Saturday, January 27, 2018
An Indonesian Diaspora
I don't recall a time when so many Indonesian players have decided now is the time for them to try their luck abroad. Yes, we have seen officially sanctioned programmes which have seen young players sent to Italy and Uruguay but what we are seeing now is talented professionals deciding to go overseas in a bid to improve their experience and their life skills. And they're doing this against a crescendo of whining from the PSSI chief who bemoans their lack of patriotism.
There are now at least eight players who have signed for teams in Thailand and Malaysia and while the quality and profile may not be on a par with the likes of Thai internationals Teerathon and Teerasil heading to Japan at least a mindset seems to developing there is more to being a professional footballer than bakso and questionable management practises.
I have lost count of the number of times I raved about this 21 year old lad last season when he broke through under Simon McMenemy's astute management at the champions Bhayangkara scoring vital goals along the way to their surprise triumph. Ilham seemed unphased by opponents and there would be a genuine buzz around the stadium if he was brought on as a sub; Indonesia is full of speed merchants, Ilham brings quality and end product to the table. I was genuinely chuffed when he got his move to Selangor and that he also scored for the national team against Iceland was just the icing on the cake.
While Ilham's star appeared to rise overnight Evan Dimas has seemingly been around for years. He first made a national impact in Indra Sjafri's successful Under 19 squad and was soon promoted to the national team; indeed at one stage I seem to recall he had made more appearances for the merah putih than he had for his club side Bhayangkara which he joined in 2016 from Persebaya. Dimas is no stranger to football outside of Indonesia having had trials in Spain with a couple of clubs earlier in his career and while Selangor will not be unfamiliar to him it will perhaps offer the Surabaya born midfielder a larger shop window.
Ryuji Utomo (Persija to PTT Rayong)
Ryuji personifies the spirit of seeing football as a world game and not just one restricted to a few islands in his home country. He may only be 22 but the defender has already tasted life in Uruguay and Bahrain so won't be too phased by life in a quiet Thai beach town a few hours outside of Bangkok. Sadly his career has been blighted by injury and he has yet to make his mark over a sustained period of games but he will be hoping to change that breathing the see air on the Gulf of Thailand.
Ferdinand Sinaga (PSM to Kelantan)
I find it hard to believe Sinaga is pushing 30 years of age! After doing the rounds of lower league clubs Sinaga made headlines when he was part of the SEA Games side that reached the final back in 2011, a side that boasted Patrich Wanggai, Andik Vermansyah and Titus Bonai among others. He was playing for Persiwa at the time and his exploits in the international competition saw bigger clubs sit up and take notice. Most recently he has experienced something of a renaissance under Robert Alberts at PSM with 22 goals in his two seasons, catching the eye of suitors before deciding to join Kelantan. The North East side are very much fallen giants in Malaysia but have massive potential and the supporters there will surely take to Sinaga's all action style.
Yanto Basna (Sriwijaya to Khon Kaen)
The Sorong born 22 year old defender will find himself right outside of his comfort zone as he adapts to life in Thailand's North East but as another member of the Uruguay alumni shouldn't take too long to adapt. While Yanto has earned rave reviews for his cultured style of play he has also attracted criticism for his end of season exploits, most noticeably the will he, won't he transfer moves which haven't endeared him to some fans. Is Khon Kaen a step above Sriwijaya? Unlikely but many people regard the Thai league to be stronger than the Indonesian, questionable, and he will have the opportunity to parade his skills in front of a football fraternity with pretty impressive contacts throughout the region and beyond.
Achmad Jufriyanto (Persib to Kuala Lumpur)
Jupe's tearful departure from Bandung, his second stint at the club, sees the end of Persib's successfull centre half pairing (along with Vladimir Vujovic) and a first spell overseas for the 30 year old. Doubtless Jupe would have had offers aplenty locally but perhaps after winning two titles in Indonesia (Arema and Persib) he felt the time was right was new pastures? Certainly the contrast between KL and Persib is stark. Bandung may look like a large, sprawling city to the untrained eye but in football terms it is a village where everyone knows what everyone else is up to. KL will afford Jupe a degree of anonymity he hasn't enjoyed for a while and who knows, he may even have dreams of playing himself back into the national team where he 16 caps.
Terens Puhiri (Borneo to Port)
This is perhaps one of the more interesting moves and is an indication of increasing contacts between Indonesia and the rest of the region. The 21 year old flyer has been in Samarinda since 2013 and signed for Borneo in 2015. For a while it looked like he would be just one of many small pacy players that Indonesia churns out like a production line, less than 5 foot 6 inches, light as a feather but as fast as the wind. Then he scored a goal, against Mitra Kukar, which went viral and he soon became known beyond the borders and people became aware of the Papuan born flyer and he signed for Port on loan for 2018. Hopefully the move is a success and not just one based on a few seconds of You Tube fame.
David Laly (Barito Putera - FELCRA)
I honestly don't know what to make of this particular move. The 26 year old Laly has been a steady performer throughout his career without disturbing any Ibu's carefully coiffured hair along the way. Just a steady pro making his way through an unspectacular career thath as seen him play for Persipura, Persidafon, Pelita Bandung Raya and Persib before ending up in 2017 under Jacksen F Thiago at Barito Putera where he did enough to earn interest from overseas. Let's face it, FELCRA are no Selangor or Kelantan. Hell, they aren't even KL, rather they are a government department better known as Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority, a name that hardly rolls off the tongue. This coming season will be their first ever in Malaysia's second tier and Laly will be part of history!