Thursday, February 28, 2008


Tampines slip up at home

Tampines Rovers last night were beaten 2-1 at home by Home United in their second SLeague game with their former player Peres De Oliveira getting a 90th minute for his new team. Home are one of two clubs with 100% records after two games, the others being SAF and Super Reds.

Balestier on the other hand have yet to earn a point after the same number games after 10 man Gombak United beat them thanks to Bah Mamadou on 57'.

1. SAF 6pts
2. Home 6 pts
3. Super Reds 6pts.

Two rounds fo fixtures into the season and the table already looks familiar.

Top Scorers (all with 2)

Akira Takase Albirex Niigata (S)

Masrezwan Masturi Geylang United
Peres de Oliveira Home United
Norikazu Murakami Singapore Armed Forces FC
Aliff Shafaein Tampines Rovers
Khairul Amri Young Lions



PSMS evacuation

You would think that a credible runners up spot in last season's Liga would have encouraged PSMS Medan to think big for the coming season but patently that isn't the case. First the coach left for Persebaya, a club playing in the second tier next season, now the players are packing their toothbrushes and heading south.

Persik have done very well, signing playmaker Gustavo Chena as well as Indonesian striker Saktiawan Sinaga and captain Legimin Raharjo. Rommy Diaz and Masperi Kasim interestingly have moved to PSP Minang in a lower division while Julian Mbom has moved to Persema.

PSMS were known to have money issues last season but with this exodus, and it ain't over yet, one wonders just who will want to go there for the Liga Super?

Persema have been active in the close season also recruiting I Komang Putra (PSIS), Harry Saputra (Persis), Aris Budi Prasetyo (Persik) among others.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008


All quiet on the Persija front

Persib have a coach. PSM have got one, Arema have recruited one as have Persik. Double winners Sriwijaya didn't need to having the foresight to secure Rahmad Darmawan to a two year deal.

Persija have nothing but a five man team set up to look at possible candidates which may include Singaporean David Lee as well as ex Arema coach Miroslav Jamu.

While the club management plods lethargically to some kind of decision they risk losing their best players. Already M Roby and Hamkah Hamza have moved on. Now there are rumours Arema are interested in Bambang Pamungkas and Aliyudin but the Jakmania website says they are sure to stay

July may seem a long way distant but, as other clubs are showing, it does not excuse tardiness when it comes to putting together a team that can challenge for the next season. If the Kemayoran Tigers don't act soon they'll be shopping at Indo Maret, not Plaza Indonesia.


Kedah go 5 points clear

Another two goals from Marlon Alex James put daylight between Kedah and second place Selangor as the Northern Malaysian team brushed asided Johor last night.


Kedah v Johor 2-0
Pahang v Perak 0-1
PDRM v MyTeam 0-2
Perlis v Negeri Sembilan 0-1
Penang v Sarawak 4-0
Terangganu v DPMM 4-0

1. Kedah P15 37Pts
2. Selangor P15 32Pts
3. Kedah P16 31Pts

Top Scorers

17 - James (Kedah)
12 - Mohd Khalid Jamlus (Perak)
11 - Carlos Caceres (Perak)


SAF come from behind

Last season's double winners Singapore Armed Forces came from a goal down to beat Geylang United at Chao Chu Kang. The visiting Eagles were given the lead on 15' by Masrezwan Masturi but SAF equalised eight minutes later through Norikazu Murakami.

Two goals in the last 12 minutes by Aleksandar Duric andAshrin Shariff put the Warriors on the top of the table courttesy of a superior goal difference over Super Reds.


Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Super Reds 100%

Super Reds returned to the top of the SLeague last night following a 2-1 victory at Queenstown Stadium against newbies Dalian Shide. The Super Reds were two nil up at half time thanks to goals from Choi Young Min and Jeon Byung Euk. Dalian pulled one back through Chi Jinyu on 52 minutes but there chances of salvaging anything from the game disappeared on 66' when the same player was red carded.

In last night's other game Albirex Niigata won 2-0 at Sengkang Punggol with first half goals from Yuji Tamiya and Akira Takase. Busy night for the ref who booked six players from the visiting team while red carding Hicks from the hosts.

1. Super Reds P2 W2 F4 A2 Pts6
2. SAF P1 W1 F3 A1 Pts3
3. Tampines P1 W1 F2 A0 Pts3


Kedah look to James

Kedah take on mid table Johor tonight in Alor Star knowing victory would put them five points clear of Selangor who are resting in this round of fixtures. Marlon Alex James has scored 15 goals in 14 games so far this season but he will have to be on form tonight against the team from the sout as Johor have the best defence in the MSL.

Elsewhere Perak travel to Pahang, Terengganu host DPMM, PDRM play UPB MyTeam, Perlis take on Negeri Sembilan while bottom club Penang, six points adrift of 12th spot, are at home to Sarawak.


Forever in our shadow

Odd, isn't it?

The Totts win their first trophy since 1999 yet the headlines are all about ... Arsenal.

Can't be easy being a fan of that lot.

Fair do's, they now have the makings of a good side. I do wish Martin Jol had stayed though!


Hamkah heads east

Hamkah Hamza and M Roby have left Persija and signed for Persik whose new coach Arcan Iurie is slowly rebuilding a side to challenge for honours next season. Both Hamkah and Roby are expected to tighten a defence that was notoriously leaky last season.

Hamkah is a ball playing centre half who impressed when he slotted in alongside Abanda Herman in the second half of last season. There were however questions about his temperment and perhaps his having to be substituted during the Liga play off against Sriwijaya on the advise of the referee was the final straw.

M Roby's move is more of a surprise. He has done a good job for Persija in his short time in the team, winning best young player of the season.



Grounds for concern

Half a dozen clubs are sweating on Liga Super places because their stadiums are not up to the required standard.

I touche on Persitara last week. They may also be considering Jalak Harupat Stadium as a homebase as well as Cilegon and Madiun.

Pelita Jaya are another club looking for a new home. Their Purnawarman Stadium in Purwakarta is woeful at best and they are also considering Jalak Harapat as well as considering developing their training facilities in South Jakarta. Using Kuningan in the centre of Jakarta is a non starter because of traffic and residents' concerns.

Also scrambling to find a new stadium are Persiwa, Persela, Persiter and Persijap.

All clubs must have adequate facilities in place by April or risk losing their Liga Super place.


Paul Davis and Martin Taylor

Sickening. Scandalous. Unbelievable. Disgusting.

These are some of the reactions that came out of the Birmingham v Arsenal game on Saturday but, unbelievably, these words aren't being used to describe Taylor's kung fu attack on Eduardo. Rather they are being used to slag off Arsene Wenger and William Gallas for their reactions to having seen one of their team mates given a one way ticket to hospital.

Forgive me here but I recall it was Eduardo on the receiving end of that horrific challenge? It was Taylor who went over the top? So why attack Arsenal? Why give gimps like Kelly, Bruce and McLeish the time of the day as they line up to protect one of their own? Why are we hearing Birmingham players moaning saying Arsenal are sore losers (hands up who likes to lose?) and they moaned the whole game? Who is the victim here?

