Sunday, November 30, 2008


Butler's early test

Terengganu to stage quadrangular next month

PETALING JAYA: Terengganu will host a quadrangular football tournament next month to prepare for their Super League campaign in January.

The other teams taking part in the tournament, scheduled to be held at the Sultan Ismail Stadium in Kuala Terengganu from Dec 14-17, are Kelantan, Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur Plus.

COMMENT - I hope the publicity is better for this than it was for the last one when even Bola Today seemed to give up


New Indonesian shirt

So I was milling round a mall today while the Ibu was elsewhere and I fell into a store selling the new Indonesian shirt alongside polo shirts as well as a couple of t shirts. Fair play for making the effort at last. The walls of the shop were filled with images and the shop itself was dominated by home shirts.

Also available were Malaysia and Thai shirts though nothing ffrom Singapore as far as I could see.


Causeway rivals share spoils

Malaysia v Singapore 2-2

Amirulhadi Zainal 22', Hardi Jaafar 75'; Duric 10', 44'

Check out this article from a Malaysian paper and count the references to the foreign players in the Singapore team. Them's the rules lads...

Anyway three successive draws for the champions before they go to Jakarta next week. Not the results they were after but as any coach will tell you the performances were what they were after.


Penang to be supported by local government

Not sure this is good news. They should be out finding sponsors on their own. Anyway players hadn't been paid for a few months and apparently this will now be settled by March.


Quality piece about Malaysian football

COMMENT - The Malaysian FA have a meeting on 6th December when they hope to make some decisions about the new season which should be starting in January. I suggest they pin this to the door of the meeting room and if anyone has any problems with what's written should just turn around and never return to football. Because they are likely to be the problem...not the solution

WE must get one thing straight here -- the FA of Malaysia's determination to develop football cannot be faulted.

It is not, unlike many other associations, averse to criticism and is consistently seeking new ideas from all quarters in its bid to find the system that will see Malaysian football rise again.
Last week's brainstorming session was the latest of several that FAM has had over the years and as active as the participation was from the 100-plus who attended, the result was the same as that from previous sessions -- states guarding their turf jealously.
The weaknesses of most of FAM's affiliates are well documented and it wasn't a surprise when the most vocal turned out to be those from state FAs which have a history of mismanagement. So poor are some that in any other decent league in the world, the governing body would have expelled the team until its administrators get their house in order.
But not FAM and, even if another hundred brainstorming sessions are held, nothing will be achieved if no action is taken against the errant ones.

It has been 14 years since Malaysian football went fully professional but besides spoiling mediocre players by paying them astronomical salaries, nothing else has been achieved. In fact, so mediocre is Malaysian football that we actually rejoiced when the national team's world ranking "improved" to 151 recently. The constant changes to the structure have made the league a butt of jokes and it is hard to imagine that the Japan FA, when it was contemplating introducing professional football, actually sent a delegation to study the Malaysian formula.
Today, the J-League is in a class of its own, its products are playing across Europe and the national team that Malaysia used to beat effortlessly is world class.
So successful is the J-League that its 2008 revenue is an estimated RM373.7 million while the MSL's television rights only fetched RM15 million, that too through FAM president Sultan Ahmad Shah and deputy president Khairy Jamaluddin's clout. Is that what Malaysian football is worth after all this years?
Former FAM deputy president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was fond of saying that football is an industry which thousands depend on but after 14 years of the professional game, FAM and its affiliates must surely realise that it is a failing industry.
Sponsors are few, the game at the grassroots is slowly fading away and yet, the state affiliates are refusing to face the truth. The latest blow to the game came when Police FA decided to withdraw from the Super League, citing financial constraints. This comes after several clubs withdrew from the top two tiers of Malaysian football, also due to money.
This has given some affiliates the ammunition they were seeking to kick clubs out of the MSL and Premier League and it won't be a surprise if FAM does bow to their demands.
But before this happens, the states must first ask themselves why FAM opened the doors to clubs in the first place. It was a move taken to ensure the club structure does not die in Malaysia and a move which FAM took to protect those affiliates who had forgotten their primary responsibility -- developing the game. It is an undeniable fact that most state FAs have failed and there isn't going to be a quick remedy as long as FAM continues to pander to its affiliates.
The MSL needs to be restructured and that must start with it being downsized.
To ensure professionalism, interested teams must deposit a certain sum -- say RM2 million -- with FAM as a guarantee that they will meet their financial obligations. If only a small number are able to do so, FAM should just let the league run with these teams.
Teams should also be allowed to source their own sponsors while FAM's annual grant should only be used for grassroot development. Teams that can afford them should be allowed to hire foreign players as the no-foreigner ruling is only taking Malaysian football further backwards.
State FAs should also shed their volunteers image and hire professionals to administer operations if they are serious about the game. Sultan Ahmad Shah has, after a long time, publicly rebuked affiliates for not meeting their financial obligations but he mustn't stop there.He has to crack the whip even harder and if this means kicking an affiliate out of the MSL or Premier League, so be it. If not, another brainstorming session will be held in the near future and we will revisit the same problems again.


Indonesia AFF Cup 1996-2006


Goalkeepers: Listianto Raharjo, Sumardi
Defence: Yeyen Tumena, Robby Darwis, Suwandi HS, Nur'Allm, Eko Purjianto, Jaya Hartono, Budiman, Supriyono, Anang Ma'ruf, Ritham Madubun
Midfield; Fachri Husarni, Ansyan Lubis, Khairil Anwar, Eri Irianto, Yusuf Ekodono
Forwards; Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, Peri Sandria, Widodo Cahyono Putra

Coach: Danurwindo

Venue: Singapore

Group A
Laos v Indonesia 1-5
Indonesia v Cambodia 5-0
Indonesia v Myanmar 6-1
Indonesia v Vietnam 1-1

1. Indonesia 4 3 1 0 15-3 10

Semi final: Malaysia v Indonesia 3-1


Goalkeepers: Kurnia Sandy, Hendro Kartiko, M Halim
Defenders: Mursyid Effendi, Jaya Hartono, Sugiyantono, Nur'Allm, Kuncoro, Anang Ma'ruf, Aji Santoso, Alex Pulalo
Midfield: Imam Riyadi, Yusuf Ekondo, Bima Sakti, Uston Nawawi, Chairif Anwar, Jatmiko
Forwards: Widodo Cahyono Putra, Miro Baldo Bento, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto

Coach: Rusudi Bahalwan

Venue: Vietnam

Group A
v Philippines 3-0
v Myanmar 6-2
v Thailand 2-3

Semi Final: v Singapore 1-2

3/4th play off: v Thailand 3-3 (5-4 after pens)


Goalkeepers: Hendro Kartiko, I Komang Putra, Sahari Gultom
Defence: Sugiyantono, Eko Punjanto, Suwandi HS, Nur'Allm, Djet Donald Laala, Budiman, Aji Santoso, Ismed Sofyan
Midfield: Matheus Seto Nurdiantono, Uston Nawawi, Bima Sakti, Eduard Ivakdalam, Yaris Riyadi, Imran Nahumaruy, I Putu Gede, Slamet Riyadi
Forwards: Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, Bambang Pamungkas, Rochi Putray, Gendut Doni Christiawan, Miro Baldo Bento

