Friday, September 30, 2011


Persib's Thailand Cnnection

Rare indeed is there a pre season when Persib Bandung don't link themselves with one Thai player or another. Sinthaweechai Hathairatnakul of course had two spells with the team while Suchao Nutnum's brief time is fondly remembered by the Persib faithful.

Recent days have seen BEC Tero striker Teeratep Winothai linked with the club and now we have this story suggesting Kiatprawut Saiwaeo is interesting them.

Things have changed now since the Thais played overseas. More money in the Thai game means there aren't any high profile players playing abroad, even the ones in Singapore, and it wasn't that long ago there was a sizeable community there, have returned home.

Plus of course the Indonesian season starts on 15 October, maybe, while the Thai season doesn't finish untill early January, maybe.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Calisto's Out

It's been reported in Thailand that Muang Thong United and their coach Henrique Calisto have parted ways. Which is fair enough when you consider the back to back champions haven't won a Thai Premier League game since August 20th when they beat TOT 3-1. Indeed their last home win was 10 August when they thumped Bangkok Glass 6-2.

A shockingly poor run of form it must be said and you can only wonder at the club's patience before acting. When you consider they have also been knocked out of the Thai League Cup and the AFC Cup then you can see times are tough at the Thunderdome.

Keeping track of Muang Thong's coaching merry go round* is as futile as recalling every stadium Pelita Jaya have used as a home ground or which team's benches Boy Jati has warmed in recent seasons.

Tomorrow they travel to Samut Songkram for a vital game. They are in 3rd place in the TPL, 12 points behind leaders Buriram PEA with two games in hand.

* I am reliably informed his replacement will be the seventh coach in five years!


Increasing Capacity At JBS

SINGAPORE, 29 September 2011: The Football Association of Singapore (FAS), with the support of the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), is seeking to increase the seating capacity of the Jalan Besar Stadium.

“FAS has issued a Request-For-Proposal to interested vendors on 27 September 2011. We also conducted a briefing to them today. We hope to receive proposals that are innovative in expanding the seating capacity as well as in enhancing commercial returns which can then be used for the development of football in Singapore. We look forward to welcoming more supporters for our matches,” said FAS President Zainudin Nordin. (you will have to do a better job about informing them first!)

FAS hopes to appoint the vendor by the end of October 2011, and to complete the expansion works by early next year.

COMMENT - a good idea but one that should have been implemented once it was decided to knock down the old National Stadium. There is a crying need for a stadium in Singapore holding something like 15,000 - 20,000. Witness the recent World Cup Qualifier against Malaysia which could only hold 6,000 +


Macca's A Mitra

Simon McMenemy is to be confirmed as coach of Super League new boys Mitra Kukar. The former Philippines national team who has also coached in Vietnam is expected to finalise everything today before taking charge of the ambitious club from East Kalimantan.

Mitra Kukar have also signed Hamka Hamzah, Isnan Ali and Jajang Maulyana ahead of the new season which starts next month. Hamzah comes from Persipura who he helped to the Indonesia Super League last season, Isnan comes from Persib while Jajang was last with Sriwijaya though he also had a loan spell in Brazil some years back.


Okta Drops A Division

It was only last December that pacy winger Oktavianus Maniani was being talked about as the great new hope of Indonesian football along with Irfan Bachdim. The Sriwijaya winger was a bit of an unknown and thrown against Malaysia and Laos in the AFF Cup he created an immediate impact and, along with Bachdim and Riedl, helped make Indonesian football 'sexy' with the masses.

More critical observers however suggested he was a one trick pony who offered pace but not much else and certainly not guile or subtlety. Point him in the right direction, push a button and off he would go.

Against Thailand and the Philippines however he had been sussed and he was little more than a passenger but then didn't stop some people suggesting a future in Europe beckoned.

It didn't. Sriwijaya were happy enough to let him go and rather than heading west Okta headed in the other direction and, for good measure, dropped a division, signing for Persiram Raja Empat. December's halcyon days have been replaced a cold, hard reality.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Gaspar The Union Man

I have a lot of time for Robbie Gaspar. The Aussie midfielder has been in Indonesia yonks and has settled into the chaos with a calmness and equilibrium others would do well to imitate. He was recently elected to the executive committee of the Indonesian Players Union and to celebrate we sat down and had a chin wag. You can find the print version in today's Jakarta Globe while the whole interview can be seen on Jakarta Casual TV.

Love the timing of this with Carlos 'Don't wanna kickabal' Tevez spitting the dummy at his club.


Results 27/09


Arbil v Persipura 1-0 8,000 (Arbil win 3-1 on aggregate)
Nasaf v Chonburi 0-0
Muang Thong United v Kuwait SC 0-0 11,212 (KSC win 1-0 on aggregate and had 8 players booked!)

Malaysia Cup

Kedah v Perak 1-1
Sabah v Johor 4-1
Terengganu v Negeri Sembilan 0-0
Sime Darby v Selangor PKNS 0-1
Kelantan v Felda United 2-0
Johor FC v Sarawak 3-1
Selangor v KL 2-1
PDRM v T Team 0-6

Teams in bold qualify for next round which kicks off next Monday. Draw can be found on Malaysia Football.


SAFFC v Tampines Rovers 1-3 (Mislav Karoglan; OG, Ahmad Fahmie) 1,670

1 - Tampines Rovers 26 19 3 4 53-20 60
2 - Home United 25 18 2 5 62-26 56
3 - Albirex Niigata 26 17 2 7 66-26 53
4 - SAFFC 26 17 2 7 57-28 53

Seven or eight games left and we are still no closer knowing who's gonna win the SLeague. SAFFC lost a chance to gain on the Stags while tonight sees Home United host Young Lions...they should win that. Shouldn't they?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Light At The End Of The Tunnel?

OK, so I understand the format for the next Indonesian season will be 24 clubs. The season will begin on 14 October and will end in October 2012. That's a year later. The 2011/2012 will run for a couple of weeks I guess before the SEA Games will halt everything for a while. And once the season does end next October the best players will be rewarded with a call up for their national teams to compete in the ASEAN Football Federation Cup.

Now don't start booking any flights yet because as far as I'm aware the fixture list hasn't been made available. And when it does come out keep some tippex handy 'cos there will be changes aplenty. Of course there may not, obviously I have no idea what the future holds for the new season but history does suggest that things may change once in a while along the way!

In fact if an Indonesian season does ever go to plan, and I mean the original plan and not one re-drafted several times, I think I will buy a hat just so I can eat the bloody thing.