'Cos that's what football is today. Wall to wall coverage of ex players and players keeping things in house and matey. Taylor is of course a lovely bloke who helps old ladies cross streets. He gives smarties to kids who go trick or treating and he always wears a red nose on red nose day. Top bloke, salt of the earth, know wot I mean fella? Weren't his fault Eduardo is too quick...serves him right, wasn't even a yellow card.

The bods who run football are so far removed from even the anti sepctic reality of the game today they verge on being farcical. Pundits never see any wrong in anything an English player do so would stop them playing golf together in the future or see free tickets dry up. The powers that be are just to busy trying to screw every penny they can out of the game; how long before we can buy Eduardo plastercasts?

Taylor is likely to get a three match ban for a straight red. Joey Barton is looking at bird for assault in McDonalds but do it on the pitch and hey, no problem, your mates will circle their wagons and protect you. Omerta will descend on the game as everyone rushes to look after their own.

20 years ago Paul Davis lamped Glenn Cockerill at Highbury. Mild mannered Paul eh? He'd never do a thing like that but he did and he got a nine match ban. Cockerill was soon back playing while sticking to a diet of soup through a straw and Davis was villified. Interestingly little was made of why Davis reacted so, what the provocation was but that's another story.

Cantona was suspended for months after attacking a Crystal Palace fan but then Cantona was French. Davis was Arsenal and he was, still is, black. What about Taylor? He is that rarity, an English footballer, obviously one of limited ability. Will he get anything beyond three matches? Or perhaps Wenger and Gallas will get banned and fined for bringing the game into disrepute 'cos they're Frenchies and Taylor? It was just an unfortunate accident...

But one wonders what the reaction would be had it been Rooney on the receiving end of a Senderos or Eboue challenge?

Sunday, February 24, 2008


A thought for Eduardo

It's what we do in English football innit. You make yourself known doncha, you gotta let the other guy know you ain't gonna let him take liberties cos he's a piece of sublime skill and you're just a fuckin' carthorse in sponsored boots.

Watch Eduardo's foot twist, is that bone coming through his sock?

Then watch managers and fellow pros get behind 'their own.' Martin Taylor? He's a good 'un, never set out to hurt someone he wouldn't.

Of course he hasn't set out to hurt Eduardo. He set out to let the other guy know he was there. It was a 'warning' tackle that happens week in, week out in football and 999 times out of a thousand it's nothing. Except this time fortune wasn't smiling on the young Croatian forward.

No, it wasn't deliberate as in Taylor didn't set out to knacker a young man's career. He set out to limit his impact on the game of football by saying 'look at me, I can kick lumps out of you', back off.

I hope Eduardo's career ain't over. I hope he doesn't get traumatised by 'stopper centre halfs' who swing their legs in the manner of weekend golfers swinging their clubs with gay abandon. I hope there is no next time.



Who cares?

When Arsenal don't play then really I am apathetic to how other games turn out. Unless they involve clubs I have a viscerel loathing for. Like Spurs and Luton. I'm none too keen on Chelsea either, their six trophies in three years bugs me. Why the hell can't WE manage that? Given that Chelsea are among our biggest rivals (!) I don't want them to win anything, be it an egg and spoon race or a Carling Cup.

Today is the Carling Cup and I would normally hope Chelsea's opponents beat them. Problem is, todays their opponents is that lot from up the Seven Sisters and while I don't won't Chelsea to win today another bloody trophy you can bet your last barrel of beer I don't want that team whose badge is a chicken standing on a basketball to win.

So I hope today's game is played out to a yawn inducing 0-0 draw and the sponsors say, shit that was so dire what we really need to save any dignity we may have, is to invite the losing semi finalists to play off for the trophy and let the Arsenal win.

It may be the only way we do win a trophy!


Budi nets his first

Budi Sudarsono, Indonesian international, scored his first goal for his temporary Malaysian club PDRM (Police), but he ended up on the wrong end of a 5-1 rout against 3rd placed Perak. Kedah stayed top thanks to two more goals for Marlon James as they beat Sarawak in Kuching 2-1 while Selangor also won again, overcoming DPMM 2-1 in Brunei.

Elsewhere Johor beat Perlis 1-0, Pahang won 3-2 away to Negeri Sembilan, and Terenganu beat MyTeam 3-1.

Table can be found here


Young Lions stalemate

Young Lions were held to another draw, their second consecutive tie, with Woodlands Wellington last night in the north of Singapore.

Lions, who make up the bulk of the Singapore Under 23's, took the lead through Khairul Amri early doors (!) before Woodlands equalised on 26 minutes through Laakkad Abdelhadi.

Early in the second half Woodlands, known as the Rams, took the lead through Lucian Dronca but 10 minutes from the end Khairul scored his second and earned the Lions a point.

Table can be found here.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Final downunder

Tomorrow sees the Australian Grand Final take place at the Sydney Football Stadium which, umm, is in Sydney.

The Central Coast will empty for the day as Central Coast take on Newcastle.

The A League is currently made up of eight clubs, namely: Sydney FC, Central Coast Mariners, Newcastle Jets, Queensland Roar, Adelaide United, Perth Glory, Melbourne Victory and Wellington Phoenix.

Plans are afoot to expand the league by bringing in teams from Townsville and Gold Coast subject to criteria being met. Their stated aim is to bring the League strength up to 12 clubs.

My experiences of football dowunder are consigned to the good old, bad old days of the NSL when clubs from Sydney, Melbourne, Woollongong and Woollongong were based on ethnic groups and a game between Melbourne Croatia and Sydney Croatia was billed the Croatian derby.

Sitting now from afar I do feel that when the League is next expanded they look to add teams from Sydney and Melbourne to introduce some good old fashioned rivalry in those two big cities.

What do Australians think?

Anyway with Australian season over now, how about a coulple of the clubs heading to Indonesia to play high profile friendlies against local Liga teams? Persija v Sydney perhaps, or Arema v Perth Glory? Football leads, politics follows eh?


Malaysian weekend

This weekend sees the top three in the Malaysian Super League all playing away from home.

Leaders Kedah, two points clear of second placed Selangor with a game in hand, travel to Kuching to take on Sarawak tonight while Selangor play DPMM in Brunei. 3rd placed Perlis travel the length of PLUS to take on Johor at the JCorp Stadium.

After 13 games Kedah's Marlon Alex James is top scorer with 13 goals while Selangor's Frank Seator has scored nine; approximately what he managed in two seasons in Indonesia!


Carry on winning

They won the SLeague last season. They won the FA Cup and they won the inaugural Charity Shield. Now SAF have began their 2008 campaign by beating Albirex Niigata 3-1 at Jalan Besar with goals from Norikazu Murakami 4, Keisuke Ogawa 34 (og) and Therdsak Chaiman 88.


