Monday, January 29, 2018
RD Return Has Sriwijaya Dreaming Of Glory
After two years in Malaysia with unfancied T Team Indonesia's most successful coach, Rahmad Darmawan, has returned home to one of his former clubs, Sriwijaya, with a simple brief; bring back the glory days.
Under RD first time round Laskar Wong Kito won the Indonesia Super League and added three Indonesian Cups to their trophy cabinet and since he left times have been pretty lean for the Sriwijaya faithful. But his return and the addition of some big name signings have them believing the good times may be just around the corner.
Certainly 2017 is one to forget for the Palembang based club. They decided coach Widodo Cahyono Putro wasn't the man to lead them for the season and replaced him with Osvaldo Lessa on the eve of the new campaign. Lessa struggled, despite the goals of veteran striker Alberto Goncalves they finished in the lower half of the table, while Widodo was gleefully snapped up by Bali United, leading them to second place and a campaign in Asian club competition beckons.
The arrival of RD has encouraged some big names to make the move to South Sumatra with Hamka Hamkah, Makan Konate, Patrich Wanggai and Esteban Vizcarra among those looking to help the team improve on last season's poor showing. Good teams need a spine and with Hamka, Konate and Goncalves down the middle RD certainly has experience and talent at the core of his team.
As well as the golden oldies RD is putting his faith in youngsters with goalkeeper Teja Paku Alam, a rare success last season, and Ichsan Kurniawan sticking around while midfielder Adam Alis and full back Alfin Tuasalamony have also been added to the ranks after signing from Arema and Bhayangkara. Alfin is of course no stranger to RD having teamed up together at Persebaya four or five years ago but his career has been blighted by injuries in recent seasons and he will be hoping to show the sort of form that marked him at as one for the future when he was younger and had him enjoy spells in Uruguay and Belgium.
Despite losing their opening game in the President Cup to hosts Persib 1-0 Sriwijaya had no problems qualifying from their group. They defeated PSMS 3-0 (goals from Alis, Konate and another new signing Manuchekher Dzhaliov, a Tajikistan international). Sriwijaya won their final group game against PSM with another goal from Konate, a penalty, and an own goal ensuring comfotable passage to the knock out round which will be held in Solo next month.
With all the positivity surrounding the return of RD the only blemish on the horizon could be the small matter of where the team play their home games. With Palembang co hosting the multi-event Asian Games their first choice Jakabaring Stadium will be out of bounds for at least the first half of the season forcing Sriwijaya to use the much smaller Bumi Sriwijaya Stadium. The team did use that stadium towards the end of last season though and perhaps the smaller crowds will be able to generate a more hostile atmosphere for visiting teams.