Is a 13 month season a record? Obviously can't speak for other countries but I do know that here the 2007 season started in January 2007 and I don't think it ended till February 2008!

I know we shouldn't compare but it is a laugh. The A League doesn't start till next month but their fixtures were released back in early June I think it was. And even the Indian League games were released a couple of months before the season kicks off there. Here, we have 17 days till the new season begins and between now and then there is a World Cup Qualifier against Qatar and a friendly against Saudi Arabia which may be played in KL. Or it may not.

I challenge anyone to come up with a whackier footballing set up than what we have here! Indonesia, to coin a phrase...I'm lovin' it!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Kudos To Phnom Penh Crown

Fair play to CLeague champions Phnom Penh Crown for making it to the AFC President's Cup Final last weekend. They met hosts Taiwan Power and of course won 6-0! Nah, did they bollocks! They lost 3-2 and had three players sent off when the ref, whose name may not have been Homer, decided not to award the Cambodian team a 'nailed on' penalty deep in injury time.

3-1 down with eight minutes to go, Sun Sovannrithy gave the visitors some hope, making it 3-2 and setting up a thrilling climax. It was not to be and the game ended in farce with those three reds and pushing and shoving blighting the game and Phnom Penh Crown achievement.

We know not to expect too much when South East Asian teams go abroad. PPC were victims of shambolic organisation ahead of the game, in Australian cricketing parlance they would call it sledging, and the players from this region lack the savvy and street smarts to use it to their benefit.

In the domestic leagues we are forever seeing examples of gamesmanship and cheating that would leave any fan of South American football circa late 1960s beaming with pride (ooh you bitch!) yet when they go overseas it's almost as if they are expecting the Queensbury Rules.

Phnom Penh Crown will no doubt be punished for their misdeamours while the ref enjoys a free holiday in Taiwan doing the things he can't do at home. But I don't think we should let the mad last few seconds detract from PPC's achievement. They reached a final in a major Asian competition and pushed the home team, their fans and, allegedly, the match officials, all the way and looking at the result in the cold light of day they can be dead chuffed with what they have achieved.


Results 25-25/09

AFC President's Cup Final

Phnom Penh Crown v Taiwan Power Company 2-3 (Kingsley Njoku, Sun Sovanrithy) 3,238

Thai Premier League

Khon Kaen v Si Sa Ket 1-1
Osotspa v TOT 4-0
Thai Port v Buriram PEA 0-1 6,916
Police United v Chiang Rai United 1-2
Pattaya United v Samut Songkram 3-0
BEC Tero v Army United 1-0
Bangkok Glass v TTM Phichit 4-0

1 - Buriram PEA 23 17 5 1 40-10 56
2 - Chonburi 22 13 6 3 43-19 45
3 - Muang Thong 21 13 5 3 34-14 44

Malaysia Cup

Sabah v Kedah 0-1
Johor v Perak 1-2
Selangor PKNS v Terengganu 0-1
Sime Darby v Negeri Sembilan 1-2
Johor FC v Kelantan 1-1
Sarawak v Felda United 1-0
PDRM v Selangor 1-4
T Team v KL 1-1

Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, Felda United, Kelantan and T Team are through to the next stage. They will be joined by two from Kedah, Sabah, KL or Selangor. The final group games will be played on Tuesday.

Babel Cup Final

Sriwijaya v Deltras 2-0 (Siswanto, Budi Sudarsono)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Indonesia's Transfer Sensation

Eka Ramdani recently moved from Persib to about it in my Jakarta Globe column this week.


It's Albirex!

Albirex Niigata are in line for a Singapore treble after they squuezed by Hougang United in their Singapore Cup semi final last night.

The game ended 1-1 on 90 minutes meaning the teams had to go into extra time for the right to face Home United in the final in November. Yosuke Saito gave the White Swans the lead after five minutes of extra time but their hearts must have skipped a few beats when prolific scorer Shotaro Ihata was red carded minutes later.

Sobrie Mazelan then equalised with just five minutes left! It was Saito though who had the final say just two minutes later leaving Albirex Niigata facing their second Cup Final of the year after they defeated Hougang United in the League Cup earlier in the season.

Singapore Cup Final
19 November
Home United v Albirex Niigata
Jalan Besar Stadium

Friday, September 23, 2011


Halfway To A Local Final

Singapore Cup

Etoile v Home United 0-1 (Frederic Mendy)

Mendy's goal against his former team ensured at least one of this year's Singapore Cup Final would be a local team, Home winning 2-1 on aggregate.

Tonight Hougang United take on Albirex Niigata.

Recent Singapore Cup Finals

2010 Bangkok Glass v Tampines Rovers 1-0
2009 Geylang United v Bangkok Glass 1-0
2008 SAFFC v Woodlands Wellington 2-1
2007 SAFFC v Tampines Rovers 4-3
2006 Tampines Rovers v Chonburi 3-2
2005 Home United v Woodlands Wellington 3-2

To depress Singaporeans even more when was the last time a local team won any thing there? Five out of the last seven trophies have been won by foreign teams!

League Cup Albirex Niigata

SLeague Etoile
Singapore Cup Bangkok Glass
League Cup Etoile

Singapore Cup Geylang United
League Cup DPMM


What Happened ToThe Pro Reform Group

The Liga Primer Indonesia was supposed to Change The Game. Their words, not mine. They were never going to do that, my words, not theirs.

Now we have a new PSSI leadership and the brief interregnum of the LPI is becoming that of a poorly remembered dream. Something happened but we can't quite remember what it was.

The PSSI initially decided the new look top flight would have two regional divisions of 16 teams each. That, I guess, would allow for some of the newly merged LPI teams a place at the top table.

That decision was later changed to a single division 18 teams featuring 14 of last season's 15 Indonesia Super League teams as well as the four teams that got promoted.

That decision has since been amended and now the top division will feature 24 teams! The above 18, the three teams who jumped ship from ISL to LPI and were subsequently banned from football (Persema, Persibo and PSM), relegated Bontang (because people feel sorry for them) as well as PSMS and Persebaya (because they are 'big' teams).

So it looks like no merged teams, no LPI teams and in fact no real change. The new PSSI is acting much like the old PSSI and you can't help but wonder what happened to the pro reform group that magically appeared during the run in to the most recent elections.

Of course this may still change ahead of the new season that is scheduled to start 9th October. And will hibernate for one month while the nation concentrates on the Under 23 SEA Games.

In the six years I have been covering the game here there has yet to be one season that has been free of any interruption and that looks unlikely to change any time soon!


