Monday, June 26, 2017


FAS Dump Management Speak For Football!

In recent years the Football Association of Singapore has seemed less like a body tasked with developing the worlds most popular sport in one of the world’s richest countries and more like Yes Prime Minister writ large. A tragic comedy where doing nothing is the name of the game, cunningly disguised by meaningless business school speak aimed at impressing the gullible. 

Sir Humphrey Appleby, the master at using a large number of words to say very little,  has been alive and well and running football in Singapore. Well, now his time is over. We have a new Sherrif in town and early indications suggest they have an understanding of football and what could be needed to remedy the near decade of institutional contempt that is the legacy of the last bunch. 

We are hearing people talk about 12 teams in the SLeague again. About time too. Nine clubs in a professional league is nonsense. Bring back the likes of Woodlands Wellington, Gombak United and Tanjong Pagar United.  End this nonsense of clubs being asked to drop out of the League for the greater good.

Admiralty v Summerville, NFL
It is also good to see people sitting up and taking notice of the National Football League. Ok so it isn’t much more than a social league but there are some well run clubs there who may fancy mixing it with the big boys. Not every club of course but why not offer the opportunity to those who want it by introducing a form.of promotion relegation between the 2 leagues. Mix it up a bit. As it stands clubs could be playing each other 5 times a season.. .do you know how boring that can be?

We are unlikely to see a return to 5 figure attendances that greeted the SLeague when it started, Neglect and satellite TV broadcasting games from around the world 24/7 has seen to that, But there is no reason why we can’t see crowds of 3000 plus on a regular basis

It’s alo good to see outside experts being consulted. God knows we have seen what inside knowledge has done in recent years. Listen to them. Engage stakeholders, not cos it’s a cool phrase but because so many people have a love for the game and want to have a voice. And I don’t mean just the gambling firms. Talk with fan groups like Hougang Hools who started following a highly unfashionable team at a time when others were jumping ship. They stuck by their team, their league. They deserve to be heard.

There won t be any overnight change in Singapore football. Hell there may be none. But at least we are seeing signs that there are people now involved who have an understanding of the game. We have not had that for several years. A positive article about Singapore football? Yeah, perhaps I am clutching at straws but I would love to see an across the board improvement in the way the game is viewed on the island and perhaps a new FAS may start the ball rolling.

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Kiatisuk Spurns Overseas Offers For Port Luck

I gotta start by saying I love Kiatisuk Senamuang. He was one of the first Asian footballers I became familiar with when I moved to Thailand in the early 1990s. He was a fantastic ambassador for Thai football, not a bad player and made difficult career choices, moving to Huddersfield, because he felt his game would improve. And having seen him exude with and charm in press conferences has only increased my pathetic man love for him.

Out of work since stepping down as coach of the Thai national team earlier this year, Zico, as he is popularly known, was recently appointed coach of Port in the Thai top flight. I don't have a favourite team in this part of the world but if I did it would probably be Port FC as I lived round the corner from their PAT Stadium for several years (but never saw a game!).

So when a guy you respect is appointed to a club you have a soft spot there is a certain warm glow inside one's body, as well as a possible trip to Bangkok to take in a game or two.

A number of clubs in Indonesia were linked with Zico before he appointed coach of Port including Persib while he admits there was also interest from Malaysia. However it seems there was little to no hope of him heading outside of Thailand to coach. Why? 

'I received several offers to coach teams from outside Thailand,' he explains, 'but I don't want to go there because I don't want to coach a team that could play against either the Thai national team or a Thai club side in the future'.

It seems a daft reason from such a well travelled football person. With one of his star players in the national team Chanathip heading to Japan you can be sure coach and player would have discussed the pros and cons and playing outside the comfort zone and it is difficult to believe a man who played in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam would have so easily dissed the chance to go abroad.

The chances are of course Port simply offered more money. Zico's quote, if indeed he did say that, would have been made to a Thai audience brought up on the importance of 'Thainess' and it would have gone down well with the flag wavers and face painters who put love of country above everything else.

There could be another reason. Despite his stellar record with the Thai national team and the Under 23s Zico remains unproven in the domestic league with underwhelming stints at Chula United (twice) and half a season at second tier Bangkok. Only a season at Chonburi has seen him competing with the very best Thai football has too offer. He remains very much unproven as a club side coach. Maybe he sees an opportunity with Port to burnish his coaching credentials at a mid table side.

All conjecture of course. It would be great to see Kiatisuk coaching in Indonesia one day and I hope he hasn't fully closed the door on the opportunity.


Clubs Pay Hefty Price For Fan & Player Misbehaviour

Everyone says it. The atmosphere at an Indonesian league game is the best in South East Asia. Players come, fall in love with it and become coaches. A full terrace singing and dancing as one is, for me at least, one of the must sees in this diverse country.

At the same time there is always that feeling that under the surface something is likely to kick off. It could take a poor decision from the match officials, a sense of injustice or just some supporters misbehaving, flouting the rules, succumbing to a herd mentality. Sadly when this happens the terrace that can produce a scene of such colour and vibrancy can quickly turn into a less desirable place to be or to witness.

Fortunately the 2017 season hasn't had the number of serious outbreaks of crowd disorder we have witnessed in recent years. But that hasn't stopped clubs feeling the wrath of the PSSI disciplinary committee who sit in justice on a regular basis and hand out fines like a vending machine dishing out chocolate. And with authorities clamping down on flares and smoke bombs, some may argue they are an essential part of the match day experience, they are being kept busy.

As we are now in a break for the end of the fasting month it is a good time to which clubs have been hit hardest by the PSSI and how much the actions of their supporters, and their ill disciplined players, are costing.

For those unfamiliar with Indonesian money Rp 1 million = 59 GBP or USD 75.

Rp 150 million - Persib
Rp 50 million - Persija
Rp 45 million - Gresik United
Rp 35 million - Persebaya, Perssu
Rp 25 million - Arema, Persis
Rp 20 million - Persikabo, Persip
Rp 15 million - Persipur

A further 16 clubs have been fined Rp 10 million for various offences. Let's hope the money goes to useful causes!

SOURCE - the excellent Instagram account Pengamat Sepakbola

Saturday, June 24, 2017


Should Singapore Be Turning Japanese?

With Indonesian football shut down for a couple of weeks to mark the end of the fasting month my thoughts have turned to Singapore. For a while now I have been meaning to do an article about the state of the national team and the need for a new mind set and a result from last night, plus a dearth of stories locally, has forced my hand.

Stipe Plazibat's brace helped Home United defeated Albirex Niigata 2-0 last night, inflicting the first loss of the season on the SLeague champions. Prior to that defeat the Japanese side had gone 11 games unbeaten, winning 10 and scoring 37 goals along the way. Even after last night's defeat they have conceded just eight goals in the SLeague.

Last year Albirex managed a full house, winning the Community Shield, the League Cup, the Singapore Cup and of course the SLeague. They began 2017 in the same way, retaining the Community Shield. In 2015 they won the League Cup and the Singapore Cup.

In simple terms they have won seven out of the last nine trophies on offer in Singapore suggesting someone somewhere within the football club has the measure of the local football DNA.

Albirex Niigata are of course as Singaporean as I am. They are a Japanese owned football club, a subsidiary of Albirex Niigata in Japan. They are coached by Japanese and have only Japanese players most of whom see Singapore as a stepping stone in their career back home. An example of this is Naoki Naruo. 

He spent two years playing for Albirex Niigata in Japan among other clubs before first moving to Singapore in 2009 to coach. He returned in 2016, won everything and within hours of being crowned Coach of the Year was heading back to Japan where he is coaching the Albirex Niigata Under 18s.

