Monday, March 31, 2008


AFC Pro League

The AFC is insisting countries who wish to enter their teams into the Asian Champions League must adhere to strict requirements and to that end they are currently visiting applicant countries to see what progress is being made to achieve these goals. As it happens the AFC are today in Jakarta!

For 2009 there is a minimum requirement but by 2012 AFC will raise the bar for associations. Some of the benchmarks are technical, round balls that type of thing but I'm going to look at some of the standards and see how Indonesia is faring at the moment.


Tickets shouldn't be free. Fair enough. In Indonesia you should have a ticket to enter the stdium but that doesn't always happen as it should.

Average crowds should be 2,000 by next year rising to 5,000 in 2012. No problem there.

Attendances must be given and must be accurate. No more of this 12,000 lark when it actual number is 11,834. This should be introduced by 2009 but I don't know if Indonesia is ready yet for it. Accurate figures were, sometimes, given during the Asian Cup but often they just go by how many tickets were sold. Nobody physically counts people going through the gates.


Government should not interfere in the affairs of the League. It's not government, and by this I guess they mean central government, that is the issue here.

Match fixing isn't allowed. Hmm...I have heard stories, I have seen games where an inordinate amount of injury time was added on while waiting for the home team to win. It may not be match fixing per se but some fixtures, grounds do attract homers and we ain't talking Greek writers here.


The league needs to have a centralised body that takes care of media, sponsorship and merchandise. Two out of three ain't bad. Promotion strategies? Non existant beyond work done by the sponsors. A league guidebook? Match day programmes? Only seen them at some SLeague games. Website? There is one. No one says it has to be regularly updated though!

The marketing should be in place by 2009 and while this is on paper the easiest area to comply with things are never done on paper are they?

Game time

Fans, media, players, officials and VIPs should have secure areas. Not here they don't. Getting from the players coach to the dressing rooms has the appearance of a brawl to the unintiated, fans freely climb fences during and after the game. Stadium access is often poor making this difficult and certainly Persija don't get changed at the stadium but at their own complex some miles away.

There should be security officers and guidelines. The only place I've seen private guards was at Solo and Kurnia Sandy the ex Persik keeper told me the players certainly appreciated the difference with these guys and the local constabulary!


The league and the clubs should have media officers! Good idea. If I told you how I get my interviews you'd piss yourself. Eat your heart out Brian Glanville!

The League should keep fans fully informed of developments. That's some way off here. Fans at the moment get news from the supporters clubs who are often better informed than club officials are.

There is good media coverage with taloids, TV plus live coverage of games.


There are 15 conditions to be met for a stadium to be considered acceptable for ACL games. Recognising the costs and will involved in this area the AFC are perhaps right to be leniant in the implentation of this condition with one stadium required to comply by 2009 and four by 2012.

Turf to FIFA standards; floodlighting to minimum 1200 lux; covered or partly covered stands; steady power supply (!); wires for outside broadcasting; dressing rooms for teams and officials; drug testing room; medical room; security room; a VIP area (oh yes, these are common at stadiums and not just Indonesia. Singapore takes care of the big chheses and tries to ensure they don't mix too much with the great unwashed.); press facilities; TV/radio facilities; revenue earners (merchandise, food and drink - at present merchandise is sold by people sitting on the road outside the stadium and refreshments are brought to the fams in the stand by an army of men and women forever blocking the view); comfort for fans (a dream in Indonesia, not bad in Singapore but what's with putting our bums on cold concrete eh?); located within 30 minutes of the city centre and within 100 km of a major airport.

The last one could be an issue. 30 minutes from Jakarta's city centre and you're a couple of miles from where you started. Persik, Persiwa, Perela are just three of the clubs that could fall foul of the airport condition. (Though Persela Lamongan may just squeeze in courtesy of Surabaya airport)


Clubs need to have revenue from a number of sources. At present they have just two. Local government and sponsorship. They are losing the taxpayer and need to add gate reciepts, merchandising and transfer fees. With 12 month contracts the norm in Indonesia transfer fees look a way off. Players leave one club then negotiate a new contract with a new club...nothing for the short sighted clubs at all.

Clubs should have competent management...umm, did I tell you about the ex hooligan now in a management position?

Clubs should have youth development programs. Fandi Ahmad at Pelita Jaya already has this.

My Conclusion

Indonesian football knows it needs to improve the game, the infrastructure to be able to develop with the likes of Thailand and Singapore. (Don't even think about Japan or South Korea yet.) There is general agreement of what needs to be done and why it needs to be done. There are though a couple of major stumbling blocks. Money and people!

Everbody knows what needs to be done, nobody wants to pay for it. Instead people would rather go hands outstretched to the government and get the money from their. It's unaccountable.

Too many people are on cozy little sinecures and while they may pay lip service to the concepts outlined above they are no reach to implement anything that could prove expensive, involves initiative or could see them sidelined. Politicians aren't going to take a back seat just because the AFC say so, not yet, they're too involved.

The idea of transfer fees for players seems miles away. Until professional managers recognise the positive effect they can have on the bottom line. Merchandising is a pipe dream until both club and supplier can get their shit together.

To give just one example. Persija last year signed a deal with Diadora to supply the kit. That was it. Only when the Supporters Club approached the manufacturer and said can we sell some in the shop did anyone even consider mass producing the kit. And even then from order to delivery was three months!

But it's easy to be negative. There are people out there working hard behind the scenes to ensure Indonesia does reach the required standards despite all the obstacles put in front of them by vested interests. The culture of football needs a radical overhaul, an infusion of entreprenaurial spirit and these things don't happen overnight.



Beckamenga introduced to Nantes

I reported a few weeks back how Christian Beckamenga was on his way to France. A couple of weeks back he was officially presented to the French media by his new club Nantes.

The Cameroonian striker who impressed during his spell with Persib Bandung last season has been given the number 20 shirt but he has yet to make his deut in the French second division.

Still only 21 years old Le Becks (!) first appeared in the region with Malaysian side PKNS back in 2004 before moving to Negeri Sembilan a year later. He spent last season with Maung Bandung before being enticed to Europe.

Earlier today I found an interview with him but I lost the link! In effect what he said was that Asian football was good, the players small but technically very good. He also said a German second division club were interested in him as well as a couple of other French sides, Metz and Marseilles.

Picture comes from Nantes site



Grounds for concern

The FA have finished evaluating the 18 candidates stadiums for the up coming season and the prognosis is, unsuprisingly, none to good.

