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!

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