Monday, July 24, 2017


Kota Sepakbola - The Second Book

Ok so the observant may have noticed I have not been posting so much in recent weeks on here. That is because the focus is on my second book and trying to get that finished before the end of September.

After various changes of focus the book will now look at a football in a number of Indonesian provinces and look at the clubs, the people and the history.

The provinces covered are : Banten, Jakarta DKI, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta DIY, East Java, East Kalimantan and South Sulawesi. I need to visit three more cities, Solo, Semarang and Malang and then the research on the ground is finished and I can concentrate on final writing and editing before, hopefully, handing it over to be translated.

Anyway keep watching my Twitter and Instagram accounts for the latest news on my second book!


A Familiar Look To Liga 1 As Persipura Take Top Spot

AFC Under 23 Championships

Indonesia v Malaysia 0-3
Indonesia v Mongolia 7-0
Indonesia v Thailand 0-0

1 - Malaysia 3 2 0 1 5-3 6
2 - Thailand 3 1 2 0 4-1 5
3 - Indonesia 3 1 1 1 7-3 5
4 - Mongolia 3 0 1 2 1-10 1

Indonesia'a ambitions of reaching China were over after 45 minutes in the first game against Malaysia when shocking defending saw them go 3-0 before half time. Despite putting up a better performance in the second half the damage was done. Mongolia, who had held Thailand in their opening game, were brushed aside quite comfortably thank you very much meaning Indonesia needed a win in their last game against the Thais to stand a chance of qualifying. Malaysia beating Mongolia meant that hope became zilch and both sides played out a draw in the monsoon rain. I guess Indonesia can now focus on the SEA Games?

Liga 1

Bhayangkara v Mitra Kukar 4-1 (Otavio Dutra, Paulo Sergio, Guy Junior 2; Marclei Santos) 1,450

Simon McMenemy's team went to the top of the table, albeit temporarily, after brushing aside his former club at Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. Mitra Kukar continue to struggle on their travels, they are still winless on the road and this was their fifth straight away defeat.

Semen Padang v Arema 2-0 (Vendry Mofu, Marcel Sacremento) 9,754

The return of Sacremento after a lengthy suspension saw Semen Padang return to winning ways after two draws and a loss against an Arema side that has its own problems. Their 15 goals in 17 games is the lowest total in the top half of the table and their one time miserly defence is now leaking goals like a wooden ferry in a torrential rainstorm; eight conceded in their last four games. Little wonder they are reportedly being linked with Australian Brent Griffiths. Semen Padang will be hoping Sacremnto's return will see them climb to the top half of the table.

Barito Putera v Madura United 2-2 (Paolo Sitanggang, Rizky Pora; Greg Nwokolo, Fabiano Beltrame) 5,942

Jacksen F Thiago's men after a slow start are turning into a very difficult team to beat with their 5-0 loss away to Bali United a recent aberration. Rizky's late goal earned them a point against high flying Madura, their second draw against title contenders in a week following their draw away to PSM last time out. The point may have been disappointing for Gomes de Oliviera but his team are just a point behind the leaders.

Persib v Persija 1-1 (Achmad Jufriyanto; Ramdani Lestalahu) 36,545

This was as firey as you would expect with Persija players needing an escort off the pitch after the game with security officials forming a shield to protect the players from incoming bottles and projectiles being thrown from the main stand. Persib have already paid out over Rp 300 million in fines, surely the incidents at this game will warrant the ultimate, if ineffective, sanction of games being played behind closed doors in future? Jufriyanto chose this of all games to net his first of the season after Persija struggled to deal with a corner but Randani levelled just minutes later. 

Borneo v Perseru 2-0 (Lerby Eliandry, Terens Puhiri) 8,217

The club management reduced prices for unattractive opponents and were rewarded with a decent turn out as Borneo continued their unbeaten home run. Perseru are relegated aren't they? They are seven points from safety and have just one win from their last 13 games to show for their efforts. Still, they are five points clear of Persiba and Gresik United so things could be worse!

Persipura v PS TNI 2-1 (Addison Alves 2; Sansan Husaeni) 12,521

The wheels really have come off PS TNIs season in recent weeks with just two wins in their last eight games, and one of those came against hapless Gresik United. From challenging for the top spot they are now in the bottom half of the table eight points adrift. Persipura? They remain Persipura who ever the coach is. They have climbed to top spot after a run of six games unbeaten.