Friday, February 22, 2008


Busy night in the SLeague

Geylang United beat Balestier Khalsa 2-1 at Bedok Stadium while last season's rnners up Home United beat new boys Dalian Shide by the same score. The Chinese team had Quan Heng sent off just before the end of the game.

Balesiter took a surprise lead at Geylang through Haruki Seto but Aide Iskander equaliser early in the second half and Masrezwan Masturi got the winner on 70 minutes.


Persitara on the move?

The inaugural Liga Super may still be some five months away but the clubs who successfully made the cut from the last season are scrambling to upgrade their facilities or they may be rejected.

One cuch club is Jakarta's second team, Persitara. Their Muara Kamal Stadium needs extensive refurbishment for it to be acceptable in the new league and, as ever, money is an issue. The Laskar Si Puting have been scrambling round looking for alternatives.

Tugu Stadium in North Jakarta would be ideal but the capacity is small. Another option in the capital would be Lebak Bulus should Persija be allowed to use Bung Karno though few seem to appreciate the irony of the team from North Jakarta playing in South Jakarta.

Another option would be the Krakatau Steel Stadium out in Cilegon, about three hours west of Jakarta where Persitara played their home games in 2006.

There is also talk of the team being bought by another city which is what happened to another Jakarta team once. Persijatim were brought by Palembang who renamed the club Sriwijaya and the rest as they say is history. Madiun, a couple of hours east of Solo, is one place rumoured to be interested in 'buying' themselves a piece of the Liga Super.


Thursday, February 21, 2008


Tampines start brightly

After running eventual champions SAF close all last season Tampines will be hoping for a championship winning season in 2008 but were dealt a blow when prolific scorer Noh Alam Shah was suspended for 12 months.

Tampines have rejigged their squad, putting the emphasis on youth and last night won their first game of the season, beating Gombak United 2-0 at the Jurong West Stadium.

Aliff Shafaein 32 and Mustafic Fahrudin on 68 put the Rovers on top of the table but there is a bloody long way to go; just three fixtures have been played so far, half the teams have yet to kick a ball in anger.

Tonight sees Geylang host Balestier Khalsa at the Bedok Stadium



Chena heads east?

I understand PSMS Medan's influential playmaker Gustavo Chena is moving to Persik Kediri, Liga champions in 2003 and 2006, on a 15 month contract.

Chena will undoubtedly add to Persik's already impressive attacking options, lining up alongside fellow South Americans Christian Gonzalez, Danilo Fernando and Ronaldo Fagundez.

However Persik's failings in the last season were at the back and Persik fans will be hoping new coach Arcan Iurie can strengthen the defence before the Liga begins in July


Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Blank Lions

Last night in the SLeague Young Lions were held to a 0-0 draw at Jalan Besar by Sengkang. They go second in the 12 team league after two fixtures have been played!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Persib find new coach

Persib Bandung have appointed Jaya Hartono as their new coach for the 2008/09 Liga Super. He has said his target is the Championship, something Persib haven't won snce 1995.


Advantage Manchester United?


There are those people who are assuming United's comprehensive thrashing of Arsenal has given them the psychological upper hand as we enter the final third of the season and of course they are right. Should Arsenal ever put on such a powder puff display again they won't win a thing.

My old pub side could have beaten Arsenal on Saturday, though perhaps not with me in the starting XI.

But come the Premier clash in April at Old Trafford then you will see a different Arsenal. Fergie flooded the midfield on Saturday to close down Hleb and Fabregas but while it worked my rabbits could have handled the inspirational midfielders Saturday. Perhaps by playing his hand so early Wenger has an insight to what Fergie might do in April?

Arsene Wenger's quotes after the match were interesting and told a lot. He took pleasure in there being no injuries and reckoned United played great. Hardly the thoughts of a manager gnashing at the bit because his side were so woeful.

Injuries on Saturday were unlikely given the total absence of passion shown by the players. It's almost as if they were under instructions to take it easy.

Much has been made of this Arsenal's tactical variety. Where once they played neat triangles that hurt no one this season they have gone long, gone wide, gone through the middle as situations dictate. Old Trafford saw another method introduced. Wrap the players in cotton wool and do nothing.

Given that Wenger had just 14 players to choose from perhaps you can accept his safety first attitude but...Given the size of back room staffs these days, given that players are frequently rested, given that medical facilities are the best available, given Arsene's love of stretching, just why is the treatment room so damned busy? Has Gary Lewin hired a couple of fit Polish nurses to tend those hamstrings or soothe them metatarsals? Is Robin van Persie ever going to play for the club again?

Perhaps there is a case for Arsenal to answer. Should they have to explain to the FA, their fans (!), just how a club five points clear of the Premier League can put in such an inept performance in such a high profile game? Because if Arsenal, my club, weren't trying then they cheated. They cheated the fans out of their hard earned cash.

Then again if we win the Premier League the Champions League will anyone remember?


Super Reds top of the league

The SLeague kicked off last night with Super Reds, a daft name if ever there was one, beating Woodlands Wellington 2-1 with Kim Jae Hong getting the winner in the 87th minute.

Tonight sees Young Lions take on Sengkang at Jalan Besar


Monday, February 18, 2008


SAF continue winning ways

The curtain raiser to the SLeague, the Charity Shield, was won last night by double winners SAF on penalties.

In front of a healthy crowd of 4,500 at Jalan Besar Stadium Home United took the lead through Ludovick on 69 minutes. Sharif equalised from the spot with four minutes left on the clock.

Inspired by captain Alexander Duric SAF won the shoot out 5-4.

The SLeague proper kicks off tonight with Super Reds taking on Woodlands Wellington.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The fickle nature of football

There can be surely no more fickle business than football where you are only as good as your last result.

I'm as fickle as they come. I'm fuming everytime my lot lose, sorry, are effortlessly brushed aside, by our major rivals.

The Spurs defeat still lingers despite it being a few weeks back and it will remain a sore point till we beat them again.

My embarrassment at our collapse against United last night will last until we can actually go there and win again and go on to win the league.

But not only fans are fickle. Take last night's Liverpool mafia talking heads on TV covering the Barnsley game and their half time comments. The host casually mentioned that he could see Barnsley scoring before Liverpool went on to win the game.

Oh boy, to hear these heads speak Liverpool DON'T concede goals against lower division teams in the cup. The fans will cheer them on to victory. Blah blah.

As it happened Barnsley did score. Twice and not only Liverpool did concede to a lower division team, they bowed out of the Cup to said lower division team.

Our Liverpool heads were of course shocked. United in their shame, shame I was to feel a couple of hours later, they lashed out. Rafa's rotation was to blame of course. Liverpool had the chances. Of course. Why didn't Gerrard and Pepe play from the start? The defending was abysmal.

Fair points all. But, coasting on a half time 1-0 lead, none of this was mentioned in their first half analysis. Why should it when you're winning?

Ah, the fickle nature of football eh?


The fine art of losing

Abject. Disappointing. Pathetic. Dire. Shameful. Woeful.