Four stadiums are deemed adequate to host Liga Super football. Jalak Harupat in Soreang which will host Pelita Jaya has yet to be assessed but it's a shoo in as is Gelora Sriwijaya in Palembang. Sidoarjo's stadium passes muster as doea Kanjuruhan in Malang and, at a pinch, Persija's Lebak Bulus.

Of the rest Persiwa and Persiba need serious renvation though the Borneo side may opt to play in nearby ish Samarinda.

Persijap are also looking to move to a new stadium in time for the next season.


Wins for Kedah and Selangor

Two goals from Frank Seator gave Selangor a 2-0 victory in Perlis to keep the side hanging on to Kedah's shirt tails in the race for the Super League. Leaders Kedah brushed aside DPMM 4-1 at Alor Star with Marlon Alex James getting one to give him 21 for the season.

Sasa Braznec who last season played for Sidoarjo Deltras in Indonesia scored one for UPB MyTeam as they beat Penang 4-2 on the holiday island. Norshalrul Idlan Talaha got a hat trick.

A quieter day for the Perak defence after conceding a few high scores recently but a 1-1 draw at Sarawak after taking the lead was most definitely not what the doctor ordered.

Terengganu v v Pahang 1-2
Perlis v Selangor 0-2
Kedah v DPMM 4-1
Penang v UPB MyTeam 2-4
Sarawak v Perak 1-1
Johor v Negeri Sembilan 2-4

1. Kedah P19 15 2 2 50-20 47
2. Selangor P19 13 3 3 39-24 42
3. Perak P20 12 2 6 41-36 38


Super Reds lose at last

They left it oh so late last night at Bishan but Home United broke Super Reds 100% record with a 2-1 win that cements their position in third spot in the SLeague.

Kengne Ludovick game Home the lead on 77' with a penalty but the Super Reds equalised eight minutes later through Kim Sang Eun. Right at the death Ludovick scored his second of the night, and his eighth of the season.

While the Super Reds have been getting the victories this season they have not been scoring much, just one goal a game, and that record was kept up against an impressive Home who have the two top scorers in the league, Ludovick and Peres d'Olivera

SLeague officials will be disappointed with a feeble attendance of 1,700 but then no doubt in mitigation Singapore football fans will point out Chelsea and Liverpool were both being shown on TV.

1. SAF P6 W6 20-4 18
2. Super Reds P7 W6 7-5 18
3. Home United P6 W5 20-8 16
4. Tampines P6 W3 11-7 10

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Indonesia v Yemen - Update

There is another reason why the Yemen game is being played in Palembang beyond the feeling the crowd will be bigger there.

Officials fear large protests against the FA could hog the headlines and have people ask awkward questions under the full glare of Jakarta's TV and media. In sleepy Palembang people won't bother!



Arema sign Benson

Arema Malang are hoping to sign Persita's tigerish midfielder Esiah Benson. The Liberian is due to arrive in the East Java city on the morrow and start training straight away.

The heart of Persita has now been torn out with coach Benny Dollo taking over the national team, Firman Utina moving to Pelita Jaya, I Putu Gede off to Persebaya and now Benson. It remains to be seen whether top scorer Ernest Siangkam remains.

The Tangerang club have a massive rebuilding job ahead of them over the next three months or so.


Victory at Bolton

I don't want to poo on anyone's parade after our great comeback yesterday at Bolton where we played 60 minutes with 10 men, went 2 down and still won 3-2. But...

Have a look at our recent goals.

Gallas v Bolton from a corner
van Persive v Bolton from a pen
o.g v Bolton from open play
Sagna v Chelsea from a corner
Toure v Boro from a corner

Five goals and only one from open play but I'm delighted about that. A nice scrappy affair, the kind of thing Lampard has been doing for years, we need more like that.

And corners. It's almost GGesque the way we are rippling the net from corners these days but then we need to. We're creating very little and while Arsene Wenger will be delighted at the three points and the come back he must be concerned that we're not scoring from open play so much these days.

I thought Eboue had his best game in an Arsenal shirt ever yesterday, the boy done great.


TOT stay top

TOT yesterday defeated PEA 2-0 in the Thai Premier League to stay top of the table with 15 points from five games.

There's a distinct lack of goals in Thailand at the moment with BEC Tero top scoring with nine from six games. Yesterday they beat Nakorn Pathom 3-1 and they lie second.

Chonburi met Krung Thai Bank (KTB) in a match up that brought together the kingdom's two Asian Champions League representatives and they drew 0-0. Chonburi lie third and like TOT are unbeaten at the moment.

If you can read Thai the full table is here.


Perlis sign Chena

With Gustavo Chena's future in Indonesia thrown in doubt by his inclusion on a foreign players black list the inventive midfield player has made the short move from PSMS Medan to Perlis in the Malaysian Super League.

Persik Kediri had hoped to add the Argentinian to their own galacticos in East Java but the black list put a stop to that.



Malaysian FA Cup draw

The Quarter Final draw was made yesterday in KL and it sees the big clubs kept apart.

Melaka v Kedah
Pahang v Sabah
Kuala Mudah v Selangor
Terengganu v Felda United

First leg will be played 8th April, the second leg on 22nd April.


SAF leave it late

Three goals in the last 15 minutes gave Singapore Armed Forces three points and top spot last night at the Warriors Stadium against Woodlands Wellington.

The prolific Alexander Duric, who netted for Singapore against Lebanon in the World Cup Qualifier last week, finally broke the deadlock on 76'. Shaiful Esah made it 2-0 on 84' and Ashrin Sharif got the third in the last minute.

SAF lead Super Reds with a superior goal difference, both having unbeaten records after six games. Tonight Super Reds play Home United in a test of their title aspirtions.


Odds n sods

The deal taking Christian Lenglolo to Persija looks to be off. A source close to the Jakarta club tells me new coach Danurwindo isn't interested.

Instead he may be looking at James Koko Lomel who also apparently interests Persiba.

I have mentioned before about the political bickering behind the scenes at Persija. As well as being run by the local government the club is 'owned' by various local 'clubs' and they took the opportunity to try and increase their control.

Persija now are a company, Persija Jaya PT, to comply with FA and AFC regulations, but politics still rule. The new Jakarta governor is less of a football fan than the old one and is in no rush to renovate the Lebak Bulus stadium. With Bung Karno being forbidden by the Minister of Sports Persija look like they will start the new season at the plainly inadequate LB.

