT)
11 - Baze Iliojski (Kelantan)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


R Sasikuamr - Football Legend Turns Successful Businessman

Check out my piece about the Singaporean international who conquered the world of business!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Persija Running to Stand Stilll

Turn away Persija fans for this won't make good reading.

What do you do with a club like Persija? They sit third from bottom in the Indonesia Soccer Championship with a whopping nine goals from their 16 games! Yeap, nine goals. What is going on at that football club? Change the tense editor, what has been going on there for several years now?

For some clubs challenging for honours is enough for fans. Put up a fight, show some spirit but as long as you do your best then all can be forgiven as the silverware gets lifted across the archipelago some place. Persija see themselves one of the big four in Indonesia alongside Arema, Persib and Persebaya but the days when they could hand on heart place themselves amid such gilded company are way behind us. For Persija, the team from a nation's capital, are now on a par with more provincial sides like Persela and Persiba. 

The Kemayoran Tigers have been left behind by Indonesian football. Clubs like Persipura and Sriwijaya have become the new royalty in local football while new kids on the block like Bali United, Pusamania and Madura United have been combining snazzy social media with commercial savvy as they seek to break into the elite grouping. Persija? Sports pages are littered with tales of woe as the club who, first game of the season attracted 50,000 +++, continually plead poverty.

Success now for Persija is signing Bambang Pamungkas and Ismed Sofyan to new deals, a tactic that has bit them on the bum spectacularly this season as Bambang has failed to score and Ismed has been injured for a while.

Paolo Camargo was let go as coach with Jan Saragih taking caretaker control but the club don't seem to be in a rush to appoint someone new despite the ISC saying they had to do so by the end of the first round of fixtures, Saragih lacking the required A license...which takes us nicely to next weekend.

The club can claim to be unlucky, striker Jose Guerra was released after a long term injury but there comes a time when you can no longer sit back and claim haplessly the dice are loaded. 10 games without a win tells you everything. Seven losses, three draws can't all be down to black cats and four leafed clovers. Someone somewhere within the football club needs to take responsibility that is unlikely to happen anytime soon. 

It must be galling for Persija that when Juan Belencoso struggled for their rivals Persib they went out and snapped up Sergio van Dijk. Persija are becoming the Arsenal of Indonesia, dithering while all around them get busy with things like plans. The football club have been a mess for years now, the point being accentuated even more as their rivals start to sip from the plate of professionalism.

Persija are in need of a coach, a team and a stadium. Perhaps when all three wheels come round the fans will finally hit the jackpot and their heroes will become one of the biggest clubs in the region. For now the bitter truth is Persija are just also rans in Indonesian football, struggling to stand still as others inspired by professional ideas and money off the field look to a new future.


Match Day 16 By Numbers

Match Day 16

Bali United v Sriwijaya 1-0 (Fadhil) 8,574
Persela v Bhayangkara Surabaya United 0-1 (Thiago Furtuoso) 4,205
Persipura v Gresik United 3-0 (Ricardo Salempessy, Boas Solossa 2) 11,300
Perseru v Madura United 1-1 (Paulus Hisage; Slamet Nurcahyo) 1,334
Arema v Pusamania 1-2 (Cristian Gonzales; Jad Nouredene, Jefri Kurniawan) 6,766
PS TNI v Persib 0-3 (Sergio van Dijk 2, Kim Jeffry Kurniawan) 17,656
Barito Putera v Persiba 3-1 (Yongky Aribowo, Mohammadou Adamou, Rizky Pora; Heri Susanto) 1,869
Persija v PSM 0-1 (Maldini Pali) 3,567
Mitra Kukar v Semen Padang 2-0 (Marlon da Silva, Anindito Erminaro) 1,872