Yep, the guy who came to Singapore and won everything was allowed to return to his own country to coach an age group side. Perhaps Singapore was glad to see the back of him, this pesky foreigner who breezed into town, won the lot and buggered off home again. I'm left wondering whether anyone at the FAS could place a name to the face?

Into Naruo's place has come Kazuaki Yoshinaga and he has continued in his predecessors footsteps.

Meanwhile the national team chugs along in its own sweet way. An impressive 0-0 draw away to Bahrain was followed up by a 2-1 loss at home to they even have a professional league? The Lions were knocked out of the AFF Suzuki Cup scoring just one goal in their three games. They have lost twice against Afghanistan in the last 15 months. 

Since the start of 2016 they have played 19 games, winning just three and scoring just 10 goal. Two of those wins and four of the goals have come against Myanmar!

The coach of the national team since May last year is V Sundramoorthy. The former international who spent one season playing in Switzerland was highly rated as a player, earning the nickname The Dazzler for his silky skills. He also had the distinction of playing for the national team during the halcyon 1990s when everyone supported the Lions in the Malaysia Cup. The golden age of Singapore football, the aura of that team has left its mark on the modern game with players all too often being unfairly compared with the great and the good, the legends of that time.

Given the almost saintly scent that surrounds the players from that era the FAS often feels the need to call on that generation when it feels under pressure to act feeling, rightly or wrongly, such an appointment will buy them time and or ease pressure on them to make the necessary tough decisions. A 90s vet will nearly always be met with chest bursting headlines from nostalgia driven hacks who have a name they can relate to at last. But nostalgia doesn't win trophies. Last year Naoki Naruo won trophies. Lots of them. 

It makes you wonder, doesn't it? If the old FAS had been in charge of Arsenal in the mid 1990s then the chances are they would have appointed Liam Brady as manager and not Arsene Wenger. But then the FAS don't have anyone of the calibre of David Dein, a one man LinkedIn. 

It is easy to imagine the outcry had the FAS thought out of the box and tried to find a way to involved Naruo within the national team set up but results don't lie. You can't run football through the prism of a glory age a generation ago. The world has moved on and yes football has moved on. Hopefully a new FAS will have the courage to look beyond the 1990s, and foreign journeymen, when it comes to appointing the next Singapore coach. A youthful approach embracing new ideas might be just the ticket Singapore football needs. 

Friday, June 23, 2017


Persija's Arthur Irawan Eyes Espanyol Reunion

Remember Arthur Irawan? Young Indonesian defender who went overseas to try his luck, played for Espanyol B for a while, Malaga B and Waasland Beveren in Belgium. He returned to Indonesia after a few years in Europe and is now with Persija though he has yet to play for the first team this season.

Anyway the 24 year old will be looking forward to locking horns with some of his former team mates as Persija will host Espanyol in a friendly next month at Patriot Stadium. The Spanish side are coming to Indonesia to play a couple of games, the other comes against the national Under 19 team in Bandung.

Persija will now be playing three home games in a week as the Espanyol game is sandwiched between more pressing Liga 1 games against Borneo and Persib so perhaps we could see coach Teco rotate his squad.

Espanyol have promised to bring their big names but being no fan of Spanish football I have no idea who they may be.


Sriwijaya Forced To Rearrange Perseru Clash

We are just starting an early mid season break as the country comes to a standstill and already we are seeing confusion over the fixtures in early July as we return to normal. Not too long ago Liga 1 issued a revised schedule but already that is being changed as clubs are forced to take into account local circumstances.

The first victim is Siriwjaya's home game with Perseru. Scheduled to take place 3rd July, the game has been postponed after local security officials refused to release the necessary paperwork for the game to go ahead.

Security officials say they have an ongoing programme from 19th June - 4th July to ensure security in the  Palembang area as Indonesians go mudik, return to their home cities and villages to spend time with their families at the end of the fasting month. 

An alternate date of 6th July has been proposed but Sriwijaya but now talk with Liga 1 and Perseru to see if that date is acceptable to all parties concerned. 

Rearranging games is no easy business in Indonesia. Away teams often need to book plane tickets, hotel rooms and training facilities in advance and like the rest of us the best prices come when booked in advance.

Given how far Persueru will have to travel, from Papua to South Sumatra, they will be hoping a date can be sorted as soon as possible to facilitate bookings. But we are entering the holiday period so perhaps the best thing they can do is enjoy being with their families and not eat too much!


No Future In Zainudin's Dreaming

Finally, the suits have confirmed what most of us have long known. There is no future, no future in Zainudin's dreaming. The AFC have declared the ASEAN Super League, driven by FAS officials in face of lukewarm support in the rest of the region, is over. 

The people behind the ASL have written to the AFC to say they would no longer be seeking to build an ASEAN wide league. Good. Not before time,

The plan seems to have been driven by the old Football Association of Singapore hierarchy but now they are history I guess much of the momentum has gone and the new officials there seem more keen on sorting out their own domestic football rather than meddling in other more popular leagues. 

With the Philippines starting their own league and impressing in both the AFC Cup and Singapore Cup and Indonesia working on ways to improve their own  league, already the strongest in the region if not the best, it was difficult to see the proposals going anywhere especially as they were seen as the idea of a handful of officials incapable of improving their own league.

I have just been looking back through old ASEAN Super League posts and the first one I can find was when John Dykes mentioned it on TV back in 2007, back when Jakarta Casual was a mere 12 months old. I seemed then to be more intrigued than anything but as I got to understand more about the game here I turned resolutely against the madcap scheme. 

In 2013 I recognised an ASL could have the potential to reach new local markets while highlighting the barriers in each local league, with the exception of Singapore. By the time people were suggesting a super league comprising under 23 teams and academies we all knew what we had long suspected. There was no will among ASEAN members for such a league. 

Start dates have shifted from 2014 to 2016 to 2008 to the 12th of Never and in 2015 I asked who needed an ASEAN Super League? Now the answer seems clear enough. A couple of suits in Singapore looking to build an international legacy for themselves to mask the failures of their own league.

What we see in the region isn't perfect, far from it. But there are examples of excellence amid pools of mediocrity, lessons to be learnt from those willing to return to the classroom. The new Philippines league, Johor Darul Ta'zim, even the Indian Super League. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Arema Support A Cause For Concern

Arema fans are again under the microscope after their team's average attendance has dropped below the 10,000 mark. Their six home games, four at Kanjaruhan Stadium and two at Gajayana Stadium have seen an average of just 9,257 attending. Compare that with the Indonesia Super League title winning campaign of 2009/10 when they averaged 27,860 or the following season when they pulled in 20,215. 

There were doubts raised last season when the club were in contention for the ISC but no real answer was found. 

This season and the club are scrambling for excuses as to why the Arema fans are staying away. One official blames TV and the weather. 'Many Arema home games are broadcast live on TV,' said one official. 'In addition games are played in the evening and the weather in Malang is extremely cold (ekstrem dingin).' He added there were many new players at the club who were not well known by the fans. He didn't explain why the club had done little to introduce the new faces to the support base.

Fans have their own viewpoint of course. 'It is not a question of loyalty or not being loyal to the team,' says one. 'If the number of fans has fallen the management must improve things and the team must be more consistent.' "Cos football is that easy.

Arema are sixth in the table, unbeaten at home and didn't they start the campaign on top before falling away in recent weeks? Their largest crowd of the season is less than 15,000 against Madura United. Other fans have whined about their team's inconsistency, Persib and Persija spring to mind, yet they have still come out in numbers to their home games, both averaging 20,000 plus. Even clubs like Bali United and Persela, lacking Arema's fan base and traditions, are drawing larger crowds.

