Monday, July 31, 2017


Aji Quits As Arema Continue To Fire Blanks

Arema coach Aji Santoso stepped down yesterday after seeing his team held 0-0 by Borneo in Malang in front of a disappointing 5,375. Halfway through the season Arema remain handily placed in seventh place in Liga 1 just six points behind the leaders Madura United but just 15 goals from their 17 games tells you all you need to know about their season so far.

The last time the two teams had met was in the President Cup Final in Cibinong when Arema had brushed aside what was in effect Borneo's second team 5-1 with naturalised striker Cristian Gonzales scoring the lot. That was never going to happen again with Borneo's new coach Ricky Nelson looking to make his mark on the club with a mean defence and even though the visitors ended the game with 10 men after Diego Michels was sent off Arema's powder puff strike force meant the promising M Ridho was rarely troubled.

While Borneo celebrated questions continue to swirl around Arema. The malaise has been coming for a while. Even though they led the Indonesia Soccer Championship for nearly half of last season few believed they would go on and lift that trophy and that lack of belief was shared by the supporters who stayed away from most games.

The low attendances have continued into this campaign despite the brief lift caused by the President Cup success. Aji Santoso has looked to Gonzales for goals and it now, finally, appears the striker's goal touch is ebbing away despite scoring five goals in 15 games. At the start of the season, with Gonzales absent, Aji looked to the little known Dedik Setiawan who responded with three goals in three games but when Gonzales returned Aji was quick to drop Dedik to the bench to make room for the veteran striker despite the old adage of not interrupting strikers when they are in goal scoring form. Dedik has scored just once since he was shunted aside, an injury time winner away to Gresik United in the East Java derby. Arema have now gone 270 minutes without scoring since that late goal and Dedik was left on the bench again yesterday for 64 minutes before being called on.

Aji has not been helped by the form, or lack of it, by so called marquee player Juan Pino who has yet to make much of an impression on the team having appeared in just nine of their 17 games.

It is easy to  blame Aji for not making more of Dedik but all he has been doing is what all Indonesian clubs do. Place their trust in the big name or the foreign striker for the goals at the expense of younger more promising, more hungry players.

Arema have won just three of their last nine games and whoever comes in is going to have their work cut out not just reenergising the Arema forward line but also restoring the supporters's faith in the club that seems to be in a perpetual downward spiral. One name already linked is Dejan Antonic, formerly coach of Arema IPL, Pelita Bandung Raya and Persib. Expect more names to be thrown in the hat for one of the marquee jobs in Indonesian football. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017


In Football, We Are All Puppets

After waxing lyrical about the terrace culture in Yogyakarta from my last visit time to show the other side of Indonesian football, the dark belly, the beast that co-exists with the beauty I referred to in my last post

When I was promoting my book Sepakbola - The Indonesian Way of Life I was always being asked about the violence that plagues football here and, hand on heart, I can only recall one serious off in the hundreds of games I have seen. When I say off I  mean fighting between two rival sets of supporters of course I can only speak about what I have witnessed.

There are other types of violence though that harm the game. One is when the players kick off, usually against the match officials and sometimes against each other. The third, and most common, type of disturbance is when fans throw missiles, be they rocks or plastic bottles, on the pitch, again usually in the direction of the match officials.

Fan misbehaviour has been in the news a bit recently in the wake of the Persib v Persija game which saw players attack each other and supporters throw missiles on the pitch at the end of the game. Even inside the tunnel Persija players needed a heavy police escort as they came under attack from disgruntled people who probably had no right to even be in that area.

This game made headlines of course after a fan was severely beaten and ended up dying of his wounds. Not the first fan to lose his life in this particular fixture of course. As the poor lad lay in hospital 'receiving' high profile visitors including Persib players and prominent supporters of both clubs social media was venting its hashtag angst at the sheer stupidity and senselessness of terrace violence that saw a Persib fan essentially killed by Persib fans for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the Sports Ministry called for a task force to bring rival fans together to try and thrash out some kind of peace. We have been here before though with officials attempting to broker a peace between the two sets of fans whose rivalry run deep. In recent years the police declared a truce after negotiating with fan representatives but that didn't last long. 

For the rivalry and hatred, as well as the desire for revenge over incidents that go unpunished, the only people who can end it are the supporters themselves and having Bung Ferry (Jakmania) and Heru Joko (Viking) meet at the bedside of the fallen fan was a good start. Hours after Ricko Andrean breathed his last hundreds of fans from both teams gathered outside Patriot Stadium in Bekasi in a spontaneous coming together singing The Jak are here, Viking are there, together we are brothers', something not seen for perhaps decades. Bhayangkara coach Simon McMenemy was inside the stadium at the time with his players holding a training session ahead of their game with Persija and he described the noise as 'Amazing'.

Persib supporters have already been involved in a number of incidents of unruly behaviour this season, the club have amassed Rp 300 million plus in fines. Following the disturbances that marred this game the supporters have now been banned from attending the next five games and the club have been landed with another hefty fine. But these punitive measures have absolutely no impact. Yes, the use of flares has dropped away but fans, especially those in the more expensive VIP seats above the players tunnel, are still able to throw plastic water bottles on to the pitch and towards the hapless match officials and they receive no sanction from the authorities.

The Persib v Persija is a high octane game and will always attract the headlines but away from the big cities there have been other cases of poor behaviour in recent weeks that have provoked far fewer headlines nationally. So many in fact it is hard to know where to begin so lets try and do this geographically.

PSBL were that concerned about their Aceh Derby with Persiraja that ahead of the fixture they wrote to the PSSI expressing their concerns. It looks like their worries went unheeded as they lost the game 1-0 and the game was delayed for more that 20 minutes as the away team refused to return to the pitch at one stage.

There was talk Perserang's game today with Persika would be played behind closed doors following incidents when they hosted Persita a few weeks back and visiting supporters were allegedly attacked. In their derby at Cilegon United the travelling supporters were attacked after the game by some home fans. 

PSS fans have been banned from watching their team in the stadium for four games after incidents near Magelang that left one person dead following their game away to Persibas. Persis fans have received a two game stadium ban after disturbances that took place at their game away to PSIR (Persis have also been fined Rp 100 million and deducted three points for refusing to continue the game after disturbances). Further north some Persijap fans invaded the pitch after seeing their team lose 0-2 at home to Persibas and attacked the advertising boards. Their punishment awaits. Staying in Central Java, Persibat fans were advised not to travel to their local derby with Persip. The players however had to and their coach came under attack from rival fans with windows smashed.