Once again Arsenal croaked in a cup tie against a major rival and once again questions must be asked of Wenger's exciting team. Do they have the mental strength to be winners?

Last night's showing against United suggests not. Resting Adebayor, Flamini and without injured Rosicky and van Persie (who?) Arsenal rolled over and died against an impressive United who had struggled in their last couple of games.

Like the Spurs semi final Arsenal were almost effortlessly brushed aside by a side that just 'wanted' it more.

Winning is a habit. So is losing. Players like Gilberto, now surely at the end of his days at Arsenal, Traore and Hoyte get called up when it's a Carling Cup game or a game of little strategic value but with them in the team, and throw Lehmann into the mix perhaps, the feeling is this is very much a second choice eleven and perhaps Arsene's heart ain't in it.

I hope that's not the case but what elese to think?

But you can't prioritise trophies. Surely you put your best team out to win every single game every single time. But no matter who you put out, surely have got to be up for it against the likes of United and Spurs.

If not, if you lack the winning mentality for the so called lesser trophies then who is to guarantee the more prestigious ones will fall in your lap?

This Arsenal team is an exciting outfit to watch but they are not a great team. Far from it. Until they win a trophy, and then continue to do so on a regular basis, they will be under achievers. We've endured three barren years. Last year Chelsea won the Carling Cup and the FA Cup in a barren season. Before that United won things while not performing at their best in the Premier League.

It seems Arsenal don't think that way. The Arsenal way perhaps is the Premier League playing our way or nothing. Sorry, I don't accept that. I don't want this fancy football with no end result.

I want trophies. That is how you judge greatness.

(Oh and please, please, get rid of that embarrasment Eboue. His limited qualities are regularly undermined by his petulant antics and downright cheating)


Saturday, February 16, 2008


Keeping ahead of the pack

One reason given by the Premier League for considering this now infamous, and possibly shelved, 39th game was the need to do it before anyone else did.

Really? Does any other League have the world wide recognition of the English league?

Can you imagine TV companies wanting to pay big bucks for Levante v Getafe? Will the percieved Asian cash cow queue all night for tickets to see Siena v Reggiana? What about the flushed arabs? Will they not be tittilated at the thought of Energie Cottbus playing VfL Bochum in a desert near them?

Nope, this is all about English clubs.

Slow news week or what?


Local coaches

If you want your team to win things then hire a local coach.

Since the Copa began in 2005 we have had three Copas and three Ligas.

2005 saw the Liga won by Persipura coached by Rahmad Darmawan and the Copa won by Benny Dollo with Arema.

When Persik won the Liga in 2006 their coach was Daniel Roekito while Benny Dollo repeated his Copa triumph.

In the just finished, and possibly renamed 2007/2008 season, Copa and Liga were won by Rahmad Darmawan.

Six trophies, three coaches. All Indonesians!


Thursday, February 14, 2008


Persija sampai mati

Persija till I die.

Bill Shankley's quote about football being more important than life and death can at times seems trite or prophetic.

For the family of Fathul Mulyadin football must seem irrelevant. Persija was his life yet eight days ago it was following Persija that took his life. Wrong place, wrong time.

Far from the stadium, attacked from behind, life extinguished from a 27 year old whose journey should have been just begining, not ending. It shouldn't be like this. It's only football for fucks sake. It ain't a matter of life or death.

Be it Bung Karno or Heysel it's football and when you say goodbye, you're off to the match, you should return home.

This afternoon at Lebuk Bulus Stadium Persija played Hyundai Ulsan in a friendly that was rapidly turned into a commemeration of a life taken tragically young. The score became irrelevant. This was about a life wasted so early for no reason beyond some moron who couldn't accept defeat.

Before kick off there was a moment's silence. At half time I popped into the supporter's club where Fat Boy was watching the game on TV; counting the money. 'For the family.'

Today was not about Persija playing Hyundai Ulsan. Today was the football family coming together to help a family tragically bereaved.

No more Fathul Mulyadins...


Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Malaysian football

Finding current news on the web about Malaysian football is about as easy as sticking a pencil up my nose. Sideways.

The official FA website is down while the fans site Yob 4 Ever is also down.

PDRM of course recently signed Budi Sudarsono on an 800 million rupiah four month deal while Selangor picked up Elie Aiboy. I'm sure other stuff must be happening up that way...

I guess the FAM need the money as I understand they are talking to Ian Rush about running a striker's coaching clinic sometime soon.

Oh joy, another Liverpool voice on Football Focus!


Persija play for Fathul

Persija's friendly against South Korean side Hyundai Ulsan on Thursday afternoon will be in memory of Fathul Mulyadin, the young supporter who died last week during disturbances after the Persipura v PSMS Liga semi final.



Up yours, Premier League

After less than enthusiastic receptions from both Korea and Japan the AFC have entered the debate about Asian countries hosting English Premier League games - by giving it a big thumbs down.

AFC head Mohamed bin Hammam confirmed he would oppose any such proposals saying, quite rightly, that "AFC member associations (should) protect their own national leagues and clubs within their territories."

He added "if this principle is accepted then the FA Premier League must accept reciprocal arrangements within their own territory." Love it! Can you imagine the East Coast Derby, Geylang United v Tampines at Old Trafford or perhaps Arema Malang v Persebaya at St James Park?!

Last season Hammam stepped into a row in Malaysia when he said Manchester United and their gaggle of supporting sponsors could not play a friendly in the middle of the Asian Cup.

While it is the job of the Premier League to prostitute themselves for every last baht, peso or rupiah possible, no matter how undignified and laughable it may seem to the rest of us, it is the responsibility of the AFC to support the development of member associations and leagues. Even, nay especially, when the member association momentarily gets all starstruck like Malaysia last year.

Saudi Arabia have expressed an interest in hosting games but they would want to choose which teams which makes that a non starter.

With the Indonesian season over and the SLeague starting next week it's good to have something to write about! No matter how nonsensical...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Cheer up Martin Jol

In common with many Arsenal fans I was hoping Martin Jol would have had a job for life. Plainly they were never going to win anything under his charge and they were going to be enough false starts to keep Spurs fans believing and the rest of us laughing.

You now wonder whether Martin Jol will ever work in England again.

Juande Ramos has done two things which the rest of us were happy to see left alone. He has tightened up the defence with a couple of astute signings in Woodgate and Hutton though the former is prone to injury and the latter did his damndest to stay in Scotland.

He has also worked on the players’ stamina and it seems, sad to say, that the days of Spurs going one or two nil up then losing are behind us.

There is also a very real danger they could go on and win their first trophy since an old Arsenal boy led them to League Cup glory back in 1999.

The point about the players’ fitness though could surely count against Jol if or when he applies for jobs in the future. What club chairman is going to entrust the job of managing his club to a guy who can’t even get his highly paid players match fit?

It’s a shame he couldn’t have stayed at the Lane.