Arema have scored just nine goals all season, only relegation candidates Perseru and Gresik United have scored less. But that is also the same as Persib and the fans still go to their games. 

Thai fans may look at Arema's attendances and wonder what they fuss is. Only Buriram United and Muang Thong United get bigger home gates. Four Malaysian teams are currently pulling bigger crowds than Arema. I don't have the stats for Liga 2 in Indonesia but I think it's fair to say PSS and Persebaya at least average bigger crowds than Arema.

Many, including me, like to think Arema have the potential to be one of the biggest club names in South East Asia, not just Indonesia. But that won't happen all the while they are pulling such meagre crowds and people are blaming the weather. The football club need to be sitting down with the supporters and ask why they are staying away.


Week 11 - Madura Hit Six But Reinaldo Penalty Keeps PSM Top

Madura United v Semen Padang 6-0 (Peter Odemwingie 3, Greg Nwokolo 2, Bayu Gatra) 4,180

Madura United are finding their shooting boots. This thrashing of Semen Padang put them top of Liga 1 for a week before PSM played and sent out a warning shot for the rest of the league. Admittedly their recent run of fixtures hasn't been too much of a stretch, four out of five at home, but they have won them all and scored 15 goals in the process. To Odemwingie the headlines, he now has nine goals for the season, but to Slamet Nurcahyo the praise as he had a hand in four of the goals.

Persela v Persipura 0-1 (Addison Alves) 12,536

Respect to Persela fans who turn up consistently game after game no matter how the team fares. Addison returning to his old team scored the only goal and responded by not celebrating. The perfect response to back to back defeats by the Black Pearls who continue to search for a coach after losing Liestadi.

Mitra Kukar v Gresik United 3-1 (Bayu Pradana, Mohammad Sissoko, Marclei; Patrick da Silva) 1,929

Persija v Sriwijaya 1-0 (Willian Pacheco) Behind closed doors

Four wins on the bounce for Persija, five clean sheets. Shame no fans were there to see their latest triumph and it remains to be seen where the club will play future home games. Kudos to coach Teco for turning things around, perhaps in future fans need to show some patience instead of demanding change after a couple of results don't go their way?

Arema v Bali United 2-0 (Cristian Gonzales 2) 11,430

Weren't Bali United second a couple of weeks back? Two losses and they are back in the bottom half of the table!

Perseru v PS TNI 0-1 (Sansan Husaeni) 239

After much humming and haring this game was finally played in Cibinong with Husaeni hitting his third goal of the season to secure a narrow victory for the away side. Playing at home.  Four losses in their last five games for the Papuan side. Perhaps had they invested in their stadium and its lights they would not have been forced to play home games in Java?

Barito Putera v Persib 1-0 (Matias Cordoba) 9,124

Another away game, another loss for Persib who have  now gone 360 minutes without scoring on their travels. The sooner a decision can be made about coach Djanur's future the better. Carlton Cole came on as a 14th minute substitute for Sergio van Dijk.

Persiba v Bhayangkara 1-2 (Dikir Kohn Glay; Guy Junior, Ilham Uddin Armaiyn) 4,520

Sometimes you just know who is going to win a game. I had this down as a nailed on home win as Persiba, for whatever reason, rarely lose competitive home games in Balikpapan. This year though Persiba are hapless. Short on cash they have a squad that is high on promise but low on quality and 11 games in have just one win to show for their efforts and remain rooted at the bottom of Liga 1. They have a spanking new stadium waiting but it could be hosting Liga 2 action if things don't improve.

But credit to Bhayangkara. They climbed to third after this, their third win on the road this season. Ilham Uddin scored his fourth goal of the season, an impressive start for the youngster.

PSM v Borneo 1-0 (Reinaldo) 13,975

A controversial penalty in the second half helped PSM return to the top of the table.

1 - PSM Makassar 11 7 2 2 18-9 23
2 - Madura United 11 6 4 1 22-9 22
3 - Bhayangkara    11 7 0 4 17-15 21
4 - Persipura          11 6 1 4 15-15 19

9 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United)
7 - Ivan Carlos (Persela), Reinaldo (PSM), Lerby Eliandry (Borneo)

Monday, June 19, 2017


Sriwijaya Sack Lessa After One Win In Five

There were a number of coaching appointments pre season that left me and perhaps others scratching heads in wonder. The biggest cranium scratcher for me was when Sriwijaya allowed Widodo Cahyono Putro was allowed to leave the club and Osvaldo Lessa appointed in his place.

It's not that Lessa is a stranger to Indonesia. Far from it. He worked with Persipura as fitness coach while the Black Pearls were hoovering up trophies. Then, when Jacksen F Thiago stepped down, Lessa was perhaps surprisingly, promoted to the hot seat. It didn't work out and he was soon replaced, perhaps another coach he found it difficult from being the buffer between coach and players to being the man with the final say. 

Sriwijaya see themselves as an ambitious club but not this particular season. The appointment of Lessa underwhelmed when perhaps a bigger name was needed to get the best out of a squad that mixed age (Hilton and Beto) with youthful promise (Teja Paku Alam and Ichsan Kurniawan). And the marquee player, Tunisian Tijani Belaid, has struggled to make an impact in a side that has struggled for consistency,

Laskar Wong Kito have managed just four wins all season with just one of them on their travels. To stick the knife in further that came away to Persiba in Malang. Since then they have lost three games straight on their travels.

Remove the aging Brazilian strikers from the line up and you wonder where the goals will come from. Beto and Hilton have contributed nine of the 12 Sriwijaya have scored this season. 

With football taking a two week break for the end of the fasting month Sriwijaya know they have some breathing space to appoint a new coach and give him some time to bed in. But they will need to move quickly. In the meantime Hartono Ruslan takes over as caretaker while the club from South Sumatra ponder their next move. 


Fachri Guides Under 16s Triumph In Vietnam

Tien Phong Plastics Cup 2017

Vietnam v Taiwan 5-2
Myanmar v Indonesia 1-4

Indonesia v Vietnam 1-1
Taiwan v Myanmar 2-2

Taiwan v Indonesia 0-11
Vietnam v Myanmar 0-0

1 - Indonesia 3 2 1 16-2 7
2 - Vietnam 3 1 2 0 6-3 5
3 - Myanmar 3 0 2 1 3-6 2
4 - Taiwan 3 0 1 2 3-18 1

7 - Rendy Juliansyah (ASIOP)
3 - Hamsah Lestaluhu (ASAD 313), Brylian Aldama (JSSL Chelsea)
2 - Amiruddin Bagus (JSSL Chelsea)
1 - Andre Okaviansyah (Pelita Jaya)

Player of the tournament - Hamsa Lestaluhu
Top scorer - Rendy Juliansyah
Coach of the tournament - Fachri Husaini

A pretty impressive showing by the young Indonesians as they return from Vietnam with a trophy in their hands and medals around their neck. Credit also must go to coach Fachri, a name I have been familiar with since I started covering local football 11 years ago.

Born in Lhokseumawe in Aceh province in 1965 as a player Fachri is best known for his time with Bontang where he played from 1991 to 2001. I have never been to Bontang, in East Kalimantan but those who have say it isn't the easiest place to get to being about a six hour drive from the nearest airport Balikpapan. For Fachri and his team mates that meant every away game was a trek and a half just to board the plane!

After hanging up his boots Fachri continued his involvement with Bontang coaching the side from 2008 for a number of years before getting involved with age group sides at the PSSI. Out of sight, out of mind, Fachri may only now be getting the credit his hard work deserves but if he is expecting any kind of rest he is greatly mistaken. 

