Football Tribe Indonesia
The 2018/19 Piala Indonesia champions, PSM Makassar, were rocked last Saturday with the resignation of their head coach Darije Kalezić on the eve of last Sunday’s match against PS Sleman at the Andi Mattalatta Stadium in Makassar. Kalezić couldn’t even sign off his tenure with a win as Juku Eja were forced to a 1-1 draw with PSS in his team’s last home match of the season.
During the pre-match conference on Saturday, a gloomy-looking Kalezić said, “Tomorrow (Sunday) will be my last game as PSM head coach this season. I have so many great experiences here. I’m happy that I could become a good head coach for this team and present PSM and their fans with their first piece of silverware in 19 years.”
Determined to end his PSM tenure with a bang, Kalezić sat on the Andi Mattalatta dugout as his team went up against a PSS side determined to secure a top-half finish in their first season back in the top flight after their Liga 2 triumph last season. And it was Super Elja that struck first, with Ukrainian Yehven Bokhasvili scoring at the end of the first half. PSM fought back however and equalized in the 66th minute thanks to an Aaron Evans penalty, which was given after Purwaka Yudhi of PSS was judged to have handled the ball with his hand in the penalty area.
Despite securing a second straight AFC Cup appearance with their Piala Indonesia title, PSM has been disappointing this season as they sat 9th on the table, with 44 points from 33 games. Juku Eja are winless in their last 5 matches including the most recent draw with PSS, and PSM supporters have been piling the pressure on Kalezić since their defeat against Persebaya Surabaya on November 14th. Despite PSM winning their next two match, fans kept on their pressure on Kalezić, who have yet to led his team to an away victory throughout the Liga 1 season.
The former Wellington Phoenix head coach then went on to reveal that he had a rather uneasy relationship with the PSM management during the press conference, “Unfortunately all the transfers that have been done this season are done without my involvement at all. I want to develop this team for years to come, it is a long-term developmental project of mine. I already know who are the players that can help the team to the next level and who won’t, both locals and foreigners. But last October I already told that we (the PSM management) can’t make any progress so I decided to step down.”
Kalezić then proceeded to thank his staffs, his players, and even Munafri, the Makassar businessman who serves as the CEO of PSM. Kalezić’s departure places PSM in a tough spot as they still have one league match left to play, a daunting away trip to Persib Bandung. Juku Eja then must prepare for the next season, with their first match coming straight around the corner in January, a two-legged AFC Cup play-off against champions of Timor Leste’s Liga Futebol Amadora, Lalenok United.
Kalezić’s situation mirrored that of Widodo C. Putro’s at Bali United last season, with the Indonesia legend stepping down from his position of Serdadu Tridatu head coach before the last game of the season. It is worth noting that this isn’t the first time that Kalezić had gotten himself in trouble with his employers. As cited from football-oranje.com back in 2016, he was sacked from Roda JC after commenting negatively towards the club’s technical director, Ton Caanen. After a 2-3 home defeat at the hands of Willem II Tilburg in an Eredivisie match, Kalezić remarked that Caanen wasn’t in contact with his first team because he had been “a car salesman for too long,” referring to Caanen’s past as a Toyota salesman during his first shot in football management at FC Geleen Zuid.
After leaving Roda for Asia, things did not go well for Kalezić afterwards. Prior to PSM, Kalezić had joined two other clubs in AFC nations, Saudi Pro League’s Al-Taawoun and the aforementioned A-League side Wellington Phoenix. Kalezić’s tenure in both clubs ended badly, with Al-Taawoun giving him the sack after five matches before he fell out with the Phoenix management after a contractual disagreement.
One does not simply say that Kalezić’s time in charge of PSM was disappointing, he did after all manage to bring Juku Eja out of their AFC Cup group above stronger clubs such as Singapore’s Home United and the Philippines’ very own Kaya-Iloilo, had his men fought valiantly against Vietnam’s Becamex Binh Duong in the AFC Cup ASEAN Zonal Semifinals as PSM went out of the competition on goal difference, and also won PSM the Piala Indonesia. However PSM’s disappointing showing in the Liga 1, with their woeful away form being the most glaring flaw of all, proved to be Kalezić’s undoing, and the draw on his final match was not exactly the early Christmas present that he was seeking.