Coach: Nandar Iskandar

Venue: Thailand

Group 1
v Philppines 3-0
v Thailand 1-4
v Myanmar 5-0

2. Indonesia 3 2 0 1 9-4 6

Semi final: v Vietnam 3-2

Final: v Thailand 1-4


Goalkeepers: Hendro Kartiko, Jendri Pitoy
Defenders: Aples Gideoan Tecuari, Sugiyantono, Nur'Allm, Firmansyah, Supriyono, Agung Setiabudi, Isnan Ali
Midfield: Hary Syaputra, Elie Aiboy, I Putu Gede, Yaris Riyadi, Amir Yusuf, Pohan, Imran Nahumarury
Forwards: Bambang Pamungkas, Gendut Doni Christiawan, Budi Sudarsono, Zaenal Arief, Zaenal Ichwan

Coach: Ivan Kolev

Venue: Indonesia and Singapore

Group A
v Myanmar 0-0
v Cambodia 4-2
v Vietnam 2-2
v Philippines 13-1

2. Indonesia 2 2 0 19-5 8

Semi final v Malaysia 1-0

Final Thailand 2-2 (3-4 on pens)


Goalkeepers: Hendro Kartiko, Jendri Pitoy, Mukti Ali Raja

Defenders: Jack Komboy, Charis Yulianto, Firmansyah, Hamkah Hamza, Aris Indarto, M Mauly Leey, Ismed Sofyan, Ortisan Solossa, Supriyono, Mahyadi Panggabean

Midfield: Elie Aiboy, Ponaryo Astaman, Agus Indra Kurniawan, Firman Utina, Syamsul Haeruddin Forwards: Ilham Jayakusuma, Boaz Solossa, Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto, Saktiawan Sinaga

Coach: Peter Withe

Venue: Vietnam and Malaysia

Group A v Laos 6-0 Singapore 0-0 Vietnam 3-0 Cambodia 8-0

1. Indonesia 4 3 1 0 17-0

Semi final v Malaysia 1-2, 4-1

Final v Singapore 1-3, 1-2


Beach time for the AFF Cup

Suzuki Cup meet will be held in Phuket from December 6, says Worawi

Thailand has moved the Suzuki Cup or the Asean championship from Bangkok to Phuket province to avoid the political crisis in the capital.

Emergency rule is now in place at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports which have been occupied by thousands of anti-government protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

"There's too much trouble in Bangkok, so we've decided to switch the venue," Worawi Makudi, president of the Football Association of Thailand (FAT), said yesterday.

He said officials from the Asean Football Federation (AFF) had inspected Phuket's
Surakul stadium and was pleased with the venue.

The other venue, which will host only one game, will be the
main stadium in nearby Phangnga province.

"All parties have agreed, this is the best solution to the problem and Phuket is a very suitable alternative. Every team in the group can fly to Phuket directly," Worawi said.

He said this would show to the world that Thailand had problems only in the capital and other places were still safe to visit.

Thailand is co-hosting the fiercely-contested biennial tournament, beginning on December 5, with Indonesia.

Phuket will now host Group B, comprising Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Malaysia, while Indonesia, Cambodia, Burma and holders Singapore will contest Group A in Jakarta.

The Phuket event will begin on December 6.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


Syamsul Arief not for sale

Arema Malang have been told to forget about signing the man who knocked them out of the Copa Indonesia last week.

Persibo have said that Syamsul Arief, who scored three goals in his side's 4-3 aggregate win, is going nowhere after Arema coach Ghusnul Yakin, who used to coach Persibo made enquiries.

Syamsul is believed to be on a contract of 80 million rupiah, compare that to a player like Bambang who is reportedly earning 1.3 billion (about 100,000 USD) but Persibo would be unwilling to let him go to Arema after the Malang giants took their coach earlier in the season.

Expect other clubs to come sniffing...


Lack of coverage

One common gripe throughout the region is the lack of coverage given by English language papers to the local game. Fair play to Khun Tor with the Bangkok Post who has been doing a lot of stuff recently about the Thai national team as well as a new paper here in Jakarta called the Jakarta Globe which translates stuff from other sources.

Singapore of course is laughable in this respect.

Then we have Cambodia. Their season has recently finished with Phnom Penh Empire winning the title and next weekend they journey to Jakarta to take part in the AFF Cup.

Fair play to the gent who wrote in to the Phnom Penh Post bewailing the lack of football coverage and indeed good on the paper for replying that they are aware of the situation and are looking for a dedicated sports editor.

In the meantime keep checking Jakarta Casual for the best coverage of Cambodia as they take on Myanmar, Singapore and Indonesia. Well, not Myanmar, I'm not going to that game.


Danang start with a win


New Radiant gets beaten by Vietnam’s S.H.B Da nang in their opening game of ongoing Bin Daung Television International Football tournament. The home side cruised to a 3-1 winning start in the tournament.

New Radiant midfielder Ahmed Mohamed scored the only goal of the visitor’s team. The match started at 1.30 Male’ time marked the first appearance of their three new foreign players.

Media reports say New Radiant’s three foreign players and keeper Ifrah played an outstanding game. New Radiant will face Vietnam’s league champions Bing Dong on Sunday’s game. Bing Dong’s happened to be the champions of the league for the past two years.


Plan B - Chiang Mai or Vietnam? Or Phuket even?

THE Thailand Football Association has confirmed that it will host the Asean Football Championship Group B matches on Dec 5-11 despite the political turmoil in Bangkok.

It is learnt that Thailand FA president Datuk Worawi Makudi will be writing officially to the AFF and will suggest Chiang Mai as an alternate venue if unrest continues in the Thai capital.

Malaysia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam are in Group B while Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar and Cambodia will see action in Group A. Their matches will be played in Jakarta.

"I am not prepared to give up the hosting rights yet. We will make a decision soon and inform AFF. "We will do what we can to have the tournament in Thailand," said Worawi when contacted yesterday.

Meanwhile, AFF competitions committee chairman Ravy Khek said: "We will wait for Thailand to get back to us. As long as they are confident of the staging the event in any part of the country it is fine with us as long as we find that venue is fit to host the event."

In the event that Thailand is not able to host the event, Vietnam will host the Group B matches.

Or Phuket?

Suzuki Cup tournament could be moved from Bangkok to Phuket due to political chaos


The AFF Suzuki Cup is likely to be moved from Bangkok to Phuket due to the current political problems, Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi said yesterday.

The Asean championship will be co-hosted by Thailand and Indonesia next month with the Thailand leg scheduled to kick off in Bangkok on December 6.

Thailand team are in Group B along with Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos, and the Malaysians have reportedly threatened to pull out of the tournament and called for the Thailand event to be moved to Malaysia.

Worawi, who is in Malaysia for talks with that country's football authorities and the Asean Football Federation (AFF), admitted that the political turmoil affected the tournament.
He said he had told the AFF that Phuket would be a good choice if the tournament could not be held in Bangkok.