After the fasting month is over he will be taking his young charges to Thailand to compete in the AFF Under 15 Championships along with the Thais, Myanmar, Laos and Australia. Hopefully the team get used to the spicey Thai food; they will be back in September for the qualifying round of the AFC Under 16 Championship when they go up against Northern Mariana Islands, Timor Leste, Thailand and Laos.

Happy days for Indonesian fans.

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Another Victory, Another Clean Sheet, Persija March On

Last night saw Persija defeat Sriwijaya 1-0 to climb up to 4th place in Liga 1, just four points behind leaders Madura United. The win was the fourth on the spin for the Macan Kemayoran and their sixth game unbeaten. A run of games that has seen them concede just one goal, that late equaliser against Mitra Kukar.

The protests that greeted that disappointing draw, with fans calling for coach Teco to step down after a disappointing start to the campaign and the club giving the coach two games to change things, have all but subsided as Persija, perhaps inspired by the recall of Bambang Pamungkas and Ramdhani Lestalahu, have turned things around so spectacularly. 

Their last defeat came away to Persela and I said at the time I felt they had played well and Teco was being treated unfairly, weighed down by the baggage of history and underachievement, and it is refreshing to see how a little bit of patience is being rewarded.

Last night's victory came courtesy of Brazilian defender William, his second in two games, with a header from an Ismed Sofyan cross. The game was played behind closed doors in Cikarang after a number of incidents of crowd trouble in Bekasi and indeed their are some concerns the team may not play anymore home games there this season.

Coach Teco's challenge now lies in keeping that winning momentum going with the team not playing another competitive game until 4th July when they travel to East Java to play Gresik United (another game that will be played behind closed doors for Gresik fans' pitch invasion against Persela). 


Bhayangkara, Persib Pay Price For Pitch Invasion

Both Bhayangkara and Persib have been fined following the pitch invasion which marred their Liga 1 game at Patriot Stadium 4th June.

Persib lost the game 2-0 making it four games without a win and a number of fans, a small number, invaded the pitch to let the players and club officials now how they felt about the poor run while in the stands flares were let off and play stopped for several minutes.

People who were at the game told me it wasn't a threatening invasion and pictures from the game showed fans with tears in their eyes as they confronted players.

Whatever the motive for encroaching on the field of play the PSSI are adopting a harsh line, witness Gresik United being forced to play behind closed doors after their fans crossed the white line.

Persib have been fined Rp 45 million for the actions of their supporters and the fans haven't got off scott free, being banned from wearing club colours to their next three games.

Bhayangkara were also fined, Rp15 million, because the pitch invasion took place at their stadium and they were responsible for security. The irony of a police owned team being punished for lack of crowd control seems to have gone unnoticed by many.

Thursday, June 15, 2017


Singapore v Argentina

In an ideal world my plan was simple. Head to Phnom Penh to watch Cambodia v Indonesia, down to Singapore for their game with Chinese Taipei before returning to Indonesia for their friendly with Puerto Rico. I would like to have caught Thailand v UAE but the Thais, in their infinite wisdom, make it difficult for foreigners to buy tickets for games, something the mainstream media, which dotes so much on the kingdom, would do well to address amid their usual fawning gumpf.

Anyway, plans are designed to be broken. Especially when you have a seven year old son at the end of the school year. Meeting his teachers meant I had to cancel Cambodia. I mean for goodness sake I am glad I came to this middle age lark now and not 20 years ago! And this seven year old, once he heard Argentina were in the manor, so to speak, was most insistent. 'Daddy, we go Singapore or no?' Yes, son.

He loves football, my little boy. But his football and mine or generations apart. He loves the big name players like Ronaldo, Messi and Reinaldo, he knows more about the latest football boots than your average shop assistant and he was telling me about Dyabala long before I knew anything about him beyond his nationality (Disclaimer - I don't watch Italian football). For MyLittleGooner football is a world of celebrities and products, everything I loathe about the game. Hell, he says if Mesut Ozil wants to leave Arsenal and can't find a new club he can come and stay with us and play football with my son after school!

Seeing football through my son's eyes is seeing modern football at its ugliest yet his thinking is perhaps more common than mine. We only had to go see Singapore v Argentina to see that. As far as a footballing experience went, and I was watching one of the  best teams in the world here, it was a non event. There was no atmosphere at all inside the stadium. Organisers wanted to #BringBackTheRoar. All we got was #TheSoundOfSilence.

Singapore's new national stadium holds 55,000. Ahead of the game organisers were saying they hold sold more than 20,000 tickets. Alarm bells! How the hell can there be so little interest when your own national side were playing one of the best in the world? Seriously, this wasn't a sell out because?

At the weekend Brazil played  Argentina in Melbourne in front of 95,000. Yet it wasn't that long ago when some foolish organisation more interested in sponsors and headlines declared with a straight face Singapore was the world's best sports city!

In the wake of the Melbourne game it was revealed Lionel Messi would not be playing in Singapore and oh boy, the whining with some fans demanding a refund 'cos one player would not be there. But the fact is 20,000 tickets had been sold before Melbourne? Why were ticket sales so poor when people thought Messi would be there? Why the apathy?

On the day of the game I went to the FAS offices to see what was going on. There was one poster advertising the game. That's it. Their 125th anniversary game against one of the biggest football nations in the world and the best they could come up with was a poster?

So, we walked along the river through a park to the stadium and a very nice walk it was. Very quiet. Follow the crowds? There were none. Just us and the greenery. Even as we crossed the bridge and headed into the stadium area there was little in the way of crowds. And no merchandise on sale. No indication a big game was about to be played.

Around the stadium concourse there were more people. Large numbers of security of course. I wonder if they, and the ubiquitous ushers inside, were included in the final attendance figure? Only then would it make sense. We played count the football shirts and of course there were more Singaporeans wearing Argentina shirts than their own. Why? I don't know. My seven year old son, I can understand to a certain extent. Peer pressure, TV coverage dictates his world. But I was looking at grown adults who had never been to Argentina transforming themselves into fans of a nation thousands of miles away.

And of course Liverpool shirts. Loads of Liverpool shirts. Including many wearing the new 125th anniversary shirt which was released less than a month ago. Getting the irony here? 

Inside the stadium, I bought some beer and we took our seats. Me, my wife and my son. We must have looked proper naughty sitting their, laughing, joking together, my son munching on his crisps, my wife complaining about the number of beers I had under the seat. And then I cheered for Singapore. Bloody hell, this woman in front turns round, takes one look at this family sitting together and she was off. What the hell had upset her so much that one fat git cheering for her country, her country mind, was on her toes. When she looked back from her new seat her face was one Stephen King could describe better in one of his horror books than I ever could. I smiled and raised my beer towards her.

Maybe it was the fact I tried to get involved in the match. If I was then I was alone. Apart from a few Argentine fans, the real deal, to our right, everyone was sat rigid for the game. It's fucking football, not the Queen's garden party! These people talk football and buy football but do they get football? In my area no one was cheering on Singapore. No one. Plenty of cheers when Argentina scored but nothing when Hassan Sunny was pulling off save after save.

If someone is scared by one guy cheering what the hell would happen if England came here. Or even Indonesia? Over the years I have been a big fan of the SLeague and Singapore football but when your own FA does FA to promote its own anniversary game then why should anyone else bother? Here was a massive opportunity to put Singapore football back in the spotlight at a time when it is hiding in the darkest shadows. The opportunity was missed. Again.

Next up for the Singapore football shirt collector is the International Champions Challenge or whatever it is called. Three European teams heading to town for a highly choreographed visit including games, perhaps a coaching clinic or a photo opportunity. It would be interesting to see how many turn out for those games. 