Persiba v Persela 2-2 (Diklay Glay, Bryan Cesar; Konusuke Uchida, Taufiq Kasrun) 2,735

Things still not going right for Persiba even on their own patch. In a carbon copy of their game against PSM they fell behind against Persela, equalised and even took the lead but were unable to hold on for the three points. Disappointing as well to see such a low crowd for this game.

Bali United v PSM 3-0 (Marcos Flores, Sylvano Cormvalius, Miftahul Hamdi) 14,666

Ex Valencia coach Gary Neville was at this game, perhaps to pick up some coaching tips from Widodo Cahyo Putro and Robert Alberts. PSM's away form is costing them big time, this is the first time they have not ended a round of fixtures top for several weeks but what about Bali. They have been doing their job quietly and away from the spotlight and they now sit fourth just a point behind leaders Persipura and Bhayangkara following a hot streak of four wins and a draw in their last five games. With 16 goals in those games they are also Liga 1 top scorers inspired by French striker Cormvalius who has scored nine goals in his last eight games.

1 - Persipura 16 9 3 4 28-19 30
2 - Bhayangkara 16 10 0 6 27-21 30
3 - Madura United 16 8 5 3 29-17 29
4 - Bali United 16 9 2 5 29-17 29
5 - PSM 16 8 4 4 24-18 28

13 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United)
12 - Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United)
9 - Reinaldo Elias (PSM), Lerby Eliandri (Borneo)
8 - Alberto Goncalves (Sriwijaya), Marclei Santos (Mitra Kukar)

Friday, July 07, 2017


Indonesia Withdraw AFC Asian Cup Bid

The news Indonesia has withdrawn its bid to host the 2023 AFC Asian Cup came as a bit of a surprise. I wasn't aware they had even put in a serious bid for it!

Indonesia of course co hosted the 2007 event (tickets left) with Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam with Bung Karno, Jakabaring and Si Jalak Harapat Stadiums being used. And next year it will host the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang with stadiums in both cities being renovated.

In the last few years there have been a number of new, decent stadiums going up across the country but many of them have flaws that would surely prevent them being used for international events. Many were designed for the National Sports Week (PON) and were built in areas where the price of the land was of greater concern than accessibility for visitors with all that entails in a country where infrastructure has been neglected for so long.

The PSSI of course wanted to bid for the 2022 World Cup, a bid that was not supported by the government and led indirectly to the creation of two leagues for which we are still paying the price. That particular plan required the building of a whole swathe of new stadiums across the country with the PSSI optimistic the fields would suddenly sprout tremendous, gleaming sports arenas that would benefit generations to come.

Today a handful of stadiums have been built in different parts of the country and it could be argued the following would not take too much investment to make them ready for an international event:

88,000 - Bung Karno Stadium, Jakarta
38,000 - Bandung Laut Api Stadium, Bandung, West Java
30,000 - Patriot Stadium, Bekasi, West Java
30,000 - Pakansari Stadium, Cibinong, West Java
28,778 - Wibawa Mukti Stadium, Bekasi, West Java

The following venues have the capacity but lack the facilities or access for an international event like the AFC Asian Cup

67,075 - Palaran Stadium, Samarinda, East Kalimantan 
55,000 - Bung Tomo Stadium, Surabaya, East Java
45,000 - Harapan Bangsa, Banda Aceh, Aceh
44,965 - Kanjurhan Stadium, Malang, East Java
35,000 - Gajayana Stadium, Malang
35,000 - Delta Stadium, Sidoarjo, West Java
35,000 - Aji Imbut Stadium, Kutai Kartanegara, East Kalimantan
31,500 - Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman, Yogyakarta
27,250 - Jakabaring Stadium, Palembang
27,000 - Si Jalak Harapat Stadium, Soreang, West Java

There are also a number of stadiums in Riau province, a legacy of the recent PON games there but I have no idea what they are like. 

As can be seen from the above the better stadiums tend to be in West Java province. But while the venues in the first list have the benefit of reasonable access, by local standards, and individual seating Si Jalak Harupat is accessible via a couple of country lanes. Hardly the best approach for international or world class players. Likewise Maguwoharjo Stadium would be worthy of consideration but is in the middle of a residential area and access can be an issue if you are not on a motorcycle!