That does not include throwing stuff on to the pitch or fans letting off flares inside the stadium. In total at the last meeting of the PSSI disciplinary committee fines of Rp 407.5 million were handed out to clubs who often struggle with the normal running costs let alone digging into their pockets because some of their supporters cant control their emotions.

Footballers are role models so when fans see players pushing and shoving opponents and match officials with little in the way of sanction they feel they can act the same way. When supporters know they can throw rocks and plastic bottles on to the field and know they will not be punished there is no incentive to stop. Just once in 11 years have I seen a supporter ejected from a stadium from throwing something on to the pitch. Usually what happens is people whistle, jeer and wave their arms around in futile efforts to stop the nonsense. It is almost as if football accepts these casual acts of violence. If it does then little wonder things can get out of hand so quickly. 

There are so many layers to football and its issues it's hard to know where to begin solving these problems. Many people believe football is owned, used and manipulated by hidden forces for their own benefit and there may be some truth in that. These shadowy figures, if they exist, hide behind other more public figures who become the fall guy for any perceived slights. Fans are happy to celebrate a last minute winner but they know if that goal is against them in a future game they will be kicking off because they believe there are other influences at play behind the scenes

The shadow play, the wayang, is an important part of Indonesian culture. Puppets are used to tell a story and the puppets are manipulated by puppet masters who hide behind a screen while the audience look on, helpless to impact the direction of the tale that is literally in the hands of others. If the hero wins, everyone goes home happy. If the hero is defeated perhaps the puppet is damaged but the storyteller lives to tell another tale.

Welcome to football. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Night At The Opera v Never Mind The Bollocks

Ok you may be looking at the title of this post, I mean what do a couple of album titles from the 1970s have to do with Indonesian football, and wondering whether I have finally lost my last few marbles but bear with me. 

After spending a couple of days in Yogyakarta I flew back to Jakarta taking in the mountain peaks that form the spine of this incredible island contemplating the two football matches I had witnessed. PSS v Persibangga and PSIM v Persatu in Liga 2. I wasn't alone, more than 35,000 I guess watched both games including some Europeans who had heard about the PSS fans, Brigata Curva Sud, and had come to see what the fuss was all about. 

This was my fourth visit this year to the impressive Maguwoharjo International Stadium deep in the heart of residential Sleman on the outskirts of Yogyakarta and I still had no idea of the way. It didn't matter. This time I teamed up with a couple of Germans in town to film a documentary about the Sleman fans and we headed to the base camp of BCS, a small shophouse stocked with t shirts and other memorabilia complete with a computerised stock taking system.

The BCS are slowly being noticed by more genuine football supporters around the world for their creative terrace displays during games with more and more fans visiting to taste the atmosphere for themselves and as well as myself and the two Germans there were at least three other foreigners at the game; to put that in context that is probably the most I have seen at a single game for about seven years!

We arrived good and early at the stadium and were able to park up right outside the main entrance of the main stand. Shortly after arriving a convoy of US military style jeeps made its own entrance into the car park with people in the back waving large green, white and black flags. Jeeps I tell you!

By the time I entered the stadium the famous South Terrace, the BCS, was filling up nicely and everyone was waiting for the show to begin. When I say show I do mean show. Oh, and there was a football match as well.

The BCS are fairly new to the scene only being formed back in 2010/2011 by disgruntled Slemania fans. The first times I had seen PSS I was only aware of the Slemania, indeed I still have one of their scarves, and even then they were capable of showing incredible loyalty and passion for their unfancied football club. I first noticed them in 2012 when I took a visiting Australian pal to see them play Persipasi when both teams were in the second division, known as Divisi Utama. PSS had a sizeable following up from Yogyakarta making a sizeable noise. 

Since then the BCS legend has grown beyond belief. Slemania are still there, on the north terrace, and while they may lack the numbers of their peers down the opposite end of the stadium they still have that same Sleman noise and passion. But all eyes are on the BCS and what they will do. This season we have seen them do 4D corea at some games; whatever they do is likely to be memorable and creative and it was about this time, as I settled down to watch them play Persibangga and kick off approach, I started to feel there were elements of those stadium bands from the 1970s for whom the show was as much a part of the event as anything else.

A hidden signal from the South Terrace and throats were cleared, drums tested for sound and away they went with their rhythmic sound filling the early evening air. Imagine there was a roof on that terrace! They kept up the drumming, singing, chanting, flag-waving and swaying for the first 45 minutes and I was knackered just watching them. It was strangely hypnotic seeing this vast terrace move as one and you could not but wonder at the organisation that goes in to their displays. And their chants have depth, many feature a verse followed by a chorus when the flags are raised before they are lowered as we enter a second verse.

It was like watching a band like Queen or Pink Floyd performing at a large arena such was the attention to detail and the way they held the rest of the stadium in the palm of their hand. The game started with the supporters serenading the players, ended with a serenade and in between went through the supporters song book seemingly without pause and never once did the intensity drop though there were times when some of the flags drooped when they shouldn't have but hey, they were big buggers.

Look carefully and you could see some spectators standing on the pitch side of the fencing with a PSS scarf acting as a kind of safety belt. What that was all about I have no idea but when I posted an image on Instagram some lad was quick to spot his girlfriend!

Down the other end the Slemania weren't the overawed support band you might have expected. They made their own din all game giving the stadium a wonderful stereo sound system. At half time the Slemania were busy organising their own display, a Palestinian flag to be shown in the second half in support of the Palestinians in Jersusalem and the problems they were having accessing the Al Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam. After a few practise efforts they were ready to go and into the second half they were ready to show support for their Muslim brothers, earning appreciative cheers and applause from the rest of the crowd.

The whole Ultra thing has never really appealled to me, it's roots are Italian I think and in England we have never felt the need to get so organised but when it works it does look bloody impressive and Indonesia can be proud of the Brigata Curva Sud who are doing their bit to show local football in a positive light.

From the opera to the 100 Club. Where flag waving PSS fans arrived at Maguwoharjo Stadium in jeeps, flag waving PSIM fans in small convoys pedalled furiously south along Jalan Imogiri Barat. I of course took the easy way and hired a taxi for the short journey to the Sultan Agung Stadium, nominally the home of Persiba Bantul but for now also being used by PSIM while their Mandala Krida Stadium is being renovated. 

I arrived at the 35,000 capacity stadium set slightly off the main road and situated next to a horse racing track and a velodrome around 30 minutes before kick off. At a similar time the previous night Maguwoharjo Stadium was a heaving mass of green and white humanity. Here things were less quiet, understandable give the 3pm kick off may be good for the TV companies but is less convenient for match going fans at work and school.