A marketing team has been set up at the club but, um, nothing has come from them yet!

Nurdin Halid continues to hang on to his position as head of the FA despite being in jail and despite the threat of sanctions from FIFA. The authorities here are dragging their feet and hoping the problem goes away.

A protest march last week attracted lots of cameras but achieved little beyond a promise from the sec gen to pass on the fans concerns. That means shit of course. The feeling is within the FA that if Nurdin goes they will all lose their cosy little sinecures.

Persitara's new coach Richard Azreg tells me he is busy at the moment putting together a squad focussing on young local talent a la Pelita Jaya. As it happens my maids son is currently trialling with the North Jakarta side! He hopes to look at foreign talent in May.

Kurnia Sandy, former Indonesia and Persik keeper, is trialling with Persebaya at the moment. The Surabaya team may be in the second tier of football but with the signing of I Putu Gede and now seducing Kurnia they are sending out a message.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


James to Persib

Marlon Alex James has been setting the Malaysian Super League alight these last couple of seasons with his goalscoring exploits for northern powerhouse Kedah. This season he has scored a bloody impressive 20 goals in 18 games and last season, as Kedah secured all three domestic trophies, he netted 40 goals in all competitions.

Perhaps no surprise the wealthy Indonesian clubs are casting envious eyes in his direction including Persib Bandung.

But while there is no doubt James has been impressive in his time in Malaysia, doing it there and doing it here are two different things. We only have to look at the example of Frank Seator who spent two seasons in Indonesia with four different clubs finding it hard to settle and score consistantly. Now back in Malaysia with Selangor he has 11 goals so far this season.

James is a striker with pace and ability, witness his goals in last seasons Malaysia Cup Final. But Kedah recently struggled against Home United, losing 5-1 on Jalan Besar's plastic pitch. How would he cope on Indonesia's pot holed surfaces?

Do clubs take a chance on a 31 year old who has never played here before but is the mutts nuts in Malaysia or do they go for talented young players? This is how coaches are judged ultimately.



Pelita Jaya

I'm not going to list all of Pelita Jaya's names over the years. Mainly because I can't. Now another change is on the cards as the nomads confirm their move to Jalak Harupat Stadium in Soreang, south of Bandung.

The club's marketing manager suggests they could be named Pelita Jaya West Java, identifying the club withe the province.

For the last couple of seasons they played at the Purnawarman Stadium in Purwarkata but the stadium doesn't meet stricter FA guidelines.


Indonesia v Yemen

Indonesia's friendly against Yemen on 27th April will be played in Palembang. This is probably a smart move by the FA given that Yemen are hardly likely to attract a big crowd in Jakarta. However given the success Sriwijaya enjoyed last season in winning the Copa and Liga double perhaps we can expect a large passionate crowd to fill the Gelora Sriwijaya Stadium



Bilardo coaches the coaches

Argentinian coach Carlos Bilardo is coming to Indonesia to conduct an intensive three day coaching clinic. He arrives on 1st April, or maybe he doesn't, and wiping the jet lag from his eyes has his first session after lunch.

As Indonesia strives to improve the professionalism within the game it is vitally important experienced coaches are brought over to pass on their knowledge and when Bilardo first steps out on to the training pitch he can be assured of one thing. He will be the only guy who has coached a World Cup winning side there.

It is to be hoped that the clubs recognise this and support their coaches to attend the clinic. We never stop learning but in the burly burly world of Persiwa away it can be easy to forget in football you are part of a big family and like all families they have their own ideas.



Gombak earn a point

In SLeague action last night Gombak United came from behind to salvage a point against Albirex Niigata at Jalan Besar Stadium.

The White Cranes, nominally the home team, took the lead on 5' through Tetsuya Okayama before Akira Takase made it 2-0 on 18'.

Gombak United pulled one back on 42' when Ojimi Gabriel Obatala scored from the spot and the Bulls salvaged a point when Bah Mamadou got a last gasp equaliser.

Today sees SAF host Woodlands Wellington knowing victory would put them back on top of the league, albeit for 24 hours.

Sunday sees high flying Super Reds, six games six wins, travel to Bishan to take on Home United in their first real challenge of the season. Home lie third and have been looking impressive with 16 goals in their last three games.


Everton to visit Jakarta

Not the team!

Delegates from Everton will visit Jakarta next month to meet with members of BritCham.

With BritCham's stated aim being to develop closer trade ties between Britain and Indonesia does this mean that Everton are looking at tapping into the massive potential that exists here? At the moment it is only Arsenal that are seriously active in the market with their soccer school and consulting role in a future Indonesian national football school.

Rumours that Manchester City may visit in June started mid week when it was announced they would be touring the region and Jakarta was mentioned as a possible destination.

The Everton bods will also take in the FA Cup Final while here. Perhaps they could join the local supporters club...oh, there isn't one!



Persebaya think big

Persebaya may not be in next season's new look Liga Super but that doesn't stop them thinking big. Under new coach Freddi Muli, who led to PSMS to the Liga Final last season, they have snapped up Persita's tigerish midfield player I Putu Gede.


Persitara appoint new coach

Persitara have appointed Dutch man Richard Azreg as their new coach. Azreg previously coached in UAE and this is his first stint in Indonesia.

His first job will be to find a new strike force with Kurniawan DY having moved to Persisam Samarinda and Bationo German joining Persiba.


Friday, March 28, 2008


734 reasons why England aren't good enough

Paul Robinson, David James, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, John Terry, Frank Lampard. Owen Hargreaves, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham, Joe Cole, Peter Crouch, Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen.

Between them these unlikely lads have amassed an impressive 734 caps playing for England. Only Crouch and James have played less than 40 times for their country.

These players have formed the backbone of England's failed 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 campaigns. They now look like forming the rump of Fabio Capello's squad as he builds for 2010.

They have not been good enough for several years, they are serial failures at international level, if they were pit ponies they would be humanely put out to pasture. But while they can be put out of their misery no one can put England fans out of theirs.

The cycle of hype, debacle and inquistion shows no sign of ending any time soon. But, amazingly, poor saps are still willing to paint flags on their faces, sing a long to brass bands and buy the official shirt as well as queuing up to pay upwards of 30 quid to see glamour friendlies against the likes of Switzerland and the US at Wembley.

Will fans ever tire of the drudgery served up by the national side and the dissection that follows any poor performance? I did, many years ago. Now I live in a country where a section of the footballing public prefer to follow England rather than their own national side.