While the stadium situation is a big improvement on what it was even 10 years ago those that we do have do need work on to bring up to international standards and much of that work needs to come from state coffers. Bung Tomo for example (pictured left) is set amid rice fields and a water treatment plant. It stands out like a huge spaceship but for now is only reachable via a couple of narrow lanes although I understand a plan exists to link it to the nearby freeway.

Roads though are problematic from an environmental point of view. What's needed is some kind of public transport, especially trains and hardly any stadium on the two lists is within walking distance of a railway station with the exception of Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. Gajayana Stadium is a doable walk for me but then I'm English and don't mind a walk now and then. And Bung Karno is situated in the middle of Jakarta, close to the busway and Palmerah Railway Station. But that's it.

It would be interesting to know why Indonesia have withdrawn their bid. Thailand are still in contention and they boast Rajamangala, Supachalasai, Thammasat and Buriram United as decent stadiums. That's about it. Still, under a military junta they are more likely to construct stadiums and infrastructure than Indonesian in a short period of time.

Indonesia started the 2017 season with a regulation stipulating the number of players aged 23 or under who must start the game. Then they realized the SEA Game stake place in August which would force teams to be short of key players so they ditched the regulation. Perhaps they should just focus on having a season go to plan before inviting the world to come and visit?


Persis Go Three Points Clear After Derby Win

Group 2

Persika v Persikabo 3-1 (Samsudin, Ade Ivan, Rezky Ikhwan; Munadi) 5,000

1 - Persita 6 4 0 2 6-4 12
2 - Persika 6 3 2 1 8-6 11
3 - Cilegon U 6 3 1 2 5-4 10
4 - Perserang 5 3 0 2 9-7 9

Sunday sees Perserang host PS Bengkulu. Win that and they would go top on goal difference

Group 4

Persis v PSIS 1-0 (Dedi Cahyono) 23,000

1 - Persis 6 5 1 0 10-2 16
2 - PSIS 6 4 1 1 7-4 13
3 - PSIR 5 2 3 0 5-2

Group 5

Persebaya v Persatu 2-0 (M Syaifuddin, Rishadi Fauzi) 35,000

1 - Persebaya 5 2 2 1 8-5 8
2 - Persatu 6 2 2 2 8-8 8
3 - Madiun Putra 5 2 2 1 7-7 8

Persebaya won their first game under new coach Alfredo Angel Vera against the leaders Persatu. Four teams have seven points in this tight group

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Solo Prepares To Welcome PSIS In Top Of The Table Liga 2 Clash

Welcome to Solo
I can't begin to tell you how gutted I am to be missing the Central Java derby between Persis and PSIS later today. The reasons I had to be there? The Solo chapter in my second book is the first reason. Second? It's a quality derby in the second tier that shows the strength in depth of Indonesian football history and culture. Third? It's first against second. And finally a monster atmosphere! What's not to love?

Both teams arguably belong in the top flight based on history alone. Persis were formed in 1923, PSIS 1932. They aren't in Liga 1 of course because in the last few years they haven't been good enough. PSIS came close to winning Liga Indonesia back in 2006, ending up as runners up to a Cristian Gonzales inspired Persik. Since then there has been little for the fans to cheer about as the club, starved of funds, have fallen out of the top flight and struggled to make an impact in the second tier. 

They came close in 2014 when they reached the play offs but were then involved in that infamous 'elephant match' with PSS where neither team wanted to win for, allegedly, fear of playing Pusamania in the next round. 

Ironically in that season PSIS and Persis were drawn in the same group and ended the first stage of the season level on points. But while PSIS were eventually kicked out after the farce against PSS Persis finished bottom of their play off group and promotion hopes extinguished.

Three years pn and both harbour similar ambitions. They are tied with 13 points at the top of Group 4, Persis marginally ahead thanks to a better goal difference.With 3rd place PSIR four points behind the two giants and nine games left to play neither side can be assured of success just yet and after a two month rest today's game will be a stern test in the fullest sense of the term.

An estimated 1,500 PSIS fans will make the short journey south to Solo for the game where they will be welcomed by an estimated 1,100 security personnel charged with ensuring the game goes off in a safe atmosphere. They have been advised not to bring large banners or flags while Persis supporters have been told they can not wear club colours following an incident earlier in the season/

You want passion, you want excitement, you want thrills then Persis v PSIS promises all of that. Plus a lot more. 