I teamed up with Pak Sejarah, in his hooped shirt and curly hair he looked like he had been auditioning for the role of Ronald McDonald. I was introduced to some Brajamusti lads, and a representative from the Persatu who told me their supporters had travelled eight hours to reach Yogyakarta!

With minutes to go to the kick off the stadium was still mostly empty and the  swathes of spaces on the terraces didn't look to impressive for the TV viewer but as the first half wore on more and more fans took their place. Like PSS, PSIM have two main supporter groups, Brajamusti and Maident with the former by far the larger. But within the Brajamusti there are different grouping based on their home village, musical taste or dress sense. In the block next to me for example there was a group of casuals wearing the branded clothes their English peers used to a generation and a half ago.

With more and more supporters entering the stadium the decibel counter got higher but the noise was never as sustained as the PSS din. The songs would start, echo round the stadium then die a natural death. Think Ramones songs fading at the end. The PSIM fans were more interested in doing their own thing and different parts of the stadium would break out in song at different times, stopping before the rest of the ground could join in. While this was going on other fans were milling round on the track that separated the terraces from the pitch again just doing their own thing including posing for selfies. No one seemed to worried least of all the security officials who seemed content to let the supporters do their own thing. When there was some terrace angst three or four security guys in hi vis jackets soon had t hings under control and for the most part the fans did a good job of policing themselves.

Fans quite happily climbed over the fences in the main stand that ostensibly separated VVIP from VIP and the security personnel didn't seem too bothered. Indeed at one point a lad climbed the fence,walked by a security guy, opened a small gate and climbed down on to the track behind the dug outs, picked up a shoe and returned from whence he had come with not a word exchanged with the said man in uniform. It was all terribly punk with fans pushing the envelope but knowing instinctively how far to push. 

For all the discipline of Sleman, the PSIM game was like going to a punk concert. The fans did what they wanted, sang when they wanted and went where they wanted. It might have looked a bit intimidating but it looked like the security did have an idea who they were dealing with and were happy to give them some slack while everyone knew where the red line was. 

One city, two teams, two very different fan experiences. As you might expect there is very little love lost between the rival sets of supporters as recent incidents have highlighted and were they to meet in a competitive game the choice of venue would be interesting. Yogyakarta is famous for a good many things but for me at least as a football city it takes some beating.


Enjoy PSIM

My latest video looks at match day in Yogyakarta as PSIM host Persatu in Liga 2.

Friday, July 28, 2017


Contact Jakarta Casual


Time For Football Fans To End This Shit

Yesterday another family buried another football fan.
Another football fan killed by another riot
How many football fans must die
Because some football fans cannot control their emotions
Only football fans can stop football fans
Killing football fans
Football fans cannot blame others
Only football fans can end this shit


This Is Sleman

A look at the phenomenal atmosphere generated by the fans of Liga 2 side PSS. On my recent visit I met four Germans who were in Indonesia for the football and a visit to Sleman was top of their priorities. This follows exposure earlier this season from some Polish fans who wrote about the Brigata Curva Sud for an Ultra magazine. Mainstream media may not be interested in Indonesian football but the word is here is something special!

Thursday, July 27, 2017


Group One Descending Into Farce As Pro Duta Withdraw

If I'm being totally honest I couldn't find Persih on a map. I know they come from somewhere in Sumatra but quite where I have no idea until I check wikipedia*. Playing in Group One of Liga 2 they are a football club that rarely makes the news even though they have been a regular name in the second tier for several years. 

They caused ripples earlier this season when they never turned up for one of their own home games. The visitors, PSBL, turned up. They went on the pitch, took the obligatory team snap and waited for their hosts who never came. A long, fruitless journey from Aceh province in the north of Sumatra turned out to be quite decent after all as PSBL pocketed a 3-0 victory by dint of a walkover.

A week later and Persih no showed again. This time it was they who were supposed to be on their travels as they were supposed to be playing group leaders and favourites to be promoted PSMS. Another walkover and another 3-0 loss to go on to the league table.

Last weekend Persih returned to the football pitch as they made the journey to Pekanbaru, the nearest thing they have to a local derby if we exclude Kepri 757 on the island of Batam which maybe geographically closer but not necessarily easier to get to. Persih must be wishing they stayed at home as they were beaten 6-0 by title challenging PSPS. Had they not bothered travelling they would have only 'lost' 3-0!

This weekend they are scheduled to host PS babel Timah. Who knows what will happen there. Even without the walkovers Persih are bottom of the table with just three goals and three points to show for their efforts. 

That solitary victory came over Pro Duta (pictured in action left) who sit one place and two points above Persih. Well, they did until yesterday when the club announced they would be withdrawing from Liga 2 ahead of their game against PSMS this weekend.

In many countries there would be an outcry at two football clubs acting in this way during a season but, and I hate to say these words, this is Indonesia where the unusual is the norm and no one is batting an eyelid. In the eyes of many the group has been long decided anyway, the games are just part of a procession to the coronation. 

*They come from Tembilhan on the banks of the Indragari River and a six and a half hour drive from Pekanbaru airport.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Singapore Football Week Overlooks Singapore Football

Apparently this is Singapore Football Week. Intrigued, I went to the Football Association of Singapore website to learn more about this and guess what? Nothing there about it. In fact there doesn't even seem to be anything about this being the FAS's 125th anniversary period. Almost begs the question is anything being done by the football body to commemorate the anniversary beyond hosting Argentina in a friendly? No special logo? No special branding? No special merchandise?

A miserable looking Cristiano Ronaldo breezed through Singapore last week and no, he wasn't being linked with a move to Balesiter Khalsa. Was his visit a part of the celebrations? The International Champions Cup is taking place at the National Stadium where Singaporeans are being asked to pay large sums of money to watch Inter, Bayern and Chelsea strut their stuff. There was also a game between ex Singapore internationals and a bunch of celebrities and their ilk at Jalan Besar Stadium. Oh, and a SLeague football fiesta is planned. What does this entail? Past and present Singapore internationals washing 125 cars for charity! This soapy bonanza takes place on the same day as, but in a different location to, Balestier Khalsa host Hougang United and Warriors entertain SLeague champions Albirex Niigata while Chelsea play Inter in the ICC.

Apparently there are 26 activities being lined up for Singapore Football Week including non traditional activities as Subbuteo. For many people who come from countries with a rich football culture it will be a surprise to learn Subbuteo is non traditional. As you would expect most of the activities are family centered and focus on getting healthy. But as a way of promoting Singapore football they fall well short.