Souza Is Back

Marcio Souza is back at Persela Lamongan. The Brazilian striker was previously there for four years, or was it five, before moving on to Semen Padang and last season Deltras.

I guess we can expect many more theatrical dives in the box at home games, the more theatrical the later the game...

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Babel Cup, Pangkal Pinang

Nope, nothing to do with Ryan, Babel is an acronym for the island province of Bangka Belitung. Flushed with the success of a local movie, Laskar Pelangi, the islands have become a popular tourist destination for locals looking for a bit of peace and quiet basking in the glamour of fame.

The Depati Amir Stadium in Pangkal Pinang normally hosts local amateur team Persipas but this coming weekend will see the glamour of the Indonesia Super League descend with Deltras and Sriwijaya from nearby Palembang competing with a Babel Stars for the inaugural Babel Cup.

Deltras of course are now coached by Jorg Steinbrunner and a local paper is suggesting they will be including Franco Hita and Singapore international Shahril Ishak in their squad with former Etoile defender Kevin Yann.

Sriwijaya could well include young Nepalese striker Santosh who has been trialling with them recently. It's only a few hours by boat from Palembang, wonder if any Sriwijaya fans will make the journey?

23/09 - Sriwijaya v Babel Stars
24/09 - Deltras v Babel Stars
25/09 - Deltras v Sriwijaya

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Results 20-21/09

Singapore Cup

Albirex Niigata v Hougang United 2-2 (Norihiro Kawaikami; Mazelan, Sulaiman) 544

An all foreign final is still on the cards after both semi final first legs ended all square. Do we not want that?

AFC President's Cup

Yadanarbon v Phnom Penh Crown 0-4 (Kingsley Njoku 2, Kouch Sokumpheak, Sun Sophana) 422

Congrats to PPC on reaching the final of this 3rd tier Asian club competition. I bet Andy must be turning cartwheels in his hotel room in Taiwan! I was in Phnom Penh earlier this year and saw them play Naga Corp...catch it on Jakarta Casual TV!

Thai League Cup

Phattalung v Thai Port 1-0

Thai Port reach their second consecutive TLC either Chonburi or Buriram PEA

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Indonesia Friendly Shock

This report suggests Indonesia will play a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Malaysia on 7th October. What's that all about then? Why can't the Saudis come to Jakarta eh? Anything to do with the fact that Saudi women have been saying less than complimentary things about Indonesian women, comparing them less favourably to Moroccan women (as maids and domestics you understand).

Or could it be anything to do with the last time Indonesia hosted the Saudis, at the Bung Karno Stadium, during the AFC Asian Cuo when any gentleman dressed like an extra from Lawrence of Arabia had plastic bottles thrown at him by the local support?

Or could it be because there will a rock concert held at the Bung Karno just days before a crucial World Cup Qualifier against Qatar and no one checked whether or not the FA needed the stadium for a football match! So the game v Qatar will be played on a field resembling the best, or worst, of Glastonbury...'cos Indonesia lacks decent arenas for football and music.


Singapore Ticket Details

SINGAPORE, 20 September 2011: Singapore will be taking on the Philippines on Friday, 7th October 2011, in an international friendly, prior to their 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifying Round Three match against Jordan that will be played on Tuesday, 11th October 2011 at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Below are the matches and the respective ticketing details.

1. International Friendly Match/ Ticketing Details

Match : Singapore vs Philippines

Date : Friday, 7th October 2011

Time : 7.30pm

Venue : Jalan Besar Stadium

Ticketing details

Grandstand : $10

Gallery-Adult : $5

Gallery-Child/Student/Senior Citizens : $1

Pre-sale: 3 to 6 October 2011 (12.00 pm to 8.00 pm) at South Gate, Jalan Besar Stadium

Remaining tickets will be sold on 7th October 2011 from 5.00 pm onwards at North and South Gates, Jalan Besar Stadium (subject to availability)

2. 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Qualifying Round Three Match/ Ticketing Details

Match : Singapore vs Jordan

Date : Tuesday, 11th October 2011

Time : 7.30 pm

Venue : Jalan Besar Stadium

Ticketing details

a) Early bird sale for Singaporeans & Singapore PRs (26th to 30th September)

Singapore vs Jordan only

Grandstand = $17
Gallery-Adult = $7
Gallery-Child/Student (Pri/Sec/ITE/JC)/Senior Citizens = $3

Bundle (Singapore vs Jordan and Singapore vs China) – Buyers must buy both match tickets

Grandstand : $34
Gallery-Adult : $14
Gallery-Child/Student (Pri/Sec/ITE/JC)/
Senior Citizens : $6

There will be no pre-sale for Single Match tickets for the Singapore vs China match

b) Pre-match sale for Singapore vs Jordan match (3rd to 7th October and 10 October)

Grandstand : $20
Gallery-Adult : $10
Gallery-Child/Student (Pri/Sec/ITE/JC)/Senior Citizens : $3

Time of sales: 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm (Monday to Friday) at South Gate, Jalan Besar Stadium

Remaining tickets will be sold on 11 October 2011 from 5.00 pm onwards at North and South Gates, Jalan Besar Stadium (subject to availability)

3. Sultan of Selangor Cup Ticketing Details

Date : 26th to 30th September 2011

Time : 12.00 pm to 8.00 pm

Price : $5

Venue : South Gate, Jalan Besar Stadium


Buriram PEA Send Kids To Leicester City

Eight Buriram PEA players left for England yesterday to train with Championship side Leicester City for six months.

Buriram PEA players at Suvarnabhumi airport before leaving for England yesterday.

They are Kirati Kaewsombut, Ukrit Wongmeena, Yodsapol Tiengda, Chitiphat Tanklang, Piyapong Homkajorn, Arthit Promkhan, Chaowat Weerachart and Nattawut Sombatya.

Kirati, Ukrit, Yodsapl and Chitiphat, who are over 18 years old, will train with Leicester's reserve team, while the other four will train with players from other countries.

The players are from Buriram PEA's Road to Stardom project. Leicester City are owned by Thailand's duty free retailer King Power.

Buriram PEA chairman Newin Chidchob said the eight could be future stars of the club and the national team.

Newin said he planned to develop under-16 players and urged parents to send their skilful children to join Buriram PEA football academy.

"We are willing to give Thai players chances to become successful in football," he said. "Parents should take their children to Buriram football academy. If they are good enough, we promise to give them all the support they need."

SOURCE - Bangkok Post

COMMENT - did you know you can buy Leicester City shirts at Bangkok Airport?