PSM Stay Top Despite Loss As Rivals Lose Ground

Persipura v Mitra Kukar 6-0 (Yan Pieter Nasadit, Prisca Womsiwor 3, Boas Solossa, Addison Alves) 12,400

New coach Wanderley Junior got his Persipura career off to a flying start as his team thumped Mitra Kukar in the first game after the Lebaran break. Twenty year old Nasadit started the scoring after 10 minutes before 22 year old Womsiwor got in on the act netting two goals in six minutes. The Black Pearls killed off the visitors with three goals in nine second half minutes including Womsiwor completing his first top flight hat trick

Semen Padang v Persela 1-0 (Irsyad Maulana) 5,963

Irsyad's second goal of the season on the hour mark killed off plucky Persela who saw Ivan Carlos' goal disallowed after a collision between the home side's keeper and a defender. To make things worse for the visitor top scorer Carlos was later red carded.

PS TNI v Arema 0-0 1,498 (Match Report)

Borneo v Madura United 3-0 (Flavio Beck 2, Shane Smeltz) 

High flying Madura United's title aspirations took a hit after going down 3-0 against an irrepressible Borneo. The visitors opted to start their leading scorer Peter Odemwingie on the bench while Borneo gave New Zealand international Shane Smeltz a starting role despite his exploits for his country at the Confederations Cup in Russia. The win keeps Borneo's 1005 home record intact and they climb to 12th in the table

Gresik United v Persija 1-1 (Gusti Rustiawan; Luis Junior) Behind Closed Doors

A rare point for struggling Gresik United, their first since the end of May but Persija were left fuming about the referee's performance, threatening to file an official letter of complaint. Gusti Rustiawan gave the home team the lead on 28 minutes with his first goal of the season, the first time Persijas defence had been breached in 478 minutes. Despite the draw Gresik United could face further sanction as seven of their players were yellow carded including M Said who was also sent off. Scorer Rustiawan picked up his fourth red card in five games. Already punished by being forced to play behind closed doors this result may be a costly point for relegation threatened Gresik.

Bhayangkara v Barito Putera 0-1 (Mathias Cordobo) 1,250

Jacksen F Thiago saw his side pick up their first away win since April 2015, the season that was halted when PSSI was suspended by FIFA, as they launched the most complete smash and grab raid on third place Bhayangkara. After scoring on 14 minutes with a free head it was backs to the wall for Barito Putera who put in a polished, professional performance to keep the Cops at bay. Bhayangkara dominated the second 45 minutes and had the chances to draw level but a lack of composure in front of goal ultimately cost them. Ilham Uddin, four goals in six games, came on as a second half substitute and his all action style immediately lifted the spirits among the home team fans but as I  said that clinical final touch wasn't there.

Bali United v Persiba 2-0 (Nick van der Velden, Sylvano Comvalius) 10,000

Bali's win sees them four points behind leaders PSM after a competent display against struggling Persiba. Just one win all season, the Honey Bears are rooted to the bottom of the table with just four points from 12 games and it is difficult to see how coach Milo Seslija can change things too much even with the transfer window opening next month. Four straight losses, perhaps some respite may come when they host PSM next week.

Persib v PSM 2-1 (Shohei Matsuanaga, Atep; Wiljan Pluim) 19,713

The Persib soap opera rolls on. Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman wasn't in the dug out for this crucial test against the league leaders. He was in Saudi Arabia on a minor hajj but his team seems to have done just fine without him with Japanese import Matsunaga scoring his first goal of the season six minutes before half time. Atep hit his second on 55 minutes before Pluim set up a nervy final 18 minutes. After the game PSM coach Robert Alberts said Persib ha
d played well but at least his team were still top of the table. Yep, all the results went PSM's way for sure...but beware Persipura! One thing Alberts may be wary of. His team have picked up just one point from their last four away games and with three of t heir next five games on the road he will be wanting to see an improvement in away form or that top place will soon be a memory.

