Football Tribe Indonesia
Sunday night’s Liga 1 action saw a clash of titans between two of Indonesia’s historical clubs, defending Liga 1 champions Persija Jakarta and last year’s Liga 1 runners-up, PSM Makassar. Held at Makassar’s Andi Mattalatta Stadium, the game serves as the last game of Liga 1’s Gameweek 23, and with Persija still faltering in the lower half of the table, it was PSM who are the clear favorites for this match.
Also known as the Mattoangin, the Andi Mattalatta Stadium is a fearsome ground to visit for away teams, with PSM only losing once there before Sunday night’s match, a 1-0 reverse against PSIS Semarang in a rescheduled Gameweek 11 match. With the odds stacked against them, Persija are looking for important three points to escape the relegation battle that they’re stuck in and considering the tensions arising thanks to the controversial events surrounding the 2nd leg of the 2018/19 Piala Indonesia final between the two sides earlier this year, it is guaranteed that this match is going to be explosive.
PSM are without their dynamic man in their midfield engine, Marc Klok, thus leaving captain Wiljan Pluim to be paired up with Raphael Maitimo. On the other hand, Persija head coach Edson Tavares has his full squad at his disposal. With that stinging debut defeat at the hands of Semen Padang on Wednesday still fresh in his memory, Edson is determined to make amends for his employers in Makassar.
Immediately once the referee blew for kick-off, PSM went in for the offensive. Their attacking trio of Ega Pratama, Ferdinand Sinaga, and Ezra Walian immediately threatening Persija’s defense early into the match. PSM head coach Darije Kalezić also tasked Beny Wahyudi with the task of containing Persija’s Riko Simanjuntak, thus limiting the speedy winger’s movement into the PSM’s defense.
Both Darije and Edson implemented an unorthodox 3-4-3 formation for their teams, playing a lot of crosses and long balls that kept the audience waiting for that inevitable goal. Both Rivky Mokodompit of PSM and Andritany Ardhiyasa of Persija worked very hard in saving shot after shot, with Edson’s high pressing tactic working slowly in weakening PSM’s midfield. The first 45 minutes ended goalless, however, the tension between the two teams are clearly there.
Realizing that his attacking trio is not as effective as PSM’s previous match that saw Juku Eja dismantling Arema FC 6-2, Darije called upon Amido Balde, Zulham Zamrun, and M. Rahmat to replace Ega, Ferdinand, and Ezra. Meanwhile, Edson decided to throw La Liga veteran Joan Tomàs and youngster Rahmad Hidayat into the mix, replacing Ramdani Lestaluhu and Heri Susanto respectively.
Moments after Edson replaced Sandi Darma Sute with Tony Sucipto in the 86th minute, the Makassar public were stunned after the ever-reliable Marko Šimić made a run down the right side and fired home into the far post from outside the penalty box with his right foot, breaking the deadlock much to the joy of the Macan Kemayoran faithful.
Šimić, who had played with the Croatian U-21s during his youth and a good friend of Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren, scored his 15th goal of the season, condemning PSM to their second home defeat of the season and avenging Persija’s 2018/19 Piala Indonesia loss, right in front of the Juku Eja faithful no less! By scoring the match-winning goal, Šimić is now only one goal away from matching Persela Lamongan’s Alex Gonçalves’ tally, with the Croatian clearly breathing down the Brazilian’s neck in the race for the Liga 1 golden boot trophy.
Madura United Ended Kabau Sirah‘s Unbeaten Run
A couple of hours before the PSM-Persija game, 2nd placed Madura United sealed a precious win away at the Haji Agus Salim Stadium in Padang to close the gap between themselves and leaders Bali United in the standings, while at the same time ending hosts Semen Padang’s five-game unbeaten run. Last season’s Liga 1 top scorer, Aleksandar Rakić, opened the scoreline for Laskar Sapeh Kerrab in the 23rd minute.
Semen Padang won’t give up that easily however and they pushed for the equalizer. Eventually, in the 75th minute, Karl Max Barthélémy scored the equalizer for Kabau Sirah, slotting the ball past M. Ridho’s net. However, Rakić proved himself to be a thorn in Semen Padang’s side in injury time, as he delivered a free-kick that slammed against the crossbar. Madura United’s Brazilian midfielder Diego Assis easily headed the rebound home, ensuring that the three points would be coming to Madura.
At the Aji Imbut Stadium in Tenggarong, East Kalimantan, Persipura Jayapura and Arema FC played out an exciting 2-2 draw. Playing at Mutiara Hitam‘s temporary home, Todd Rivaldo Ferre and Boaz Solossa ensured that Persipura would be heading to the dressing rooms with a healthy 2-0 lead at half-time. However, in the second half, Singo Edan came out fighting, stunning the hosts with two goals of their own in the last fifteen minutes. Makan Konate’s long-range screamer halved the deficit in the 75th minute before Jayus Hariono denied Persipura all three points with a cheeky run and shot in the 82nd minute.
With ten gameweeks to go not to mention a couple of postponed matches here and there yet to be played out, Bali United still have a healthy lead on top of the standings with 48 points after 21 matches, with Serdadu Tridatu still having two postponed matches to be played. Madura United sat on 2nd place with 41 points after 23 games, with Borneo FC (37 points after 22 games) and TIRA-Persikabo (36 points after 23 games) rounding off the top 4. On the opposite end of the standings, Persija’s win over PSM moved them up to 13th place, with 23 points from 21 games. Macan Kemayoran are level on points with 14th placed Barito Putera and 15th placed Perseru Badak Lampung FC, but are above the two teams on virtue of goal difference. Only one point separated Badak Lampung on 15th and safety with Semen Padang on 16th, the last relegation spot, with Persela Lamongan and Kalteng Putra rounding off the drop zone, being joint-bottom with 20 points from 22 matches.