Napolean, looking across the channel 200 years ago, described us once as a nation of shopkeepers and maybe he was right. We can market any old dross and people around the world believe the hype and lap it up.

Paris on Wednesday was about two things. Beckham's 100th cap and a new shirt.


Malaysia looks to youth

The FAM has announced it will again host the Champions Youth Cup this year and will feature Manchester United, and Chelsea, from Itlay will be AC Milan and Juventus, Germany's Bayern Munich, Spain's Barcelona, from the Netherlands will be Ajax Amsterdam and PSV Eindhoven and Olympique Lyonnais from France.They are joined by two teams from South America, Flamengo from Brazil and River Plate from Argentina and 3 countries from Asia; Qatar, India and another AFC member Federation to be confirmed alongside the hosts, Malaysia. No Arsenal this time around so who cares lah.

Ajax will also work closely with Under 17 and Under 14 sides as well as get involved wit coaching the coaches. Two training camps will also be hosted in Amsterdam as well as a couple of goalkeeper courses.


Penang and PDRM knocked out

In a night of few real surprises struggling MSL sides Penang and PDRM were knocked out of the FA Cup last night. Penang, leading 1-0 from the first leg, went down in extra time to Kuala Muda while PDRM saw their 2-1 advantage overturned by an eager Sabah side who triumphed 4-3 on aggregate.

Holders Kedah beat Sarawak 2-0 in Kuching to comfortably go through 5-0 on aggregate while Selangor came from a goal down at home to Perak to triumph 2-1 with Frank Seator again among the goals. Selangor won 6-5 on aggregate.

Former Persib striker Redouane Barkoaui set Pahang on the road to victory in their second leg tie away to KL Plus before Norfazly Alias made it 2-0.

Tie of the round was at the Hang Tuah Stadium where home team Melaka faced Proton down 3-1 from the first leg. George Opoku Weah scored first and the hosts went on to win 4-1 on the night.

Terengganu scored twice in the last couple of minutes to make their 4-1 win over Negeri Sembilan more comfortable than perhaps it was while Felda United lost 1-0 at home to KL but go through 5-3 on aggregate.

Quarter Final draw will made made on Saturday and the first leg will be held 8th April


Chelsea to KL

Chelsea have announced they will play a Malaysian Super League Select XI on July 29th as part of an Asian tour this summer. One other date will be added later.

There is a slight problem in that Israelis are not allowed to enter Malaysia but it is believed Avram Grant and Tal Ben Haim will be given dispensation.

As part of the deal Malaysian national head coach B. Sathianathan will spend a couple of weeks in London with Chelsea learning how money can be used to buy success and how to intimidate referees


Thursday, March 27, 2008


Indonesian Football Sites

Persija - fans site
Persib - English language blog
Persib Bobotoh - fans site
Persib Viking - Official Viking SC
Viking Persib - another Viking site
Viking Persib Blog
Go Persib - fan site
A Persib Blog
Persib Videos
Arema Malang - Official Site
Satu Jiwa - Arema EZine
Sriwijaya Mania - fans site
Persita - fans site
Kampak FC - PSMS fans site
Pelita Jaya - not updated
Persik - Official site
Persiba Balikpapan

Indonesia FA - Official Site
Liga Indonesia - irregular updates
Football Videos



Malaysian Football Sites

Perak - fans site
Perak - official site
Perak - blog
Terengganu - fans site
MyTeam - forum
Negeri Sembilan
Sarawak - fans site
DPMM - fans site
Johor - fans site

Malaysian FA Official Site


Singapore Websites

Home United
Home United Blog
Tampines Rovers
Singapore Armed Forces
Balestier Khalsa
Woodlands Wellington - down
Albirex Niigata
Dalian Shide - no site
Geylang United
Gombak United
Super Reds - no site
Sengkang Punggol - not updated for a while
Young Lions

SLeague Official Site
Singapore FA Official Site

Kallang Roar - Singapore/ASEAN Forum

If anyone knows of anymore that can be added to this list then please let me know



Lenglolo to Persija

As I intimated a few days back Christian Lenglolo has signed for Persija to add a bit of punch up front. He joins Bambang Pamungkas and Aliyudin but with three players down the middle you hope they get some width. Unless Aliyudin goes wide.

To replace him Sriwijaya have signed Ngon A Djan, a 28 year old Cameroonian, from AC Horsens in Denmark.



FA Cup action

Second leg action tonight in the Malaysian FA Cup. The match of the round sees Perak travelling to Selangor knowing the maths are simple. They must win. Their fans, after a hectic week of leaking goals, will be hoping for a sedate 1-0 win. The first game ended 4-4.

KL Plus host Pahang knowing victory is enough to see them overcome their MSL visitors but Pahang will be quietly confident. 0-0 at home favours the home side and they know a single goal could have Adrian Trinidad and his team mates panicking.

Nothing is ever certain in football but when you win the first leg 5-2 away from home you can at least expect to have a chance of going through. Felda United host Kuala Lumpur knowing they should have done enough but ...

Cup holders Kedah beat Sarawak 3-0 first time round and should be too good for the struggling side from East Malaysia. Why oh why not call it Borneo? So much more romantic!


Joy for Singapore

Two early goals for Singapore got their World Cup bid started last night at Kallang. Aleksander Duric got the first on eight minutes then Fazrul Nawaz got the second on 23.

The match was watched by a crowd of just over 10,000.
In the other match in the group Uzbekistan beat Saudi Arabia 3-0 in Tashkent. The Uzbeks lead the group with six points from two games while Singapore are second, ahead of Saudi on goal diference with three points. Getting something from their away games will be crucial for Singapore if they are to progress to the next stages.

Thailand were less fortunate going down 1-0 at home to Oman to a goal in the first minute. After their first two games the Thais are pointless and stuck at the bottom of the table. Bahrain lead the group with six points after beating Japan 1-0. Both Japan and Oman have three points.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Another Arsenal rant

Not here this time, over at ESPN.


World Cup Qualifiers tonight

Forget England playing France, the focus tonight is on the Asian World Cup Qualifiers as the best of South East Asia hits the road to South Africa in 2010.

On Sunday Singapore were held 0-0 by an understrength Australian side at an underwater National Stadium in front of a feeble 6,000 crowd. Tonight free transport has been laid on from the nearest MRT station, Kallang, in a bid to improve the attendance as they face Lebanon knowing the Lions must win their home games to stand any chance of progressing to the next stage. Last time out they lost 2-0 in Saudi Arabia.