As we walked away from the stadium my friends and family were less than impressed by what we had seen. The only person who enjoyed himself was my seven year old son before adding the support was rubbish!


Persija Face Sriwijaya Behind Closed Doors

Persija coach Teco deserves massive respect for turning the team's fortunes around in recent weeks. Their 3-0 triumph 'away' to Perseru was their third win on the spin and the third consectutive game Andritany had kept a clean sheet. The turnaround contrasts sharply with their start to the season when they went six games without a win.

Next up is Sriwijaya at home tomorrow night. While Laskar Wong Kito have struggled for consistency this season, they are currently 12th in Liga 1, Teco will know the biggest challenge facing his team could lie elsewhere.

It was announced yesterday the game with Sriwijaya would be played in Cikarang, not Bekasi, and will be played behind closed doors. 

Persija fans have been involved in a number of incidents this season, the most recent being in their last home game against Arema when a section of the support trashed the TV equipment which was supposed to have beamed the game around the nation.

It will also be recalled last season when Persija hosted Sriwijaya the game was abandoned in the second half when home supporters went on the rampage and attacked the police in and around the stadium.

Persija are of course used to playing games behind closed doors. I am sure someone out there knows how many times they have managed this little feat. And it is unlikely this will be the last game to be played in such conditions. It is though unfortunate that the actions of the few continue to harm the club they profess to love so much.

Sunday, June 11, 2017


Indonesian Ref Uses Pitchside Video Technology

Another first for Indonesian football? From the country that has had two players unions, different clubs sharing the same name, two leagues, two national teams and god knows what else, now Indonesia has seen a referee change his decision after watching video evidence.

The whistler concerned awarded a penalty to PS TNI during their home game with Persija last week after he felt a Persija defender handled the ball in the box. Persija weren't too happy with the decision and complained so the hapless ref, Fariq Hitaba, turned to one of the TV cameras pitch side and watched the incident again. He subsequently decided his initial decision was wrong and annuled the penalty.

FIFA has talked about allowing match officials to use video technology to assist them in their decision making but it hasn't been implemented yet, not even in Indonesia.

PSSI official Joko Diriyono, who has spent years trying to explain the unexplainable in local football, struggled to account for the ref's actions. 'I don't know where the ref got the idea from. But for sure the use of video technology is not allowed in Liga 1,' he said.

Persija coach Teco likewise shrugged his shoulders at the latest lunacy. 'I have known about football since I was three years old. I have coached several teams but I have never seen anything like this before,' he said after the game. 

The PSSI recently appointed Scotsman George Cumming in a bid to raise standards of match officials in the country. This incident suggests the bar is even much lower than we expected.


Bali United Decimated By International Call Ups

Most leagues around the world tend to stop their domestic competitions around the time the national team is in duty. Frustrating for many fans, myself including, this notion is designed to give the national side the fullest support possible as they bid on the world stage for international glory.

Indonesia used to embrace this idea big time. The national league would go into lengthy hibernation for something like the SEA Games, a regional Under 23 competition, as the nation's best young players were sent off to join the national team in their preparations.

This idea seems to have quietly dropped. During the AFF Suzuki Cup last year, for example, the national competition carried on regardless as clubs mobbed together to insist no more than two players from each team were called up for national duty. It didn't seem to harm Indonesia as they surprised everyone by reaching the final, losing to Thailand.

Indonesia travelled to Cambodia last week and defeated their hosts 2-0. Next up they face Puerto Rico in Sleman. But Liga 1 carries on in its own merry way. This time Luis Milla wasn't hampered by the two player per team restriction but some teams have not been impacted by call ups in the way other teams have.

Take for example Bhayangkara. Their promising midfielder Evan Dimas wasn't called up. None of their players were in fact. Last week they travelled to Bali United who had seen four of their players representing their country in Phnom Penh. Four! Irfan Bachdim, Yabes Roni, Ricky Fajrin and Miftahul Hamdi. And these are not bit part players.

Bhayangkara won the game 3-1 and climbed above Bali United into 3rd place in the Liga 1 standings. But given the number of players the home side were missing surely there was a case for rearranging the game? Fans expect their team to field their strongest line up and with Bali having a chance to go up to second had they won 13,700 supporters turned up hoping for their team to at least have a fighting chance. 

It's not just Bali United who can feel aggrieved by the cavalier attitude PSSI seem to have to players and international call ups.

Last night Arema were held 0-0 at home by Perseru. The Crazy Lions were without Kurnia Meiga, Hanif Sjahbandi and Bagas Adi. Perhaps feeling short changed, perhaps taking into account recent results, the Arema fans stayed home, less than 5,000 saw the goalless draw.

Clubs and fans expect a level playing field and when you're without nearly a third of your team while your opponent is at full strength one team is at a definite disadvantage. Perhaps PSSI need to reconsider an international break to be fair to all sides.

Friday, June 09, 2017


Persebaya Announce 90th Anniversary Game


Barito Putera Ready To Axe Cunha

Barito Putera are set to release Brazilian striker Thiago Cunha. The former Chonburi and Port striker has struggled for game time since arriving pre season and despite scoring two goals in his two appearances the club feel it is best to let him leave.

'There is a chance Cunha will be replaced,' says the club owner Hasnuryadi Sulaiman 'because he rarely plays. I see he lacks the desire to play. He doesn't have a positive impact on the team's performance. I don't like players like that.'

Cunha enjoyed a purple patch with Chonburi when he scored 52 goals in his time with the Thai League side.

The Brazilian born striker earned notoriety earlier this year when it was revealed he was one of a number of players from that country who had been naturalised by Timor Leste using fake paperwork. 

For now Barito Putera say they will be looking for a marquee player to replace Cunha. Despite appointing Jacksen F Thiago as coach the club have struggled to find consistency this season and have just 13 points from their 10 games. A leaky defence, 13 goals conceded, will also need to be addressed when the transfer window opens.

In other news from South Kalimantan, the club have sent an official letter of complaint to the PSSI after their 3-1 loss away to Borneo earlier this week. They claim they had two perfectly good goals disallowed for offside by the match officials.


Indonesia Raya

Full International Friendly

Cambodia v Indonesia 0-2 (Irfan Bachdim, Gian Zola)

Under 16 International Friendly

Indonesia U16 v Singapore U16 4-0 (Brylian Dwiki, Sukra Yatul, Fadilah Nur, Yadi Mulyadi)


Liestadi Bites Bullet After Away Losses

In Malaysia the done thing used to be to send coaches on gardening leave when results didn't go their team's way. I guess the idea was to isolate the coach, make him think on the error of his ways and then, ultimately, resign. A slow, inefficient way of running a football club but think of the savings on paying off contracts.

Way too labourious for Indonesia. Rather than wait to be sacked, coaches are now voluntarily offering to resign themselves. None of this faffing around in the garden pruning the roses, suffer a couple of bad results and that's it. Out of the kindest of their hearts they decide to step down.

Persipura's Liestadi is the latest coach to fall on his own sword, stepping down after successive away defeats at PSM and Madura United. The top two sides in the country.

The Black Pearls are fifth in Liga 1 after 10 games, just four points behind leaders PSM and, it goes without saying, unbeaten at home all season. However they have been less impressive on their travels, losing four of their six games and perhaps the club feel, sorry the coach feels a new face on the training field could help th eteam improve on their travels.

Following the loss in Madura club management apparently asked the media office to talk with Liestadi about evaluating the team, a common enough occurrence in Indonesian football. The media officer replied by saying the coach had announced he had resigned in the wake of the loss in Madura and also Makassar. 

The official went to to wish Liestadi good luck in the future and din't rule out the possibility of working together in the future.