For a start the activities seem to be organised by SportsSG and judging by some of the scheduling they haven't been doing much coordinating with either the FAS or the SLeague. Why, for example are players washing cars at the same time as crucial domestic games are being played around the island? Why wasn't the opportunity taken to have an SLeague game played ahead of the ICC circus games to allow domestic players the chance to play on a big stage in front of a larger crowd? You know, increase the awareness of the local game which is surely the whole point of Singapore Football Week? No doubt there would have been concerns over the pitch playing two games in a day, bloody hell is it made of mud, but the whole thing smacks of a box ticking exercise rather than any meaningful attempt to promote Singapore football. 

Surely the SLeague should be centre stage of the celebrations, not sacrificed on the alter of Euro football greed and sidelined by slapstick activities that are high on selfie moments but low on 'football' moments?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Addison Fires Persipura Back To The Summit

Persipura have never relied purely on Boas Solossa for goals over the years. Their successful teams have always seen the local lad done good work in tandem with a foreign striker and together they have been wreaking havoc on local defenders for the best part of a decade. Having two strikers may seem antiquated and quaint to hipster tactic connoisseurs but it sure as hell ties local defenders in knots.

In recent years the Black Pearls have enjoyed the sight of players like Ernest Jeremiah and Alberto Goncalves knocking in the goals and when the club signed Addison Alves, a Brazilian striker who had been playing in Thailand in recent years, the supporters must have been rubbing their hands in glee at the coming goal fests.

However it was not to be and Persipura started the 2017 season slowly. They may have still been difficult to beat but the power and the pace we have come to associate with the team was strangely missing. A nadir came when they had a player sent off against PSM after two minutes and went on to lose the game 5-1. Coach Liestadi was sacked and Wanderley Junior brought in as his replacement.

Addison was also failing to fire. With Boas finally starting to show signs of aging catching up Persipura were entitled to expect more from their Brazilian striker who had previously played for Persela. He knew Indonesia, surely he knew what was needed? 

It wasn't till the end of May, his seventh game for the club, that Addison broke his duck and as is so often the way with strikers he hasn't stopped scoring since with seven in his last nine games including the pair that defeated PS TNI last time out. Persipura are unbeaten in their last six and now share top spot with Bhayangkara with an away game at Sriwijaya this weekend. 

The 2017 campaign is turning into a mirror image of the 2016 ISC season, Persipura starting the season slowly, replacing a local coach with a Latin American one and suddenly hitting form around the middle of the campaign. Will history repeat the and Black Pearls go on to lift their fifth title since 2009? With Addison now firing on all cylinders who is going to bet against them?


Persebaya Eager To Welcome Martapura To Bung Tomo

Persebaya are back in more ways than one. The fans are queuing hours to see the Green Force and the team are looking a real possibility to return to the top flight of Indonesian football for the first time since god knows when. When I saw them play Persepam MU at the Bung Tomo Stadium earlier in the season the crowd was around the 22,000 mark. Their last home game against Persatu, an unfancied club from the north coast of Java, more than 35,000 saw the game. Last week Persebaya played Madiun Putra away and the supporters packed the terraces and many saw the game from the running track with an estimated 15,000 + making the journey.

The Green Force are currently second in Group 5 of Liga 2, one point behind leaders Martapura with a game in hand. It so happens the team from South Kalimantan are Persebaya's next opponents when the teams go head to head this Thursday and the Bonek are already pumped up for the game. The fans who made the journey were less than impressed with their hosts and the atmosphere surrounding the game. Their last meeting earlier in the season saw Martapura win 2-1 in controversial circumstances and while the headlines were about their coach at the time Iwan Setiawan

The atmosphere this Thursday promises to be red hot and the Persebaya fans will be hoping Martapura, who haven't lost a home game since November 2014, won't find Bung Tomo as accommodating as they allege Demang Lehman Stadium is. Three points for Persebaya will see them climb to within a point of the leaders and give the Bonek the belief they will be able to see their heroes back in the top flight next season. Martapura coach Fran Sinatra will have his job cut out trying to get his team singing from the same page in front of such a hostile atmosphere and will be hoping the experienced, and aging, Isnan Ali will be the calm head on the field.

Monday, July 24, 2017


Kota Sepakbola - The Second Book

Ok so the observant may have noticed I have not been posting so much in recent weeks on here. That is because the focus is on my second book and trying to get that finished before the end of September.

After various changes of focus the book will now look at a football in a number of Indonesian provinces and look at the clubs, the people and the history.

The provinces covered are : Banten, Jakarta DKI, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta DIY, East Java, East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi. I need to visit three more cities, Solo, Semarang and Malang and then the research on the ground is finished and I can concentrate on final writing and editing before, hopefully, handing it over to be translated.

Anyway keep watching my Twitter and Instagram accounts for the latest news on my second book!


A Familiar Look To Liga 1 As Persipura Take Top Spot

AFC Under 23 Championships

Indonesia v Malaysia 0-3
Indonesia v Mongolia 7-0
Indonesia v Thailand 0-0

1 - Malaysia 3 2 0 1 5-3 6
2 - Thailand 3 1 2 0 4-1 5
3 - Indonesia 3 1 1 1 7-3 5
4 - Mongolia 3 0 1 2 1-10 1

Indonesia'a ambitions of reaching China were over after 45 minutes in the first game against Malaysia when shocking defending saw them go 3-0 before half time. Despite putting up a better performance in the second half the damage was done. Mongolia, who had held Thailand in their opening game, were brushed aside quite comfortably thank you very much meaning Indonesia needed a win in their last game against the Thais to stand a chance of qualifying. Malaysia beating Mongolia meant that hope became zilch and both sides played out a draw in the monsoon rain. I guess Indonesia can now focus on the SEA Games?

Liga 1

Bhayangkara v Mitra Kukar 4-1 (Otavio Dutra, Paulo Sergio, Guy Junior 2; Marclei Santos) 1,450

Simon McMenemy's team went to the top of the table, albeit temporarily, after brushing aside his former club at Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. Mitra Kukar continue to struggle on their travels, they are still winless on the road and this was their fifth straight away defeat.

Semen Padang v Arema 2-0 (Vendry Mofu, Marcel Sacremento) 9,754

The return of Sacremento after a lengthy suspension saw Semen Padang return to winning ways after two draws and a loss against an Arema side that has its own problems. Their 15 goals in 17 games is the lowest total in the top half of the table and their one time miserly defence is now leaking goals like a wooden ferry in a torrential rainstorm; eight conceded in their last four games. Little wonder they are reportedly being linked with Australian Brent Griffiths. Semen Padang will be hoping Sacremnto's return will see them climb to the top half of the table.