4  goals were scored by foreign players
16  goals were scored by Indonesian players
Biggest Crowd - 22,783 Arema v Bali United
Lowest Crowd - 1,923 Perseru v Persib
Top Scorer - 12 Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera), 11 Pablo Rodrigues (Madura United), Marcel Sacremento (Semen Padang), 8 Shogei Matsunaga (Persiba), Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya)
Average attendance - 6,349
Biggest winning margin season to date - Sriwijaya v PS TNI 6-1, Sriwijaya v Madura United 5-0, Pusamania v Gresik United 5-0
Highest scoring game season to date - Persipura v Barito Putera 5-4
Biggest attendance season to date - Persija v Semen Padang 50,117
Lowest attendance season to date - 1,135 Madura United v Bali United

1 - Madura United 16 10 4 2 26-16 34
2 - Arema 16 9 4 3 21-8 31
3 - BS United 16 9 2 5 25-14 29
4 - Persipura 16 8 4 4 21-15 28

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Results 19/08 & Podcast

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Persela v Bhayangkara Surabaya United 0-1 (Thiago Fortuoso)
Bali United v Sriwijaya 1-0 (Fadil Sausu)

Refs in the news again as the losing coaches blame poor decisions for their team's defeat. Sriwijaya's Brazilian striker Hilton Moreira went as far as to say he would rather lose a fair game 10-0 than lose 1-0 to  dodgy penalty.

The ISC are responding to a flood of complaints by bringing in ref trainers from UEFA and the AFC to tell match officials the rules but I don't think that will change much.

Malaysia Cup

JDT II v T Team 1-0 (Amer Saidin) 626
Sarawak v Kedah 0-3 (Thiago Augustus, Liridon Krasniqi, Bang Seung Hwan) 222
Negeri Sembilan v Felda United 2-0 Goran Jerkovic, Nizam Ruslan) 2,006
Terengganu v Melaka United 0-2 (Saifi Mustafa, Ahmad Shafeizi) 350

Ok let's not talk about the attendances at these games, dreadful though they were. Kedah, T Team, Felda United, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor and Kelantan are through to the knock out rounds while the two remaining slots will be taken by the victors from the group of death where Perak, PKNS, PDRM and JDT are all in with a shout of going through


Balestier Khalsa v Albirex Niigata 0-1 (Rui Kamada)
DPMM v Warriors 3-0 (OG, Rafael Ramazotti, Paulo Sergio)

Albirex Niigata go four points clear after edging Balestier Khalsa last night. Five games remaining with a potential title decider, Albirex v Tampines, the final game of the season at the end of October.


Money Can Buy Success, It Can't Buy Tradition

These are undoubtedly exciting times to be a Johor Darul Ta'zim fan. The Malaysian club are odds on favourites to lift the Super League for the third season in a row, have already lifted the FA Cup, are through to the group stages of the AFC Cup they won last year. Hell, they even reinvigorated their Malaysia Cup campaign after beating PDRM last weekend 4-1 at the Larkin Stadium.

A 4-0 thumping of the same opponents at the same stadium inched the champions one step closer to the title but the club owner, the crown prince of the state of Johor, took to the club's website, as he often does, to criticise the club's supporters after a crowd of less than 8,000 saw the game. In an wide ranging interview the crown prince said he was disappointed with the number of people who saw the PDRM game and even went at one stage to suggest he would not always be involved in the football club as he had other 'agendas'.

'I am very disappointed with the attendance at the stadium because when we first started building this club together back in 2013, I saw a lot of potentials and could generate alot of income for the club. However, when I see the attitude of fans I become very disheartened. When I announced the building of a new stadium with a capacity of 35,000 people everyone ask why only 35,000 and that it should be bigger. Last night’s attendance did’t (sic) even reach 7,000 fans. 

This is not the first time it has happened. I have realised this since the beginning of the season and also last year. To those who can’t accept what I am doing, that is your problem, but if want your club to progress and excel, you need to do your part as fans. Don’t just wait for matches against big teams. Regarding online ticketing system, we are in the final stages in implementing the system to ease everyone’s problem. Once implemented, if the attendance is still low, I will just build a stadium with a capacity of 10,000!

