The new football season sets to commence this month with 18 clubs participating in the top tier league dubbed ‘Go-Jek Traveloka Liga 1’ – a less-catchy name comparing to what we had in the past like Liga Bank Mandiri or Djarum Indonesia Super League.
The new league will be handled by new operator, PT Liga Indonesia Baru. Flamboyant figure Iwan Budiyanto, former manager of Persik Kediri and Arema FC, has been appointed as the head of league operator.
Ahead of the league’s kick-off on April 15, Persib made media headlines last week when they signed two former Chelsea players, Michael Essien and Carlton Cole. Two stars were signed as marquee players, referring to professional footballers who played in one of three latest World Cups or for an European top club.
In Persib, Essien and Cole will play along with Gian Zola, a local wonderkid and not the one who wore Chelsea #25 in 2000s. The Maung Bandung side also has naturalized players Sergio van Dijk and Raphael Maitimo. What a Galacticos!
Besides Persib, it is only Madura United who made a marquee signing with the 35-year-old Nigerian national Peter Odemwingie, a former West Bromwich Albion star, adding fame to the club.
The Indonesian football looks fine and promising if you only read the passages above. Belows are two eyebrows-raising facts on the upcoming football season.
Live broadcast and game schedule. TVOne will broadcast seven Liga 1 games a week during the weekend and Monday. Ya, it’s fine. But, in relation to that TV deals, the second tier league Liga 2 will only be played between Monday and Thursday. So, if you don’t have enough spare afternoon time on weekdays, please just pick a Liga 1 team to support.
Players and subs. Each Liga 1 team is allowed to have four foreign players, comprising of one Asian, two non-Asian and a marquee. In Persib’s case, they can argue Essien is the marquee and Cole is registered in a non-Asian slot. Strangely, five under-23 players must be included on squad list and three of them have to be put on starting line. Only two 35-year-old players can be registered in each time. To compensate this awkward setting, the league operator allows the team to make five substitutions in a game. It clearly contradicts football’s rule of game and PSSI has demanded FIFA’s opinion regarding the matter.
Now, let me update you as well on recent local football updates.
Good news from Persija Jakarta. After being acquired by Balinese businessman Gede Widiade, the Macan Kemayoran side confirms to take newly-renovated Patriot Stadium in Bekasi as home base. Living legend Bambang Pamungkas will lead the team and help manager Alessandro Stefano “Teco” Cugurra Rodrigues achieving the club’s target.
Abandoned and forgotten due to long-running conflict with PSSI, Persebaya Surabaya will play in Liga 2. They will play on fresh pitch of Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium with Iwan Setiawan managing the team. The Boneks are still there as noisy-cum-creative supporters. Earlier this month, they took the street to protest Liga 2’s regulation on weekdays game.
More updates on new Indonesian football season will follow. It is nice to write football again after a while.