Monday, February 11, 2008


History made

Yesterday was an historic day for Indonesian football with Sriwijaya winning their first ever Liga, Indonesia seeing it's first ever domestic double, Zah Rahan becoming the first foreign player to winner the Player of the Season and PSMS reaching their first final.

Oh, and there were no fans at Jaluk Harupat Stadium to share in the celebrations. Just a bunch of excited, emotional players and...silence coming down off the terraces.

For many it will be a relief that a 13 month season has finally come to an end. A marathon that ended up as a damp squib in the hills of West Java.

But certainly while the Play Offs will live on for the wrong reasons it is now imperitive people who have the position to change things actually get together and make it happen.

There will be the usual 'but it ain't my fault' from people who should know better, and this has already begun, but wouldn't it be nice if everyone concerned actually sat down, accepted there was a problem and worked towards solving the problem. Together, unified.

Beyond the FA, government and police there is another party who can have a big say in how football in Indonesia moves forward. The sponsors and the TV companies that pay to show games. You can imagine the executives cringing everytime their name is associated with a riot or an outbreak of ill discipline.

If tobacco were to decide enough is enough, we don't want to be associated with this nonsense anymore then the game is effectively dead here because you can't imagine anyone else with deep enough pockets to fill the void. Perhaps it needs the corporate world to shake its stick?

The Liga Super is slated to start mid July. The authorities have got perhaps five months. Are they up to the task of eliminating violence from the terraces or will we continue to see more games played behind closed doors, more dead spectators and more finger pointing?


Persija to host Hyundai?

I mentioned last week about South Korean team Hyundai Ulsan coming to Indonesia for some training. The Jakmania website is reporting that they will play a friendly against Persija on Thursday 14th February at Lebuk Bulus in South Jakarta.



Premier League whining makes me vomit

In the week that the Premier League announced plans to take the game global Manchester United, smarting at a 2-1 defeat at home to rivals City, showed just how much rubbish these clubs can produce.

United's assistant manager Carlos somebody or other blamed the meaningless international friendlies midweek for his teams' defeat in the Manchester derby on Sunday.

Don't expect the media to kick up to much of a hoo haa over this. Sky's billions have house trained many of the people who 'write' about the game and critical thinking by a journalist is likely to see him banned from the finger food buffet and his cushty car parking spot given to someone more in tune with the party line.

I say poo poo to you and may a nail filled baseball bat be placed in a part of your anatomy where daylight is never seen.

A week or so earlier, dollar signs in their eyes, United had happily traipsed over to Saudi Arabia to play some nonsense game for some player nobody had heard of. This jaunt of course will have had no impact whatsoever over United's subsequent performances, the million quid they cleared would ensure that while anyway, you fans can always buy official pictures of the match here.

The arrogance, greed and hypocrisay emanating from the 'elite' of English football will hopefully be felt by other people and other countries. Already the Japanese have said they don't want English clubs playing competitive games in their country.

No matter. Perhaps FIFA will need to sanction the games. Perhaps not.

One hopes that local FA's in countries round the world will not extend an invitation but we can be sure Malaysia would welcome a game with open arms. No doubt it would encourage tourism to their country and really does anyone care about their own domestic league?

Pass me a bucket

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Liga Final 2007

15 mins - Obiora is given time to control the ball inside the PSMS penalty area and places his shot beyond Markus. 1-0 Sriwijaya
43 mins - PSMS task just got a lot harder with Murphy receiving a second yellow for tugging at Obiora's shirt.

Half Time PSMS v Sriwijaya 0-1

A dour game in truth with few highlights PSMS are having the possession but they are finding it hard to get through some resolute Sriwijaya defending. Their best chance looks like it could come from a set piece but till now Gustavo Chena's ball into the box have been poor.

No fans inside the stadium but a large screen has been set up outside and the fans who have been hanging around Jakarta since the semi finals last Wednesday are making do with an Indonesian tail gate party. Minus the beer. And the hot dogs.

62 mins - Saktiawan (PSMS) has a free header but send it over from close range
65 mins - Saktiawan drives straight at Ferry from 6 yards
68 mins - Forento (PSMS) goes wide and pulls the ball back for James Koko Lomel to equalise. 1-1. The last five minutes have seen more action than the previous 60 + with both keepers making vital saves.
89 mins - Chena (PSMS) curls the ball just wide.
90 mins - extra time...eight yellow cards are a bit extreme. It ain't been a dirty game but after 15 mins we'd already had four yellow. A red was as certain as a burning ringpiece after a quality vindaloo

91 mins - another PSMS free kick in a dangerous position but yet again poor delivery from Chena
92 mins - James Koko Lomel is causing no end of problems for Charis Yulianto and co in the Sriwijaya defence
94 mins - sub Alamsyah fires feebly wide from 35 yards for Sriwjaya
96 mins - Chena goes down again, Chena takes the free kick again. This time inches wide with Ferry rooted
99 mins - Zah Raham finds space 20 yards out but Markus in the PSMS goal shows why he is one of the best in the country
105 mins - half time extra time 1-1. Please no penalties

107 mins - that man Kayamba again makes it 2-1 Sriwijaya and the double is within range
114 mins - with Markus caught upfield for a corner Srwijaya break and Zah Raman makes it 3-1 from 40 odd yards.
117 mins - Sriwijaya are moments away from Indonesian football history. Shame their fans are outside!
119 mins - James Koko Lomel continues to work his nuts off. He deserves the man of the match award but do they give it to losers?
120 mins - job done. PSMS v Sriwjaya 1-3

Sriwijaya are the first ever double winners in Indonesian football and they thoroughly deserve it. Lomel is in tears, being escorted off the pitch. He deserves something, he was awesome today



PSMS v Sriwijaya

Finally it's upon us. After 12 long months the much delayed 2007 Liga Indonesia season will come to a close at Jalak Harupat Stadium before some ball boys, club officials and thousands of security personnel. An ignominious ending to a season that will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons.

Shame because today's game could be a right corker.

PSMS have surprised many people, ok me and my rabbit Bintang, by finally discovering some away form and putting in some solid performances at the right end of the season. Their showing against free flowing Persipura in the semi final was impressive. Defending deep and in numbers they restricted the space for Jeremiah and Goncalves to operate while further forward both James Koko Lomel and Gustavo Chena impressed and threatened.

Sriwijaya have uncovered their own gems under coach Rahmad Darmawan who of course won the Liga in 2005 with Persipura. A trophyless season with Persija jasn't hindered him as he set about bilding a tough, disciplined team in South Sumatra. Zah Rahan in midfield has impressed many as have Lengelolo and Kayamba up front. Defensively they are solid with Charis and Warboy tough cookies to crack.

Perhaps Sriwijaya have the slight edge going into this game having won the Copa already but you wonder about how tired the players are? They certainly looked ok against Persija but they've had a busy few weeks with the Copa and Liga games.

I'm just hoping it's a good game and it doesn't go to penalties. Anyway, sod all else on TV. Apart from Liverpool and Chelsea.