"Phuket is not affected by the political situation," he said. "Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos can fly directly to Phuket International Airport."

Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports have been seized by the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

Worawi said he had sent officials to inspect the stadium, facilities and hotels in Phuket and they found they were 80% ready for the tournament.

Phuket's Surakul stadium, which was used for the Fifa Women's Under-19 Championship, has been approved by Fifa, he said.

COMMENT - yet another snub from Asian football officialdom towards Malaysia if this is true. A woman's competition is one thing but a major international event? Anyway, they will need two stadiums because the final games are played at the same time. Songkhla pehaps?

Friday, November 28, 2008


Past AFF Cup records

1996 Winners Thailand
1998 Winners Singapore
2000 Winners Thailand
2002 Winners Thailand
2004 Winners Singapore
2006 Winners Singapore

The 2006 Competition was actually played in 2007 but hey, let's not worry too much about that.


Thailand scores 2008

Japan v Thailand (WCQ) 4-1
China v Thailand (FR) 3-3
Thailand v Oman (WCQ) 0-1
Thailand v Nepal (FR) 7-0
Thailand v Iraq (FR) 2-1
Thailand v Bahrain (WCQ) 2-3
Bahrain v Thailand (WCQ) 1-1
Thailand v Japan (WCQ) 0-3
Oman v Thailand (WCQ) 2-1
Thailand v North Korea (T&T Cup, Hanoi) 1-0
Saudi Arabia v Thailand (FR) 1-0
Vietnam v Thailand (T&T Cup, Hanoi) 2-2

P 12 W 3 D 3 L6 F20 A 21

More details can be found here


Cambodia in 2008

Cambodia v Nepal 0-1
Cambodia v Nepal 3-1
Indonesia v Cambodia 7-0 (Independance Cup, Indonesia)
Myanmar v Cambodia 7-1 (Independence Cup, Indonesia)
Cambodia v Laos 3-2 (AFF Cup Qualifiers, Cambodia)
Cambodia v East Timor 2-2 (AFF Cup Qualifiers, Cambodia)
Cambodia v Philippines 2-3 (AFF Cup Qualifiers, Cambodia)
Cambodia v Brunei 2-1 (AFF Cup Qualifiers, Cambodia)

P 8 W 3 D 1 L 4 F 13 A 24


PDRM withdraw from MSL?

Bola Today is reporting PDRM are likely to pull out of the MSL which kicks off at the beginning of January. Polis di Raja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Police) are having financial problems (don't snigger at the back).

This could be good news for former Persiba coach Peter Butler who has taken over at Kelantan as they could be in line for a swift return to the big league.

It is thought the Malaysian FA could make a decision, yep the funnies are coming thick and fast today, at their meeting on 6 December.

Odd day for a meeting mind. The Malaysian national team are taking on Laos in the AFF Cup that day. But then they move in mysterious ways oop there.


Kedah pre season tour

TREBLE champions Kedah will play two friendly on a playing tour of Vietnam on Dec 12-17 as preparations for the new season which kicks off next month.

Kedah coach Mohd Azraai Khor Abdullah is pleased that his team will proceed with the schedule tour to Vietnam which is sponsored by state government as reward for winning the Malaysia Cup last season.

"Before the trip to Vietnam, Kedah also will be play a friendly Felda United at Darulaman Stadium," said Azraai. The match is scheduled for Dec 5, and another friendly against Kuala Muda Naza in Alor Star is scheduled for the end of December.


AFF switch to Chiang Mai?

There is a report out there that a decision will be made today as to whether the AFF Cup group stage can go ahead in Bangkok or not.

If the Thais were to lose hosting rights then Jakarta and KL would be strong favourites. One option mooted in this story (in Malaysian) has the Thais proposing Chiang Mai which would be a good compromise...and ASEAN of course loves a good compromise.

And massive face saving all round...


Time to move

Thai authorities have promised to take action to clear the international airport of protesters over the next few hours but in the meantime have announced it will stay closed till at least 6pm on Saturday which sounds optimistic.

The PM has ordered police, navy and air force personnel to be ready to move in, no mention of the army.

It is apparent the Thai government is not fully in control at the moment and hosting a major football competition is the least of its concerns.

Emptying the airport of thousands of protesters, clearing the roads of their supporters, is going to be a major undertaking and the government has till now shyed away from major undertakings leaving the protesters on the front foot all the time.

With an unreliable army, with thousands of disaffected protesters, probably in need of new yellow t shirts, roaming the streets, with an unreliable army, the government cannot guarantee the AFF Cup can pass peacefully.

It cannot guarantee players, officials and fans can arrive into Bangkok. It cannot guarantee safe passage from the airport to hotels and it cannot guarantee the matches will pass without incident.

Both the organisers and the ASEAN Football Federation need to act quickly (ASEAN and acting quickly!!) and relocate the group stage. Possibly to KL. Possibly Jakarta.

But action needs to be taken quickly to avoid the games developing into a farce and a security risk.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Indonesian ticket sales

I haven't seen much about this but it comes from the FA so it could be on the mark. Official supporters' clubs can buy tickets for the AFF Cup in advance and as long as they ordr at least 50 they will get a discount.

For the rest of us we can pay on the day. Or night.

This is not good. Tickets are sold out of tiny huts which easily get mobbed and indeed for first time visitors difficult to see in the fading light and with thousands milling round. No wonder the scalpers and pickpockets that plague these events are planning their summer holidays next year...who the hell wants to push and shove for tickets eh?


Indonesia line up friendly

Indonesia have announced they are to play a final friendly before the AFF Cup kicks off a week tomorrow. Rather than taking on a regional powerhouse like China or Australia the co hosts have lined up a combined Persija/Persija U21 side.

I'm off out now to get tickets...or maybe not


Must do better, Malaysia

Football: Nothing new in FAM’s five-year plan


KUALA LUMPUR: There were arguments, debates, differences in opinions and even time for a light-moment when an official dozed off and snored during the FA of Malaysia’s (FAM) brainstorming session at the National Sports Council (NSC) Complex in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Perhaps, it was because of the same old issues being raised and thrashed out over and over again from the previous sessions — on foreign players, the format of the Malaysian League, the financial status of teams, clubs participation, salary scale of players, early kick-off times and fixtures.

In fact, there is nothing much to look forward in a five-year comprehensive domestic calendar (2010-2014), which the FAM have planned to bring about positive results in Malaysian football.

The issue of foreign players was again discussed at length. It was the opinion of many that the FAM should review their decision on not allowing teams to hire foreigners after the 2009 season.

Then, there was the argument on the format of the Malaysia Cup competition. There were proposals that state teams should not get a direct entry into prestigious tournament and should earn their place on merit from their placings in the Super and Premier League.

The majority of the State FAs felt that there was nostalgia in the Malaysia Cup competition and it should feature only state teams and two of the FAM affiliates, Police and Armed Forces.

Seasoned campaigner M. Karathu was one of the participants, who felt that there should be a more concerted efforts to upgrade the standard of the game by first reviewing the country’s football system.

The game turned fully professional in 1994 but sadly there has been nothing to shout about.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in their report in May this year had made assessments of 21 member associations, including Malaysia. It was a study on countries with a professional league to qualify for the Asian Champions League.