For now, I am unsure how much longer I will be with football as I have other agenda but we will see how it goes. For now, the fire is still burning within me but let me see the situation as there are many more mission and vision that I wish to implement for the state that I love very much.'
As I have written before, Johor Darul Ta'zim have become bigger than Malaysia and much of that is down to the royal interest in the football club. Pablo Aimar may have attracted the headlines for click happy newspapers and fans with stars in their eyes but the real work at the football club has gone on behind the scenes and off the radar with facilities and infrastructure without par in Malaysia. They are, along with the likes of Muang Thong United and perhaps Buriram United one of the few football clubs that can be described as professional. Interestingly the birth of Buriram United was also made possible through the drive and deep pockets of one man.
Ostensibly JDT and Buriram United have their roots in other clubs (Johor FA and Johor FC, PEA and Buriram FC) but as far as the fans are concerned they are all but new entities; they came to the party attracted by the wealth and glamour of rich owners, keen to replicate the Chelsea/Manchester City model in their own backyard. They discovered football when the money poured in. 

At a JDT game a couple of years back a fan told me proudly 'we are die hard supporters' as we discussed travelling up to KL for an away game together. He was indeed a die hard supporter, and a friendly one at that, but he had only been coming to football since the crown prince had gotten involved. He was a football fan but the existing local sides held no appeal for him and thousands like him. He had seen what football could be like on TV and he wanted to be part of something similar and who could blame him? I had been to Larkin Stadium before royalty added its stardust and it wasn't pretty (see picture left). And compare with this short video from 2014!

JDT fans have only known success. They have only been around a couple of seasons and they don't know what failure is. They don't know what it is like to escape relegation to the 3rd tier FAM League on the last day of the season away to Sungai Ara or play out season after season of mediocrity and mid table finishes. And even if that was the fare their team was dishing up, as we are seeing with Selangor this season, the fans just ain't interested. They vote with their feet. As Dez Corkhill writes in his seminal piece about Malaysian football culture 'is football in Malaysia truly the people’s game?' He suggests not, citing the lack of a grass roots culture among other areas lacking in Malaysian football.
JDT are successful and rightly so because of all the hard work on and off the field but it is easy for fans to become blase. Who remembers the arrogance of Manchester United and Chelsea fans when they were winning all before them and who can say hand on heart they didn't enjoy feasting on schadenfreude last season? I'm not suggesting for a minute of course JDT fans have become arrogant; all fans develop a streak after winning a few games, it is part of the game's appeal after all and a chance to forget the humdrum existence most of us lead with our shitty jobs and 'cheap holidays in other people's misery.'
While JDT fans have become a little bit too comfortable with the idea of winning trophies as a right, hundreds of miles to the south east there is a football club that is kept alive only in the hearts of its supporters. Persebaya, founded in 1927, based in Indonesia's second city of Surabaya, have been missing from the patchwork football map of recent years as the ugly head of politics plays kick around with the supporters. 
Persebaya fans have seen their name usurped by outside, their supporters name usurped by outsiders and the club all but fall off the map but they have continued to wear their badge with a pride and passion that must have football clubs around the world casting envious glances.
In recent months 35,000 Persebaya fans turned up for a legends game at 10 November Stadium (pictured left) that was called off at half time as they spilled on to the pitch to mob their heroes. 3,000 travelled to Jakarta to picket a PSSI congress and to sleep in an empty stadium, to keep the name out there and in the public domain. And today? Today a game featuring a Persebaya Under 16 side against a local school was postponed before it could start as thousands of fans descended on the field to see someone, anyone wear their beloved badge, Some estimates suggest 10,000. For an Under 16 team!
Persebaya fans, the Bonek, aren't starved of success. They have been starved of football for about as long as JDT have been in existence. They have their legends. Players like Andik Vermansyah, Mat Halil, Anang Ma'aruf, Mursyid Effendi, Yusuf Ekodono. They have their heroic tales like the time thousands travelled by train to Bandung, in the carriages, on the roofs. Persebaya fans have everything JDT fans don't have. But then JDT fans have everything the Persebaya fans don't have. If only someone, somewhere could combine the two...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Persib Fans Unhappy At Going Solo

If the Indonesia Soccer Championship has been anything it has been good for groundhoppers with a number of clubs being forced to play their home games at different venues.