Thailand host Oman also in need of a win after losing 3-1 to Japan first time around.

Neither game is being shown live, at least here in Indonesia.



Dalian win again

Chinese new boys last night earned their second win of the season as a late goal by Lu Peng, his third of the season, secured three points against Sengkang Punggol at Queenstown Stadium.

The win moves them up to 9th spot with six points from seven games. Sengkang meanwhile are still without a win after their seven games and have just one goal to show for 630 minutes of football. They lie 11th with three points, one point ahead of bum club Balestier Khalsa.

On a slightly different note why is it that the 'foreign' clubs in the SLeague, Dalian Shide, Super Reds and Albirex Niigata, each charge 6 SGD admission while the 'local' clubs charge 5 SGD? Perhaps the surcharge is to cover the club's accommadation?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Manchester City head east?

Thaksin's plaything Manchester City could be heading to these shores come the end of the English season. A report on Yahoo (yeah, I know) quotes a director as saying they hope to play the Singapore national side as part of a mini tour.

Other possible destinations include Hong Kong, Macau, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur.

Don't hold your breath lah!

Far be it for a wizzened old git like me to get too excited but it would be nice to see Manchester City here. Not because I have any soft spot for the team that gave the world inflatable bananas but the chance of meeting chewing the fat with Sven would be to good to pass up.

A couple of weeks back I spoke with Kurnia Sandy who was one of 20 Indonesian players who spent a couple of years at Sampdoria back in 1994. It just so happened the Italian side were then coached by the Swede and I bet you a dollar to the gold reserves of a minor Saudi princess he has not been asked 'What did you think of Kurniawan Dwi Yulianto?' for a long time!



Results or entertainment?

Every once in a while people on the outskirts of football like to chew on the old nugget about whether the game is an entertainment or not. Do fans go to games to see their team or win lose spectactularly in a goal feast that sees their keeper in hospital for a week with a bad back and the coach losing 6 months of his life watching from the sidelines?

Football, as Nick Hornby said in his book Fever Pitch, is not meant to be enjoyed. By fans, manager or players. The result is the alpha and omega and a boring 1-0 is infinitly preferable to an end to end 4-4 that has writers and TV pundits purring like a kitten with extra milk.

Look at Malaysian Super League side Perak for example. In last week's AFC Cup they hosted Singapore Armed Forces at their home stadium and came out second best in a 6-1 drubbing. Great entertainment perhaps for any neutrals watching but for the Perak fans delight was furtherest from their minds.

A few days later they hosted Selangor in the FA Cup and coming from behind managed to earn a 4-4 draw to take into the second leg. Two games, 15 goals. Great entertainment perhaps but Perak weren't finished.

Last night they travelled up the Lebuhraya to Super League leaders Kedah for their third game in seven games and received another thumping for their efforts. This time 5-1. Three games, 21 goals. Seven goals a game, if that isn't entertainment then what is?

You can be sure Perak coach Steve Darby won't be sipping his teh tarik today and saying to the club owners 'yes but it was wonderful entertainment guys.' The Perak fans won't be boasting aboutthe great entertainers they follow.

The price of this 'entertainment' is an uphill struggle to qualify from the group stage of the AFC Cup, a difficult away game in the second leg of the FA Cup at Selangor on Thursday (four difficult games in 10 days) and seven points behind leaders Kedah in the MSL having played a game more. When the honours are distrbuted at season's end it will be the winners who are remembered.

Football eh?


Monday, March 24, 2008


Are Chelsea fans the dumbest in England?

As Avram Grant decided to throw on Anelka and someone else yesterday at the Bridge the Chelsea support responded with their favourite chant of "You don't what you're doing!' Maybe but he collected three points.

In the wake of Jose's departure earlier in the season out came the supporters with their chants of 'Bring back the special one' only to disappear without trace after a few wins shut them up.

It can't be easy being a Chelsea fan of long standing these days with these new band wagon jumpers sanitising the support and dumbing cown the chants.

Their recent titles and odd cup have attracted a new breed of supporter who have no idea about the club's past. Mention Osgood, Cooke, The Shed, Nevin or Headhunters to them and they won't have a scooby. A club lacking any real traditions is having to invent them as they go along while swallowing the party line as dictated by slap head Kenyon and the money man Abramovich.

Tourists attracted by the moneybags image of the club take success for granted while the real hardcore, those who remember Mickey Droy and were brought up on crap know how fleeting it all can be. For a club that had money troubles before they were trendy, that had 10,000 crowds in the old second division, who remember Master Bates and his scheme for electrified barbed wire it must be galling to see their club hijacked bythe know nothings.

Things aren't so bad after all at Arsenal are they? Fans aren't calling for Wenger to be given the sack beyond a few nuggets on internet forums. Instead we just get frustrated but recall the things that make a club successful. Stability. Loyalty.


Thai Football

As part of this year's Jakarta Casual Football Tour we're looking at taking in a couple of games in Thailand. One will be the World Cup Qualifier between Thailand and Japan while the second game will be a Thai Premier League fixture.

16 teams make up the TPL with two of them, Chonburi and Krung Thai Bank, taking part in this season's AFC Champions League.

Looking at the dates when I will be in and around Bangkok there are a couple of obvious fixtures. Last season's champions Chonburi, who famously beat Melbourne Victory last week in the ACL, travel to Bangkok to play Customs.

Runners up Krung Thai Bank, who still have some of my money, play Osotsapa in Klong Chan while BEC Tero, a club with strong ties to the Arsenal, host highflyers TOT

I've deliberately not been covering the Thai football on this blog as at the moment, while the Indonesian Liga is in deep hibernation, as the Singapore and Malaysian stuff keeps me busy enough but for the next Thai season I hope to add it to my coverage. It makes geographic sense and also hopefully would provide an excuse for quick jaunts to Bangkok!



How bloody naive

Forget the false hope given by Bacary Sagna's headed goal from a corner, we were abysmal for large parts of todays game.

Naive? More neat, intricate passes into brick walls, how many times did Fabregas, Hleb etc give the ball away in the final third?

Adebayor? He might as well have gone to feed the ducks at Hyde Park the amount of use he was today. Hleb, where does it say in your contract you can't bloody shoot?

Eboue, please do us all a favour and fuck off. Forget the transfer window, just go now. You petulant, whinging excuse of a player. It's not often I've hated someone who pulls on my shirt but for you I'll make an excuse.