The assessments were based on 10 aspects — organisation, technical standards. attendance, governance, marketing and promotion, business scale, match organisation, media, stadiums and clubs.

Malaysia were ranked No. 18 out of the 21 nations and graded D, which meant that they did not meet the criteria. Only Japan met all criteria and were graded A.

Neighbours Indonesia and nine other nations (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Iran, India, Australia, China and South Korea) were graded B, which meant that they were assured to meet the criteria by this year. Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Uzbekistan, Syria and Qatar were graded C, which meant they were not assured to meet the criteria by this year.

And the message is clear — we are still heading nowhere.

The FAM competition committee, headed by Datuk Che Mat Jusoh, will deliberate on the overall findings of the 100-odd participants before giving their recommendations to the FAM Council for endorsement on Dec 6.

The participants comprised team officials from the state FAs, clubs, coaches and even members of the media, who turned up in full force to give their input to find ways and means to lift Malaysian football.


Stick to the football children

Hammam lashes out at Velappan

SHANGHAI: Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed Hammam yesterday slammed former top official Peter Velappan, accusing the influential Malaysian of conspiring against him.

The two have fallen out over Hammam’s proposal to move AFC House out of Malaysia, which has hosted the governing body since 1965.

In a letter to the AFC Executive Committee meeting here yesterday, Velappan, who served as AFC secretary-general for 30 years, claimed the governing body were becoming increasingly “authoritarian”.

He urged member nations to block an “insulting” plan to shift their headquarters and ridiculed demands laid out by Hammam, saying that his request for diplomatic status for AFC staff was “ridiculous”.

He added that the proposal to relocate was “a travesty to everyone who has given so much to put Asian football on the map”.

In response, Hammam showed a letter Velappan wrote to the Malaysian authorities in 2003, when he was secretary-general, demanding concessions that virtually mirror the ones he is now ridiculing.

In the letter, Vellapan seeks “diplomatic status for our president and general-secretary and income tax-free status for our employees,” among other demands.

Hammam claimed Velappan had “conspired” against every president the AFC had.

“Send that letter to him, tell him that he sent this and ask him what he has to say about that,” Hammam said in handing over the letter.

“Without hestitating, and this is for the record, he is a conspiracy man,” he added.

“He has conspired against all the presidents before me and he is doing it again now in the same way.”

Hammam refused to elaborate.

Velappan angrily rejected the allegation that he had undermined past presidents, but did not deny sending the letter.

“I can’t remember sending the letter but Hammam was already president when the letter was sent, and if such a letter was sent it must have been with the consent and under the instructions of Hammam,” he said.

“I know that since Hammam took over the presidency in 2002, he has wanted diplomatic status for himself.”

COMMENT - How pathetic. And look at Velappan's comments...first he can't remember, then he says it was sent then he says he's not sure! In one bloody sentence!

UPDATE - Check out this Aussie look at things by the Half Time Orange


News from Vietnam

Vietnamese fans head to AFF Cup

The Vietnamese Football Fans Association, inaugurated in Ha Noi on Monday, plans to accompany team Viet Nam to the ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) – Suzuki Cup, to be held in Thailand and Indonesia.

At the inauguration ceremony, Duc Trung, chairman of The Cong, or Army team, was voted in as chairman of the association, made up mostly of members of V-League teams.

Viet Nam will play Thailand – three-time winners of the tournament – on December 6.

They are set to play Malaysia on December 8 and Laos four days later in Bangkok.

Hoa Phat, Hai Phong to open cup

Hoa Phat Ha Noi will meet Hai Phong Cement in the opener of the National Football Cup at Ha Noi’s Hang Day Stadium on January 31.

The tournament has attracted 27 teams from the premier V-League and the First Division, competing in knock-out format for the cup.

Hoa Phat Ha Noi, relegated to First Division in June after a poor performance, will face tough rivals Hai Phong, coached by former national team coach Alfred Riedl.

The cup winner will play the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup next year.

Last year, Ha Noi ACB beat two-time V-League champions Becamex Binh Duong 1-0 in the cup final at Hang Day Stadium.

Khanh Hoa stun Gia Lai champs

Khatoco Khanh Hoa edged past two-time champions Hoang Anh Gia Lai 1-0 in a friendly football tournament in Gia Lai Province on Tuesday, thanks to a goal by Brazilian striker Mustafa.

Gia Lai, who appointed the former midfielder of the Thai national team, Dusit Chalermsan, to coach the team, missed chances to score in the second half.

The event attracted four teams from Nam Dinh, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa and Gia Lai, and was played at the Ham Rong Sport Centre in Gia Lai. The friendly is in preparation for the V-League championship next year.


The next generation

Most of the headlines this season have revolved around money or rather the lackof it and how it effects the established players. Very few people are seeing it as an opportunity to give youth its head, such is the fear of failure that pervades here.

Having the Copa games shown live gives the public a chance to see clubs from the Premier League and it's good to see some rough gems doing their stuff.

I've mentioned Syamsul Arief at Persibo a couple of times recently. He led the Arema defence on a right old song and dance over the two legs and indeed it was his late goal in Malang that set up last night's giant killing when he scored a brace.

Andik Vermansyah is another promising talent. He came on for the last half hour for Persebaya and was frequently involved, looking sharp and intelligent.

Pelita Jaya are one of the few clubs who have seriously invested in youth, two of their players are on loan in Brazil, and in the national Under 21 league they appear to have unearthed another gem. Gherry Sethia has scored six goals in five games so far as Pelita Jaya proudly lead the table.

Persikota are also in the Premier League and they have their own young striker oozing potential. Mostapha Aji has also been mentioned a few times here.

I've only mentioned attacking players because obviously they are the ones who make the most impact, especially in a short time span.

With the big clubs having to make ends meet on smaller budgets perhaps it won't be long before some of these young players make the step up and that can only benefit Indonesian football.


Danilo leaves Persik

One of Persik Kediri's highly rated foreign legion, Brazilian Danilo Fernando, has moved to Deltras Sidoarjo on a 6 month deal.

He will find himself very much a big fish in a small pond as Deltras this season have a young team short on quality. Unless they can add more quality it's going to be a long old season for the slightly porky midfielder.

UPDATE - Former PSMS and Perlis midfielder Gustavo Chena is expected to sign for Deltras today


Arema's cup dream ends

After just edging the first leg of their first round Copa tie against Persibo 2-1 Arema went into yesterday's second leg with some kepy players missing. Fandy Mochtar and Arief Suyono were on international duty while the goalie Dadang was suspended.

Syamsul Arif, so impressive in the first leg, scored twice at the Wilis Stadium in Madium as Persibo defeated Arema 3-1, going through 4-3 on aggregate.

They now play PPSM Sakti Magelang in the second round.