Barito Putera v Madura United 2-2 (Paolo Sitanggang, Rizky Pora; Greg Nwokolo, Fabiano Beltrame) 5,942

Jacksen F Thiago's men after a slow start are turning into a very difficult team to beat with their 5-0 loss away to Bali United a recent aberration. Rizky's late goal earned them a point against high flying Madura, their second draw against title contenders in a week following their draw away to PSM last time out. The point may have been disappointing for Gomes de Oliviera but his team are just a point behind the leaders.

Persib v Persija 1-1 (Achmad Jufriyanto; Ramdani Lestalahu) 36,545

This was as firey as you would expect with Persija players needing an escort off the pitch after the game with security officials forming a shield to protect the players from incoming bottles and projectiles being thrown from the main stand. Persib have already paid out over Rp 300 million in fines, surely the incidents at this game will warrant the ultimate, if ineffective, sanction of games being played behind closed doors in future? Jufriyanto chose this of all games to net his first of the season after Persija struggled to deal with a corner but Randani levelled just minutes later. 

Borneo v Perseru 2-0 (Lerby Eliandry, Terens Puhiri) 8,217

The club management reduced prices for unattractive opponents and were rewarded with a decent turn out as Borneo continued their unbeaten home run. Perseru are relegated aren't they? They are seven points from safety and have just one win from their last 13 games to show for their efforts. Still, they are five points clear of Persiba and Gresik United so things could be worse!

Persipura v PS TNI 2-1 (Addison Alves 2; Sansan Husaeni) 12,521

The wheels really have come off PS TNIs season in recent weeks with just two wins in their last eight games, and one of those came against hapless Gresik United. From challenging for the top spot they are now in the bottom half of the table eight points adrift. Persipura? They remain Persipura who ever the coach is. They have climbed to top spot after a run of six games unbeaten.

Persiba v Persela 2-2 (Diklay Glay, Bryan Cesar; Konusuke Uchida, Taufiq Kasrun) 2,735

Things still not going right for Persiba even on their own patch. In a carbon copy of their game against PSM they fell behind against Persela, equalised and even took the lead but were unable to hold on for the three points. Disappointing as well to see such a low crowd for this game.

Bali United v PSM 3-0 (Marcos Flores, Sylvano Cormvalius, Miftahul Hamdi) 14,666

Ex Valencia coach Gary Neville was at this game, perhaps to pick up some coaching tips from Widodo Cahyo Putro and Robert Alberts. PSM's away form is costing them big time, this is the first time they have not ended a round of fixtures top for several weeks but what about Bali. They have been doing their job quietly and away from the spotlight and they now sit fourth just a point behind leaders Persipura and Bhayangkara following a hot streak of four wins and a draw in their last five games. With 16 goals in those games they are also Liga 1 top scorers inspired by French striker Cormvalius who has scored nine goals in his last eight games.

1 - Persipura 16 9 3 4 28-19 30
2 - Bhayangkara 16 10 0 6 27-21 30
3 - Madura United 16 8 5 3 29-17 29
4 - Bali United 16 9 2 5 29-17 29
5 - PSM 16 8 4 4 24-18 28

13 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United)
12 - Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United)
9 - Reinaldo Elias (PSM), Lerby Eliandri (Borneo)
8 - Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya), Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar)

Friday, July 07, 2017


Indonesia Withdraw AFC Asian Cup Bid

The news Indonesia has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup came as a bit of a surprise. I wasn't aware they had even put in a serious bid for it!

Indonesia of course co hosted the 2007 event (tickets left) with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam with Bung Karno, Jakabaring and Si Jalak Harapat Stadiums being used. And next year it will host the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang with stadiums in both cities being renovated.

In the last few years there have been a number of new, decent stadiums going up across the country but many of them have flaws that would surely prevent them being used for international events. Many were designed for the National Sports Week (PON) and were built in areas where the price of the land was of greater concern than accessibility for visitors with all that entails in a country where infrastructure has been neglected for so long.

The PSSI of course wanted to bid for the 2022 World Cup, a bid that was not supported by the government and led indirectly to the creation of two leagues for which we are still paying the price. That particular plan required the building of a whole swathe of new stadiums across the country with the PSSI optimistic the fields would suddenly sprout tremendous, gleaming sports arenas that would benefit generations to come.

Today a handful of stadiums have been built in different parts of the country and it could be argued the following would not take too much investment to make them ready for an international event:

88,000 - Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta
38,000 - Bandung Laut Api Stadium, Bandung, West Java
30,000 - Patriot Stadium, Bekasi, West Java
30,000 - Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong, West Java
28,778 - Wibawa Mukti Stadium, Bekasi, West Java

The following venues have the capacity but lack the facilities or access for an international event like the AFC Asian Cup

67,075 - Palaran Stadium, Samarinda, East Kalimantan 
55,000 - Bung Tomo Stadium, Surabaya, East Java
45,000 - Harapan Bangsa, Banda Aceh, Aceh
44,965 - Kanjurhan Stadium, Malang, East Java
35,000 - Gajayana Stadium, Malang
35,000 - Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo, West Java
35,000 - Aji Imbut Stadium, Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan
31,500 - Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman, Yogyakarta
27,250 - Jakabaring Stadium, Palembang
27,000 - Si Jalak Harapat Stadium, Soreang, West Java

There are also a number of stadiums in Riau province, a legacy of the recent PON games there but I have no idea what they are like. 

As can be seen from the above the better stadiums tend to be in West Java province. But while the venues in the first list have the benefit of reasonable access, by local standards, and individual seating Si Jalak Harupat is accessible via a couple of country lanes. Hardly the best approach for international or world class players. Likewise Maguwoharjo Stadium would be worthy of consideration but is in the middle of a residential area and access can be an issue if you are not on a motorcycle!

While the stadium situation is a big improvement on what it was even 10 years ago those that we do have do need work on to bring up to international standards and much of that work needs to come from state coffers. Bung Tomo for example (pictured left) is set amid rice fields and a water treatment plant. It stands out like a huge spaceship but for now is only reachable via a couple of narrow lanes although I understand a plan exists to link it to the nearby freeway.

Roads though are problematic from an environmental point of view. What's needed is some kind of public transport, especially trains and hardly any stadium on the two lists is within walking distance of a railway station with the exception of Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. Gajayana Stadium is a doable walk for me but then I'm English and don't mind a walk now and then. And Bung Karno is situated in the middle of Jakarta, close to the busway and Palmerah Railway Station. But that's it.

It would be interesting to know why Indonesia have withdrawn their bid. Thailand are still in contention and they boast Rajamangala, Supachalasai, Thammasat and Buriram United as decent stadiums. That's about it. Still, under a military junta they are more likely to construct stadiums and infrastructure than Indonesian in a short period of time.