Four points from five games, I'm holding my head in shame. I really thought Old Trafford and WHL were one offs but maybe not. Why the hell bring Theo on, stick him wide right and NOT GIVE HIM THE BALL??? Hello, those passes to Adebayor weren't working lads, neither is he, and they haven't for five games. Neither has he. I do hope we don't have another undroppable player on our hands but Adebayor has done nothing for the cause in the last few games.

Fabregas has gone off the boil. Hell, he's tepid at the moment and is looking to out do Hleb in the ridiculous short pass stakes.

No point blaming the lino for not picking up Drogba being offside for the first goal. We are to blame for being naive.

Forget these fucking pretty triangles, I want trophies. I want a Didier Drogba who muscles players out the way, Adebayor is too ungainly and has a poor first touch, like DD in his first season. I want a Ronaldo getting 20 ++ a season, I want a keeper who is worth 18 points a season. (Fair dos to Almunia, along with Flamini our man of the match. But then the rest of his mates allowed him to be kept busy.) I want a wide player who goes wide. And I want players who fucking shoot once in a while!

Arsene won't leave and he shouldn't leave. He has done enough for the Arsenal to decide when he wants to go. He's creating a team from scratch and deserves the chance to see it come to fruition but it looks like this season will the third trophyless campaign in a row and you wonder whether or not these players will ever produce.

I'm in a freaking bad mood...not at losing but the manner of the defeat. Naive, that somes it up perfectly.

Come on Arsenal

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Arema local squad

M Yasir (gk), Dadang Sudrajat (gk),
Richi Pravita Hari, Suroso, Jefri Prasetyo, Dodik Wahyudi, Alexander Pulalo,
Erick Setiawan, Ahmad Bustomi, Ronny Firmansyah, Arif Suyono, Ali Usman, Bachtiar, Hendra Ridwan and Zulkifli.

With new coach Bambang Nurdiansyah having spent a lot of time with young Indonesia squads recently we can expect the Malang giants to follow Pelita Jaya and put an emphasis on youth.

In addition it looks like Cameroon striker Emile Bertrand Mbamba will be staying with the club.

With extra finances necessary for the coming season Arema are actively seeking new sponsors. They received some good news recently when the FA allowed clubs to show their sponsors on shirts. Previously of the club sponsor were in the same line of business as the Liga sponsor then the Liga took priority but in the changed climate the FA have stepped down. Arema are of course sponsored by a tobacco company. As is the Liga.

Arema are also in discussions with a sports drink company.


Persik Kediri squad 2008/2009

Goalkeeper - Markus Horison, Achmad Kurniawan, Wahyudi
Defenders - M Roby, Aris Indarto, M Arfan, Hamkah Hamza, Usep, Sulis Budi
Midfield - Legimin, Harianto, Fagundez, Suswanto, Khusnul, Agus Susanto, Danilo, Jefri, M Yusuf, Mahyadi, Wawan
Strikers - Gonzalez, Saktiawan, Musikan, Budi Sudarsono

As you can see from the lsit taken from the Persik website there is no place for Gustavo Chena who was placed on the foreign players black list.


Persija new signings?

The Jakmania website is reporting Persija have signed Carlos Renato Elias and Amrizal from double winners Sriwijaya.

I was also told by a source that they have signed Hendro Kartiko, Arema's goal keeper and are interested in a foreign striker who last season played with a Sumatra so cryptic!

Little in the mass media at the moment where all the talk is about internal conflict yawn yawn!


Persib start training

With Bandung based cup taking place this weekend Persib have already bagaun training despite the season not starting for another four months.

Their squad so far is:

Cecep Supriatna, Tema Mursadad, Edi Kurnia, Nova Arianto, Edi Hafidz, Suwita Pata, Gilang Angga, Nyeck Nyobe George Clements, Atep, Airlangga, Waluyo, and Hariono. 4 players will join later; Zaenal Arif, Salim, Maman Abdurrahman, and Harry Salisbury

Player profiles can be found here


Goal feast in Malaysian FA Cup

Terengganu v Negeri Sembilan 1-0
KL v Felda United 2-5
Proton v Melaka 3-2
Kedah v Sarawak 3-0
Pahang v KL Plus 0-0
Perak v Selangor 4-4
PDRM v Sabah 2-1

Perak coach Steve Darby probably wants to line his defence up against a wall and shoot the whole bloody lot of them. Days after shipping six goals at home to a rampant SAF in the AFC Perak fans were treated to another goal feast in Ipoh last night in the second round forst leg of the FA Cup as their side hit four goals in 16 minutes early in the second half with Kandasamy leading the way with a six minute hat trick.

It as the other end that would have had the scouse manager screaming though as his team saw visiting Selangor race to a 2-0 lead in the first half lead. Azhar pulled one back for Perak early in the second half but then two more goals for Selangor in two minutes, including one from Frank Seator, ex Persija, Sriwijaya, PSMS and Persis striker, put the visitors 4-1 up with 30 minutes remaining. Up stepped Kandasamy and his heroics but Perak won't be looking forward to the secon leg next Thursday. Especially as they play leaders Kedah on Monday in a busy schedule.

Entertainment or results? That old conumdrum, for me, and I think most fans, the important thing is always the result. Despite seeing 15 goals in two games I don't think Perak fans will be doing cartwheels in Ipoh at the moment.

Elsewhere Persik striker, now on loan at PDRM, Budi Sudarsono, levelled for the Police side in their tie at home to Sabah after Scott had given the Borneo side a 30th minute lead. Amiruddin got the winner for PDRM on 62 minutes.

Another quick fire hat trick by Fabio Alexander set Felda United on the way to an impressive 5-2 victory at Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia's leading scorer, Marlon Alex James, had to wait till the 90th minute before getting his obligatory goal against Sarawak but it was just the icing in the cake as Kedah won 3-0 against the side from Borneo.

Second leg next Thursday

Friday, March 21, 2008


Super Reds Super Six

God that's a daft title...

Super Reds extended their winning start to the season with a 6th victory last night in the SLeague at home to Albirex Niigata.

Seo Su Jong 35', Shin Young Chul 71' gave the Reds a cushion and although Albirex Niigata (S) got one goal back through Yuji Tamiya in the last minute the job was done.