Singapore win on penalties

Singapore 2 (5) Vietnam 2 (4)

John Wilkinson 39', Agu Casmir 78' Penalties: Aleksandar Duric scored, Shi Jiayi scored, Daniel Bennett scored, Ridhuan Muhammad scored, Baihakki Khaizan scored

Le Cong Vinh 42'(p), Phan Van Tai Em 90' Penalties: Phan Van Tai Em scored, Vu Nhu Thanh scored, Le Phuoc Tu saved, Nguyen Quang Hai scored, Huynh Quang Thanh scored

Singapore; 1 Hassan Sunny (GK) (18 Lionel Lewis 74') 3 Baihakki Khaizan 5 Noh Rahman (19 Ismail Yunos 46') 6 Precious Emuejeraye (22 Shaiful Esah 77') 7 Shi Jiayi 8 Noh Alam Shah (9 Aleksandar Duric 46') 10 Indra Sahdan Daud (C) (2 Ridhuan Muhammad 46') 11 Agu Casmir 14 John Wilkinson (17 Shahril Ishak 56') 15 Fahrudin Mustafic (4 Isa Halim 86') 16 Daniel Bennett

Subs not used: Juma'at Jantan, Rosman Sulaiman, Mustaqim Manzur, Hyrulnizam Juma'at

Vietnam; 24 Duong Hong Son (GK) 4 Le Phuoc Tu 7 Vu Nhu Thanh 9 Le Cong Vinh (13 Nguyen Quang Hai 82') 12 Nguyen Minh Phuong (C) (31 Tran Truong Giang 78') 14 Le Tan Tai (17 Nguyen Vu Phong 68') 16 Huynh Quang Thanh 19 Pham Thanh Luong (8 Thach Bao Khanh 82')21 Nguyen Viet Thang (18 Phan Thanh Binh 67') 22 Phan Van Tai Em 41 Doan Viet Cuong

Subs not used: Tran Duc Cuong, Bui Quang Huy, Tran Chi Cong, Nguyen Minh Chau, Nguyen Minh Duc, Phan Thanh Giang, Nguyen Hoang Vuong, Le Quang Cuong, Phung Cong Minh

Venue - Jurong East Stadium, 2690

Some pix can be found here


Thais confident they can host AFF

Suzuki Cup 'will go ahead'

The current political troubles will not stop Thailand co-hosting next month's Suzuki Cup, Football Association of Thailand President Worawi Makudi said yesterday.

Mr Worawi was responding to reports in the New Straits Times newspaper that the tournament would move to Malaysia if the Asean Football Federation (AFF) decided Bangkok was not safe enough to hold the event.

"I would like to confirm that the tournament will go ahead on schedule," he said. Matches are scheduled to start in Indonesia on Dec 5 and Thailand Dec 6.

"I told the other three teams that are in our group that if planes cannot land at Suvarnabhumi airport then we have Don Mueang and also U-Tapao."

He said he was sure security would be fine.

"As the host of the tournament, we cannot cancel or change things 10 days before the tournament begins," he said.

"We have prepared a lot for the tournament and if we cannot host it then it will give Thailand a bad reputation."

Thailand is the co-host with Indonesia in the first round. and faces matches against Vietnam (Dec 6), Laos (Dec 8) and Malaysia (Dec 10).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Revamp the AFF Cup

I love revamping things. I just sit at the laptop watching the Simpsons and suddenly I have a brainwave. Why not revamp the AFF Cup. Of course by revamping it we would no longer call it the AFF but you get my point.

The problem with the current set up is that it is so familiar and we know what familiarity does.

This year Indonesia have already played Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar (three times). Singapore tonight play Vietnam for the second time in a month. Everyone plays everyone else ad infinetum and to be honest I just can't seeing it raise the standard of the game by having an official competition every two years to complement the friendlies.

So why not 'expand' the competition by having 'guest' participants every couple of years. For example one year they could invite the top two nations from the South Asian Federation. Then perhaps from North East Asia. Another time a couple of sides from the gulf.

The point is these countries are ASEAN's benchmark, what they should strive for. We can't rely on cash strapped FA's to organise quality opposition for themselves (Sierra Leone? Libya? Afghanistan?) but have countries entering the AFF Cup would surely allow everyone a pop at the stronger nations in the region.


Raddy prepares for Vietnam

Avramovic looks for balance, Calisto seeks efficiency

The Lions face Vietnam tonight at 7.30pm at the Jurong East Stadium in the Tiger Beer challenge Trophy, in what will be their last home match before they start their bid to defend the Asean crown in the AFF Suzuki Cup from Dec 5-28.

Radojko Avramovic’s side will travel to Petaling Jaya to take on Malaysia at the MPPJ Stadium on Saturday in their final friendly before opening the AFF Suzuki Cup on Dec 5 against Cambodia in Group A.

The Serb has only had his charges in training for four days since Nov 22, and this game will be an exploratory one, in which he looks to find the right balance and fit for his team.

“I am looking to see how the team plays tactically, and to see how players co-operate with each other,” said the 58-year-old. “We need to find partnerships not only in attack, but also in midfield and defence.”

Avramovic was experimenting with skipper Indra Sahdan on the right side of midfield in training yesterday and the move looked a good one on the training pitch, but it remains to be seen if it will work against international opposition.

“Indra on the right looks like it can be quite interesting, he’s got a good pass on him, and can also drift inside,” said Avramovic. “But we’ll see.”

Shi Jiayi is set to start on the left side of midfield to make way for Indra, with Noh Alam Shah and Agu Casmir the probable starting strike pairing.

Precious Emuejeraye is still lacking match fitness, having only recently returned from knee and ankle surgery, and he looks to get a game in central defence with Geylang United’s Baihakki Khaizan.

The Lions’ defensive pairing will have to contend with the nippy Le Cong Vinh, Vietnam’s chief striker who can trouble any defence with his turn of pace and agility.

Vietnam coach Henrique Calisto has yet to register a win with the Vietnamese side since he took over in April of this year, and Le will be vital to the team if they are to register their first win under the Portuguese tonight.

But the 55-year-old will not be too bothered by the result, whatever it will be.

“I don’t care about the result, what I want if for my players to play effectively and play well,” said Calisto. “What’s important are the results at the Suzuki Cup, not here.”

Calisto admitted that his team is a work in progress, and he is still trying to find its feet. “I’m a new coach, with new players, trying to find a new system, it will take time,” he said. “But usually teams play weak opponents in their last game to boost morale, but that’s not right. Singapore are one of the strongest teams in the region, and I want to test my team.”


Can Bangkok host showpiece?

Given the fact that the airport in Bangkok has been closed, temporarily we hope, it would appear that security forces in the Thai capital may not have everything there under control. With Bangkok due to host some group games in the AFF Cup can the Thais guarantee players, officials and fans security?

All the while the protests were centred around the palace and parliament building there was no threat to the football but now the protesters are proving a lot more mobile. If they can take over the airport, and nobody noticed thousands of yellow clad people heading that way? surely Rajamangala Stadium would be less of a challenge?


Thailand desire ASEAN triumph

Asean Cup quest is a real challenge

Thailand have won a record eight consecutive SEA Games titles from 1993-2007 but the Thais can't say they are the major force in South East Asia as the football competition at the biennial event is an Under-23 tournament.