Jakmania call for sanctions

Leader of the Persija Supporters Club, Danang Ismartani, has called for Persipura fans to be punished after one of their fans is alleged to have been responsible for the blow that led to Persija fan Fathul Mulyadin dying on Wednesday night.

'You see Arema fans were quickly punished after the riot at Kediri. Last season both us (Persija's Jakmania) and Persib's Vikings were banned from attending matches after crowd trouble. Now I want to see Persipura's fans receive sanction.'

Danang went on to suggest any punishment would be unlikely. 'After the Copa Semi Final when they ran on the pitch one of their fans was waving an OPM flag which is illegal in this country. But nothing happened.'


Arema have new coach

Arema Malang have announced Bambang Nurdiansyah will be their new coach, replacing Czech Miroslav Jamu who quit last month.

Bambang is a familiar face to fans in Indonesia, he is often seen on TV commentating on local games.

Till recently he coached the national U 19's.


Sudarsono to Malaysia

Persik's Budi Sudarsono, one of Indonesia's most technically gifted players, is moving to Malaysia on a temporary deal.

He will line up for PDRM, the Royal Malaysian Police, for four months before returning to Persik in time for the Liga Super which is due to start in July.



It's on...

Today's final will go ahead at the Jalak Harupat Stadium, Soreang near Bandung but there will be no fans cheering on their teams.

Oh well...


Or maybe not

This is turning into the biggest non story since Wobblebottom Womble went to an ice cream shop and didn't buy an ice cream.

At a press conference last night in Bandung it transpired the FA had yet to receive confirmation from Bandung police that the Liga Final could in fact go ahead at the Jalak Harupat Stadium.

The FA have since contacted Solo and Sidoarjo as alternative venues should the Soreang stadium be unavailable.

In the meantime players and fans are in limbo land. The players from both teams are holed up in hotels listening to their i-pods while the fans will soon be thinking about having to return home as their funds dry up.

I also received a text from a mate saying the final had been put back to the 16th February...

Indonesian football! You couldn't make it up!.

Saturday, February 09, 2008


OK, it's back on

Everything has been sorted, all is hunky dory and bills have been paid. Tomorrow's final is on and Sriwijaya fans will be leaving Jakarta, where they have been staying with the Jakmania, at 1 pm.


Or maybe not

Despite the FA confirming the Liga Final would take place at Jalak Harupat Stadium tomorrow, Sunday 10th February, I understand all is not cut and dried.

One of today's newspapers is reporting local police have yet to give their permission for the game to go ahead while a media contact texted me last night saying Bandung didn't want the game.

All this confusion means fans wanting to travel from Sumatra for the game are unwilling to do so because they have no idea where to go! If the final does go ahead this weekend expect a few ball boys and a few neutrals on the terraces. For Indonesia football's showpiece event.

Football is rapidly becoming a hot potato that nobody wants to touch and as I write this morning TV shows are debating the troubles that surround the game in great depth.

So where now for Indonesian football?

Friday, February 08, 2008


Liga Final Switched

The Indonesian FA have confirmed the Liga Final between PSMS and Sriwijaya will now be played at Jalak Harupat Stadium, Soreang.

Jalak Harupat Stadium is relatively new and last season was used by First Division side Persikab Bandung District as well as Persib and Pelita Jaya when their stadiums were not available.

While the venue has been confirmed the date and time have not as the organisers are now frantically trying to find suitable accommodation which may prove difficult. What with it being the tail end of the Chinese New Year long weekend.

The plan is the game will take place on Sunday at 7pm. One sure thing is the crowd will be miniscule. A real shame because the match promises to be a cracker


Not Jakarta

Tomorrow's Liga Final between PSMS Medan and Sriwijaya FC will not be taking place in Jakarta it was decided at a meeting today between the Police and the Minister of Sport.

This follows on from the riot that followed Persipura's defeat on Wednesday to PSMS when one Persija fan died and many cars and buses were trashed.

An alternative venue is being lined up.

More news as I hear it.


Persija's Bung Karno Nightmare

Persija's woes at Bung Karno Stadium have been well documented in the local media. Their last six competitive fixtures at the national satdium has seen them lose each time. Indeed their only victory there in recent years was when they won the Bang Yos Gold Cup, a pre season affair, in 2003.

Beyond that solitary triumph their record isn't nice.

1999 - PSIS 0-1 Liga Semi Final
2000 - PSM 0-1 Liga Semi Final
2005 - Persipura 2-3 Liga Final
2005 - Arema 3-4 Copa Final
2007 - Persipura 2-3 Copa Semi Final
2007 - Sriwjaya 0-1 Liga Semi Final


Keith Jerome Gumbs (Sriwijaya)

Better known as Kayamba, this 35 year old striker from St Kitts in the Caribean is in his first season in Indonesia and his performance on Wednesday against Persija in the Liga semi final had the Jakarta side coach Isman Jasulmei purring.

Kayamba has had a round about journey since starting his career in his own country with Newtown United. When he was 24 he moved to Holland where he played for FC Twente. In 1998 he headed to England and Oldham but his stay in that grim northern shit pit was short and in 1999 he headed to the sunshine of Greece and Panathinaikos.

A pattern was developing because in 2000 he was off again, this time to Strum Graz in Austria then 2001 Palmerias in Brazil.

Since 2002 he has plyed his trade in Asia with Happy Valley and Kitchee in Hong Kong as well as Sabah in Malaysia before settling in Palembang last year. In his first season he has scored 14 goals as well as the cracker that beat Persija on Wednesday.



English Prostitute League - coming to a city near you!

I've said before how football mirrors society. Hence the chaotic, colourful intensity of Indonesia with perhaps a hint of tension in the air. The passionless, almost anti septic atmosphere of Singapore. And in England the money grabbing, bending over backwards rush for cold hard cash.

I'm romantic enough still to think of football as just that. Football. It's not anymore and it hasn't been for a long time. Football is little more than a vast money making machine where the name of the game is to squeeze the last possible penny from the fan. This money is then used to pay inflated wages to over rated players.

I hesitate to call football a business. In it's merchandising perhaps. But the regularity with which managers are hired and fired and given hefty 'compensation' packages for their failures beggars belief and surely has no basis on any MBA programme. And who do club chairman ever answer to?

With English stadiums full week in week out, another myth, clubs have been looking overseas for further cash cows to milk dry. Full stadiums? Well, Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Spurs. Perhaps Portsmouth. Newcastle and Chelsea, that's it. The other 14 clubs, nigh on 75 % of the Premier League clubs, struggle for bums on seats.

Now the wonderfully arrogant Premier League have decided it would be a jolly good yarn to play competitive league games overseas. Remember a favourite whine among club managers is they play too many games? Now they want to consider adding Sydney, Singapore and Shanghai to their fixture list!

Bollocks to you and your own, we're the Premier League, we're the biggest and the best in the world.

