31st of March Previews/Review of Persela vs Persebaya
Persela vs Persebaya 1–1
The home side pushed by the presence of their fans (stadium was full, only in a corner there were around 200 Persebaya fans packed all together) started the match better and missed the first chance with Saddil early on in 4th minute (he made a good dribble to avoid the defender but his shot went wide). Persebaya missed a chance of their own with Robertino a bit later and took control of the match completely after the 20th minute having total possession of the ball. The visitors had taken over the midfield exchanging many passes and being patient enough looking for the best option and the less guarded players to move the ball forward but whenever they entered the penalty area this “patience” was totally gone and it was like “every man for himself” with each player trying to score on his own rather than look for a teammate. This happened in several cases mostly with Fauzi and Irfan Jaya. The first half ended scoreless with Persela having barely any chances at all in its last 30 minutes.
In the 2nd half Persebaya realized they were the better side and should go for the win but that led them to leave empty spaces behind. Saddil (in his debut this season) was hard to be stopped and after missing one more chance, in his next presence in the penalty area he decided to pass the ball to unmarked Diego Assis and the Brazilian scored a goal that gave hosts the lead in 57th minute. The visitors had to take risks with Alfredo Vera entering both David da Silva (in his debut in the league) and Osvaldo Haay to increase the pressure and look for a way to turn things around in the offense. This came quite quickly with Robertino finding David da Silva that found the back of the net with his shot to equalize the match. Persebaya continue to press but being more cautious this time and they could have taken the lead and win the match if Robertino’s effort had been on target (it hit the post instead) 5 minutes before the end of regular time. The score didn’t change until the final whistle with both sides being not fully satisfied with the 1 point. Persela cause they had taken the lead and Persebaya since they were the better team in the field and had much more chances to score a second goal.
The good thing for Persela was the presence of their fans, it was a good boost for their players but their quality as a team was not so good, it should be a tough season for them and probably they will be among the teams that will battle to avoid relegation. Their Brazilian defender Wallace that local media indicated he can make his debut after passing the transfer validation process wasn’t even on the bench (and he was on the bench in the first match at Jayapura when he was supposed to be not eligible to play…no idea how could that happen).
On the other hand Persebaya this time didn’t waste a whole half being cautious (like they did at home against Perseru) but around 20 to 25 minutes. Then they stepped on the gas but were punished in a counter attack with their defenders unable to stop Saddil on the wing (several times not only when he created the goal for Diego). For second time in a row Alfredo Vera chose to keep in the bench players like Osvaldo Haay and Pahabol (that were regular starters for Persipura) and made changes in second half in order for his team to become more active in the attack. Perhaps in the next match he will make changes in the line up to have a more “fruitful” first half and not chasing for a goal again in the second one.
Previews of 31st March matches
Perseru Serui vs PSM Makassar
The home side managed finally to get the green light and will be using Marora stadium, their natural home venue for their matches as hosts. This was a great relief for Perseru since only there they have a strong advantage over their opponents. They managed to keep a long unbeaten run as hosts the previous 2 years (including the season that the league was unofficial, the “Torabika soccer championship) and it was their upcoming opponent PSM that ended this unbeaten run in 2017. That brings them an extra motive to take a sort of revenge in the match against them. In the opening match Perseru was playing at Surabaya against Persebaya and after a first half that they seemed to have blocked their opponents quite well (there was barely a chance by both sides) in second half they conceded a goal and were unable to create any dangerous situation themselves afterwards. Being the only team that had failed to shoot on target in the first round is not exactly an accomplishment. Now playing at home they will not have such a defensive approach to the match so at least the first shoot on target is a challenge that will be completed (even though it’s unsure whether there will be official stats in Serui, a goal will only verify for sure that this will have happened, unless it’s an own goal of course).
PSM took a professional win in the opening round against PSIS but their performance was not convincing at all and they were lucky not to have conceded a goal from the several chances that the newly promoted side had in the match. Now they know that it will be even more difficult to repeat what they have accomplished last year but they look more prepared knowing the difficulties that the trip to Serui has. Rene Alberts, PSM coach, posted a video in instagram explaining how hard it is to get to Serui (having the team in 2 separate hotels, having to take 2 separate flights cause the whole team doesn’t fit in 1 plane) but he is still optimistic that they can get the win again. The video can be found in the following link https://www.instagram.com/p/Bg54meCAHNe/?hl=id&taken-by=robertrenealberts
It is expected to be a tough match, Perseru always gets transformed in a positive way when playing in Serui, while PSM wants to prove that this season they are willing to go further than last year and become title contenders. Their roster is similar with last year, one of the best in the country, and this time Ferninand Sinaga is able to make the debut and help the attack that has issues (with Djite not having fully recovered from his injury). Against PSIS it was Wiljan Pluim quality that determined the fate of the match in favor of them (with a goal and an assist, he was voted as “The Player of the Week” by Goal.com) but in this match more players should step up (Klok for instance that didn’t play well last week) in order to support him. The match was expected to be streamed online (that was shown at least in Liga’s schedule for round 2) but the “streaming indication” was removed the last couple of days meaning that watching live a match in Serui is still not going to happen. Perseru was denied to play there as host cause among others a coverage could not be obtained, no idea how they passed this and can play a match there where the visitors complain that due to the lack of coverage many things take place that cannot be shown to the public (harsh tackles not punished by the referees for instance).