Thailand have to prove they are number one in the region by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup, or the Asean Cup, which is for full national sides. Thailand and Singapore have each won the tournament three times. But the Thais last won the championship five years ago while Singapore were champions in the previous two editions.

In the 2007 final, played over two legs, Singapore drew with Thailand in Bangkok for an aggregate 3-2 victory at a packed Supachalasai stadium.

Although, the Asean Cup is the smallest international event for Thailand, it is still difficult for the kingdom to win as a couple of nations in the region have made fast progress over the past few years.

Peter Reid and his men are in a confident mood after winning the three-team T&T Cup in Hanoi this month after beating North Korea 1-0 and drawing 2-2 with Vietnam.

It was Reid's first tournament as Thailand coach after being appointed to the position in September. But he is likely to face a tougher assignment in the Asean Cup.

It will be a much bigger challenge for the English coach as every team wants to beat Thailand who are, rightly or wrongly, still regarded as the region's superpowers.

The tournament will be co-hosted by Thailand and Indonesia next month. Group A comprises Indonesia (hosts), Singapore, Burma and Cambodia, and Group B features Thailand (hosts), Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos.

Reid will be under pressure to deliver. Football Association of Thailand (FAT) president Worawi Makudi has targeted the title, while a large number of Thai fans still believe their national team are the big brothers in South East Asia.

The former England international knows that Thailand must win the event or he could be in hot water. "Every tournament has pressure. Our aim is to win the tournament, it gives extra pressure to our job," he said.

"But as coach, I have to try my best to bring success to Thailand in any competition."
Reid is still new to football in the region so he named compatriot Steve Darby as his assistant who could be Thailand's lethal weapon in the Asean Cup.

Darby has coached Singapore's clubs for years and is also a guest analyst for the Singapore-based ESPN/StarSport.

Thailand will begin their Asean Cup campaign on December 6 against Vietnam at Rajamangala stadium and Reid is confident that his men will finish off the Vietnamese.
Having got information about Malaysia from Darby, Reid also believes Thailand can get past Malaysia.

Although Laos are considered the weakest side in the group, the former Everton midfielder says he won't underestimate any team.

With two teams from each group reaching the semi-finals, Thailand should get past the group stage and Reid says his men are ready to take on any opponent in the last four.

Reid says Singapore may be the most dangerous side as they have a number of foreign players.
Asked if he was confident that Thailand would win the tournament, Reid said: "We have to have confidence in ourselves. The players have a good spirit and work hard. If they have a good spirit then they can beat any side."

Reid is pleased with his players' skills but is still worried about their fitness. Reid was extremely fit during his playing days and so he is concerned about the issue of stamina.

The team are training in Nakhon Ratchasima and he has been trying to improve this area of their game so that they can run for 90 minutes.

So far, Reid has enjoyed a free hand in running team and has selected his own players without interference. This is unlike in the past when certain FAT officials wanted the coach to pick their players for the national squad.

It seems that Thailand under Reid are on the right track and Reid has to prove that by guiding them to win the Asean Cup before thinking about the 2014 World Cup.


Fit to drop

The last Indonesian season finally finished in February this year. In March the national players were called into a training camp and by April they played their first friendly, a 1-0 victory over Yemen. The ISL started in July, stopped in August, kicked off at 9 pm in September and stopped again early November.

The Singapore season started in March, or was it February, and just finished last week. The Thais finished in October, the Malaysians earlier having started last December but then they had the Merdeka Cp in October.

After the AFF Cup, the new Malaysian Super League starts again in January, the ISL restarts in January, The Thais are planning a King's Cup in the same month. January sees the first Asian Cup qualifying fixtures.

The SLeague will start again in Feb/Mar, again after international players have taken part in the AFF Cup and the Asian Cup qualifiers.

It's a chaotic schedule, and I'm knackered just writing about it, but that's the way it is. Top class players and coaches get used to it.

Both Peter Reid and Benny Dollo have recently complained about their player's stamina, I don't recall Raddy saying anything though. I know that Peter has been working on this with the Thais, it was an issue he noticed when he arrived in Bangkok and it's one that he started dealing with immediately.

One foreign coach in Indonesia told me that he was concerned about his players' fitness levels but when he tried to do something about it they looked at him like he was a martian. I mean, the fact that anyone could question their fitness levels seemed preposterous to them.

But it was low fitness levels uring the Asian Cup last year that cost Indonesia. For 65-70' against Saudi Arabia and South Korea the players ran through brick walls. Then, visibally, they wilted. I still remember the pain of watching Elie Aiboy walk slowly back to the half way line after an attack fizzled out. His tank was empty.

For teams and nations in this region to compete with the likes of Japan and Iran they're going to have to step it up a level. Playing Myanmar or Malaysia ad nauseum is just game time, it's not adding anything to the player's CV.


Open the bloody airport!

The AFF Cup starts next week in Bangkok and players, officials and media will be flying into Bangkok to cover this football gala. But then again, unless these numpties leave the airport, and soon, nobody will be flying in full stop.

I guess the AFF Cup may not be the protesters main concern but the image of Thailand, something nearly all Thais of whatever their political hue are concerned with, is taking a battering at the moment.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Sorry, but this has been an issue since the Asian Cup

Coach Cites Conditioning As Indonesia’s Shortcoming

Running out of steam is at the top of the Indonesian national team’s concerns, coach Benny Dollo said on Tuesday.

Poor physical conditioning was the main factor behind the team’s 2-1 loss to host Burma during the Grand Royal Challenge final last week, he said, as fatigue prevented Indonesia from playing with vigor — normally one of its strong points.

His squad is currently training in Bogor, West Java, for the AFF Suzuki Cup, but Benny said there wasn’t time to improve players’ stamina.

“I understand that poor stamina kept the team from showing its best in Burma,” he said. “But I don’t have adequate time to fix that. Right now, I will put my focus on teamwork and organization on the pitch.”

He also said he needs at least one more assistant to run his training program. Former national team player Widodo Cahyono Putro is the team’s only assistant.

At this point Benny could use all the help he can get, especially as Indonesia’s performance at the AFF Cup may determine his fate as national team boss.

When Benny was hired in January, replacing Bulgarian coach Ivan Venkov Kolev, the Indonesian National Team body gave him an initial target of making the AFF Cup final.

“We will evaluate his position after the AFF Cup,” body chief Rahim Soekasah said in January.Kolev was fired after Indonesia failed to get out of the group stages in the 2007 Asian Cup and the Southeast Asian Games, with a 0-0 draw against Burma in the SEA Games sealing his fate.

The former Arema Malang and Persita Tangerang coach was then hired for his second spell in charge of the national team.Indonesia was drawn into Group A at the AFF Cup, with two-time defending champion Singapore, Burma and Cambodia. Thailand will host Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos in Group B.

The AFF Cup runs Dec. 5 to 28, with all Group B matches taking place in Bangkok and Jakarta hosting all but one Group A match.

Sorry but Dollo has had the team since March. This problem of stamina has been an issue since before he arrived on the scene. He can't just front up and say it's now a problem and he has no time. They've been training since March. Why are they knackered?

Nothing has changed in three years...
why is that?