Indonesia started the 2017 season with a regulation stipulating the number of players aged 23 or under who must start the game. Then they realized the SEA Game stake place in August which would force teams to be short of key players so they ditched the regulation. Perhaps they should just focus on having a season go to plan before inviting the world to come and visit?


Persis Go Three Points Clear After Derby Win

Group 2

Persika v Persikabo 3-1 (Samsudin, Ade Ivan, Rezky Ikhwan; Munadi) 5,000

1 - Persita 6 4 0 2 6-4 12
2 - Persika 6 3 2 1 8-6 11
3 - Cilegon U 6 3 1 2 5-4 10
4 - Perserang 5 3 0 2 9-7 9

Sunday sees Perserang host PS Bengkulu. Win that and they would go top on goal difference

Group 4

Persis v PSIS 1-0 (Dedi Cahyono) 23,000

1 - Persis 6 5 1 0 10-2 16
2 - PSIS 6 4 1 1 7-4 13
3 - PSIR 5 2 3 0 5-2

Group 5

Persebaya v Persatu 2-0 (M Syaifuddin, Rishadi Fauzi) 35,000

1 - Persebaya 5 2 2 1 8-5 8
2 - Persatu 6 2 2 2 8-8 8
3 - Madiun Putra 5 2 2 1 7-7 8

Persebaya won their first game under new coach Alfredo Angel Vera against the leaders Persatu. Four teams have seven points in this tight group

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Solo Prepares To Welcome PSIS In Top Of The Table Liga 2 Clash

Welcome to Solo
I can't begin to tell you how gutted I am to be missing the Central Java derby between Persis and PSIS later today. The reasons I had to be there? The Solo chapter in my second book is the first reason. Second? It's a quality derby in the second tier that shows the strength in depth of Indonesian football history and culture. Third? It's first against second. And finally a monster atmosphere! What's not to love?

Both teams arguably belong in the top flight based on history alone. Persis were formed in 1923, PSIS 1932. They aren't in Liga 1 of course because in the last few years they haven't been good enough. PSIS came close to winning Liga Indonesia back in 2006, ending up as runners up to a Cristian Gonzales inspired Persik. Since then there has been little for the fans to cheer about as the club, starved of funds, have fallen out of the top flight and struggled to make an impact in the second tier. 

They came close in 2014 when they reached the play offs but were then involved in that infamous 'elephant match' with PSS where neither team wanted to win for, allegedly, fear of playing Pusamania in the next round. 

Ironically in that season PSIS and Persis were drawn in the same group and ended the first stage of the season level on points. But while PSIS were eventually kicked out after the farce against PSS Persis finished bottom of their play off group and promotion hopes extinguished.

Three years pn and both harbour similar ambitions. They are tied with 13 points at the top of Group 4, Persis marginally ahead thanks to a better goal difference.With 3rd place PSIR four points behind the two giants and nine games left to play neither side can be assured of success just yet and after a two month rest today's game will be a stern test in the fullest sense of the term.

An estimated 1,500 PSIS fans will make the short journey south to Solo for the game where they will be welcomed by an estimated 1,100 security personnel charged with ensuring the game goes off in a safe atmosphere. They have been advised not to bring large banners or flags while Persis supporters have been told they can not wear club colours following an incident earlier in the season/

You want passion, you want excitement, you want thrills then Persis v PSIS promises all of that. Plus a lot more. 


PSM Stay Top Despite Loss As Rivals Lose Ground

Persipura v Mitra Kukar 6-0 (Yan Pieter Nasadit, Prisca Womsiwor 3, Boas Solossa, Addison Alves) 12,400

New coach Wanderley Junior got his Persipura career off to a flying start as his team thumped Mitra Kukar in the first game after the Lebaran break. Twenty year old Nasadit started the scoring after 10 minutes before 22 year old Womsiwor got in on the act netting two goals in six minutes. The Black Pearls killed off the visitors with three goals in nine second half minutes including Womsiwor completing his first top flight hat trick

Semen Padang v Persela 1-0 (Irsyad Maulana) 5,963

Irsyad's second goal of the season on the hour mark killed off plucky Persela who saw Ivan Carlos' goal disallowed after a collision between the home side's keeper and a defender. To make things worse for the visitor top scorer Carlos was later red carded.

PS TNI v Arema 0-0 1,498 (Match Report)

Borneo v Madura United 3-0 (Flavio Beck 2, Shane Smeltz) 

High flying Madura United's title aspirations took a hit after going down 3-0 against an irrepressible Borneo. The visitors opted to start their leading scorer Peter Odemwingie on the bench while Borneo gave New Zealand international Shane Smeltz a starting role despite his exploits for his country at the Confederations Cup in Russia. The win keeps Borneo's 1005 home record intact and they climb to 12th in the table

Gresik United v Persija 1-1 (Gusti Rustiawan; Luis Junior) Behind Closed Doors

A rare point for struggling Gresik United, their first since the end of May but Persija were left fuming about the referee's performance, threatening to file an official letter of complaint. Gusti Rustiawan gave the home team the lead on 28 minutes with his first goal of the season, the first time Persijas defence had been breached in 478 minutes. Despite the draw Gresik United could face further sanction as seven of their players were yellow carded including M Said who was also sent off. Scorer Rustiawan picked up his fourth red card in five games. Already punished by being forced to play behind closed doors this result may be a costly point for relegation threatened Gresik.

Bhayangkara v Barito Putera 0-1 (Mathias Cordobo) 1,250

Jacksen F Thiago saw his side pick up their first away win since April 2015, the season that was halted when PSSI was suspended by FIFA, as they launched the most complete smash and grab raid on third place Bhayangkara. After scoring on 14 minutes with a free head it was backs to the wall for Barito Putera who put in a polished, professional performance to keep the Cops at bay. Bhayangkara dominated the second 45 minutes and had the chances to draw level but a lack of composure in front of goal ultimately cost them. Ilham Uddin, four goals in six games, came on as a second half substitute and his all action style immediately lifted the spirits among the home team fans but as I  said that clinical final touch wasn't there.

Bali United v Persiba 2-0 (Nick van der Velden, Sylvano Comvalius) 10,000

Bali's win sees them four points behind leaders PSM after a competent display against struggling Persiba. Just one win all season, the Honey Bears are rooted to the bottom of the table with just four points from 12 games and it is difficult to see how coach Milo Seslija can change things too much even with the transfer window opening next month. Four straight losses, perhaps some respite may come when they host PSM next week.

