Football Tribe SEA Editor
Having confirmed their participation in the upcoming 2020 Liga 1 season, Persija Jakarta have acted quickly in preparation for the new season. With only one match left in the 2019 season, Persija swiftly handed their talismanic striker Marko Šimić a new contract that would secure him at the club for the next three years. Considering how swiftly foreign players are being chopped and changed in Indonesian clubs, this came as a rare and refreshing move for Indonesian football.
Šimić arrived at the Persija headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta last night and underneath the watchful eye of Persija’s CEO Ferry Paulus, put pen into paper on a new contract that would ensure Šimić’s status as a Persija player until at least 2023. The Croat was obviously delighted with the new deal, as indicated by a quick interview that he did with the official media team of Persija after the signing. During the interview, Super Šimić (Šimić’s nickname amongst the passionate Jakmania supporters group) revealed that the reason why he accepted Persija’s contract extension is that because he felt comfortable and at home with the Macan Kemayoran.
“I just wanted to say, right now is the peak of my career and I’m very proud to be here. I’ve prayed and hoped for a very long time and finally my dreams has been realized – I’ll be staying here for the next three years. Surely I’m very delighted by this,” said Šimić in the interview.
Paulus told the Persija media team that Šimić’s contract extension was a reward of his explosive performance for Persija throughout the 2019 Liga 1 season.
“Everyone knows that Šimić have played excellently this season,” Paulus said, “He has also shown a very strong commitment to remain at Persija and fight alongside us next season. This is why we’ve decided to tie him down for the next three years.”
A delighted Super Šimić then went on to state that he will repay the Persija management’s faith in him and perform even better alongside his teammates next season, hopefully emulating the Macan Kemayoran team of 2018 that won the Liga 1 title that year.
A 2018 signing from Liga Super Malaysia side Melaka United, Šimić has proven himself as one of the deadliest attackers in the Liga 1. During his first season with Persija, he won Persija two pre-season titles, the 2018 Indonesia President’s Cup and the 2018 BoostFix Super Cup, before impressing massively in the 2018 AFC Cup and winning Persija the 2018 Liga 1 title. In both the 2018 and 2019 seasons Super Šimić has etched himself as Persija’s top scorer, scoring 18 league goals in Persija’s title-winning season before boosting that tally up to 28 this time round. The Croat also scored 11 goals in the 2018 Indonesia President’s Cup, winning the tournament’s best player and top scorer awards in the process, while in the 2018 AFC Cup Šimić scored 9 times, which included a hat-trick against Singapore’s Tampines Rovers and an incredible 4 goals against Malaysian champions Johor Darul Ta’zim.
Batata and Cantillana Set to Stay?
Though still unofficial, it seems that two Liga 1 foreign players are set to stay at their clubs in the upcoming 2020 season. PS Sleman’s Brazilian midfielder Guilherme Batata is reportedly considering an offer that would see him remain at the Maguwoharjo in the 2020 season while PSIS Semarang are set to retain their Chilean-born Palestinian midfielder, Jonathan Cantillana. As reported by the Twitter account @Indostransfer, the two players have impressed for their clubs throughout the 2019 season, which prompted the management of both clubs to offer them contract extensions for the 2020 season.
Both Batata and Cantillana played important roles in their clubs’ midfield engines this season. Batata, a pre-season arrival from the I-League’s Gokulam Kerala, have played 26 times for Super Elja and created 4 assists. Though yet to score a goal this season, his passing, tackling, and interception rates were quite impressive, which contributed to PSS being able to break into the top-half of the Liga 1 table despite being newly promoted the year before. On the other hand, Cantillana, a mid-season arrival at the Moch. Soebroto Stadium from Palestinian champions Hilal Al-Quds, have played 15 times for Mahesa Jenar this season, scoring once and assisting 3 times. His passing helped liven up the PSIS midfield engine, helping them staving off the threat of relegation before steadily climbing up to the safety of mid-table.