Friday, April 28, 2017


Semen Padang's Tasty Clash With Persipura

We are into the third weekend of the new Liga 1 season and sadly the headlines so far have been of the familiar sort; poor refereeing decisions, an inconvenient fixture list and the precariousness of coaches. The former will never go away, the latter is a disgrace but a disgrace that has become the norm and the middle? Yeah, whatever.

Week 3 kicks off with Madura United hosting Mitra Kukar at their new Ratu Pamelingan Stadium. For the lazy EPLophiles this game brings together Peter Odemwingie and Mohamed Sissoko. For those of us whose interest in the Indonesian game goes a bit deeper than a quest for clicks it is a game that highlights the futility of reading too much into early league tables.

Madura United have won one, lost one and sit 10th, their visitors are 14th with just 1 point. Both have scored two goals and both are within reach of the cluster of sides gathered at the top on 4 points. Mitra Kukar's last game, at home to PSM ended controversially with them being awarded a last minute penalty which they successfully converted to earn a point. PSM have since filed an official complaint about the referee in that game.

Madura United will probably be without Greg Nwokolo so much of their offensive threat is likely to come from Odemwingie with the Nigerian already on the score sheet. Coach Gomes de Oliviera will be looking to the likes of Dane Milovanic, Bayu Gatra and Slamet Nur Cahyo to get forward in support. At the back he is likely to be without the experienced Fabiano Beltrame and Redouane Zerzouri who both had to be replaced in their last game against Persela after picking up injuries.

Still, Gomes is confident going into the game. 'Mitra Kukar didn't do anything special in their last game. We have the momentum after winning (against Persela) and we are playing at home'.

Tonight's other game sees Semen Padang host Persipura. SP of course have been strengthened by the arrival of their own marquee player, Didier Zokora. They are one of a bunch of teams at the top of the table on four points having followed their opening game draw with Sriwijaya with a 3-1 win away to Gresik United.

Up front Vendry Mofu and Marcel Sacremento have hit the ground running, three goals between them already while the Brazilian boasts two assists under his belt. The fact Semen Padang have traditionally been strong at home will no doubt count in their favour but the susperstitious won't want to be reminded the last they lost a league game at home was 29th April 2014 against Arema.

Persipura are of course Persipura. A late run saw them crowned champions of the Indonesia Soccer Championship last season and while they may have rewarded coach Angel Alfredo Vera with the sack on the eve of the new season for his achievements they will still pose a threat, especially with Boas Solossa starting the campaign in fine form.

Surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Gresik United in their opening game of the season, Persipura travelled to Bali for their second game and took maximum points with a 2-1 win. But while the coaches may come and go the backbone of the team remains the same with keeper Yoo Jae Hoon from South Korea joining in 2010 (apart from sshort spells with Bali United and Pusamania he has been there ever since). In front of him are more familiar names; Boas of course, Nelson Alom, Ian Louis Kabes plus, plus. No matter the coach, the core remains the same, the foreigners fill the gaps.

With Semen Padang formidable at home and Persipura's relentless consistency this promises to be a cracker of a game and a great start to a thrilling weekend of action.

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