AFF Ticket Sales

OK, ASEAN's premier football competition kicks off here in Jakarta next Friday. If you wanna buy tickets where do you go? No idea.

If you're in Bangkok then you get match tickets from these people but in Indonesia there is no information beyond a single ad in a sports paper and some guy's mobile number.

I don't doubt tickets will be available on the night but the lack of information shows the lack of marketing savy that surrounds the game here.


New Radiant get ready for Vietnam


New Radiant’s coach Stoikov has said that he expects the best performance from his players during the upcoming Binh Duong Television International Football Tournament held in Vietnam.

In the first ever press interview after Stoikov’s return to the Maldives, he said to after this evening’s practice session, that the opposition teams in the tournament are strong.

“The opposition teams are strong. They play Korean football and it would be very difficult for us”

When questioned about the departure of key players from New Radiant, coach Stoikov said that now it’s time for them to build up a team

“It’s time for us to build up a team and am sure we can give a very good fight with the current squad. They have the potential to grow and New Radiant never gives up! We want to win championships and the tradition would continue”.

Stoikov also highlighted the importance of the tournament

“The players do not get much International match experience and this would be a huge chance for them to boost up their talent. It would give them match experience before the local tournament”

Stoikov also noted that all the players except Thoriq (Tom) is fit to play in the tournament.

“I can’t say anything about the fitness of Tom at the moment. But other than that all the players are fit to play”

When asked about his return to the Maldives, Stoikov joked with a smile on his face.

“I have been suffering the last two years. I always have a special place for Maldives. I have been closely following Maldivian football and I was really happy when Maldives won SAFF Championship”

Stoikov has been the most successful coach New Radiant has ever signed. He was in the whelm of the club, when New Radiant went in to the semi finals of the AFC Cup in 2005. Stoikov’s return is also marked with three foreign players, including brothers Urumov Andrey Kolev and Urumov Spas Kolevm and Kosturkov Yanko Blagoev

New Radiant would meet SHB Da Nang of Vietnam in the opening match of the tournament on November 28th, 2008.

New Radiant, TOT of Thailand, Binh Duong and Da Nang of Vietnam are in group A meanwhile, Hai Phong Cement, Dong Tam Long An, Matsubara and a South Korean student team ar in group B.

The top team from each group will face-off in the semi-finals to qualify for the championship match and the winner’s US$20,000 cash prize.

New Radiant’s departure to Vietnam has been delayed now and it has been rescheduled to 26th November.


New look ACL

But will Sriwijaya be there?

KUALA LUMPUR: It is all change for the AFC Champions League as Asia's premier club competition is set to get a fresh brand identity on December 12 in Tokyo at the Toyota Mega Web. In keeping with the sweeping changes the AFC Champions League is undergoing, including stringent entry criteria for clubs and AFC's Member Associations, the current logo will be replaced with a newlook one, designed with a broader and more dynamic audience in mind.

The current logo was commissioned in 2002-03 when three pan-Asia tournaments were combined to launch the AFC Champions League.

"With the new, better and bigger AFC Champions League coming up next year, the new logo is in tune with the exciting times ahead for Asian football," said Carlo Nohra, Director of AFC Events Management.

"The change is an important part of AFC's brand philosophy to evolve and keep pace with contemporary markets and audience," said Nohra.

The new logo will be used on a myriad of tournament and promotional items from player kits to television broadcasts to newsprint media.

The launch event kicks off at 6.30pm with a video montage of the AFC Champions League, before a fashion show "with a difference" takes center stage. The fashion show will showcase the latest lifestyle range modeled by popular football players who will also demonstrate their ball skills on the catwalk.

The logo itself will be unveiled at 6.50pm, to be followed by an entertainment act. Fans will then have an opportunity to interact with the players and get their autographs.


6.20-6.30pm - Fans arrive
6.30pm-6.45pm - Video montage of AFC Champions League
6.45pm-6.50pm - Fashion show featuring famous players
6.50pm-7.15pm - Logo unveiling
7.15pm-7.25pm - Entertainment
7.25pm-7.45pm - Fans interaction, autograph signing


Thais beat TOT in friendly

Thailand beat TOT FC

NAKHON RATCHASIMA : Arthit Sunthornpit and Datsakorn Thonglao were on target as Thailand beat TOT FC 2-0 in a warm-up match yesterday.

After a slow start, the national side got the opening goal in the 22nd minute when Arthit his home from close range. Datsakorn scored the second goal from a free-kick after 73 minutes.

Thailand coach Peter Reid said his men had several weak points, particularly in defence, although he was pleased with the result.

The match was part of Thailand's preparations for next month's AFF Suzuki Cup (the Asean championship) to be hosted by Thailand and Indonesia. The Thais are in Group B along with Vietnam, Malaysia and Laos.

Meanwhile, Singapore-based Sutee Suksomkit joined the team yesterday after club duty.
He warned that Thailand could not underestimate Singapore, the reigning Asean champions, who had around eight foreign players and were aiming to retain the title.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Syamsul, Ramdani recalled

Coach Benny Dollo has called together 24 players for the final preparations before the AFF Cup next weekend. Players from Persib, PSM and Persipura are back in the squad after they never made the recent trip to Yangon.

Keeper: Markus Harison (Persik), Dian Agus Prasetyo (Pelita Jaya), Fery Rotinsulu (Sriwijaya)

Defence : M Robby, Usep Munandar (Persik), Charis Yulianto, Isnan Ali (Sriwijaya), Erol Iba (Peliata Jaya), Ismed Sofyan (Persija), Fandy Mochtar (Arema), Irsyad Aras (PSM), Nova Arianto (Persib)

Midfield : Firman Utina (Pelita Jaya), Ponaryo Astaman , M Ilham (Persija), Elie Aiboy (PSMS), Arif Suyono (Arema), Wijay (Sriwijaya), Eka Ramdani (Persib), Syamsul Chaerudin (PSM)

Strikers : Bambang Pamungkas, Aliyudin (Persija), TA Musafry (Persiba), Budi Sudarsono (Persik)

Reserves : Achmad Kurniawan (Persik), Ricardo Salampessy (Persipura), Hariono (Persib), M Ridwan (Pelita Jaya), Boaz Solossa (Persipura), Ambrizal (Sriwijaya)


Indonesia's results 2008

A look at Indonesia's recent games shows something we have all known for a while. They find scoring goals difficult.

v Myanmar 1-2 (own goal)
v Hyundai Ulsan 0-0
v Myanmar 1-2 (Ismed Sofyan)
v Bangladesh 2-0 (Musafry, Firman Utina)
v Libya 3-1 (won by default)
v Myanmar 4-0 (Arif Suyono 2, Budi Sudarsono, Bambang)
v Cambodia 7-0 (Budi Sudarsono 4, Charis Yulianto, M Ilham, Bambang)
v New Zealand 2-1 (Firman Utina, Budi Sudarsono)
v Vietnam 1-0 (Bambang)
v Malaysia 1-1 (Bambang)
v Yemen 1-0 (Bambang)

Four goals in the last five games and one of them an own goal. Indonesia have called up Budi Sudarsono for their training camp that begins in a day or so but for the first time questions are being asked about Bambang's place in the team. Without a goal in his last four games a couple of websites have queried his seemingly automatic place in the team, soon forgetting his five in six games.