Persib v PSM 2-1 (Shohei Matsuanaga, Atep; Wiljan Pluim) 19,713

The Persib soap opera rolls on. Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman wasn't in the dug out for this crucial test against the league leaders. He was in Saudi Arabia on a minor hajj but his team seems to have done just fine without him with Japanese import Matsunaga scoring his first goal of the season six minutes before half time. Atep hit his second on 55 minutes before Pluim set up a nervy final 18 minutes. After the game PSM coach Robert Alberts said Persib ha
d played well but at least his team were still top of the table. Yep, all the results went PSM's way for sure...but beware Persipura! One thing Alberts may be wary of. His team have picked up just one point from their last four away games and with three of t heir next five games on the road he will be wanting to see an improvement in away form or that top place will soon be a memory.

1 - PSM Makassar 12 7 2 3 19-11 23
2 - Madura United 12 6 4 2 22-12 22
3 - Persipura          12 7 1 4 21-15 22
4 - Bhayangkara    12 7 0 5 17-16 21

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

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


The Fine Art Of Timewasting

Hands up. Who hasn't, in their daily jobs or while carrying out those chores whoch are so necessary but time consuming, hasn't indulged in a little bludging? You know, stealing a few 'me' moments? We all do it and we do it because we think we can get away with it.

Football's equivalence is time wasting and we see it all the time. Players use go down like they have been shot, roll around for an age, on comes the physio, a bit of the old magic sponge and what do you know, the player gets to his feet gingerly and within minutes is running round like his usual self. Or when a substitution takes place, the player being replaced may have the pace of a whippet but with three minutes on the clock and his team leading 1-0 away from home, suddenly he's wading through treacle.

For some reason refs seem quite happy to let these forms of cheating carry on unpunished. Why is that? They are perfectly within their rights to brandish a yellow card, and let's face it some of them are in the business just for the card waving, but when it comes to players nicking a few crafty seconds they let it go.

The thing with time wasting is it is actually quite popular. When your team is winning away from home you don't want your team going out out for a second goal. You expect  them to shut up shop, show some discipline and see the game out (this applies across football except to Arsene Wenger). 

But a week later and we, the fans, will be screaming like hell when we are trailing 1-0 in similar circumstances. Then, we are happy for it to happen. Managers complain about consistency from refs but in this case where is the consistency from supporters?

Fact is FIFA should be clamping down on time wasting in games, not introducing cosmetic rule changes that force players to stand like lemons in the middle of the field shaking hands with foes or decreeing a game can kick off with the ball going backwards. Seriously, who cares about that inane piece of tinkering? But insist refs get serious on time wasting and FIFA may find itself basking in the rare glow of praise.

In the last two games I have seen here refs have given out yellow cards for time wasting. But they have waited until the last few minutes to do so even though it has been happening for much of the game. Refs need to clamp their authority from that get go and if that means booking players after 10 minutes for time wasting then bloody well do it. It's the rules pal. Cos if you don't take action the cheats will prosper and the game will suffer as a spectacle.

I don't blame players for trying to find an advantage, any advantage on the field. They are doing what they can to win the game. It is down to the match officials to be cannier and to be smarter. A case in point is the incident pictured that happened during the Bhayangkara v Barito Putera game at Patriot Stadium. Leading 1-0 a Barito Putera player went down inches from the touchline. The ref stops the game while he receives treatment with Bhayangkara players looking on. The ref is checking his watch as if to say 'I have your card marked son, I know what you're doing'. But given the player's proximity to the touch line why not just tell him to drag himself off the pitch to be looked at and let the rest of us get on with the football?

FIFA are now talking about football being reduced from 2 x 45 minute halves to 2 x 30 minute halves without stoppages. Believe me, if players can steal a few moments down time they will, 30 minutes or not. Why not just work to ensure referees are aware of time wasting and act quickly to nip it in the bud? The laws are already in place, just do it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


PS TNI v Arema 0-0

Has it really been a month since I last saw a game in Indonesia? To the day in fact. But the fasting is over and last night I headed to Cibinong to see an interesting top of the table clash as hosts PS TNI take on Arema. 

If you want to take anything from PS TNI you  need to get in their faces and that's what Arema did, competitive and fighting for every ball. There were still chances at each end on an open game but  PS TNI, perhaps mindful of their disciplinary record that has cost them the services of key players like Manahati Lestusen and Abduh Lestalahu for long periods, were not quite the imposing force they had been earlier in the season. (Both were booked in this game!)

Arema coach Aji Santoso gave rare starts to Arif Suryono and Ahmad Bustomi and indeed they did have the ball in the net in the first half when Arthur Cunha bundled the ball home from close range but the ref ruled it out for offside.

A thrilling climax saw PS TNI pile the pressure on and an excellent save from Kurnia Meiga in injury time looked to have saved a point for Arema and kept their impressive defensive record intact. From the resulting corner it PS TNI claimed a penalty as the ball appeared to strike an Arema defender but the ref waved away their appeals.

After the game PS TNI coach Ivan Kolev made his feelings clear when he said 'This is four games we have failed to win because of the ref. What is going on?' He went on to say inbetween the game ending and the press conference starting he received a phone call from a friend in Bulgaria who had seen the game. His pal it was a nailed on penalty (in Bulgarian of course) and there were several times when the ref missed Arema players handling the ball.

Perhaps Kolev would have been happy to have seen video technology used by the ref as it was in the recent PS TNI v Persija game?! Perhaps if the ref could have seen both the alleged handball incident and Cunha's goal...

While Kolev sought to blame the hapless ref Arema's coach Aji Santoso felt his players weren't perhaps fully match fit having only returned to training on 29th June.

From my seat in the stand I felt It wasn't a bad game to watch, both sides had the opportunities to win the game but failed to take their chances. They say there is a fine line between winning and not winning and often that fine line can be a wrong decision by a player or a poor first or second touch when in good positions. Coaches of course won't always admit that, their job is on the line every game, and I understand that. 

The attendance by the way was 1,498 including a sizeable Arema contingent who occupied the stand normally used by PS TNI fans. The home support was strangely absent, perhaps because many were involved in security duty during the lebaran period.

In terms of the league table the result helped Persipura who thrashed Mitra Kukar 6-0 in an earlier game and climbed up to third in Liga 1, one point behind leaders PSM. In the other game Semen Padang defeated Persela 1-0 at home to climb from 15th to 9th!

Sunday, July 02, 2017


Persija v Espanyol Ticket Info

Saturday, July 01, 2017


PSM Face Persib Test In Week 12

After a near three week break Liga 1 action returns Monday with sides hoping the pause hasn't interrupted their momentum be it good or bad.

