Thursday, September 28, 2017


New Coach Rudy Restores Some Lost Pride At PS TNI

I'm spoilt for choice with cliches as PS TNI finally returned to winning ways yesterday, defeating Mitra Kukar 2-1 at Pakansari Stadium in front of a sparse crowd. Could it be third time lucky as PS TNI appointed new coach Eka Rudy Priyambada, their third of the season? Could I make reference to the military side getting their shots on target again? Or could way go down the more mundane road of a side re-energised under a new coach?

Certainly the Ivan Kolev era, for all his experience in Indonesia, won't go down in whatever PS TNI annals that may exist, as one of unparalleled success. A surprise appointment to replace Laurent Hatton, a surprise dismissal, early on in the season, under Kolev PS TNI lost much of their spikiness that had been a hallmark of their early season form. Like the Leeds United of the Don Revie era if you wanted a result against the military side you had to mix it with them. But once sides twigged this, and once PS TNI noticed the effects of losing their top players to suspensions, everything changed.

Ahead of the game with Mitra Kukar, PS TNI had gone a depressing eight games without a win and just a point to lift the perma-gloom that was hanging round the football club. Even their supporters, serving military types bused in on their superiors' orders lost interest, their corps d'esprit crushed by frequent defeats. I went down to see them play Bhayangkara and it was rumoured Kolev wasn't even in the dug out. And even in this, the uniform derby where surely service pride would have been at stake, PS TNI looked like they were going through the motions. Yes, at times they played well and arguably without the heroics of visiting keeper Awan could have earned a point, but that aggressiveness that had served them well in those now distant early games seemed half-hearted.

In came a new coach, Rudy, an ambitious young man who I met a few years back in Bahrain of all places. Funnily enough I had met Rudy at that Bhayangkara game, I think he had forgotten my name 'cos he called out bule, and I had asked him why he should be at that game. He certainly seemed knowledge about the problems within the football club but he assured me, in that football coaches way, that he had a contract with Liga 2 side Celebest and he was enjoying the challenge of having them reach the second round of the competition. Next thing I hear he is appointed coach of PS TNI!

PS TNI weren't short of being a decent team again. During the recent horror run only Persib and PSM defeated them by a single goal margin. And with players like Abduh Lestalahu, Erwin Randhani and Manahati Lestusen providing youthful exuberance under the tutelage of the experienced South Korean Soon Hak Hong it surely wouldn't be long before the handful of remaining fans would have something to celebrate.

And so it proved, admittedly against a frustratingly inconsistent Mitra Kukar side which boasts just a single win on their travels. Jorge Gator put through his own net to give the home side a lead halfway through the first half before Sansan Husaeni double the lead seven minutes before half time. Marceli Santos pulled one back from the penalty spot, his 17th of the season, but Rudy's men held on for the three points and a rare chance to celebrate a victory in front of the handful of fans who had stuck by 
the team.

Mitra Kukar at home may not be the hardest challenge of the fixture list, a gentle introduction to teh rigours of top flight coaching for new man Rudy. His next challenge will be a lot tougher, away to Persija this weekend. 

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