The arrival of Musafry in the national team has been one of the few spots and against Bangladesh especially he impressed, scoring one and generally being a nuisance. Likewise in the final against Myanmar he was a constant danger with his runs. Suyono also impressed when he played in the centre of the midfield but the elegant Arema playmaker needs a Syamsul alongside him. But will Dollo drop Ponaryo Astaman?

But two defeats in 10 games, not including the Libya game when they were losing 1-0 at half time, isn't a bad record to take into the AFF Cup...two defeats have come recently in Yangon but the Myanmar side won't fancy playing in Bung Karno again.

There are concerns though. The defence looked out of sorts in Yangon recently, the midfield disappeared in the second half of the final and Ismed pumping 40 yard balls forward for Bambang to knock down with no midfield in support, isn't going to win any trophies.

Isnan Ali wasn't at his best and the two centre backs, Charis and Usep Munandar, played like strangers. Luckily one area Indonesia is well blessed is between the sticks and Markus Horison is one player who returned from Myanmar with his reputation improved while Dian Agus Prasetyo and Feri Rotinsulu are more than competent back up. So much so Hendro Kartiko seems very much the forgotten man along with Jendri Pitoy.

Playing in front of 80,000 passionate fans will give the Indonesians a slight edge but there is no doubt Benny Dollo needs to work on a few areas over the next few days for the merah putih to stand a chance.


SLeague top scorers (deja vu)


28 - Aleksander Duric (SAF)
24 - Kengne Ludovick (Home United)
19 - Khairul Amri (Tampines Rovers) 10 goals for Young Lions
16 - Ojimi Gabriel Obatola (Gombak United)
14 - Akira Takase (Albirex Niigata)


37 - Aleksander Duric (SAF)
19 - Kengne Ludovick (Home United), Noh Alam Shah (Tampines Rovers)
15 - Abdelhadi Laakad (Woodlands Wellington), Khairul Amri (Young Lions)
14 - Mrko Grabovac (Tampines Rovers)
13 - Akira Takase (Albirex Niigata), Ojimi Gabriel Obatola (Gombak United), Fazrul Nawaz (Young Lions)

In 2006 Khairul Amri was second top scorer with 21 goals while Duric was 4th with 19 and Ludovick 5th with 15 for Balestier Khalsa.


TOT heading east

Following on from their friendly against the Thai national team this afternoon, TOT head to Vietnam to compete in an eight team tournament.

Binh Duong to test TOT at BTV Cup
Becamex Binh Duong will meet the Telephone Organisation of Thailand (TOT) team at the International Binh Duong Television (BTV) Cup next Friday.

Binh Duong, who were V -League champions in 2007-08, will be down six key players during the game who are in training with the national team in preparation for the ASEAN Football Federation Championship (AFF) next month.

The host team remains confident, with a top form line-up including goalie Nguyen The Anh and Brazilian-born Alves Kesley.

TOT, who ranked in the Thailand Premier League top five this year, will miss captain Suchao Nutnum to the Thailand national team. However 1993 Thailand Football Association Cup winner field Kone Seydou and Kavadio Doniel Pascal from the Ivory Coast will be on hand to show their stuff.

Opening day will also see a face-off between SHB Da Nang and New Radiant SC from Maldives, who will make their first BTV Cup appearance with national team member’s Shamveel Qasim and Ibrahim Amil.

The Maldives team will compete with a squad of newly-recruited players, including brothers Urumov Andrey Kolev and Urumov Spas Kolevm, Kosturkov Yanko Blagoev and Bulgarian coach Stoykov Iordan Ivanov.

This year’s BTV Cup team line-up includes Binh Duong, Da Nang, New Radiant, and TOT in group A and Hai Phong Cement, Dong Tam Long An, Matsubara and a South Korean student team in group B.

The top team from each group will face-off in the semi-finals to qualify for the championship match and the winner’s US$20,000 cash prize.


ISL top scorers

One reason why the national side struggle to score can be seen from the top scorers at the end of the first round of fixtures...

14 - Christian Gonzales (Persik)
12 - Marcio Souza (Persela)
10 - Greg Nwokolo, Bambang Pamungkas (Persija), Ngon A Djam (Sriwijaya FC), Cristiano Lopes (Pelita Jaya)
9 - Rafael Bastos (Persib), Boaz Salossa (Persipura), Julio Lopez (PSM)
8 - Ernest Jeremiah, Alberto Goncalves (Persipura), Aldo Baretto (PSM/Persisam), Keith Kayamba, Zah Rahan (Sriwijaya FC)

The Indonesian strikers are in bold italics...those in bold maybe moving on during the transfer window.


Baretto drops a division

Aldo Baretto, leading scorer with PSM Makassar, has moved to ambitious Premier League side Persisam Samarinda. Baretto was unhappy with having his salary cut by 50% as PSM, in common with many other clubs, struugle to cope with the new reality...they gotta find their own money.

Persisam are blessed with riches in attack where Baretto joins local big names Ilham Jayakusama and Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto while import Jardel has regularly hit the net for the side from Borneo.

PSM are also resigned to losing other stars with Argentinian striker Julio Lopez and Indonesian midfield engine Syamsul Chairuddin among those deciding to move on.


Thais take on TOT

Thailand in local test
Thailand's national football team will take on the TOT in a warm-up match in Nakhon Ratchasima this afternoon. The match is part of the preparations for next month's AFF Suzuki Cup.

Coach Peter Reid said he was pleased with the way training had been going in Korat and the players' fitness levels had improved.

"The team are working together well and once they reach full fitness they will be in good shape for the Suzuki Cup." he said.

Reid said Sutee Suksomkit would be joining the team now that the S-league has finished.
"There are no worries about his fitness as he has been playing regularly in Singapore," he said.

The match against the TOT will be at Muang Pak Municipal ground today at 3pm. In the Suzuki Cup Thailand will play Vietnam (Dec 6), Laos (8) and Malaysia (10) at Rajamangala stadium.


PSMS Appoint Leandro

With their Copa Indonesia 1st Round tie against Persiraja on Tuesday PSMS have appointed Luciano Leandro as their coach, replacing Australian caretaker Eric Williams.

They are also trialling some lad called Simic but I don't know if he is the one who played for Sengkang Punggol last season or not. The fact that Eduardo Luis Hicks also played for the SLeague side and PSMS indicates it might be but who knows lah.


Copa Indonesia

Persikabo v Persita 3-1 (Widodo, Mardiansyah, Benito; Cucu) 12,000
Persikabo win 3-2 on aggregate and will play the winner of Persikad v Persibat
Persiwa v PKT 4-1 (Widodo, Padwa, Weeks, Romaropen; Imral Usman) 12,000
Persiwa win 5-2 on aggregate and will play Persebaya in the second round
PSMP v Persela 1-5 (Hertanto; Marcio Souza, Batubara, Ardiansyah 2, Dicky Firasat) 5,000
Persela win 11-1 on aggregate and will play the winner of PSS v Persema in the second round

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