For the inquisitive out there so many questions remain. For those used to the mysterious ways of Indonesian football it's just another shoulder shrugging moment.

Thursday, June 08, 2017


Newbie Strikers Hit Ground Running

The problem with saying it takes time for foreign imports, especially strikers, to adapt to the local game and its culture is that it is not always true. Everyone remembers Juan Belencoso for example who signed for Persib after impressing in Hong Kong and also in the AFC Cup before firing blanks in West Java.

Let's take for example Liga 1's current joint top leading scorer Ivan Carlos (left) who plays for Persela. His wikipedia entry sadly doesn't shed much light on his past career noting only the 27 year old Brazilian played in Myanmar for Hanthawaddy United before heading to Indonesia. Seven goals in his opening eight games show he has had little trouble adapting to life in Indonesia though being with Persela, a friendly small club in East Java, no doubt has helped him to settle. 

PSM's Reinaldo Costa is another who has settled well though the way PSM play their football perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. He is surrounded by fast, skilful players, all he has to do is be in the right place at the right time. Like Carlos he is and though there wa some criticism recently he wasted too many chances his brace against Persipura at the weekend means he has six goals for the season.

Reinaldo also packs a pretty impressive CV. Before signing for PSM he had played in China, Brazil, Malaysia, Australia, South Korea, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. coupled with a pretty decent scoring rate. And no doubt his short spell with Borneo during the President Cup helped him to get used to Indonesian football in pretty quick time.

Another foreign striker who has hit the ground running is Peter Odemwingie at Madura United. Mind, the Russian born Nigerian international also played for Stoke City so he is used to unfashionable footballing outposts. He returned to the first team last night after serving a suspension and was back on the scoresheet, his sixth of the season, crediting his goal to the  memory of ex Newcastle United midfielder Cheick Tiote who passed away recently. 

Other new strikers have also made their mark in quick time including Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United) and Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar) which begs the question. Just what is it in the player's armourary that allows some to settle quickly and others to struggle for a few weeks or months. Indonesian is of course a brutal place to play football and adaption is demanded yesterday. Time and patience are luxuries in the cut and thrust world of football club management and if a player does managed to hit the ground running their value immediately rockets.

Tellingly the strikers I have mentioned are playing at clubs where the spotlight is never full on. They play for teams which are perhaps among the second tier of Indonesian football. At the bigger clubs the story is a different one. Arema for example recruited Juan Pino. Persija have two new strikers, Bruno Lopes and Luis Junior who have netted four goals between them. When Persija picked up only their second win of the season they did it having dropped the latter! Yet I am reluctant to suggest strikers who are bought by smaller clubs will automatically do better then ones who sign for a bigger clubs. Football isn't that easy. Musch depends on a player's attitude, his experience in different surroundings, his team mates and how he is treated by the club. So many variables. 

If only coaches knew which part of a player's DNA could guarantee immediate success they need never be out of work long!


Gresik United Left Counting Cost Of Pitch Invasion

Cash starved Gresik United are being hit by one blow after another. The team from East Java sit second bottom of Liga 1 with just one win all season  and are now counting the cost of their defeat at home to Persela last time out when their own fans invaded the pitch.

Last season Gresik's Tri Dhamma Stadium was in the headlines after PS TNI fans went on the rampage. This time round the troubles are home grown as fans, annoyed the club don't seem to be making any progress after just one win in 10 games, invaded the pitch on masse, damaging the playing surface and setting fires around the pitch.

The financial costs for the football club are high with estimates suggesting several thousand dollars worth of damage being done to the pitch and goals. And that is before the PSSI disciplinary committeepass judgement on the events surrounding the game. Further sanction looms including fines and even being forced to play home games behind closed doors or at a neutral venue.

Football fans around the world say their voice is never heard. Be careful what you wish for. The cost of having your voice heard by causing damage to your favourite team's infrastructure doesn't come cheap and only harms the club you profess to love even more.

Money that could have been invested in the team to try and climb out of the relegation zone will now have to be spent repairing the damage of angry fans. Actions have consequences. Are the Gresik fans who invaded the pitch to express their anger prepared to accept the consequences?

UPDATE - Gresik United have been fined Rp 20 million and ordered to play their next home game v Persija behind closed doors. 

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


No Excuses For Pitch Invasions

Three times in 96 hours we have seen fan misbehaviour rear its ugly head in Indonesian football. Friday saw Persija fans go off on one in Bekasi and pull the plug on the TV cameras recording the game live. On Sunday we had Persib fans protesting after seeing their team lose 2-0 to Bhayangkara at the same venue with a small number managing to scale the walls around the pitch and get among the players. Then last night hundreds of Gresik United fans invaded the pitch after seeing their team lose 2-0 at home to Persela in an East Java derby that keeps Gresik one point off bottom place.

Apparently some Persib fans who ran on the pitch were in tears after seeing their team go four games without a win. One lad on my Twitter feed said fans had to do something to protest at the alleged mismanagement at the club. What else could they do? Hiring a plane is not an option. Hashtags only speak to the converted. Polite marches like Arsenal fans have taken to doing don't work either. 

But charging on the pitch, and accepting it as a legitimate means of supporter protest only makes matters worse on a number of levels. Disappointment because Player X was replaced by Player Y may play out well among like minded supporters who move in the same social media circles but the nuances are wasted on TV viewers, armchair fans, sponsors and potential sponsors. Who wants to be associated with a product where fans feel they have a licence to jump the fences when their team fails to win a few games?

Persib by the way are now 13th in the table but just three points off second place. This weekend they host Persiba, a game they would be expected to win and quite comfortably.

If the 'entitled' Persib fans feel they are right to bear their grudges so publicly what about the long suffering supporters of Gresik United. They have just five points from 10 games and their only win of the season came when they beat the one team beneath them, Persiba, 2-1 last month. They have literally made no progress since last season when they finished the Indonesia Soccer Championship campaign in 17th position. Or second bottom. If any set of supporters can claim to be long suffering it is the Gresik United faithful yet still 15,000 turned out last night to provide their team with a support they perhaps don't fully deserve if we look at the results.

At least Persib fans have seen trophies in recent seasons. The Indonesia Super League. The Presidents Cup. An AFC Cup run before the season was cut short by FIFA suspension. Gresik United fans will need to be of a certain vintage to recall seeing a local side win Divisi Utama (2002) or playing in the AFC Asian Champions League in 2002/03. 

But while the Gresik United pitch invasion had far bigger numbers, and even saw fires lit on the pitch, it is the Persib intrusion that will attract the headlines. And today we have seen plenty of confusing stories coming out of Bandung with some stories saying Djadjang Nurdjaman has stepped down and even manager Umuh Muchtar has offered to resign...with a caveat. 'If I leave,' he says, 'who will save Persib?!' The football club aren't in a good place at the moment and as I have said before it is a tad unfair to blame the coach, and before him it was Carlton Cole. Most fans are savvy enough to know what is going on at the club behind the scenes. They just want it sorted pretty damn quickly so evveryone can get back to supporting the football club.

Back to the subject of pitch invasions though. We shouldn't fall into the trap of glorifying them, of saying there are circumstances when it is quite all right for supporters to encroach on to the playing field. In all likelihood the only ones to suffer will be the supporters and the club they love so much as they await their punishment from the PSSI.

Earlier in the season Arema arranged a meeting between club officials and supporters to discuss issues the fans were concerned about. Did it do any good? May be not immediately but surely some discussions need to be ongoing to ensure club and fans are on the same page. And, wishful thinking perhaps, there needs to be a realisation among fans and officials that building a football club takes time. Coaches need time. Players need time. There is no magic tree where points can be plucked at will; if there is such a tree then it suggests the league and by extension the football is worthless because it has all been arranged in advance.

