Monday, January 02, 2017


Ajax Youth Dreams Of Wearing Indonesian Shirt

A 19 year old enjoying a year end holiday in Indonesia has been attracting an inordinate amount of column inches in local football papers. Ezra Walian is his name and he plays for Jong Ajax, the Dutch giants second string team. He has also represented the Netherlands at a number of age group levels. Hardly reason enough for all the headlines. But all the local interest, and it goes right to the sports ministry, revolves around the fact Walian's old man hails from Manado, a city in North Sulawesi.

The young striker is under contract to Ajax for the rest of the season and has made no secret of his affection for Indonesia or his desire to line up for the land of his father. Back in 2014 he was asking if Indonesia had an Under 17 side on social media! And following a trial game over the last couple of days the sports minister has proposed Ezra be put forward for naturalisation. If this is fast tracked could we see the Ajax alumni in the SEA Games later this year?

Walian says even though he has played at a number of levels for the Netherlands it has long been his dream to play for Indonesia. 'I'm not going to lie. I really want to be an Indonesian. I feel comfortable when I come here.'

He played for 45 minutes in an exhibition game at a military base which was watched by a number of PSSI officials including new head Edy Rahmayadi. But that was not his first experience of playing in South East Asia. Back in 2012 he was part of the Ajax B2 side that played in the Lion City Cup in Singapore where he scored seven goals including two against Manchester City and two in the final against the hosts.

Also lining up in the game in Cijantung was Martunis who made headlines around the world after he survived the Aceh tsunami and was photographed wearing a Cristiano Ronaldo shirt. The Portuguese later got in touch and arranged for him to join the Sporting Lisbon academy.

Martunis's contract in Lisbon ended in June and he is still waiting to hear of it will be extended or not! While he waits there are clubs from Indonesia and Malaysia reportedly waiting in the wings to sign him.

While Ezra returns to the Netherlands to resume training with Jong Ajax Indonesian embassies across Europe and the Middle East have been told to look out for promising young footballers who could join the national team set up with a couple of possibilities apparently with Valencia CF.and Andri Syahputra in Qatar.

Whether this means we can expect another flood of naturalised players in the national team remains to be seen. We have been here before with the likes of Kim Kurniawan, Greg Nwokolo and Bio Paulin. Yet when it came to the recent AFF Suzuki Cup Indonesian reached the final with a side cobbled together by coach Alfred Riedl without any 'imported' players.

With Ezra's holiday over he may disappear from the sports pages for a while. But his desire to play for Indonesia seems sincere and with the sports ministry starting the ball rolliing it could be a matter of time before he has the opportunity to wear the merah putih.

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