1. Super Reds P 6 W 6 F 11 A 5 Pts 18
2. SAF P 5 W 5 F 17 A 4 Pts 15


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Keith Kayamba Gumbs (Sriwijaya)

Kayamba last season played an important role in helping Sriwjaya winning a domestic double in Indonesia for the first time in their history.

The 34 years striker from St Kitts & Nevis has had a varied career including spells in Malaysia and Hong Kong before settling in the Sumatran city of Palembang.

I was checking the stats for this site recently and noticed there have been several hits from Google with people doing searches on this player!

Does it mean anything? Is it a preclude to a move with prospective new clubs running the rule of the player? Is it a school project somewhere? Or is it a sign I have too much time on ly hands?



Malaysia FA Cup action

Tomorrow sees the FA Cup take centre stage with Perak and Kedah playing while still licking their wounds after receiving royal Singaporean drubbing in the AFC Cup on Tuesday.

Perak coach Steve Darby held his hands up and said fair play his mob were torn apart by SAF but he can't be happy with a fixture list that sees his team take on Selangor just three days later.

Holders Kedah take on Sarawak at home while Negeri Sembilan host Terengganu in the other all Super League tie.

Kuala Lumpur play Felda United
Proton v Melaka
Pahang v KL Plus
PDRM v Sabah
Penang v Kuala Muda

The second legs will be played next Thursday



Kick AS Roma out of the Champions League

With Manchester United again drawn against Italian knife merchants AS Roma the spotlight should fall once again on the cowardly tactic of fans carrying knives with which to attack visiting football fans.

AS Roma 'fans' have a reputation that precedes them. 17 United fans have been stabbed in the last two meetings in Rome! Seventeen!

United fans are not all angels by no means. There is a core of their support that will respond to the challenge of mixing it with knife wielding Romans and will give as good as they get. Fine, they know the risks of what they're doing over there.

But the Roma fans are less discriminatory. Any visiting fan becomes fair game for a snide slash. And if the Roman blades don't inflict damage then the Roman robocops will.

Not all fans are snitchy cowards. A significant number are and they seem to get away with it time and time again. UEFA seems powerless to act while the club and the police likewise are paralysed giving the stabbers carte blanche.

If it was England fans holding the blades can you imagine such apathy emanating from the FIFA suits in Switzerland? No chance. We'd be thrown out quciker than you can say 'un, deus, trois.' The English were, rightly, suspended after years of sustained trouble in Europe culminated in the tragic Heysel scenes where dozens of innocent fans were killed.

Sustained action from UEFA, the British government and the clubs have combined to push those dark days behind us.

But in Italy they don't see a problem. UEFA don't see a problem. Instead the worst fans in Europe are Liverpool for trying to get in to see the Champions League Final last season in Athens. Backstabbing isn't on their radar...perhaps it's a way of life for them?!

If there is a single incident in Rome next month, if AS and the Italian authorities cannot guarantee the safety of visiting fans then the only course available is to kick them out of the competition until they put their house in order.

If they are allowed to carry on regardless, like the English were back in the seventies and eighties, then we're going to see people stabbed to death.

The warning signs are there.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Indonesian football fans

I'm just watching an Asian Champions League tie between Gamba Osaka and Cheongnam Dragons in South Korea and apart from being a good game I'm struck by the fans. It's good to see a few Japanese have made the relatively short joruney to follow their team but I fear it could be another 12 months before any fans will be making their way to Indonesia to cheer on their heroes.

Which is a shame because the Indonesian fans are as good an ambassador for the game here as many of the players. Sometimes more so. Sometimes less so.

It is unfortunate that the only time fans make the headlines here is when they riot like the now infamous play off between Arema and Persiwa.

The Indonesian football fan is a contradictory fan. Kurnia Sandy, former Persik and Arema keeper, told me that when he played for Arema the fans used to sing and chant songs against hooliganism. However once they played Persebaya all pretence at being angels went out the window as they all did their damnedest to get at their bitterest foes.

But on their day they can be exhilirating. So exhilirating in fact someone likened their terrace movement to an orchestra and made a movie about it. Witness 80,000 singing Indonesia Raya during last years Asian Cup.

The leader of the Persija fan club, Danang Ismartani, knows a thing or two about football fans here but he told me that the Asian Cup games at Bung Karno Stadium, and the atmosphere created, was the first time he had ever felt proud to be Indonesia.

The atmosphere at Liga games is also enough to have 70's terrace veterans remembering their own days standing on windswept steps getting pissed on and shat on while accepting the vitriol of the locals.

While sad old gits like me get all melancholic about the noise rolling down from the terraces for players it can be a completely different experience. Indonesia's captain and most recognisable player Bambang Pamungkas describes the Persib v Persija as a real Indonesian experience. From 90 minutes of venom and vitriol being thrown at you from 20,000 who hate you to the journey home in the back of an Armoured Personal Carrier.

Kurnia didn't enjoy those moments so much. I guess because as a keeper he was always just feet away from the baying hordes. He admitted to feeling intimadated at some stadiums and recalls the time a mate of his, new Persik signing Achmad Kurniawan, was travelling on a team coach one time when it came under a sustained rock attack from local fans. Kurniawan was injured when a sliver of glass struck his face.

Good and the bad, one thing is for sure. The Liga Super, which begins in July, is going to see some busy days on the terraces with venomous rivalries being played out like the aforementioned Perdib v Persija and Persebaya v Arema as well as new animities like Persija v Persipura.

With plenty of potential hotspots it will be down to the fans to police themselves and sometimes make the decision not to attend games when they deem the risk is too high. But given a choice between the noise and passion of the fans here and the oh so twee and polite fans in Singapore I know which I prefer!

PS This is not to suggest I don't like the Singapore match experience...I do!



Persik to play Perth Glory?

Local reports say that 2006 Liga Champions Persik Kediri travelling to Western Australia in June to play a friendly against Perth Glory.

This is just the type of fixture Indonesian clubs need to be arranging as they seek to get acclimatised to conditions in other countries. During last season's Asian Champions League Persik showed they have the nous to play alongside the big boys of Asian football. What let them down was playing away from home in alien cultures.

Places where the pitches weren't rolled by 4WDs. Where dressing rooms had lockers and seats.

It comes as no surprise that it is Persik who are taking this leap. They have a new coach, Arcan Iurie, in place, as well as a new squad featuring the best of Indonesian talent.

Persija, on the other hand, continue to wade through quick sand tied down with metal boots. Behind the scenes bickering is holding back any recruitment or indeed short term planning.