We all get angry when our team loses. It's natural. Have you seen some of my tweets after Arsenal lose?! But we can't all go and invade the pitch in a bid to right a perceived wrong. We don't just trample on the playing surface, we trample all over football. 


Week 9 - Home Advantage Helps Bali United Climb To Second

Persela v Sriwijaya 2-1 (Samsul Arif, Aang Suparman; Alberto Goncalves) 7,968

After a slow start to the season Persela are most definitely up and running under coach Herry Kiswanto. They came from behind to beat an inconsistent Sriwijaya side making it one loss in their last six games. What Sriwijaya coach Osvaldo Lessa would give for that kind of consistency.

Madura United v Gresik United 3-2 (Boubacar Sanogo, Fandi Utomo, Bayu Gatra; Arsyad Yusgiantoro 2) 6,326

Madura United were without Peter Odemwingie for this game but no worries. Not when they can call on Sanogo to start and score.

Mitra Kukar v PS TNI 5-3 (Mohamed Sissoko 2, In Kyun Oh, Jose Gotor, Anindito Erminarno; Elio Martins 2, Facindo Talin) 1,544

Some thoughts on the Comeback Kings!

Persija v Arema 2-0 (Bruno Lopes, Rohit Chand) 28,967

Amid all the joy among Persija fans after only their second win of the campaign where next for Arema. They started the season with a series of narrow wins but they have struggled for goals all season and this defeat saw their unhappy run now extend to a sorry four points in their last five games.

Persiba v Borneo 3-2 (Masahito Noto, Marlon da Silva, Bijahil Chalwa; Terens Puhiri, Lerby Eliandry) 5,120

Persiba's first four home games were played in Malang. They lost all three and weren't able to score a single goal in 360 barren minutes. They return to their home city of Balikpapan and lo and behold, they not only score goals...they win with a 92nd minute effort from substitute Chalwa.

Barito Putera v Semen Padang 3-1 (Ambrizal, Rizky Ripora, Matheus Cordoba; Vendry Mofu) 5,370

PSM v Persipura 5-1 (Reinaldo Elias 2, Marc Klok 2, Wiljam Pluim; Addison Alves) 14,850

Some thoughts on this game can be found here.

Perseru v Bali United 1-3 (Silvo Escabar; Sylvano Comavalius 2, Irfan Bachdim) 8,531

Ostensibly a Perseru home game, this was switched to Bali because the Papuan side didn't have any decent floodlights for an evening kick off. Bali took full advantage of a second straight home game, moving up to second in the Liga 1 standings!

Bhayangkara v Persib 2-0 (Paulo Sergio, Ilham Armaiyn) 10,500

Where to begin? Four games without a win for Persib...

Monday, June 05, 2017


Too Much Interference Poisons Persib's Performances

Remember when Persib were within touching distance of the top of Liga 1 yet the fans were unhappy with the way things were going? Recent results suggest the fans were correct to be suspicious. Last night's loss away to Bhayangkara was their fourth game on the spin without a win and from being right up there in the mix Persib are now 11th with 13 points from their nine games. For a club that signalled their intentions before the season started with a number of high profile signings what has caused this disharmony off the field and poor results on it?

Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman has borne the brunt of the supporters' frustrations and following the loss last nigh he has come out and said he is ready to be sacked if the club feel that is the right thing to do. Djanur, as he is known, has struggled to field a best eleven for much of the season as he tries to balances the needs of the team with the egos of people behind the scenes who have been allegedly pushing their own agendas and players. Arsene Wenger says he won't work with a technical director. Djanur doesn't have an official TD above him but he is answerable to a number of strong minded people with their own favourites among the squad. The result is a line up that is more mix and match than settled.

Last night Djanur went with Tantan up front alongside Atep and Gian Zola. Sergio van Dijk was on the bench as was Shohei Matsunaga while Carlton Cole didn't even feature despite claims from manager Umuh Muchtar to have given him a second chance to save his Persib career. Also on the bench were Hariono, Tony Sucipto, Michael Essien and Dedi Kusnandar while inspirational defender Vladimir Vujovic was missing. Nine games in and the top scorers are Atep and Essien with two goals each! Who knows how the team will line up in their next game against Persiba!

The signings of Cole, Essien and to a certain extent Maitimo were intended to throw down a marker. That Persib considered themselves a big club and were ready to spend big to challenge for honours this year but it hasn't happened. Fans are underwhelmed by the so called big names, one banner at yesterday's game said 'We're Persib 'Till We Die. You're Persib 'Till Your Contract Ends'. Supporters aren't cowed by big names or big reputations. They judge players by what they do on the pitch in the Persib blue, not what their wikipedia profiles say and they are not impressed by what they see. 

From the outside Persib seem to be a club divided. One minute Cole is out, the next minute he is been given a second chance after a management meeting. What does appear to be clear is that Djanur does not have the final say on team matters, even recruitment and the club, as well as the fans, are paying for too many cooks spoiling the broth. 

Persib are a big club and they are an ambitious club. They are a club that saw the potential for commercial opportunities long before most other Indonesian clubs. But the biggest driver for commercial success does not come from collecting expensive, mismatched toys, it comes from a successful, settled team giving its all and, hopefully, winning games and challenging for titles. Amid the bling Persib have forgotten they are first and foremost a football club. This is what has angered the fan base. They want their football club back.

Sunday, June 04, 2017


Persija Fans Warned As Thugs Pull Plug On TV Coverage

So Persija won only their second game of the season, defeating Arema 2-0 to crawl away from the relegation zone. You would think their passionate the support would be celebrating wouldn't you? Maybe they were but it is doubtful they would have woken up the next day with so much to cheer about.

There does seem to be an element in their support with a self destruct button. Hardly a home game has gone by this season where there has not been some incident or other in or around the Patriot Stadium in Bekasi when Persija have been at home. The games have been well attended but the problems I understand have happened outside the stadium by unruly fans kicking off for whatever reason.

For the Arema game they allegedly went one step further. They trashed the TV trucks that were broadcasting the game live to a nation. Seriously, what was all that about? I have said from time to time it would be a great boost for the local game if selected fixtures were broadcast live around Asia. What a way to introduce the local game to people who think Thai football is so good, Just imagine fans in Bangkok, Penang and Hanoi sitting down to watch Persija only to have the transmission cut by pissed off small minded fans. How would Indonesian football look then?

Last season Persija were given permission to play a few home games in Jakarta even though authorities wanted to renovate Bung Karno Stadium. What happened? More violence which left one fan dead. A pitch invasion that saw home fans aim for people in uniform and the game cancelled. Guess what? Persija were banned from playing any home games in Jakarta and became the nomadic club one more time.

A lot of money is being invested in the Bung Karno to improve facilities but what's the point if the stadium gets trashed the first time Persija have a home game there? The incoming governor has, liked other governors before him, promised a new stadium for Persija but will they be keen on honouring that pledge when they know how volatile elements of the Persija support are so keen to kick off?

Persija fans like to play the victim card but it is wearing a bit thin. On their day they have a fantastic support; I saw them in Lamongan a few weeks back and the people I was with for a game against Mitra Kukar were blown away by the atmosphere inside the stadium. But always at the back of the mind there is this nagging doubt it doesn't take much to set some supporters off.

Following the plug pulling incident the West Java police in Bekasi are now saying no more. Any more incidents and they will no longer issue security clearance for Persija to play their home games in their city. The club's supporters have also been warned to stay away from Bekasi tonight as Bhayangkara host Persib. A quick look at a map tells you how close Bekasi is to Bandung, the last think Indonesian football and Persija supporters need is a high profile incident attracting more negative headlines to the game.