PS TNI started the trend. They played their opening two games at Siliwangi Stadium (left) in Bandung but then decided they would move their base to Pakansari Stadium in Cibinong, near Bogor where they get to use a new stadium that stands mostly empty for their home games.

Persib have also been forced to scratch around for a stadium. They started the campaign at Si Jalak Harapat in Soreang before switching to Bandung Lautan Api Stadium when the former had to be closed for renovations ahead of the National Games which West Java is hosting.

The BLA Stadium was used for a couple of games before that too was shut for renovations and they were forced to look elsewhere before deciding to share Pakansari Stadium. However that looks to be a short term option too as they have been told they can't use it for the Arema game. The reason? It too is being renovated ahead of the National Games!

Manahan Stadium has been suggested for future home games, including Arema but Persib fans reject this idea. They say the city of Solo is closer to Malang than it is to Bandung and there would be more away fans at the game, putting their team at a disadvantage. They suggest Ciamis!

Then of course there is Persija who move from stadium to stadium with monotony every season. They started 2016 at the Bung Karno with 50,000 watching them play Semen Padang. Their last home game against Mitra Kukar was played in Solo with about 3,500 watching. Before that they played a home game against Madura United in Madura and looking ahead they were tempted to pay their home game against PSM in Makassar!

\Now we have news that Arema themselves maybe playing the occasional home game at the Gajayana Stadium in Malang following a request from the city mayor. It could make sense. Gajayana is a decent stadium in the centre of the city and is easier to get to than the Kanjuruhan Stadium which has a bigger capacity but is hard to get to. And with Arema fans not exactly filling the stadium despite the decent form their team has been showing maybe the city centre option might entice a few more to attend the games.

I guess if the frequent stadium changes highlight anything it is the dearth of decent venues across the country and of course the lack of club owned stadia but then that is unlikely to happen any time soon!


BS United Hope To Sign South Korean

Bhayangkara Surabaya United's training sessions have been lonely places recently for coach Ibnu Grahan. With players being dropped from the squad, others called up for national team duties and still more off at copper training school training to be policemen there haven't been too many to run between the cones and share the banter.

The club hope to add one player to the squad with South Korean Lee Yu Jun arriving in Surabaya. He formerly played in Brazil and his home land and he could replace Timor Leste's Paulo Helber who hasn't fulfilled his potential in the eyes of the club.

Lee would follow the arrival of Alfin Tuasalamony, the former Persebaya full back who was recently added to the squad. Alfin was part of the SAD project in Uruguay as weel as playing for Belgian side CS Vise when it was owned by Indonesians. The 23 year old is now in his second spell with the club and will be hoping to recapture the form that made him such a talented teenager.

Lee and Alfin won't have many players to share those keepy uppy moments with. Evan Dimas, Putu Gede, M Hargianto, Zulfandi and Indra Kahfi are being looked at by national team coach Alfred Riedl while others like Sahrul Kurniawan, M Fatchu Rochman and wahyu Suboo Seto are looking to join the boys in brown.

Fatchu seems to be having a right laugh training to be a copper. As with the other cadets he has had his head shaved and he told reporters recently he had been asked by the commander whether he was comfortable or not. Fatchu said yes, he was comfortable and the commander slapped him and called him a liar. Next he was asked if the food was delicious and again the 21 year old defender said yes. He was called a liar and slapped again!

BS United have surprised many this season and while they have lost their last two games, away to Semen Padang and at home to Persipura , they are still in fifth place and in Rudi Widodo they have one of the ISC's top local scorers while Thiago Furtuoso and Otavio Dutra have been the pick of the foreign contingent.

This Friday Grahan and his team make the short journey to Persela in the hope of getting their season back on track against the ISC's bottom side.


Arema Keep Mum On Milo Future

Arema say they will not make any decision on the future of coach Milomir Seslija until the Indonesia Soccer Championship season has ended. Despite winning the Bali Island Cup and the Piala Bhayangkara since arriving in Malang the club are reluctant to make any long term decision regarding his position.