1 - PSM Makassar 12 7 2 3 19-11 23
2 - Madura United 12 6 4 2 22-12 22
3 - Persipura          12 7 1 4 21-15 22
4 - Bhayangkara    12 7 0 5 17-16 21

9 - Peter Odemwingie (Madura United)
7 - Ivan Carlos (Persela), Lerby Eliandry (Borneo), Reinaldo (PSM), Sylvano Comvalius (Bali United

Wednesday, July 05, 2017


The Fine Art Of Timewasting

Hands up. Who hasn't, in their daily jobs or while carrying out those chores whoch are so necessary but time consuming, hasn't indulged in a little bludging? You know, stealing a few 'me' moments? We all do it and we do it because we think we can get away with it.

Football's equivalence is time wasting and we see it all the time. Players use go down like they have been shot, roll around for an age, on comes the physio, a bit of the old magic sponge and what do you know, the player gets to his feet gingerly and within minutes is running round like his usual self. Or when a substitution takes place, the player being replaced may have the pace of a whippet but with three minutes on the clock and his team leading 1-0 away from home, suddenly he's wading through treacle.

For some reason refs seem quite happy to let these forms of cheating carry on unpunished. Why is that? They are perfectly within their rights to brandish a yellow card, and let's face it some of them are in the business just for the card waving, but when it comes to players nicking a few crafty seconds they let it go.

The thing with time wasting is it is actually quite popular. When your team is winning away from home you don't want your team going out out for a second goal. You expect  them to shut up shop, show some discipline and see the game out (this applies across football except to Arsene Wenger). 

But a week later and we, the fans, will be screaming like hell when we are trailing 1-0 in similar circumstances. Then, we are happy for it to happen. Managers complain about consistency from refs but in this case where is the consistency from supporters?

Fact is FIFA should be clamping down on time wasting in games, not introducing cosmetic rule changes that force players to stand like lemons in the middle of the field shaking hands with foes or decreeing a game can kick off with the ball going backwards. Seriously, who cares about that inane piece of tinkering? But insist refs get serious on time wasting and FIFA may find itself basking in the rare glow of praise.

In the last two games I have seen here refs have given out yellow cards for time wasting. But they have waited until the last few minutes to do so even though it has been happening for much of the game. Refs need to clamp their authority from that get go and if that means booking players after 10 minutes for time wasting then bloody well do it. It's the rules pal. Cos if you don't take action the cheats will prosper and the game will suffer as a spectacle.

I don't blame players for trying to find an advantage, any advantage on the field. They are doing what they can to win the game. It is down to the match officials to be cannier and to be smarter. A case in point is the incident pictured that happened during the Bhayangkara v Barito Putera game at Patriot Stadium. Leading 1-0 a Barito Putera player went down inches from the touchline. The ref stops the game while he receives treatment with Bhayangkara players looking on. The ref is checking his watch as if to say 'I have your card marked son, I know what you're doing'. But given the player's proximity to the touch line why not just tell him to drag himself off the pitch to be looked at and let the rest of us get on with the football?

FIFA are now talking about football being reduced from 2 x 45 minute halves to 2 x 30 minute halves without stoppages. Believe me, if players can steal a few moments down time they will, 30 minutes or not. Why not just work to ensure referees are aware of time wasting and act quickly to nip it in the bud? The laws are already in place, just do it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017


PS TNI v Arema 0-0

Has it really been a month since I last saw a game in Indonesia? To the day in fact. But the fasting is over and last night I headed to Cibinong to see an interesting top of the table clash as hosts PS TNI take on Arema. 

If you want to take anything from PS TNI you  need to get in their faces and that's what Arema did, competitive and fighting for every ball. There were still chances at each end on an open game but  PS TNI, perhaps mindful of their disciplinary record that has cost them the services of key players like Manahati Lestusen and Abduh Lestalahu for long periods, were not quite the imposing force they had been earlier in the season. (Both were booked in this game!)

Arema coach Aji Santoso gave rare starts to Arif Suryono and Ahmad Bustomi and indeed they did have the ball in the net in the first half when Arthur Cunha bundled the ball home from close range but the ref ruled it out for offside.

A thrilling climax saw PS TNI pile the pressure on and an excellent save from Kurnia Meiga in injury time looked to have saved a point for Arema and kept their impressive defensive record intact. From the resulting corner it PS TNI claimed a penalty as the ball appeared to strike an Arema defender but the ref waved away their appeals.