Results 19/09

Singapore Cup

Home United v Etoile 1-1

Home needed a late penalty to earn a draw with the Frenchies last night. Tonight sees Albirex Niigata host Hougang United in the other semi final.

AFC President's Cup

Phnom Penh Crown v Neftchi Kochkor 2-1 (Kingsley Njoku, Chan Chaya;) 118

PC will play Myanmar champions Yadanarbon on Wedesday. Complete draw can be found on AFC website

Monday, September 19, 2011


Results 17-18/09

Malaysia Cup

Kedah v Johor 3-3
Perak v Sabah 2-1
Terengganu v Sime Darby 1-0
Negeri Sembilan v PKNS 0-2
Kelantan v Sarawak 4-0
Felda United v Johor FC 1-1
Selangor v T Team 1-2
KL v PDRM 0-0

Thai Premier League

Buriram PEA v Bangkok Glass 2-1
Siam Navy v Pattaya United 1-2
Army United v Osotspa 1-1
Chiang Rai United v BEC Tero 1-3
Sri Racha v Khon Kaen 4-1
TOT v Thai Port 1-0
Sisaket v Police United 1-1

1 - Buriram PEA 22 16 5 1 39-10 53
2 - Chonburi 22 13 6 3 43-19 45
3 - Muang Thong United 21 13 5 3 34-14 44

14 - Surayuth Chaikamdee (Bangkok Glass)
13 - Leandro (Army United), Ronnachai Rangsiyo (BEC Tero)
11 - Wasan Natasan (Chiang Rai United)

Thai League Cup

Muang Thong United v Chonburi 0-0


Malaysian Businessmen Looking To Raise (Their) Profile

There are now of course a couple of rich Malaysian businessmen who own English, and Welsh, football clubs. One is at Cardiff City, the other at Queens Park Rangers.

Both have been making headlines recently trying to get Pelita Jaya striker Safee Sali to come over for a trial, something he is now doing with Cardiff City.

Now both are involved in an unseemly tug of war over the Malaysian national team coach Rajagobal with claims both are trying to invite him over for a spell.

If these gentlemen are both so keen to be associated with Malaysian football then why didn't they buy a Malaysian football club? Heaven knows the game in their home land is starved of funds. They could even get their rich mates to buy a team!


Chasing NAS

Noh Alam Shah is a wanted man! The Singaporean international is reported to have a couple of teams chasing him for next season. Persib and Persisam. If he elects to join Persisam then he would be partnering Christian Gonzales up front, quite an aging duo!

Talking Persisam, a report today suggests influential Persib midfielder Eka Ramdani has received an offer from them.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Roekito's Latin Reunion

Daniel Roekito is hoping a couple of blasts from the past will help propel Persisam to the title of whatever league they are in next season.

He has signed Christian Gonzales and, with midfielder Ronald Fagundez, will be hoping they kind find the same kind of form that led Persik to the old style Liga Indonesia title back in 2006. Of course they've all aged a bit since then!


Riedl Returns To Vientiane

Former Indonesian national team coach Alfred Riedl has returned to coach Laos for the SEA Games. Riedl is a familiar figure in South East Asia having also coached Vietnam and last year he led Indonesia to the ASEAN Football federation Cup Final, losing to Malaysia.

He was sacked by the new PSSI leadership for some strange reason, was it something like they couldn't find the contract, and there have been calls for his return as Indonesia's World Cup campaign fizzles but it won't be happening now!

Friday, September 16, 2011


Indonesian Football Goes International

Officials don’t know how the new domestic football league will be run, when it will kick off or even which teams will be in it. But one thing is certain — for the first time in history, Indonesian league matches will be broadcast overseas.

Liga Prima Indonesia, the country’s professional league administrator, signed a broadcast deal on Thursday with television content provider Broadway Media of Malaysia, which will air Indonesian football games in Malaysia on the Bintang and Pelangi channels on Astro All Asia Networks’s digital satellite network.

“[Indonesian] league games now will not only be watched by roughly 85 million football fans in the country, but we predict at least three to five million more viewers in Malaysia,” said the LPI’s chief executive, Widjajanto. “They won’t just have live coverage. They will also have supporting programs such as weekly highlights, previews and players profiles.”

The league also stands to gain new fans in Brunei since Astro also broadcasts in that country.

Widjajanto said the LPI was still in talks about which local stations would get the rights to the matches.

In 2007, the then-league organizer, Liga Indonesia, signed a 10-year, Rp 100 billion ($11.4 million) deal with ANTV. However, the new leadership of the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI), which came into power earlier this year, has been looking for a better deal. The association believes the broadcast rights for league matches are worth more than just over $1 million a year. (Absolutely right. The thing needs tearing up and rewritten. But which family both owns ANTV and was closely connected with football in the old regime?)

For the first time since the Indonesian league turned professional in 2003, games will be aired live abroad.

Malaysia’s sports minister, Dato Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, said Indonesian football had many followers in Malaysia, primarily because there were lots of Indonesians working there.

“Football has become a big industry and I hope this cooperation will bring the two countries into a closer relationship,” he said. “Perhaps there will be more Malaysian players on Indonesian clubs and vice versa.”

He said the Indonesian league was gaining more attention in his country since one of Malaysia’s top strikers, Safee Sali, moved to Pelita Jaya last season.

Since taking over the country’s football affairs, the new PSSI leadership has disbanded the Indonesian Super League, Premier Division and the breakaway Indonesian Premier League in its attempt to form a new competition.

The new professional league will have two tiers, Level 1 and Level 2. The top tier will include two conferences, East and West, with 16 clubs in each, while the second tier will have 48 clubs divided into four conferences.

The league was supposed to announce the details of the competition on Monday, but that has been pushed back to today.

“The executive committee will decide everything having to do with Indonesian football competitions — league, clubs and dates — in a meeting [on Friday],” Djohar said.

PSSI competition committee chairman Sihar Sitorus has said the league will kick off on Oct. 8, as previously announced.

“We already have schedules for next season,” he said.

SOURCE - Jakarta Globe


Results 15/09


Tanjong Pagar v Home United 0-3 (Frederic Mendy, Valery Hiek 2) 447

The Protectors return to the top of the SLeague with a comfortable win over new boys Tanjong Pagar but another disappointing crowd. 15 consecutive games watched by less than a 1,000 fans.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Changing The Persib Guard

After years of failing to achieve success Persib have acted ruthlessly, culling much from last season's squad.

Out have gone Christian Gonzales, Hilton Moreira, Markus Horison, Nova Arianto, Isnan Ali, Siswanto and Rachmat Affandi among others.