With Arema having started the ISC so well, they are second two points behind leaders Madura United, Milo has reportedly been attracting interest from other clubs including Persipura who only recently appointed Angel Alfredo Vera to replace Jafri Sastra. It is unclear whether the Persipura link came before Vera took over of after.

If Arema do win the ISC then it seems the club will 'probably' extend Milo's contract but they are wary of his potential demands. Robert Alberts won the Indonesia Super League with Arema in 2009/10 but  his contract wasn't extended apparently because of his wage demands. He left, the team broke up and Arema won nothing until Milo arrived.

It does seem an odd idea that foreign coaches should expect a pay rise after winning the title. The impudence!


Military Sides Find Form In Indonesia & Malaysia

Indonesia Soccer Championship

PS TNI v Pusamania 3-1 (Aldino Herdianto, Wiganda Pradika, Tambun Naibaho; Pedro Javier)

Malaysia Premier League

ATM v Negeri Sembilan 3-2 (Sirojidden Rakhmatullaev, Khasan Abdukarimov, Rafizol Rosman; Taylor Regan, Nizam Rusman) 319
Kuala Lumper v UiTM 2-1 (Diego Inostroza, Jonathon Cantilla; Raslam Khan) 225
DRB Hicom v Kuantan 2-2 (Cedric Mbaga, Ivan babic; Srdjan Vidakovic, Shazalee Ramlee) 250


Match Day 15 By Numbers + Podcast

Match Day 15

Semen Padang v Bhayangkara Surabaya United 2-1 (Marcel Sacremento, Irsyad Maulana; Thiago Furtuoso) 5,450
Gresik United v Persija 2-2 (M Rifqi, Oh Inkyun; Gunawan Dwi Cayho 2) 3,407
Persiba v Perseru 1-2 (Siswanto; Yoksan Ama, Ronaldo Meosi) 1,923
Madura United v Persela 2-1 (Slamet Nurchayo, Pablo Rodrigues; OG) 4,517
Persib v Barito Putera 2-0 (Atep, Zulham Zumrun) 22,783
Persipura v Mitra Kukar 1-0 (Thiago Fernandez) 12,152
PSM v Bali United 4-0 (Ferdinand Sinaga 2, Ridwan Tawainella, Rasyid Bakri) 4,765
Sriwijaya v Arema 1-1 (Hilton Moreira; Cristian Gonzales) 17,500
PS TNI v Pusamania 3-1 (Aldino Herdianto, Wiganda Pradika, Tambun Naibaho; Pedro Javier)

16  goals were scored by foreign players
10  goals were scored by Indonesian players
Biggest Crowd - 22,783 Arema v Bali United
Lowest Crowd - 1,923 Perseru v Persib
Top Scorer - 12 Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera), 11 Pablo Rodrigues (Madura United), Marcel Sacremento (Semen Padang), 8 Shogei Matsunaga (Persiba), Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya)
Average attendance 5,798
Biggest winning margin season to date - Sriwijaya v PS TNI 6-1, Sriwijaya v Madura United 5-0, Pusamania v Gresik United 5-0
Highest scoring game season to date - Persipura v Barito Putera 5-4
Biggest attendance season to date - Persija v Semen Padang 50,117
Lowest attendance season to date - 1,135 Madura United v Bali United

1 - Madura United 15 10 3 2 25-15 33
2 - Arema 15 9 4 2 20-6 31
3 - Sriwijaya 15 7 6 2 25-10 267
4 - Semen Padang 15 8 2 5 23-13 26
5 - BS United 15 8 2 5 22-17 26

Saturday, August 13, 2016


Today's Podcast - Spasojevic Scores When He Wants!

Today's podcast looks at goals and who is going to score them at this year's ASEAN Football Federation Championships. With foreign strikers leading the way in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore who can the national teams turn to?

We also look at last night's action in the Malaysia Cup and Indonesia Soccer Championship as well as genuine thrills and spills in the SLeague. Check it out on Periscope and Soundcloud!

