The 2020 Liga 1 Indonesia season kicked-off last night at the Gelora Bung Tomo in Surabaya, where last year’s runners-up Persebaya Surabaya were forced to a 1-1 draw by 2019 Liga 2 champions Persik Kediri. Elsewhere, at the Harapan Bangsa Stadium in Banda Aceh, fellow promoted side Persiraja Banda Aceh managed to hold free-spending Bhayangkara FC to a goalless draw.
Macan Putih, who are making their top-flight return after a tumultuous 5-year absence, shocked the hosts in the 33rd minute after Bajul Ijo defender Hansamu Yama was caught handling the ball in the penalty box. Persik’s new Argentinian midfielder, Gaspar Vega, successfully sent Rivky Mokodompit the wrong way and scored the fist penalty goal of this season. 1-0 Persik.
But Hansamu made amends for his previous mistake four minutes later with a beautiful header that went past Persik goalie Dimas Galih, with the header itself being assisted by a free-kick from Persebaya’s new Swedish-Palestinian forward, Mahmoud Eid. Despite the best efforts from both teams, the score remained tied at 1-1 until full-time. The draw extended Bajul Ijo‘s winless record in Liga 1 opening matches since their promotion back to the top flight, having being beaten by both Perseru Serui (now Badak Lampung FC) and Bali United in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Across the Suramadu Bridge in Pamekasan, Madura, another East Javan club etched the best possible start to the 2020 season. Madura United entertained Barito Putera at the Gelora Madura Ratu Pamelingan Stadium, and the Laskar Sape Kerrab managed to crush their South Kalimantan counterparts 4-0. Madura United’s Brazilian defender Jaimerson Xavier opened the floodgates for the hosts in 7th minute, in the process making himself the first goalscorer of the 2020 Liga 1 season.
In the 19th minute, the impressive Bruno Matos, having assisted Jaimerson’s goal earlier, etched his own name in the score sheet after receiving a through pass from new Ghanaian winger Emmanuel Oti, before sending the low ball through Beny Yoewanto’s net. The explosive Madura United finished the first half with a healthy 3-0 advantage after naturalized striker Beto Goncalves scored from the penalty spot after O.K. Jhon caught handling the ball within the area in the 33rd minute. In the second half, Beto completed his brace for Madura United after scoring another goal in the 54th minute, rounding off a fantastic night for Rahmad Darmawan’s men. A heavy loss for Barito Putera may raise some doubts regarding the position of Djadjang Nurdjaman as their coach but it’s only the first game and anything can happen in next game weeks.
Last but not least, Persiraja did well and fought valiantly to earn a valuable point after frustrating Bhayangkara to no end at the Harapan Bangsa. The 2011/12 Liga Prima Indonesia during the country’s league dualism crisis marked the last time Persiraja made a bow in the top-flight of Indonesian football, and facing off against favorites Bhayangkara, who strengthened their squad with the likes of Andik Vermansyah, Saddil Ramdani, Renan Silva, and Ezechiel N’Douassel, did not deter Hendri Susilo’s men at all, despite most tipping the Indonesian Police-backed club as the favorites in this encounter. Laskar Tanah Rencong defended well against Bhayangkara’s attackers and in the end with a 0-0 draw, Persiraja will be the happier of the two sides as they embark on what’s going to be a long top-flight season.
Liga 1 2019 – Game week 1: Schedule and Result
Saturday, 1st March 2020
Persebaya Surabaya 1-1 Persik Kediri
Madura United 4-0 PS Barito Putera
Persiraja Banda Aceh 0-0 Bhayangkara FC
Sunday, 2nd March 2020
Persipura Jayapura vs PSIS Semarang
Persija Jakarta vs Borneo FC
Persib Bandung vs Persela Lamongan
PSM Makassar vs PS Sleman
Bali United vs Persita Tangerang
Monday, 3rd March 2020
PS TIRA-Persikabo vs Arema FC