In have come Nasuha, Tony Sucipto, M Ilham and Aliyudin; all from bitter rivals Persija. They joining Abanda Herman and Atep who have previously worn the orange or Persija while experienced for Indonesia international Jendri Pitoy has, perhaps surprisingly, been given a second wind with a big team 12 months after leaving Persipura.

Eka Ramdani and Hariono remain in the middle with Atep on the wing.

I'm a bit surprised Rachmat Affandi (Pictured with finger in air playing for PSMS) has failed to settle. He was previously with Arema and PSMS and seems to be one of these players who always falls in the pecking order behind a foreign import or an older, more established player. Maybe he's just crap or maybe he's indicative of Indonesian football's reluctance to give youth its head.


DPMM Bid For SLeague Return

Story today out of Singapore suggests DPMM will be applying for a return to the SLeague next year. The Brunei team of course played in the SLeague back in 2009 and did most unSLeague like things like producing match day programmes and having an atmosphere at home and away games.

They also won the League Cup and were on course to win the SLeague before FIFA kicked them out because they were smaller than Indonesia.

The SLeague will look different next year already, not sure that's the best English usage in the world, because Young Lions will compete in Malaysia and their equivalent, Harimau Muda will play in Singapore.

There has been talk of a team from Sembawang wanting to apply while Paul Parker, TV pundit and former England international, has talked of bringing an English team over.

If DPMM and Sembawang (does this mean Nine Onions?) are accepted then there is no logical reason why the SLeague cannot expand to 14 teams, something I've frequently argued for, playing each other home and away, and not the current nonsense with 12 teams meeting each other thrice.

Certainly something needs to be done with the game in Singapore. The fans are staying away in droves despite the excitement being served up on the field and there is no denying having Harimau Muda and DPMM would certainly add some spice.

The last 14 SLeague games, every game played this month in other words plus last three from August, have been played out in front of crowds of less than 1,000. Often significantly less. The FA's response so far has been an online survey which requires people to leave a contact detail...if you're not on line or if you don't wanna leave a contact detail then your opinion counts for shit.


A Welsh Rarebit...Of Humour

You remember Safee Sali? The Malaysian striker who plays for Pelita Jaya in Indonesia? He is currently on trial with Cardiff City.

Anyway the Daily Express, an English newspaper most famous for punk poet John Cooper Clarke asking why there were no topless ladies in their pages, suggests Sali has hit 110 goals in 138 games for the Karawang based club!

Not sure how many games he did play but he only arrived at the midway point of the season so less than 138 is a fair bet.

Perhaps they meant Selangor?


Results 14/09


Balestier Khalsa v SAFFC 1-3 (Mark McGough; Mislav Karoglan 2, Fazrul Nawaz) 454
Young Lions v Albirex Niigata 1-1 (Shahdan Sulaiman; Tatsuro Inui) 676

Albirex Niigata's flood of goals dried up last night at Jalan Besar when they could only manage a draw, a result that sees them move second...but a win would have taken them top. Meanwhile look at the attendances above then look at the league table. And ask the FA, strategic plan or no strategic plan, just what the hell they are doing to promote the game there.

1 - Tampines 24 17 3 4 46-19 54
2 - Albirex Niigata 26 17 2 7 66-26 53
3 - Home United 24 17 2 5 59-26 53
4 - SAFFC 25 17 2 6 56-25 53

Malaysia Cup

Felda United v Kelantan 2-0

Thai League Cup

Quarter Final
BEC Tero v Buriram PEA 2-6 (PEA win 8-3 on aggregate and play the winner of Chonburi & Muang Thong United in the semi final)

Semi Final
Thai Port v Phattalung 3-0

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Sriwijaya Eye Nepalese Striker

Ever heard of Santosh Shahukhala? Nope, me neither! But Sriwijaya have and they have asked the young Nepalese striker to Palembang for trials.


Results 13/09


Chonburi v Nasaf 0-1 6,434
Kuwait SC v Muang Thong United 1-0 4,000
Persipura v Arbil 1-2 (Zah Rahan) 15,430

Not a good night for the region's teams in the AFC Cup with three defeats and one goal scored. Persipura, all conquering at home, must fly to Iraq and win by at least two clear goals as must Chonburi. Muang Thong do have home advantage next game which is on their favour. Robbie Fowler played 70 mins of the defeat.

Malaysia Cup

Perak v Kedah 2-1
Johor v Sabah 1-3
Negeri Sembilan v Terengganu 1-0
PKNS v Sime Darby 1-0
Sarawak v Johor FC 0-1
KL v Selangor 0-0
T Team v PDRM 4-0

Kelantan play Felda United as I type this. They and Negeri Sembilan boast the only 100% record in the cup so far


Gombak United v Geylang United 2-0 (Jeremy Chiang, Chang Jo Yoon) 388

Is anybody at the SLeague actually doing anything about these alarming attendances? Players and coaches are doing their bit. Time for the suits to do theirs or the game will do a slow painful death and the tombstone will blame it on apathy at head office.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Free Scoring Swans

Albirex Niigata have played their last three games away from home.

v Woodlands 5-1
v Etoile 7-2
v Home United 4-0

They are away to Young Lions on Wednesday! Probably lose 1-0...


Jakarta Casual Weekly 12/09

The latest Jakarta Casual Weekly is now on line. World Cup reaction, Safee and the Welsh Riviera and the Malaysia Cup are among the topics covered...

Monday, September 12, 2011


Indonesian SEA Games Prep In Hong Kong

14/09 v Hong Kong Under 23
18/09 v Hong Kong Rangers
22/09 v Kitchee


Results 10-11/09

Malaysia Cup

Kedah v Sabah 1-2
Perak v Johor 2-1
Terengganu v PKNS 3-2
Negeri Sembilan v Sime Darby 5-0
Kelantan v Johor FC 2-1
Felda United v Sarawak 1-0
Selangor v PDRM 2-0
KL v T Team 2-1


Home United v Albirex Niigata 0-4 (Tatsuro Inui, Ryuta Hayashi, Shimpei Sakurada, Kunihiro Yamashita) 923
SAFFC v Woodlands Wellington 7-0 (Fazrul Nawaz, Taisuke Akiyoshi 2, OG, Mislav Karoglan 2, Indra Sahdan) 569

1 - Tampines 24 17 3 4 46-19 54
2 - Home United 24 17 2 5 59-26 53
3 - Albirex Niigata 25 17 1 7 65-25 52
4 - SAFFC 24 16 2 6 53-24 50

Albirex can't stop scoring and indeed the goals keeping flowing in the SLeague. But where are the fans?