Who are the top local scorers?

8 - Fahreez Farhan (Young Lions)
7 - Fazrul Nawaz (Tampines Rovers)
5 - Ferdinand Sinaga (PSM), Rudi Widodo (Bhayangkara Surabaya United, Irsyad Maulana (Semen Padang), Khairul Nizam (Home United)
(still searching for top Malaysian scorers!)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016


Match Day 14 By Numbers

Match Day 14

Bhayangkara Surabaya United v Persipura 1-2 (Thiago Furtuoso; Marinus Maryianto, Boas Solossa) 5,060
Persija v Mitra Kukar 1-1 (Soon Hak; Abdul Gani) 3,327
Sriwijaya v PS TNI 6-1 (Alberto Goncalves 4, Hilton Moreiria 2; Erwin Ramdani) 10,055
Arema v Bali Unitd 1-0 (Arif Suryono) 10,701
PSM v Gresik United 3-2 (Rasyid Bakri, Tawain, Ferdinand Sinaga; Agus Indra Kurniwan 2) 4,563
Pusamania v Barito Putera 4-1 (Edilson Tavares 3, Pedro Javier; Dendy Santoso) 3,054
Semen Padang v Madura United 3-1 (Marcel Sacremento 3; Fabiano Beltrame) 5,825
Persela v Persiba 1-2 (Dendi Sulistyawan; Shohei Matsanaga; Antonio Teles) 
Perseru v Persib 1-0 (Gakou Amadou) 2,891

19  goals were scored by foreign players
12  goals were scored by Indonesian players
Biggest Crowd - 10,701 Arema v Bali United
Lowest Crowd - 2,891 Perseru v Persib
Top Scorer - 12 Luis Carlos Junior (Barito Putera), 10 Pablo Rodrigues (Madura United), Marcel Sacremento (Semen Padang), 8 Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya)
Average attendance
Biggest winning margin season to date - Sriwijaya v PS TNI 6-1, Sriwijaya v Madura United 5-0, Pusamania v Gresik United 5-0
Highest scoring game season to date - Persipura v Barito Putera 5-4
Biggest attendance season to date - Persija v Semen Padang 50,117
Lowest attendance season to date - 1,135 Madura United v Bali United

1 - Arema 14 9 3 2 19-5 30
2 - Madura United 14 9 3 2 23-15 30
3 - Sriwijaya 14 7 5 2 24-9 26
4 - BS United 14 8 2 4 21-15 26

Sunday, August 07, 2016


Beto Hits Four As Sriwijaya Rout PS TNI

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Sriwijaya v PS TNI 6-1 (Alberto Goncalves 4, Hilton Moreira 2; Erwin Ramdani)
Perseru v Persib 1-0 (Gakou Amadou)

Malaysia Super League

Kedah v Selangor 1-0 (Bang Seong Hwan) 10,064
Sarawak v Penang 0-2 (Faizat Ghazali, Sathesivam) 1,496
Kelantan v T Team 2-0 (Badni Radzi, Wander Luiz) 7,212
Perak v JDT 0-1 (Jorge Peryra Diaz)
PDRM v Pahang 1-0
Felda United v Terengganu 2-2 (Zah Rahan, Shukor Adan; Issey Nakajima, Ashari)

Saturday, August 06, 2016


Black Pearls End BS United Winning Streak

Indonesia Soccer Championship

Bhayangkara Surabaya United v Persipura 1-2 (Thiago Furtuoso; Marinus Maryianto, Boas Solossa)

An eventful game in Sidoarjo saw misfiring Persipura end BS United's five game winning run thanks to Boas Solossa's injury time winner. Marinus, on a yellow, swept home Boas's cross to give the visitors the lead on 52 minutes and he celebrated by taking his shirt off. He spent the rest of the game ruing that decision as he received a second yellow and walked.

Thiago equalised in the last minute, driving home off the underside of the bar from close range, with his third goal in five games but it was not enough to earn the home side a point. Boas's first touch gave him the space to finish with BS United keeper Tri Wahyu beating the ground in frustration. Perhaps he could have done more but credit to Boas for his technique.

