Persib Bandung players celebrate their Padang Mayor’s Cup victory ahead of the start of the 2015 Indonesian Super League season, scheduled to begin next month. Antara Photo/Iggoy el Fitra
Clubs Busy With Preseason as Fans Hanker for Action
JANUARY 15, 2015
With the Indonesia Super League scheduled to start some time in February, some of the more forward-thinking clubs have been busy organizing friendlies and multi-team tournaments to bring their squads up to standard.
One of the first tournaments on the agenda was the Padang Mayor’s Cup, returning to the preseason calender after a break of several years. The city’s local sides, Semen Padang and PS Padang, welcomed ISL champion Persib Bandung and Persiba Balikpapan, as well as newly promoted Pusamania Borneo and Malaysian giant Selangor to the H. Agus Salim Stadium.
While things may not have gone according to plan — Persib lifted the trophy after defeating Persiba in the final — organizers were happy enough to promise a more international feel next year.
Meanwhile, over in Kediri, the long-running East Java Governor’s Cup came to a conclusion with home side Persik defeating Gresik United 2-1 in the final.
Persib followed up its success in Padang by defeating Malaysian side Felda United 3-1 at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium in Soreang, West Java, on Sunday in front of a typically vociferous crowd.
There had been some concern among the Persib support that players like Ferdinand Sinaga and Djibril Coulibaly, whose goals were so crucial in the title success last season, had yet to be adequately replaced, but its results in Padang and against the Malaysian side suggest they are not being missed too much at the moment.
Persib lines up against Vietnamese champion Hanoi T&T on Feb. 10 in the AFC Champions League playoff, and there must be some doubts in the Indonesian camp as to how ready the Bandung side will be.
The Vietnamese league has already kicked off and the Hanoi side will go into the tie with some competitive games under its belt.
While it may draw some confidence from overcoming Felda United — the Malaysians were promoted to the Super League and were runners-up in the Malaysia Cup — the fact remains that playing in Hanoi will be a far cry from the relative comfort of Bandung and even Padang. At least Persib was engaged in competitive football.
Persija Jakarta hosted the Trofeo Persija at Bung Karno Stadium, inviting Arema and Sriwijaya Palembang to join the fun.
Some 80,000 fans made their way to the center of Jakarta, creating an amazing atmosphere, and were rewarded with three games of 45 minutes each that produced a grand total of zero goals.
In the end the Trofeo Persija was shared by the three teams and everyone went home happy.
For some reason, many Indonesian teams struggle to organize their preseason games. Teams like Pelita Bandung Raya and Mitra Kukar have led the way by heading to Hong Kong and Thailand respectively, but for those left back home it is often a case of scrambling around to find out who or what is available.
Even with the Trofeo Persija, which had been confirmed at the tail end of 2014, Arema was left in the embarrassing position of having to train at their hotel because there were no pitches in Jakarta it could use.
We may still be some weeks away from the beginning of the new season, but large crowds in Jakarta and Bandung suggest the fans are anxious for the action to begin.