Barito Putera vs Persipura Jayapura
Barito is also a team that “traditionally” performs much better when playing in front of their fans. In fact during the 2013 season that they were a newly promoted team, not only they managed not so suffer a single defeat when playing as host but was the only team that grabbed a win against Persipura that won the league finishing many points ahead of the second place. Of course Barito’s undefeated home stand didn’t last that much but still they have a good record in their home matches. The hosts made the headlines the past two days with their foreign striker Patrick da Silva posting in social media that Barito is about to release him asking “does any team want to sign me?”. There was no comment coming from the squad but on Friday morning the general manager of the team posted a photo of Juan Pablo Pino (former Galata, Olympiakos and Arema player) that was later officially announced as the new member of the squad. This happened in 30th of March with the transfer deadline to have expired in 29th (perhaps he had signed a contract but wasn’t released in the press, nobody knows). Anyway the thing is that Barito needed a central forward and not a player like Pino that plays as winger or attacking midfielder since they have many options in those positions. The coach, Jacksen Ferreira one of the most succesful ones in the country (especially when he was in charge of Persipura) should know better what to do with him. An advantage for Barito is that they have good chemistry having kept most of the players from the last season (including 3 of the foreigners).
Persipura is a bit of a mystery how they will do this season. Having lost half of the squad that migrated to Persebaya they still have 3–4 veterans left in the squad but all the rest of are quite young players (most of them though have satisfied coach Peter Butler with their performance so far). In the opening match they weren’t that good when hosting Persela getting a narrow win with 2–1 (stressful win too, with the winning goal coming late in the second half). The trio of foreigners is consisted of experienced players (1 in every key position, defence, midfield and attack) that have previously played in Indonesia and like Persebaya the team isn’t willing to acquire an Asian import at the moment. There doesn’t seem to be a specific target for them for the season, their main priority is to keep the majority of the sponsors funding the team (that was the main concern before the season began and the lack of funds delayed their preparations and prevented them from participating in Presidents Cup) but still other teams consider them as championship contenders. After the match against Persela in order to avoid a long journey closer to the match date (that may affect the players stamina) the team traveled to Makassar where they stayed for several days training before making the trip from there to Kalimantan to play against Barito.
Another difficult match to predict its outcome mostly because Persipura still remains an unknown factor if they can still be considered one of the league’s favorites to win the title (and keep history alive achieving to do so every second year in a row like they have done since the beginning of this decade). The two teams faced each other during Jakajaya tournament in neutral venue with Persipura winning the match 1–3 but according to Barito’s officials (before the match took place) they were not willing to play with their usual tactics in this match knowing that they will face the same opponent early in the league so not to reveal their “weapons” to them. Still the players that were on the field that day were mostly starters. The match will not be broadcasted on television but it is scheduled to be streamed by vidio.com
PSMS Medan vs Bhayangkara FC
First match for the hosts in the top league after several years of absence. PSMS like several other teams got the green light to host their matches in their natural home base after having to make several improvements to the stadium. Its capacity is quite small with the stands close to the field, meaning the fans close to the players putting pressure to the “visitors” (and the referees too if needed). That worked well for them last season in Liga 2 that they had an almost perfect record from the group phase till the playoffs that led them back to Liga 1. After having impressed many during President’s Cup (when they reached the semis with wins over Persib, PSM and beating Persebaya in penalties shoot out in quarter final), they started the season with a very nice performance but a defeat at Bali. Their target this time is to keep up performing well and combine that with a point or even better 3 points that would be the ideal gift to the coach that celebrated his 57th birthday on Friday. Regarding missing players they will still be without the right wing back Fredyan Wahyu and the right winger of the team Antoni Putro that haven’t recovered yet from their injuries. There is a slight chance for the team to be a bit favored by the referee (kind of a conspiracy theory) since the referee against Bali was suspended after not showing the red card to Bali’s Van der Velden after a “Kung Fu” tackle he did to Sadney (surprisingly no red card was given to any of the opening matches) that can be seen above in the photo.