Persija v Mitra Kukar 1-1 (Hong Soon Hak; Abdul Gamal)

A much better performance by Persija in their first game post Paolo Camargo. With Jan Saragih taking charge temporarily and Mitra Kukar having Jafri Sastra in the dug out for the first time both sets of players had things to prove and to be fair they dished up a decent game that would leave no fan questioning their commitment.

The Kemayoran Tigers purred, especially in the first half as Ade JJantra and Amrizal Umanailo were given free reign to get at the visitors defence, It wasn't until the second half when Persija finally took the lead, their second goal in two games, with Soon rifling home a fee kick from 25 yards.

Persija weren't able to hold on to their lead and when they failed to clear a corner in the 76th minute defender Abdul Gamal drove home from 20 yards through a crowded penalty area. Mitra Kukar could have won it in injury time. Breaking from a corner, they were three on three against a backpedalling Persija defence but substitute Yogi Rahadian made a boo boo, electing to go for personal glory rather than giving the ball to a better placed team mate.

Malaysia Premier League

Perlis v DRB HICOM 1-0 896
KL v Kuantan 2-2 (Diego Inostroza 2; Shahrul Aizat 2) 110
UiTm v Melaka United 2-3 (John Matkin, Syafiq Syezwan; Ilija Spasojevic 3) 290
Sabah v ATM 1-0 Maxsius Musa) 1,300
Negeri Sembilan v Sime Darby 1-1 Alex Smith; Faizal Aziz) 1,898
JDT II v PKNS 1-0 (Paolo Rangel) 3,252

1 - Melaka United 17 13 3 1 41-20 42
2 - JDT II 17 12 1 4 37-19 37
3 - PKNS 17 10 3 4 39-23 33

22 - Ilija Spasojevic (Melaka United)
17 - Paolo Rangel (JDT II)


DPMM v Albirex Niigata 2-1 (Rafael Ramazotti, Yura Indera Putra; Rui Kamada)
Young Lions v Balestier Khalsa 1-3 (Adam Swandi; Niko Tokic, Miroslav Kristic, Fadli Kamis)

1 - Albirex Niigata 17 12 2 3 39-14 38
2 - Tampines Rovers 17 11 4 2 36-20 37

13 - Rafael Ramazotti (DPMM), Ken Ilso (Home United)
12 - Atshuti Kawata (Albirex Niigata)
11 - Jonathon Behe (Warriors)

Friday, August 05, 2016


Ramdani Returns As Persija Look To End Barren Run

Today's podcast looks at the return of the SLeague, Persija's caretaker coach and the 12 year old Persebaya fan who skipped school to travel to Jakarta to take part in a demo! Available on Periscope and Souncloud...


Trust In Youth Brings Rewards For Patient Military Sides

Besides resembling letters that have fallen off a scrabble board there is little in common for Malaysia's ATM and Indonesia's PS TNI. Except their military backgrounds of course and their shockingly poor starts to their respective campaigns.

PS TNI are in their first season as a proper football club with the army FA taking over Persiram ahead of the ISC after flirting with PSMS during the endless competitions that filled the vacuum left by the halting of football last year. 

With Eduard Tjong at the helm, PS TNI started the season telling all and sundry they would not bother with hiring any foreign players, instead preferring to try promising young players drawn from the military plus one or two more experienced older heads. 

It wasn't a particularly auspicious start to the season as the military backed side drew three and lost five of their opening games and it wasn't until a 1-0 reverse against Persija that they started to show some semblance for spine and rhythm. Their first win came in early July when they defeated fellow stragglers Persela 3-1 with goals from Suhandi, Erwin Ramdani and Wawan Febrianto, an alumni of the project that saw the PSSI send a number of promising players to Uruguay for an extended stint. Tjong was replaced by Suharto when he was called up for the national Under 19 side but the hard work on the training field continued to bear fruit.