Back to Persik. I spoke on Sunday with their former keeper Kurnia Sandy and we discussed his time in Sampdoria as well as the ACL games last week. Read it on ESPN lah



Great night for Singapore football

Last night's AFC fixtures saw a battle within a battle with clubs from Singapore and Malaysia fighting out their own private Battle of the Causeway and it was teams from the city state who came out on some margin!

Home or away, it didn't matter as both Home United and Singapore Armed Forces, known as the uniform clubs as they are Civil Defence and Armed Forces clubs, netted for fun against their northern neighbours.

At the Ipoh Stadium, Perak, the home side fell before an Alexander Duric inspired onslaught from the visiting SAF. Duric, newly naturalised a Singapore citizen, netted four goals as SAF continued their impressive start to the season. 100% record in the SLeague, this win means the Warriors have played seven games in all competitions this season and scored 27 goals in the process.

At Jalan Besar Home United came up against treble winners from Malaysia Kedah and thumped them 5-1 also giving them a perfect start. Home have drawn just once so far after seven games all in and have managed 26 goals themselves. Despite giving the visiting Malaysians a goal start Home turned on the heat with Kengne Ludovick 32' 58', Shahril Ishak 36' and Peres De Oliveira 70' 82'(pen) turning the screw on Kedah.

While both Singaporean clubs are cruising against the best that Hong Kong, Maldives and Malaysia can throw up the true test of how far the nation has developed will only come when they get drawn against the West Asian nations who dominated this tournament last season.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Tampines win

Tampines Rovers came from behind to beat Dalian Shide 2-1 last night at Tampines Stadium. While the Stags have 10 points now from six games they remain five points behind the joint leaders SAF and Super Reds having played a game more.

Monday, March 17, 2008


A tale of two strikers

With Arsenal facing up to a critical week in early April, how many critical weeks has that been this season, playing Liverpool thrice some attention may well be focussed on the respective managers and their approaches to this season.

Rafa and his much derided rotation policy that had everyone scratching their heads earlier in the season coming up against Arsene's more stable approach. But as the fates would have it we could end up seeing this particular trilogy coming down to a personal battle between two strikers who haven't featured perhaps as much as they could have this season.

Fernando Torres came to Anfield with a growing reputation from some successful seasons in Spain and finally the mickey mouses have a striker in the Aldridge/Rush mould. Rafa wrapped his fellow Spaniard in cotton wool during the early part of the season saying at the time he wanted to keep him fresh for the run in.

While Torres was in pampers his team all but dissappeared from the title race by September and despite the questions and abuse in the media Rafa stuck to his plan and easing the striker into the game. My we all tittered at the time but then Rafa earns big bucks while the rest of us fight for the morsels that fall unwanted from the table.

With those irritants like the Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup out the way Liverpool can now concentrate on the Champions League, perhaps Benetiz' favourite toy of all and with Barnsley's win at Anfield now forgotten by the rest of the country Gerrard and his merry band have been collecting victory after victory, running into form at the optimum time?

Seven straight wins post Barnsley with Torres netting nine goals.

Arsenal on the other hand are looking anything but comfortable in the Premier League with four consecutive draws against opposition we should, if we wish to call ourselves Premier League contenders, be winning comfortably. We can't epect every team to politely roll over and die against us nice though that would be.

Falling behind against muppet teams then scrambling late equalisers is what we were doing last season and ok, we may have only lost once all season in the Premier but it's points that win titles and picking up one's will win us nothing.

In our last six games, since our Old Trafford farce, we are also unbeaten. However we have just one win to show for that, admittedly in Milan, and we have scored six goals. And four of them in the last six minutes of games.

But as Liverpool have Torres running into a rich vein of form we have Robin van Persie returning from a series of injuries at possibly just the right time. But while Torres is an Adebayor our Rob plays just behind the main striker and with space being at a premium over the last few weeks in the final third I'm dreading the mercurial Dutchman being suffocated by no mark defenders who get it up for the Arse yet are pants the rest of the season.

We need van Persie and we need his goals. Our last six goals have come from Walcott (2), Bendtner, Adebayor, Fabregas and Toure.

All of course is not doom and gloom. Arsenal traditionally do things the hard way and if any team can win the Champions League without scoring too often then it's us. But with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United scrapping for the Premier League and with all four of us going for the Champions League I can tell you the run in to the end of the season ain't gonna be a lot of fun.

There is a section of the Arsenal support who believe 2008 is our year for the Champions League. To get there we need to go through Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United...



Not another bloody draw!

It had been a rare week for the Arsenal. One that had not seen them play in the middle of it. Instead, fresh after five days inaction, they stumbled and passed themselves into dead end after dead end against a Middlesbrough team that played for a draw and ended up just four minutes away from a surprise three points.

It’s been a common tale of late as Arsenal have now dropped eight points in their last four games that has seen them slip from the peak of their Premier League.

Arsene Wenger is a stubborn old coot. Genius but stubborn. With Boro defending so deep and in numbers and his side becoming more frustrated with each pass that went awry you would hope for a change of tack. A Jose type ploy of thinking out the box, a snap substitution. But we got the same ad infinitum and Alex Ferguson, watching on TV, will be looking forward to having the likes of Nani and Anderson working in concert with Carrick and Hargreaves in choking the Arsenal midfield.

European clubs are generous in the space they allow other teams to play in, witness the way we tore AC Milan apart. But English clubs lack that generosity. Indeed some don’t bother with playing football. Rather, they pack the defence and pray.

It’s something Arsenal have got to get used to. There’s no point whining at the post match press conference after another three points goes begging saying the other team ‘wouldn’t let us play football.’ We have to earn the right to play.

I haven’t seen any post match comments yet but while there is no doubt the match officials dropped a few bollocks during the game the fact remains too many playes didn’t perform in the cramped conditions. We can’t blame the pitch at Wigan then blame the ref at ours when the likes of Adebayor and Eboue go missing for lengthy periods of the game.

Four points from 12 in a title run in ain’t pretty. We didn’t lose but then does it matter. A win and a draw in the same sequence would net the same number of points. However we get the points, four just isn’t good enough.

Next week is Chelsea away and as everyone never tires of telling us Chelsea are unbeaten at home since Joan of Arc went to her first barbecue. All their players are back and they haven’t lost in the league since god knows when. But records of course are meant to be broken and we, the Arsenal, have an uncanny knack of being party poopers. Juventus, Inter, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Liverpool, Nottingham Forest.

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