Bhayangkara ,the defending champions of this season, had to release a public statement that coach McMenemy’s position is safe at the team after the club failed to get a single win during preseason even when facing teams from Liga 2. In the opening match and facing Persija at Jakarta (despite Bhayangkara being the typical host) everyone expected that they would go down easily but in fact they missed many chances even to win the match mostly in the first half that they were the best team on the field. The addition of Nikola Komazec to the squad made them quite stronger in the attack while also newcomer Mofu played well and was able to “connect” in many cases with Paolo Sergio as if they were playing together last season. Still it was their defense and the keeper that kept a clean sheet (something they failed to do so in all matches during preseason) and earned the point for them. According to PSMS Medan coach Vladimir Vujovic (his former player when both were at Persib) was the “man of the match” while for most of the Indonesian press Persija might have underestimated them but against PSMS things will be different since the players will be extra motivated in front of their fans hosting last year champions in their first match at home after so many years.
Like the previous two matches it’s quite difficult to predict a winner in this one as well. PSMS players have played all their matches so far as if every single one of them was a “final” (including the preseasons ones) and none of them was with them being hosts. The presence of the fans will give them an extra boost but most likely won’t affect so much Bhayangkara players. The visitors after all are used to playing mostly in front of the opponents’ fans having not a strong fanbase of their own. Perhaps that was the reason they managed to get so many points on the road last season. 8 days ago they were the hosts against Persija in a stadium that had 45,000 fans of the visitors at that time (with policemen guarding them to be perhaps the only supporters of Bhayangkara, a team that is owned by the police itself).
Persija Jakarta vs Arema FC
Persija is considered to be the strongest favorite to become champions for the second time during the 21st century (with the first time to have been back in 2001) by the end of the season. The team had an amazing preseason winning the President’s Cup (in front of 70,000 fans of them) and having good results in the AFC Cup (apart from their defeat at Johor when they chose to rest the majority of starters giving priority to the President’s Cup final that was to be held several days later back then). They were lucky enough to play the “Community Shield” match against Bhayangkara at their own venue (GBK stadium in Jakarta) but their performance wasn’t that good and despite they were dominant in the second half the match ended 0–0 and they could have lost even if Komazec shots were a bit more accurate in 3 different chances that he created. During the whole week there was a “war” in social media with Persija and Persib fans (that have one of the biggest rivalry in the country) after some Persija players posted a video that they were singing a song making fun of Persib. Persib demanded for the players to be punished but nothing happened (maybe it has to do with the fact that one of the league executives is in Persija’s board as well). I have a feeling that this song will be heard again tonight at the stadium by Jakmania, many fans are expected once more even though the match takes place in the middle of Easter holidays (for those that don’t know even though Indonesia is the biggest Muslim nation worldwide, people celebrate several other religions’ holidays as well, with the “Great Friday” to be a day off even). Nowri Setiawan will still be missing from Persija, while Rohit Chand may not be in the starting eleven coming back from Nepal national team that faced Yemen for the Asian cup qualifiers. It’s good for Persija that will have Rezaldi back available (and most probably in the starting line up) after missing the match in the opening round (was in the bench but never entered, had played for U23 NT in Singapore a couple of days ago) and perhaps there should be a change in the left part of the defense with Danny Saputra having issues against his former team Bhayangkara. Perhaps Valentino that took his place during the match will replace him.
Arema is coming from a bad season and a kind of weird preseason with several disappointing performances and many ups and downs. Unfortunately it was with a “down” that they started the season having a 2–2 draw against Mitra at home. The fans were furious watching their team playing horribly (Mitra dominated the whole match and despite being 2–0 down from 2 free kicks they scored twice in the last 10 minutes to grab the point) attacked the coach for a late substitution that according to them was bad for the team. Many expected the coach to be fired but instead the board is looking for a replacement since Joko Susilo (the current coach) will be missing from several matches due to taking courses to upgrade his coaching license. The visitors’ main concern tonight will be how to stop Simic from scoring since as a player he is similar with Fernando Ortega of Mitra Kukar that scored twice against them in the opening round. The defense looks to be not so solid this season with the presence of several young players in that section apart from Arthur their Brazilian defender. Arema was given around 5,000 tickets for today’s match so they will have some fans of their own in the stands. After all Persija and Arema when it comes to fans they are “friendly teams” having “common enemies” (mostly Persib) to unite them even more.
This is one of the big matches (if not the biggest) not only of this round but traditionally of the season. However unlike the 3 previous matches of the day it seems to have a clear favorite. Persija is the team that looks much better, has a better roster and with Simic being unable to score the past 4 matches this will the ideal match to regain his form against a not so solid defense and a young keeper as well. Persija should only be careful not to give Arema the chance to have a dangerous free kick since Bozovic makes them look like penalty kicks. That’s why coach Teco asked for his players to make sure he won’t be given the chance to execute a free kick close to the penalty (neither him nor Syaful that also scored a free kick from the left side against Mitra).