The proposal, and for the moment it is little more than that, is for each club to play one fixture overseas. Lucky Melbourne eh? They could get Wigan v Fulham. And what joy for Cape Town as they look forward to seeing Birmingham City play Middlesbrough. And you can just imagine the Americans salivating at the thought of Bolton v Sunderland coming to Las Vegas.

Arrogance? Nothing but arrogance and greed. The Premier League would take its games to the highest bidder and I imagine no thought would be given to any local domestic league and the inconveniance caused there.

The fans in England won't be happy. The managers and players may not be happy. Foreign FA's may not be happy. But the beancounters who run our game will be soiling their pants and they're the ones who count aren't they?

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Liga Final Under Threat

The Sports Minister is threatening to cancel Saturday's Liga Final in the wake of incidents last night that resulted in one youth dying.

He is furious at the numerous incidents that have blighted the game over recent months and the lack of action taken by authorities to put their house in order.

Referring to the Asian Cup he wanted to know how the games then could pass off without incident but run of the mill games can see violent incidents despite the presence of 3,000 security personnel.

The Minister, Adhyaksa, wants an end to club games at Bung Karno, suggesting they be pushed as far away as possible from Jakarta while also saying he will meet with police officials and evaluate the events of Wednesday night. If the results are bad he says he will have no hesitation in cancelling the game on Saturday between PSMS and Sriwijaya

The original story in Indonesian can be found here. Please excuse my translation lah.


Persib v Malaysian teams

Following on from Persib's 3-1 win over a visiting Kelantan team this little nugget comes from the Sepak Bola Indonesia web site.

This was Persib's 10th friendly against a Malaysian side since 1973 and it provided their 9th victory. All games played at Siliwangi Stadium unless otherwise stated.

1973 v Kelantan 3-0 Marah Halim Cup (Medan)
1978 v Selangor 3-1
1979 v Kelantan 4-1
1982 v Melaka 3-0
1985 v Royal Malaysia 0-0
1986 v Malaysia 1-0 Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei)
1988 v KL 1-1
2006 v Selangor 3-1
2007 v KL 5-0 (Jalak Harapat Stadium, Soreang)
2008 v Kelantan 3-1

I wonder how the Bandung get on when they play up there?



Another game, another death

Football again makes the news on TV here today but people aren't talking about Kayamba's goal for Sriwijaya or the prospect of an all Sumatran Liga Final.

In the aftermath of yesterday's first game between Persipura and PSMS, won by PSMS, fighting broke out in the stadium environs as departing Persipura fans were mocked by arriving Persija fans. One young lad, 21 years old, died as a result of injuries received while cars were smashed and police fired tear gas to break up mobs.

People in authority will now play pass the fiddle as all and sundry say it weren't their fault.

I have just seen the Sports Minister looking and sounding very agitated on the news. Already he has threatened to close football down following a series of riots and ill discipline. Now he is calling on football to sort its act out.

Bung Karno Stadium is right in the heart of downtown Jakarta, surrounded by high end malls and hotels. Brawling mobs trashing buses and cars, running from charging police in riot gear send a message to the world that football here is out of control.

Something does need to be done but first people need to take their heads from places where the sun don't shine and accept there is a problem. Then it needs leadership from everyone involved, police, government, fans, football, and it needs will. It needs a desire to make sure this nonsense doesn't happen again.

No more pitch invasions, no more assaulting officials, no more trashing cars and no more deaths.

UPDATE - the youth concerned was named Fathul Mulyadin who was 27 and worked at the South Jakarta Town Hall. Our condolences to his family


Persija reaction

With Persija falling at the Liga Semi Final stage for the second consecutive season coach Isman Jasulmei was obviously down heartened.

I spoke with him this morning and never once asked him how he felt after going out of both the Liga and Copa 2007 at this late stage. I didn't need to, his tone was enough.

'Sriwijaya were very discplined' he commented.

I asked him whether he felt Keith Kayambe, the Sriwijaya goalscorer, should have received a straight red for his deliberate hand ball that led to the Persija penalty but he went all Wengeresque on me. 'I don't know' was his diplomatic reply.

'Maybe this year was not meant to be our year,' he said now getting philisophical. He returned to discipline. 'Sometimes my players were too emotional,' perhaps referring to defender Hamkah Hamza who was involved in a spat with a Sriwijaya player that saw him recieve a yellow card and substituted.

Movie maker and Persija fan Andibachtiar Yusuf was more succinct. 'Shite' was his unabridged comment.

Following on from Persipura's defeat in the first semi final to PSMS there were some incidents outside the stadium including one where a young Persija fan died after being struck on the back of the head. Cars belonging to a couple of TV stations were also destroyed.


Tough start for South East Asian nations

No real surprise I guess but both South East Asian representatives in the World Cup Qualifiers failed to make an impression in tough away games.

Singapore lost 2-0 in Riyadh against Saudi Arabia while Thailand lost 4-1 to Japan.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Sriwijaya v Persija 1-0

19 mins - Kayemba with a sweet drive from 20 yards gives Siriwjaya the lead. 1-0
23 mins - Deliberate hand ball by Kayemba gives him yellow card, Persija penalty. Agus Indra skies it
30 mins - Ambrizal (Sriwijaya) yellow card for handball
33 mins - Evgeney fumbles a free kick, Charis (Sriwijaya) misses an open goal
36 mins - Atep (Persija ) shoots wide from 25 yards
40 mins - Bambang's snap shot is spilled by Ferry Rotinsulu but Sriwijaya clear
45 mins - Bambang's chip comes back off the back stick

Sriwijaya v Persija 1-0. Kayamba shouldn't even be on the pitch...deliberate handball in the penalty box is a red? Ferry has been the most troubled keeper with Bambang looking lively but I'm wondering why Agus Indra was on spot kick duty? Both keepers have looked nervy.

Second half Persija did enough to get a result, Hamkah Hamza went close with a spectacular over head kick while Aliyudin would have found it easier to score from one yard if he'd fallen on the bloody ball and not tried kicking it.

It wasn't all one way when Zah Rahan strode Moses like through the Persija defence only to see his effort trickle agonisingly past the post. On two other occassions last gasp Herman Abanda clearances saved the Jak's blushes.

So there we are, an all Sumatran final with Sriwijaya coach on target for an unprecedented domestic double as well a personal second Championship in three years.



Persipura v PSMS

Half time 0-0. Great game with Gustavo Chena shining early doors. Or windows.

0-0 after 90 minutes. PSMS won the first half 0-0, Persipura clearly won the second 0-0 even though James Koko Lomel did break free in the dying seconds but Persipura managed to recover

Now we have extra time and if it remains 0-0 we get penalties.