Thai Premier League

Khon Kaen v Samut Songkram 1-2
Pattaya United v TTM Phichit 0-1
Thai Port v Osotspa 0-0

1 - Buriram PEA 21 15 5 1 37-9 50
2 - Chonburi 22 13 6 3 43-19 45
3 - Muang Thong United 21 13 5 3 34-14 44


Safee's Cardiff Trial


He is set to enjoy a two-week trial with Welsh outfit Cardiff City and join the handful of local footballers, including the likes of Baddrol Bakhtiar (Chelsea) and Akmal Rizal Rakhli (RC Strasbourg, FCSR Haguenau), to enjoy stints abroad.

Safee has been inspirational for Harimau Malaya since the Asean Cup victory last year. He was the top scorer with five goals in the regional tournament.

He now plies his trade with Pelita Jaya in the Indonesian Super League and is a hit among the fans there.

Safee, who left for the UK at 3.30am this morning, managed to spend some time with Mailsport's Haresh Deol as he recollected the moments leading up to him flying off to Wales.

Here is what Safee had to say:

"It all started when Cardiff City contacted my agent about the arrangement. When my agent told me, I was in a state of shock. I didn't believe it at first, thinking it was a practical joke. Then my agent had to reassure me that it was for real; that Cardiff City was really interested in having me on board for a two-week stint.

It slowly sank in and naturally, I was elated over the whole matter. When things were finalised, I told my wife Sabarina (Yusof ) and she too was in disbelief but she and my whole family were very happy about the whole news.

I'm still very happy and really excited. In a few hours time, I'll be flying off but I do have several concerns — one being my old (knee) injury. I'm praying that I will be fit and well throughout my time there.

Language too will be an obstacle. But I hope I will be able to adapt quickly and make the best of my opportunity.

I know some people may treat this trip lightly but to me, being called up for trials with the first team is already an honour. Deep down inside I am bent on impressing them... perhaps this would help market my capabilities in that region.

Yes, I know I've been linked to the Bundesliga, too. A good showing in Cardiff would surely help me secure something in Europe.

I don't want to be seen as being too far-fetched so for now, I'm just going to enjoy myself by playing good football. I'm thankful, it is certainly a chance of a lifetime."

COMMENT - now far be it for me to be all cynical, or even a negative ninny, but anybody out there more than a little nonplussed by this sudden interest in Malaysian players from European clubs? We have also had talk about QPR being interested in Sali as well. Oh, wait a minute, both clubs are owned by Malaysians! Could that have anything to do with it I wonder?

Anyway, club owners don't pick the squad. At least not in Europe. Apart perhaps from Heart Of Midlothian. Just because the club owner, with his eye on some positive headlines back home, decides to invite a fellow countryman over to kick a ball around doesn't mean said player needs to start finding schools for his kids in Cardiff or West London. The manager has some say and anyway it is not guaranteed a Malaysian player would be granted a work permit.

Now, how about some foreigners taking over a Malaysian club or two eh? What's good for the goose and all that...

Friday, September 09, 2011


More Foreigners 'Become' Indonesian!

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has reportedly signed a presidential decree on the naturalization of six foreign football players, allowing them to become Indonesian.

“We’ve received a copy of the decree for the naturalized footballers,” said Nurhikmat Hamzah, the head of the Citizenship Naturalization section under the Law and Human Rights Ministry, on Thursday as quoted by

Those footballers are Tonnie Cussell, Stefano Lilipaly, Johny Rudolf van Beukering and Sergio van Dijk — all from the Netherlands and Greg Nwokolo and Victor Chuckwuekezie Igbonefo — both from Nigeria.

Nwokolo currently plays for Persija (Jakarta), while Igbonefo plays for Persipura (Jayapura). No information was immediately available on other naturalized players.

Nurhikmat, however, did not provide details on the decree date or schedule for the oath-taking ceremony for the players.

The naturalization of the players was proposed by the President to the House of Representatives on July 5, 2011. The proposal, granted by the House, was later returned to the State Secretary to be signed by the President, in the form of a presidential decree.

In accordance article 20 of the 2006 Law on Naturalization, the footballers will be awarded citizenship as a reward for what they have done for Indonesia’s interests.

SOURCE - Jakarta Post

COMMENT - Wow, this is getting out of hand. At least in Singapore there is some period of time a player must stay in the country before becoming eligible for the national team. OK, the first four players do have Indonesian ancestors, I'm not sure how back they go, while Igbenefo has certainly qualified by having spent five years here like Cristian Gonzales. But Nwokolo? Good player, yes. But what has he done for Indonesia's interests?

Also, I wonder if these guys have read the small print? The small print that says Indonesia does not recognise dual nationality. Say goodbye to your EU passports lads.


Nepal Coming To The Region

All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) President Ganesh Thapa and Nepal National team coach, Graham Roberts have confirmed that Nepal team would tour ASEAN region before competing in SAFF Championship scheduled in December in India.

President Thapa said that Nepal National team is all set to tour Philippines on October 11 before going to Cambodia to take on Cambodia U-23 on October 28.

"We have decided to go Phillipines and Cambodia", Thapa said, "The tour is fixed on the advice of Nepal Coach Graham Roberts".

Thapa also said that the players won't get long break in Dashin festival and players have to report the camp soon after Tika day.

Nepal Coach, Graham Roberts spoke to and confirmed the tour.

"Yes, we are going. President confirmed the tour. We will leave for Phillipines and set up our camp in Malaysia. We can even go to Singapore for a week long camp before going to Cambodia in the third week of October", Roberts told

Nepal National team has been training since last week.

Thursday, September 08, 2011


Croatians All The Rage

After Persib appointed a Wikipedia page less Croatian coach, Drago Mamic, now Persija have jumped on the bandwagon. They have appointed Dejan Gluscevic to be their coach for the upcoming season...which should start next month.

For all Dejan's track record, check this Jakarta Casual post from last year, like Drago he lacks his own Wikipedia which of course is totally irrelevant but still funny! Certainly Bandung Raya fans will know who he is while Tanjong Pagar fans with long memories may well recall his exploits back in the 1990s


Results 06-07/09

Malaysia Cup

Johor v Kedah 0-2
Sabah v Perak 0-0
Sime Darby v Terengganu 0-3
PKNS v Negeri Sembilan 1-2
Sarawak v Kelantan 0-2
Johor FC v Felda United 0-2
T Team v Selangor 1-0
PDRM v KL 0-3

Just one home winner in the opening round of the Malaysia Cup and even that saw one of the favourites, Selangor, go down 1-0 to a goal by Alias! Kelantan had to wait till the second half before they could overcome Sarawak, coached by Robert Alberts, and it was star striker Norshahrul who broke the deadlock. Chanturu made it safe ish with five minutes left.


