Sunday, March 17, 2019
President Cup 2019 Group Stage Review
Before the President Cup started I wrote how we so rarely see upsets in cup competitions. Well, I got that wrong pretty big time, didn't I? Persib failing to qualify from a group they hosted featuring Persebaya, Tira Persikabo and Perseru...surely they were odds on to come through that group?
Instead they managed to lose their opening games (1-2 v Tira, 2-3 v Persebaya) and had fans calling for new coach Miljan Radovic to be sacked among other things! It's pre season remember, the Liga 1 campaign won't begin until after the elections and the fasting month but the impatient Bobotoh called for a boycott for their final game and the supporters stayed away in their thousands. After in excess of 26,000 saw their opening two games less than 10% of that number saw their final game against Perseru.
That Persib defeated Perseru 4-0 will mean nothing in the eyes of the impatient fans who see Radovic as a poor replacement for Mario Gomez who guided the team last season. That Radovic is a Persib legend, that fans would often take to social media calling for him to return, seems to count for nothing.
Moving beyond Persib the performances of Tira Persikabo could make people sit up and take note. Coach Rahmad Darmawan, Indonesia's most successful coach having won the title with Persipura (2205) and Sriwijaya (2007/08), RD inherited a team already full of tough young players like Manahati Lestusen and Abduh Lestalahu but has now added goals with the experienced Osas Marvelous Saha and Loris Arnoud who spent last season with Persela.
In Group B hosts Bhayangkara qualified top of the group with a 100% record and they will be joined by runners' up Bali United, a repeat of the 2017 title race. Relegated Mitra Kukar finished bottom of the group with no points and won't be looking forward to life in Liga 2 in the new season.
There was also fan unrest as Semen Padang supporters vented their frustrations towards coach Syafrianto Rusli following defeats in their opening games against Bhayangkara and Bali United. Some pride may have been restored with victory over hapless Mitra Kukar in the final game but some realism is called for. Semen Padang have just been promoted and they have never been known as a club with deep pockets to attract the big names, quite what fans are expecting from a pre season competition against top sides is beyond me.
The tightest group was C hosted in Magelang where PSIS, Kalteng Putra and Persipura all tied on six points meaning hapless PSM finished bottom of the group with nothing at all. Perhaps, rather sensibly, they were more focused on their AFC Cup campaign?
More fan protests in Group D where hosts PSS were forced to play their opening game against Madura United in a near empty stadium after their supporters called for a boycott as discussed here. Unlike PSM, Persija seem to be juggling both President Cup and AFC Cup duties. Following their 2-2 draw with highly fancied Madura United the Macan Kemayoran headed to Myanmar, no mean feat logistically from Yogyakarta, and defeated Shan United before returning to Sleman and beating the hosts 2-0 a few days later with Bruno Matos showing no signs of jet lag scoring in all three games.
In Group E hosted in Malang, Persela came out on top with Arema finishing as runners up and again the Arema support are picking and choosing their games with few bothering to watch the ties with Barito Putera and Persita but a large crowd for the local derby.
Persebaya, Tira Persikabo, Bhayangkara, Kalteng Putra, Persija, Madura United, Persela, Arema
4 - Bruno Matos (Persija), Melvin Platje (Bali United)
3 - Anderson Salles (Bhayangkara), Gavin Kwan (Barito Putra), Osas Saha (Tira Pesikabo), Manuchekhr Dzhalilov (Persebaya)
29,150 - PSS v Persija
28,311 - Arema v Persela
26,978 - Persebaya v Persib'
26,541 - Persib v Tira Persikabo
13,182 - Borneo v PSS