Semen Padang get the ball rolling when they host Persela and they will be hoping to claw their way up the table as quickly as possible. With 14 points they are eight points clear of 16th placed Perseru but coach Nil Maizer knows a win could see them back in the top half of the table. Unbeaten at home, Semen Padang did beat leaders PSM last time out so there will be some wind in their sails, especially when they come up against a Persela side which has just one away win all season.

With a new coach, Wanderley Junior, fourth place Persipura will be looking to impress when they come up against the tough to beat Mitra Kukar. The Black Pearls have won their last three home games by a single goal advantage so may feel confident going into this game but ex coach Jafri Sastra has set up his Mitra Kukar side in such a way even if they concede first there is enough about them to earn at least a point.

Three losses in their last five games suggest the tank tracks have come of the PS TNI side in recent weeks but they go into their home game with Arema knowing they could be at full strength after losing a number of key players to suspension. Mind they are up against an Arema packed with big names yet looking for form on their travels. They  have just one win and one goal away from home and that came against Persiba which was played in ... Malang! Only Perseru and Persiba have scored less goals than the Crazy Lions and Aji Santoso probably has half an eye on the upcoming transfer window as he seeks to solve the goalscoring conundrum which is afflicting his side. Away to PS TNI won't be his idea of a gentle introduction after a long break!

Borneo may be welcoming back striker Shane Smeltz after his exploits at the Confederations Cup in Russia but it is local lad Lerby Eliandry who has been making people sit up and take note with seven goals in Liga 1. They come up against Madura United unbeaten in their last nine games and with 11 goals in their last three, admittedly home, games. The football club is buzzing and they are looking to tie down Peter Odemwingie to a longer contract as they look to build on their impressive start to the season. Two of the  newer clubs in Liga 1, it should be a thriller.

Gresik United are in a bad place. They have a single win and two draws to show for their 11 games and they must host Persija behind closed doors after their supporters invaded the pitch at their game against Persela. Persija, the same side that are really flying with four straight wins. 

Bhayangkara could go top if they beat Barito Putera on Tuesday at Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. After two wins on the road at Persiba and Bali United coach Simon McMenemy will be hoping his side can continue that form at home against Jacksen F Thiago's men who have picked up just one point on their travels. 21 year old striker Ilham Uddin has been on fire recently with four goals in his last six outings to his credit putting him one behind veteran Thiago Furtuoso.

When Bali United, who have lost their last two games, host Persiba, who have lost their last two games there can surely be only one winner? Persiba have been abject all season, hard working but lacking quality and it is difficult to see them picking up maximum points in Bali.

The game of the week sees Persib host PSM on Wednesday. Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman is still with the club apparently though in recent days he has been in Saudi Arabia doing a minor hajj. For all Persib's perceived woes they remain unbeaten at home while PSM, for all their fine form, have just a single win on their travels and no matter the problems surrounding Persib a full house on Wednesday will be demanding the players wearing blue get into the visitors from the first minute. It may not be a pretty game to watch but it should be a thriller and PSM coach Robert Alberts will know this will be a strong test of his team's title ambitions


My Favourite Grounds In Asia

I was inspired to do this post by an article on the AFC website about the 16 best stadiums in Asia. Now, normally I don't bother clicking on these sorts of stories, they're just fluff, but we are in a bit of a lull in Indonesia, action returns Monday, and it did get me thinking which ain't always a bad thing. 

From the 16 chosen by the AFC, not sure what the parameters were, I have been to just four; Rajamangala, Bung Karno, My Dinh and Bukit Jalil. No surprise there. But if I were to choose my own favourite stadiums none of them would appear on the list. Bung Karno for example maybe a cavernous arena but it is a bowl designed by the Soviet Union with all the aesthetic charm you might expect from them. Plus, it has a running track and I detest them at stadiums.

I'm not going to list all the stadiums I have been to in Asia but here is a break down, country by country.

35 - Indonesia
18 - Australia
15 - Singapore
14 - Thailand
10 - Kuwait
5 - Malaysia, UAE
3 - Qatar
2 - Cambodia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Bahrain
1 - Nepal, Jordan

Out of that little lot which grounds tick the boxes for me? For a start I don't like those with running tracks round them. I much prefer arenas where fans are right up close to the action. I also don't like this new breed of stadium where architects have exhibited their love of wavy roofs. Give me something compact with a bit of history, not always possible, and character and I'm happy. 

So, in no particular order except the first here we go with my own fluff!

1 - PAT Stadium, Bangkok
I just love the way  this stadium has grown organically over the years. Nice atmosphere, easy to get to, proper football club.

I also like how the city skyline seems o rise up out of the two tier terrace

2 - Lebak Bulus, Jakarta
Now sadly no more, this was the first ground I went to when I started Jakarta Casual. It only held about 12,000 supporters but bloody hell, the
atmosphere they generated...especially under the lights. I have seen international players just gaze in awe at the seething mass of humanity singing and swaying as one on the terrace.

3 - Leo Stadium, Pathum Thani
You gotta admire the sheer ambition of this stadium. There was only three sides last time I visited but but boy, what can be done with a bit of cash and imagination. A three tier terrace I ask you! 

A segregated terrace behind the other goal does wonders for the atmosphere when there is a large away following.

4 - Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman
Difficult to get to by public transport but well worth the effort and expense. PSS's stadium has been nicknamed the Indonesian San Siro after curly bits on the outside. But inside, oh boy. Like I said, well worth the effort. PSS fans were recently featured in a Polish fan culture magazine and I expect more and more fans from around the world will be making a bee line to one of the hottest atmospheres in Asia. And all this at a second tier club!

5 - The Thunderdome, Muang Thong
As they say, I love what you have done with the place. Nice, compact, this arena shows what can be done when you own your own stadium. Small on the capacity side but big enough for the Thai league. 

6 - November 10 Stadium, Surabaya
Sadly never saw a game here but what's not to love? Uneven terraces, a moat that was designed to keep fans off the pitch but never did its job particularly well and trees growing out of the terraces. And, as an Arsenal fan, we lost here in a friendly in 1983! See, I am neutral!

7 - Siliwangi Stadium, Bandung
How lucky are Persib? They have the pick from Si Jalak Harapat, Bandung Laut Api and Siliwangi Stadiums. While they have outgrown this particular venue, it only holds around 22,000, surely some other team could use it once in a while? As well as Persib I have seen PSMS and Persita play home games here over the years. Fairly central as well.

8 - St George Stadium, Sydney
Last I heard it was falling to pieces but it's my list and I want some sentimentality. Got to know about the issues in the Balkans in this stadium back in late 1980s, early 1990s. Used to go with a good group of lads to see St George, home and some away, Home games started in the Brighton le Sands Fishing Club not too far away for a few beers then on to the ground. 

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