They managed to follow that win with another in their next home game, defeating Barito Putera 2-1 with Febrianto and Ramdani again getting on the score sheet.Nothing improves confidence like winning, for all the dogged determination they had shown against Persija they had still lost, and PS TNI went to Bali for Match Day 12 knowing they were facing a team yet to lose on home soil. Again Ramdani was on the score sheet, giving the military side the lead on 10 minutes and when Manahati Lestusen doubled the lead on 55 minutes they looked set fair for their first away win on their travels. Alas it was not to be with Bail United mounting a fightback and sharing the spoils.

With the win in their sails perhaps we should not be surprised PS TNI came from behind to defeat leaders Arema last time out, goals from Tambun Naibaho, his third of the campaign, and Aldino Herdianto securing yet another three points and this weekend they travel to Palembang to face Sriwijaya in good form and feeling confident about facing one of the top sides in the ISC.

But while PS TNI are most definitely the new kids on the block in Indonesia, Malaysia's ATM have been around a bit longer. In fact before Johor Darul Ta'zim really took off ATM were known as the Manchester City of Malaysia in recognition of the way they were throwing the cash at players. They won the Premier League and the Malaysia Cup in 2012 and followed that up with the Charity Shield in 2013,,.a heady few months for the handful of fans they had at the time. 

With success came support and ATM were being talked about as the next big thing in Malaysia but it didn't happen. It rarely does. Hype is ten-a-penny, just look at how Pahang have fallen away so quickly, as football clubs rely on the amount of effort, and cash, the top brass are prepared to invest.

With apathy on high the fans attracted by the sweet aroma of success and ralgex disappeared as quickly as they came and ATM finished 11th in the Super League inn 2015 with just two wins from their 22 games. They lost a play off 2-1 to T Team which relegated them and saw the Terengganu side take their place and with their lowly status confirmed the club set about recruiting for the 2016 season in the Premier League. The likes of Jerry Palcios and Mario Karlovic were released and young players were drafted in from the various arms of the military. 

They lost their first game of the season 6-1 away to big spending Perlis and the tone was set. Their next game saw them lose to Sime Darby 3-0 in front of 100 fans and the victors that evening haven't managed a win since. Heavy loss followed heavy loss as ATM crumbled 5-1 away to JDT II and 5-0 away to Negeri Sembilan. It wasn't until April that ATM were able to play a home game but by then what support they had was gone...just 38 bothered turning out to see them lose at home to Sabah. 

Zaironi's 88th minute equaliser gave ATM a new experience...a point after they managed to hold on for a share of the spoils away to UiTM and as the Premier League wound down ahead of a two month break more heavy defeats followed, 5-1 away to ATM and 6-0 at home to leaders Melaka United.

A rare sight these days...ATM fans
The transfer window saw ATM back in teh market for foreign players with three being brought in fro Kazakhstan and one from Uzbekistan and it seems their arrival has lifted the younger players. ATM's first win of the season came against DRB HICOM as goals from Aifa and Boris Fomenkov, one of the Kazakh contingent, gave the fans in Temerloh something to cheer about. 

A 0-0 draw away to Kuantan was followed by another victory, this time new signing Khasan Abdukarimov was on the score sheet, he hit two as ATM defeated fellow strugglers UiTm 3-1. Seven points from three games? This was unheard of and as with PS TNI in Indonesia, the young players seemed to feed off the older heads as well as the results and next time out they drew 3-3 with high flyers Kuala Lumpur. Having spent 14 weeks rooted to bottom spot of the Premier League ATM have reached the dizzying heights of 11th in the 12 team league and most definitely have UiTM in their sights despite boasting the worst goal difference in the competition.

In an era when fans and clubs demand instant success it is heartening to see clubs like PS TNI and ATM give a chance to younger players. Players who would normally be shunted from club to club without making an impact till they approach their 30s and the twilight of their career is closer than the dawn. Yes, both clubs maybe special cases but the fact that young players are exposed to to flight football on a regular basis can only develop their careers, if they can overcome the stigma of loss after loss and judging by recent performances it seems the players can.

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