After the game PS TNI coach Ivan Kolev made his feelings clear when he said 'This is four games we have failed to win because of the ref. What is going on?' He went on to say inbetween the game ending and the press conference starting he received a phone call from a friend in Bulgaria who had seen the game. His pal it was a nailed on penalty (in Bulgarian of course) and there were several times when the ref missed Arema players handling the ball.

Perhaps Kolev would have been happy to have seen video technology used by the ref as it was in the recent PS TNI v Persija game?! Perhaps if the ref could have seen both the alleged handball incident and Cunha's goal...

While Kolev sought to blame the hapless ref Arema's coach Aji Santoso felt his players weren't perhaps fully match fit having only returned to training on 29th June.

From my seat in the stand I felt It wasn't a bad game to watch, both sides had the opportunities to win the game but failed to take their chances. They say there is a fine line between winning and not winning and often that fine line can be a wrong decision by a player or a poor first or second touch when in good positions. Coaches of course won't always admit that, their job is on the line every game, and I understand that. 

The attendance by the way was 1,498 including a sizeable Arema contingent who occupied the stand normally used by PS TNI fans. The home support was strangely absent, perhaps because many were involved in security duty during the lebaran period.

In terms of the league table the result helped Persipura who thrashed Mitra Kukar 6-0 in an earlier game and climbed up to third in Liga 1, one point behind leaders PSM. In the other game Semen Padang defeated Persela 1-0 at home to climb from 15th to 9th!

Sunday, July 02, 2017


Persija v Espanyol Ticket Info

Saturday, July 01, 2017


PSM Face Persib Test In Week 12

After a near three week break Liga 1 action returns Monday with sides hoping the pause hasn't interrupted their momentum be it good or bad.

Semen Padang get the ball rolling when they host Persela and they will be hoping to claw their way up the table as quickly as possible. With 14 points they are eight points clear of 16th placed Perseru but coach Nil Maizer knows a win could see them back in the top half of the table. Unbeaten at home, Semen Padang did beat leaders PSM last time out so there will be some wind in their sails, especially when they come up against a Persela side which has just one away win all season.

With a new coach, Wanderley Junior, fourth place Persipura will be looking to impress when they come up against the tough to beat Mitra Kukar. The Black Pearls have won their last three home games by a single goal advantage so may feel confident going into this game but ex coach Jafri Sastra has set up his Mitra Kukar side in such a way even if they concede first there is enough about them to earn at least a point.

Three losses in their last five games suggest the tank tracks have come of the PS TNI side in recent weeks but they go into their home game with Arema knowing they could be at full strength after losing a number of key players to suspension. Mind they are up against an Arema packed with big names yet looking for form on their travels. They  have just one win and one goal away from home and that came against Persiba which was played in ... Malang! Only Perseru and Persiba have scored less goals than the Crazy Lions and Aji Santoso probably has half an eye on the upcoming transfer window as he seeks to solve the goalscoring conundrum which is afflicting his side. Away to PS TNI won't be his idea of a gentle introduction after a long break!

Borneo may be welcoming back striker Shane Smeltz after his exploits at the Confederations Cup in Russia but it is local lad Lerby Eliandry who has been making people sit up and take note with seven goals in Liga 1. They come up against Madura United unbeaten in their last nine games and with 11 goals in their last three, admittedly home, games. The football club is buzzing and they are looking to tie down Peter Odemwingie to a longer contract as they look to build on their impressive start to the season. Two of the  newer clubs in Liga 1, it should be a thriller.

Gresik United are in a bad place. They have a single win and two draws to show for their 11 games and they must host Persija behind closed doors after their supporters invaded the pitch at their game against Persela. Persija, the same side that are really flying with four straight wins. 

Bhayangkara could go top if they beat Barito Putera on Tuesday at Patriot Stadium in Bekasi. After two wins on the road at Persiba and Bali United coach Simon McMenemy will be hoping his side can continue that form at home against Jacksen F Thiago's men who have picked up just one point on their travels. 21 year old striker Ilham Uddin has been on fire recently with four goals in his last six outings to his credit putting him one behind veteran Thiago Furtuoso.

When Bali United, who have lost their last two games, host Persiba, who have lost their last two games there can surely be only one winner? Persiba have been abject all season, hard working but lacking quality and it is difficult to see them picking up maximum points in Bali.