94 mins - Markus smothers the ball at Goncalves feet
95 mins - Down the other end Saktiawan curls the ball just wide from 10 yards down the inside left channel
99 mins - Again Saktiwan down the right this time works the Persipura keeper who saves smartly at the near post
101 mins - Koko fails to make a decent connection from 12 yards and the ball trickles out. End to end stuff
103 mins - Persipura captain Ivakdalam replaced by Da Rocha
104 mins - PSMS Mbom replaced by Boy Jati
0-0 Half Time of Extra Time
105 mins - Free kick Da Rocha threatens migrating pigeons
111 mins - Desperate defending in the PSMS penalty area clears an Immanuel Wanggai cross
115 mins - Usep looks dangerous as he dances along the Persipura goal line but his cross is weak
117 mins - Penalties here we come?
120 mins -
0-0 It's penalties...Jendri and Markus are two of the best keepers in the country. Now they stand between defeat or loss for their respective team. A cruel way to end a football match but it's better than watching American Idol, also a cruel way to spend an evening.
Both teams are in huddles while I feed one of my turtles.

Persipura 1-0 (Victor)
PSMS 1-1 (Legimun)
Persipura 2-1 (Wanggai)
PSMS 2-2 (Koko)
Persipura 2-2 (Kabes sees penalty saved by Markus)
PSMS 2-2 (saved)
Persipura 3-2 (Bahtiar)

PSMS 3-3 (Supardi)
Persipura 4-3 (Jeremiah)
PSMS 4-4 (Rommy)

Persipura 4-4 (Da Rocha hits post)
PSMS 5-4 (Saktiawan)

PSMS are in the Liga Final for the first time in their history. For the second time this season Persipura fail from the penalty spot



Managing at the wrong end

This is going to be a bit of a ramble so forgive, let's just see where we end up.

Inspiration came from a glance at the lower end of the Premier league table and the blokes who managed these clubs.

Being bottom of course we have Derby County, now managed by Paul Jewell after they somewhat oddly sacked Billy Davies who had promoted them in the first place. Is Paul Jewell the right man to save Derby County? Of course not. I couldn't save them this season but I'd have been a lot cheaper.

But why appoint Jewell? As a manager he has hardly set the world alight has he? Relegated with Bradford City, sacked from struggling Sheffield Wednesday, he did get promotion with Wigan and he did well to keep them in the Premier League. But, given the lack of money and a lousy postcode he was never going to bring in the quality that would have enabled Wigan to be anything other than a team making up the numbers in the bottom half of the table.

Fulham sacked Lawrie Sanchez and brought in Roy Hodgson. Woo woo. Hodgson has some 30 years managerial experience, including spells with Bristol City and Blackburn Rovers, he was a very successful manager in Sweden and also managed the Swiss and Finnish national teams. A journeyman manager, it seems his path to save Fulham from relegation is to sign journeymen players. If he does it he will be a hero of course but is he ever going to make Fulham into a top 10 side?

Steve Coppell was long considered one of English football's most promising managers but that was a long time back. Four spells at Crystal Palace and 33 days at Manchester City consigned him to the status of also ran. He has done a job at Reading but after 24 years in management success looks to have eluded him.

I did laugh when Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, described Steve Bruce as one of the best English managers in the game. 10 months at Sheffield United, 18 months at Huddersfield, six weeks in his first spell at Wigan, five months at Crystal Palace, Bruce won nothing more than a game of scrabble on the team bus going home after a long away game. Things changed at Birmingham where in six years he did win a couple of promotions, hence Whelan's hype I guess.

Then we have Gary Megson and his impressive resume. Norwich, 7 months. Blackpool 12 months. Stockport two years. Stoke, four months. West Brom four years whoopie doo! Notts Forest 13 months, Leicester five weeks. He has won promotion twice...that's it.

As a chairman looking through tose respective cv's you can't help but feel underwhelmed. Five managers, five ENGLISH managers, condemned to struggling in the lower half of the table perhaps with a promotion campaign or two to lift the dross. A vicious circle. No big club in England is prepared to take a risk on a young manager. They settle for middling clubs who just can't compete with the big boys money wise. They get relegated, move on, get relegated, move on and before you know it that have experience by the bucket load but a resume no top club would look at twice.

Even Newcastle United went for safe 'bubbly' Kevin Keegan knowing that his enthusiasim would at least paper over some of the cracks at the club.

It is unlikely that an English manager will win a trophy this season. Redknapp, everyone's favourite Londoner, at Portsmouth, Southgate at 'Boro and Curbishley at West Ham are playing for scraps, paying inflated prices for players not good enough for the big clubs, in effect for survival.

But I do wonder. How would your Fergie's, Wenger's and Rafa's get on at clubs where the funds are harder to come by. Could Wenger for example keep Derby up this season? Could Mourinho make Wigan the pioneers of sexy football? Of course they wouldn't want to. The best gravitate towards the best and the rest feed off the scraps.

This is football 2008.


British media 'discover' South East Asian football shock

The Guardian, bless it's little old liberal socks, has an article about Singapore's upcoming World Cup Qualifier later on tonight. Less an article perhaps, more a blog when they interview John Wilkinson, formerly of Exeter City and now a double winner with SAF.

An wonderful indicment of the English education system, Wilkinson 'fesses up to never having heard of Singapore before!

Must have been a slow news morning there



Munich '58

Before my time maybe but if you wanna know how an Abba tribute band, a barbeque in suburban Sydney and an English soap opera are linked then check this out.


Singapore set out on World Cup quest

Later on today Singapore set out on a journey they hope will end in South Africa in 2010, competing in their first ever Finals.

It will be a long old road featuring obstacles like Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan as well as Lebanon.

Tonight, after Indonesia finishes its Liga semi finals the Lions from the island state will take on the Saudis in their first group fixture.

A shame it ain't on TV



Persib v Kelantan

Kelantan officials said this was to be no holiday in the cooler climes of Bandung and it sure wasn't as the second tier Malaysian team fell 3-1 to a youthful Persib side.


Tuesday, February 05, 2008


Where next Pelita Jaya?

Indonesia's very own nomads, Pelita Jaya, are on the look out for a new stadium for the new season which starts in July.

Unless extensive renovations are carried out at their Purwakarta stadium they will need something new and one option is Kaluk Harapat in Soreang, West Java. One of the more modern stadiums in Indonesia the only drawback could be access, it is about an hours drive south of Bandung, perhaps four hours from Jakarta airport.

Another option is developing their training ground near Ciputat but that would take time. There was some talk that they would play in Kuningan in Central Jakarta but I understand that is a non starter given that it is a residential area.



Persik announce new coach

With Daniel Roekito stepping down to take care of his wife Persik Kediri have appointed Moldovan Arcan Iurie to lead them for Liga Super 2008.

Iurie previously spent two seasons at Persib as well as Persija who he led to Copa and Liga Finals in 2005



Arema fans suspension eased

I reported earlier how the Arema Malang supporters club, Aremania, had been banned from attending official games in Indonesia for three years.

That suspension has now been eased.

Arema fans can go to games but for two years they cannot wear club colours because of course as everyone knows, when you mix disallowed goals with a club scarf a riot you will get!

Giving their rationale the Disciplinary people said that they had taken into account the previous good support shown by Aremania as well as the letters of apology that have appeared in the national media.

No one knows how the linesmen feel, the ones who were twatted by irate fans.


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