Etoile v Albirex Niigata 2-7 (Sirina Camara, Aly Doumbouya; Shotaro Ihata 3, Kunihiro Yamashita, Tatsuro Inui 2, Bruno Castanheira) 448

The SLeague champions were two goals up but ended up with plenty of truffles on their face after getting spanked by Albirex Niigata at the Queenstown Stadium. Before the game the froggies had conceded just 15 goals all season but that has been blown out the water hasn't it? Two straight defeats as well!

For Albirex it was the 8th time they have scored five or more goals in a game but let me show you something really daft!

Gombak United v Albirex Niigata 1-5
SAFFC v Albirex Niigata 2-1
Albirex Niigata v Tanjong Pagar 1-0
Woodlands Wellington v Albirex Niigata 1-5
Etoile v Albirex Niigata 2-7

Traditionally Gombak and Etoile have the strong defences and Tanjong Pagar's defence leaks like a presidential candidate. But not for the first time this season Tanjong Pagar have made the so called big teams work hard for their three points.

1 - Home United 23 17 2 4 59-22 53
2 - Tampines 23 16 3 4 45-19 51
3 - Albirex Niigata 24 16 1 7 61-25 49
4 - SAFFC 23 15 2 6 46-24 47
5 - Etoile 23 14 3 6 40-22 40 (5 points deducted after a happy slappy fest with Hougang United)

Said it before, say it again, most exciting league in the region...


New Articles

My latest contributions to the Jakarta Globe...with some editing!

Indonesia's Striker Shortage
What Security?


The E Word

It doesn't matter if you had won your last 10 games then suddenly got held 1-1 by some minnow or you have lost the last three games, there will soon be a story somewhere with one of the club directors or owners being quoted as saying the coach's performance will be 'evaluated.'

It is now being bandied about in local media that Indonesia's coach, Wim Rijsbergen, is likely to have his performance 'evaluated' following two straight defeats in their World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Just think, had Arsenal or Manchester United been owned by Indonesians then Arsene Wenger would have been sacked the year after the first double while Sir Alex Ferguson would have got the bullet probably in 1988.

Sobering thought eh? You know, every year you hear about FA and club officials going to Europe for study tours. Beyond comparing prices on branded goods what is it they study on these tours? Cos a whole lot of nothing changes.

I know of one local government official who was sent on a study trip to Paris where he stayed several months. He returned to his home city no doubt brimming with ideas of river transport, a mass transit railway and a connected bus map. What did he do? He got some family members to set up a company selling traffic lights which were then sold to the local government!

Wifey made and sold the lights, hubby bought them and everyone was happy. People would either stand and stare at these exciting dazzling light shows or drivers would carry on regardless, perhaps wondering what silly sod had put those useless lights on every junction in town.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


Deltras Move In On Dadic

New coach Jorg Steinbrunner has hit the ground running since taking over the Sidoarjo team. The team are negotiating with the former Persiba central defender Mijo Dadic.

Dadid spent the last three years with the Honey Bears where he was a very consistent performer at the back and there was talk, last year, of Persib being linked with him.


Some Quality Control Needed

The Asian Football Confederation seem very often to be the proverbial paper tiger. Lot's of tough talk rarely equates to any tough decisions or action being taken.

They are very adept at ensuring some regulations are followed strictly to the letter while happy to shut their eyes to more serious misdemeanours.

Sriwijaya were recently fined 25,000 USD for a number of sins committed during their AFC Cup game with TSW Pegasus from Hong Kong. Among their errors? An unequipped medical room! Begs the question though, dunnit. If there was no medical equipment in the room then perhaps the room in question was not a medical room?

At the same game they were in trouble because the team manager did not attend the technical meeting nor did he sign the team sheet. You can imagine an AFC jobsworth with his clip board keenly adding ticks and, hopefully, crosses to the paperwork that is his existence.

But what about when the ticket office refuses to sell tickets to fans, saying they're all gone and pointing to a scalper who has their hands full of them and will happily sell them to you for a premium of course. Does this come under any code of conduct?

Of course the AFC jobsworth won't know anything about this. They will be so busy making sure people attend meetings, there is enough band aid to go around and pointing people in the right direction that they won't actually spend any time at all going through the fan's experience.

For example I would love to see one of these AFC types wade through the piss and shit to use the urinals at some of these stadiums like fans have to. And of course the fans pay for the privilege.

Yes, it's right that teams should get stung if they don't travel with a media officer which is what happened to Arema earlier this year but shouldn't AFC also be focussing on quality control from the fan's viewpoint? Because of course the world still spins without a media office but football without fans is nothing.


World Cup Qualifiers Match Day 2

Indonesia v Bahrain 0-2

Well, that's that then. Indonesia's World Cup ambitions have been shelved for another four years after this disappointing performance against a Bahrain side who were that yard quicker throughout the game both with their feet and their brains. Coach Rijsbergen won't have been happy with the way the goals were conceded. One deep into stoppage time of the first half when the defence fell asleep, the second when the offside trap was breached. Sadly all too familiar failings for Indonesian fans. But had Bambang Pamungkas scored with a first half header things could have been so different. (Asian Football Pictures)

Singapore v Iraq 0-2 5,504

For some reason Singapore aren't having that much luck when it comes to penalties. Last night they had two claims brushed aside. In China last week they had one brushed aside. Two games, two defeats, coach Raddy Avramovic sent to the stand. Singapore are rooted to the bottom f the group while Jordan, who beat China 2-1, are top. (match report) (stats)

Thailand v Oman 3-0 (Sompong Soleb, Teerasil Dangda, OG) 19,000

The Thais score 3 goals in a game, shock enough, and move into second place in the group after the opening two games. Also boosted their goal difference. Interesting that the Thai coach Winnie Schaeffer talked about learning from mistakes in the first game in Brisbane. Same can't be said about Indonesia! (stats) (match report)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011


Talent Without Attitude Is Wasted

Ahead of tonight's World Cup Qualifier between Indonesia and Bahrain, my Jakarta Globe column looks at why tiny Bahrain, with a population smaller than Bandung, ranks higher than Indonesian in the FIFA listings.

Monday, September 05, 2011


EPL Academies In Asia

With Liverpool getting flack for their insensitive handling of their new academy in India, called the Steve MacMahon Football Academy, the time may be right to reproduce, or regurgitate, an article I penned a few years back for ESPN. It is with Paul Shipwright, the guy at Arsenal who oversees their soccer schools around the world.