Years ago Persija fans, plagued by similar issues, admitted they had issues. They weren't the best, they said, but they were trying. They need to keep trying and keep trying harder to ride themselves of those supporters who keep dragging the good name of the club they profess to love through the mud. Their next game? Away to PS TNI on Thursday and we know what happened their last season.


Alberts' Dutch Master Demolish 10 Men Persipura

The day started with PSM fans calling on Brazilian striker Reinaldo to be more ruthless in front of goal and ended with the number nine climbing a fence to milk the applause after scoring his second and his team's fifth of the night. And what happened in between was just nuts.

Tension was high even before the game started with PSM leading Liga 1 and Persipura a point behind them in second place. The generous applause from the home support when Boas Solossa's name was read out was the last piece of charity on an eventful evening in South Makassar that saw PSM go four points clear at the top of Liga 1 after nine rounds.

The tone was set after two minutes when Marinus Wanewar was red carded after two minutes for a headbut on the touchline and three minutes PSM were ahead, Reinaldo charging down on goal to finish calmly with his fifth goal of the campaign.

Sadly no match report I can write can do this match justice. I was too far from the action sitting at the back of the old school stand that was packed to the rafters for the game. Klok made it 2-0 before half time and Persipura were for the most part chasing shadows as the home side shredded their normally efficient defence down the flanks. 

Three goals in nine second half minutes pretty much ended the contest and epitomised PSM's rapier like attacks. Willem Pluim made it 3-0 om 55 minutes and Klok added his second three minutes later. On 64 minutes Reinaldo was there to end another fine move sweeping home from close range, his sixth of the season, and beginning his run into the arms of the supporters and when he was replaced four minutes later the chant of Reinaldo, Reinaldo coming out of the dimly lit stand must have been music to his ears. 

Addison pulled one back for the visitors on 70 minutes at the other end of the field but it was hardly a consolation. PSM had been by far the superior side with Pluim and Klok imperious. Coach Robert Alberts could not help be feel pride in the performances of his compatriots on the night and while Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum may be famous for the works of Rembrandt et all here in Makassar a new generation of Dutch masters put on their own show and the home support loved it.

The last time Persipura conceded five goals against domestic opposition? Perhaps 2010 in the Inter Island Cup against Sriwijaya?

Saturday, June 03, 2017


Comeback Kings Mitra Kukar Shine Against PS TNI

Not for the first time this season we have seen Mitra Kukar come from behind to earn points in the most dramatic way. In fact this trend pre dates the season as those with long memories may recall a remarkable game against PSS in the President Cup when Mitra Kukar went 3-0 down only to claw their way back into the game and earn an unlikely draw with a late, late goal.

The unfashionable side from Tenggarong in East Kalimantan are currently 4th in Liga 1 after coming from behind to thrash PS TNI 5-3 last night in front of 1,554 fans. And yes, they were trailing 1-0 when Elio Martins gave the visitors the lead on 20 minutes. Mohamed Sissoko scored twice before half time and then two quick goals early in the second half (In Kyun Oh and Jorge Gotor) seemed to have made the game safe for the home side.

Martins scored his second on 64 minutes to set up a thrilling final quarter to the game but the Portuguese had to go in goal when Dhika Bayangkara was red carded on 75 minutes and when substitute Anindito Erminano made it 5-2 on 81 minutes it was game over. Facundo did pull one goal back for PS TNI but it was too little, too late. 

After the game PS TNI coach Ivan Kolev complained about the floodlights going out twice during the game saying once is ok but twice is unforgiveable. I'm sure had the result been reversed he would have worried less about the electrics. Anyway while his team have earned a reputation for providing plenty of goal mouth action a second loss on the road, with nine goals shipped along the way, suggest a leaky defence is of more concern than a few light bulbs.

For the record Mitra Kukar have come from behind to earn points against Persija (one point), Bali United (three points), Madura United (one point) and PSM (one point). That is a remarkable nine points gained after conceding the first goal and while coach Jafri Sastra may want to praise his side's mental strength he will also be aware this trend could come back and hurt them in the future.


English International Cole Released By Persib

It's hardly a surprise. Persib have finally said they are going to release former England international Carlton Cole after he has failed to make an impression with the West Java side. It was always one of the stranger signings, as I mentioned in this article, he arrived injured and offered nothing different really to Sergio van Dijk who was already on the books.

His time in Bandung has been marred by controversy with the club management questioning his attitude at times. There was also an allegation he was unwilling to train on an artificial surface. In addition there was an online spat with some Persib fans when he asked for people to follow his Instagram account. Fans responded by telling him to produce the goods on the field first before they started following him. He didn't like that and seemed to question their support for the club. Bad move Carlton! He even responded to my suggestion that if he had come to Indonesia for a holiday he had joined the wrong club by saying he was a professional footballer who had at and been successful at the highest levels. Those words failed to impress Persib fans who said they didn't care what he had done in the past, only what he did on the pitch in the blue shirt for them.

Some foreign players come and make a massive impression on the notoriously hard to please Persib support. Some players arrive, fail to impress, work their socks off and turn the fans around. Others come and fail to make any kind of impression at all and Cole falls into that category. At Persib his England caps counted for nothing.

Cole has become a bit of a fall guy for Persib's start to the season, four draws and one loss(!), which is unfair when you consider he has only managed about 100 minutes playing time. When he arrived he said he hoped to get between 10 and 20 goals. He got one yellow card. 

Being released even before the transfer window is upon us is a sad way to end his time in Indonesia. but the truth is Persib were the wrong club at the wrong time.

UPDATE - it seems Cole has been given another chance by the club following a top level meeting last night. Either play him or release him... There is a lot more to this story than meets the eye me feels!


Borneo Await As Persiba Return Home

Finally some good news for beleagured Persiba. After a truly dreadful start to the season which has seen them pick up a single point from their opening eight games the Honey Bears are finally returning home.

Persiba started the 2017 season in unfamiliar surroundings when they were told they could not use their traditional Persiba Stadium in Balikpapan and their new venue wasn't yet ready. Then coach Timno Scheunemann then had to prepare his team for the season ahead knowing they would be based in Malang, a different city on a different island in a different time zone.

Timo resigned after three games but new coach Milo Seslija hasn't been able to affect a turn around as the team struggle to blend new, young players into an unfamiliar surrounding.

A return to Balikpapan has to be a good move for the team. Traditionally have been a tough nut to crack on their own manor while playing in Malang has seen them lose all four of their home games, scoring zero goals in the process.\

Their first test back home sees them come up against East Kalimantan rivals Borneo in what is sure to be a firey return home. Milo probably couldn't care less who the opponents are, he and the team will be focused on putting on a performances for the long suffering home support and hoping to pick up their first three points of the season.


Week 8 - Persipura Climb To Second

PS TNI v Persela 3-2 (Sansan Fauzi Husaeni 2, Leonel Jorge Nunez; Ivan Carlos, Ahmad Birrul Walidan) 1,058
Sriwijaya v Madura United 0-0
Arema v Mitra Kukar 2-0 (Ferry Aman Saragih, Hendro Siswanto)
Gresik United v PSM 1-1 (Komaradin; Rizky Pellu)
Borneo v Bhayangkara 3-0 (Terens Puhiri, Lerby Eliandry, Shane Smeltz)
Semen Padang 2-1 (Tambun Naibaho 2; Siswanto)
Persipura v Barito Putra 3-1 (Yohanes Ferinando Pahabol, M Tahir, Marinus Mariyanto; Dandi Maulana)
Bali United v Persib 1-0 (Marcos Flores)

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