The game of the week sees Persib host PSM on Wednesday. Coach Djadjang Nurdjaman is still with the club apparently though in recent days he has been in Saudi Arabia doing a minor hajj. For all Persib's perceived woes they remain unbeaten at home while PSM, for all their fine form, have just a single win on their travels and no matter the problems surrounding Persib a full house on Wednesday will be demanding the players wearing blue get into the visitors from the first minute. It may not be a pretty game to watch but it should be a thriller and PSM coach Robert Alberts will know this will be a strong test of his team's title ambitions


My Favourite Grounds In Asia

I was inspired to do this post by an article on the AFC website about the 16 best stadiums in Asia. Now, normally I don't bother clicking on these sorts of stories, they're just fluff, but we are in a bit of a lull in Indonesia, action returns Monday, and it did get me thinking which ain't always a bad thing. 

From the 16 chosen by the AFC, not sure what the parameters were, I have been to just four; Rajamangala, Bung Karno, My Dinh and Bukit Jalil. No surprise there. But if I were to choose my own favourite stadiums none of them would appear on the list. Bung Karno for example maybe a cavernous arena but it is a bowl designed by the Soviet Union with all the aesthetic charm you might expect from them. Plus, it has a running track and I detest them at stadiums.

I'm not going to list all the stadiums I have been to in Asia but here is a break down, country by country.

35 - Indonesia
18 - Australia
15 - Singapore
14 - Thailand
10 - Kuwait
5 - Malaysia, UAE
3 - Qatar
2 - Cambodia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Bahrain
1 - Nepal, Jordan

Out of that little lot which grounds tick the boxes for me? For a start I don't like those with running tracks round them. I much prefer arenas where fans are right up close to the action. I also don't like this new breed of stadium where architects have exhibited their love of wavy roofs. Give me something compact with a bit of history, not always possible, and character and I'm happy. 

So, in no particular order except the first here we go with my own fluff!

1 - PAT Stadium, Bangkok
I just love the way  this stadium has grown organically over the years. Nice atmosphere, easy to get to, proper football club.

I also like how the city skyline seems o rise up out of the two tier terrace

2 - Lebak Bulus, Jakarta
Now sadly no more, this was the first ground I went to when I started Jakarta Casual. It only held about 12,000 supporters but bloody hell, the
atmosphere they generated...especially under the lights. I have seen international players just gaze in awe at the seething mass of humanity singing and swaying as one on the terrace.

3 - Leo Stadium, Pathum Thani
You gotta admire the sheer ambition of this stadium. There was only three sides last time I visited but but boy, what can be done with a bit of cash and imagination. A three tier terrace I ask you! 

A segregated terrace behind the other goal does wonders for the atmosphere when there is a large away following.

4 - Maguwoharjo Stadium, Sleman
Difficult to get to by public transport but well worth the effort and expense. PSS's stadium has been nicknamed the Indonesian San Siro after curly bits on the outside. But inside, oh boy. Like I said, well worth the effort. PSS fans were recently featured in a Polish fan culture magazine and I expect more and more fans from around the world will be making a bee line to one of the hottest atmospheres in Asia. And all this at a second tier club!

5 - The Thunderdome, Muang Thong
As they say, I love what you have done with the place. Nice, compact, this arena shows what can be done when you own your own stadium. Small on the capacity side but big enough for the Thai league. 

6 - November 10 Stadium, Surabaya
Sadly never saw a game here but what's not to love? Uneven terraces, a moat that was designed to keep fans off the pitch but never did its job particularly well and trees growing out of the terraces. And, as an Arsenal fan, we lost here in a friendly in 1983! See, I am neutral!

7 - Siliwangi Stadium, Bandung
How lucky are Persib? They have the pick from Si Jalak Harapat, Bandung Laut Api and Siliwangi Stadiums. While they have outgrown this particular venue, it only holds around 22,000, surely some other team could use it once in a while? As well as Persib I have seen PSMS and Persita play home games here over the years. Fairly central as well.

8 - St George Stadium, Sydney
Last I heard it was falling to pieces but it's my list and I want some sentimentality. Got to know about the issues in the Balkans in this stadium back in late 1980s, early 1990s. Used to go with a good group of lads to see St George, home and some away, Home games started in the Brighton le Sands Fishing Club not too far away for a few beers then on to the ground. 

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