With Bayern Munchen already penciling in dates in Indonesia, China and India, Manchester City and Juventus interested in their own tropical tour football fans throughout the region will be crossing their fingers they will get the opportunity to see their heroes in the flesh this summer.

The last few years has seen Manchester United, Liverpool, even smaller fry like Fulham and Portsmouth running through the region, being filmed arriving at airports, being interviewed at plush hotels and kicking a ball around in the sultry heat. Most English teams have been in the area this century in fact. Except Arsenal.

Paul Shipwright is responsible for developing Arsenal Soccer Schools throughout the region. With local partners he oversees the setting up and curriculum at a chain of schools that aims to impart the Arsenal way at a grass roots level. All fine and hunky dory but I wondered whether Arsenal’s lower profile in the region could leave them trailing behind others who go for the sexy, high impact tours with accompanying media frenzy.

‘I think that fear is real because fans want to see their team play.’ Certainly the last few years has seen Arsenal go on low key pre season trips to the Austrian Alps. But that is not to say Arsenal are ignoring a large market.

‘We try to build our presence in a different way, in a grass roots way through our Soccer Schools and our tie ups with local clubs,’ Paul explains. ‘It may not have the impact of bringing the first team and never will but we are trying to reach our supporters on a different level.’

By setting up soccer schools and working with clubs in Vietnam and Thailand the Arsenal approach is to look long term. ‘Clubs may come to China one year for example,’ Paul went on, ‘the following year they may go to Dubai, Australia, the US. We, on the other hand, maybe low profile but we are here week in, week out working with kids, we send out young coaches as part of a gap year scheme and we believe we are touching the lives of young people in places like Bangkok, Jakarta, where they come training, wearing the Arsenal shirt, three, four times a week and they grow up with an affinity for the club.’

Arsenal now have a presence in some 18 countries outside of the UK and Paul believes strongly that the policy of building strong bonds through community work and coaching kids is a more positive way of building ties than irregular visits which just take money away from the domestic game.

I was interested in what he said about the community. The school in Jakarta is in an expensive area, the fees, by local standards, are high. What community does he see Arsenal working in?

‘In every single agreement we have we insist on a community programme.’ This involves coaches from the school visiting schools in the area and holding workshops for both players and coaches. In this way the school hopes to find young players in less well off areas and through scholarships give them the opportunity to fine tune their skills.

‘10% of all students in the school here are here on a scholarship basis. That means they are getting all the specialized coaching from our qualified coaches and it costs the kid and his family nothing.’

430 boys and girls are currently undergoing weekly, year round coaching at the Arsenal soccer school in Singapore. Some 300 in Jakarta with plans to open more schools around the country. A soccer school is never going to substitute the real thing of seeing your heroes in the flesh thousands of miles away. But by working closely with their partners in country and with their Supporters’ Clubs the club at least try to let as many fans as possible experience the Arsenal way.

This article appeared later in an Indonesian magazine and looks at a tour some of the kids made to London and the impact it had on them.

Indonesian football doesn’t have the best of reputations here. A steady stream of headlines highlighting poor administration, inadequate facilities and fan violence combined with poor performances on the international stage means that much of the country turns its back on the local game while proudly wearing the shirts of teams from Manchester, Madrid or Milan.

But one group of youngsters recently did the nation proud. Kids from Soccer School Indonesia, the local franchise for Arsenal Soccer Schools, recently went to London for a tournament featuring similar schools from round the world and boy did they impress. They won their group, scored the most goals in their group, conceded the least goals in their group, won their semi final and put up a brave fight in the final.

Along the way they provided the player of the whole tournament, attracted English club scouts and proved to the world Indonesia doesn’t lack for quality, gifted young footballers.

SSI is a fee paying school but under the terms of its franchise from Arsenal it has to offer scholarships to talented youngsters who may not other wise have the means to receive the professional training they offer. And among the 18 lad squad that took London by storm were half a dozen on scholarships.

Players like Nur Ilham. He was the lad named the Player of the Tournament. No mean achievement where you had 12 age groups and hundreds of kids. Football is a team game and his award is nothing but a reflection of everyone’s efforts, not just his. And while he got the trophy everyone felt proud that their mate had been recognized and, by extension, themselves.

And Regie. The captain. He appreciates that the quality of training he now receives is vastly superior to what he had before. ‘Before at my Sekolah Sepak Bola the emphasis was on the physical side of the game but here we learn more about technique.’

Before their trip to London most had never been on a plane before. Just Ghozian who had played in Singapore, he was a veteran of checking in and airport delays. Kids from the kampungs of Jakarta, their ability and talent gives them an opportunity to make a career out of football. But for these kids they also get the benefit of coaching from people who have been there and done that in football.

People like Max Belli who played with Parma and Inter Milan. Dale Mulholland who played in the US, Russia and Hong Kong before settling in Indonesia.

Any team that scores 16 goals in three games will attract attention and SSI were no exception with talent scouts from Championship side Reading taking notice. Indeed so impressed were they by Nur Ilham they asked him to stay behind for trials.

They lost in the final 3-1 to an English side. Much bigger and much stronger but were they down heartened?

‘At first when we took the pitch against these bigger players we were nervous.’ Perhaps they wondered just what they were doing there full stop. The finely manicured pitches, the facilities off the pitch, the food.

ut on the pitch they showed why they were there. Losing in the final hurt. They’d learnt so much said Regie, about teamwork, discipline, they feared no one. Next time, they said confidently, they’d beat them, no hesitation. Anyway, shortly after losing they were taken to see Real Madrid at the Emirates. Not a bad consolation though rumour has it, and unconfirmed, had they lost in the semi final they would have been taken to see Tottenham!

I looked at their coaches Max and Dale. Wizened old pros they have done quite a bit on the pitch but they were positively beaming at the performances their young wards had put in. ‘Amazing,’ Max kept repeating, ‘amazing.’

On the football pitch Indonesia has such immense potential, occasionally known as the Brazil of South East Asia, it’s kind of scary how strong they could become. During a recent under 16 tournament in Jakarta the Singapore coach, Tay Peng Kee, told me that technically the Indonesians were so far ahead of anyone else in the region.

For now Regie, Nur Ilham, Bambang, Hargianto, Ikram, Ghozian and Rowi still have a long road ahead of them if they are to make the grade. But they have started promisingly and are receiving good tuition. If all goes well they could be names you will be hearing quite a lot of in the future.

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