Football Tribe SEA Editor
Matchweek 3 of the 2020 Liga 1 Indonesia season was done and dusted last weekend and Persib Bandung continues to set the pace for everyone else with their third straight victory. Playing in front of their passionate Bobotoh supporters on Sunday, the Maung Bandung etched up an excellent come-from-behind 2-1 win over PS Sleman.
Dejan Antonic’s PSS are on a stuttering start to the season, having lost and drawn their first two games. Eager to mark their third match of the season with a win, PSS went flying out of the blocks and drew first blood in the 2nd minute through Australian center-back Aaron Evans. Being a goal down early in first half jolted Persib into life and immediately Robert Rene Alberts’ charges pushed forward for the equalizer. And the Maung Bandung did just that in the 20th minute. Streaking down the left side of the pitch, Dutch striker Geoffrey Castillion pierced through the PSS defense and fired off a low shot that went beyond the reaches of PSS goalie Ega Rizky Pramana.
With the scores tied at 1-1, Persib intensified their attacks as they chased for that all-important second goal. And fifteen minutes after Castillion’s equalizer, Persib found their breakthrough. An excellent cross from the right flank by Supardi Nasir was welcomed by a thumping header from Wander Luiz which went straight into Ega Rizky’s goal. 2-1 Persib, and that was the score for half-time.
In the second half, both Persib and PSS traded attacks after attacks with the former seeking to secure their three points and the latter searching for an equalizer. However no further goals were scored in the match and Persib emerged out as 2-1 victors over their visitors from Sleman, which solidifies their position on top of the Liga 1 table as well as being the best birthday present one could ask as Persib had celebrated their 87th birthday just the day before the match. The Castillion-Wander Luiz combination, though starting off rather stutteringly during pre-season, has proven to be a devastating combo feared by the other teams in the Liga 1, with six goals so far in three matches between the two. Should Persib set their sights at the Liga 1 title this year, both Castillion and Wander Luiz needs to be at their best throughout the season.
Meanwhile, the 2020 Liga 1 season has proven to be a tough one for clubs from East Java. Perennially known as the hotbed of Indonesian football, this year’s Liga 1 saw 5 teams representing the province in the league – Arema FC of Malang, Persebaya Surabaya, Madura United, Persela Lamongan, and newly-promoted Persik Kediri. After the conclusion of Matchweek 3, these five clubs only share 2 victories between them, Arema’s 2-0 opening day win away at PS TIRA-Persikabo and Madura United’s 4-0 demolition job of PS Barito Putera at the Gelora Madura Ratu Pamelingan Stadium, also during opening day. The other matches played by the 5 East Javan clubs ended in 4 draws and 8 defeats.
Having been beaten 2-1 by Persib at home in Matchweek 2, Arema sought to make amends in Magelang as they take on PSIS Semarang at the Moch. Soebroto Stadium on Saturday. However, the Singo Edan ended up at the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline, with goals from Hari Nur Yulianto and Bruno Silva condemning Mario Gomez’s men to a second-straight defeat. Both teams ended the match with 10 men after PSIS’ Finky Pasamba and Arema’s Jonathan Bauman were sent-off in the 67th minute and the match’s conclusion was marred with crowd trouble as a number of the traveling support attempted to vent out their frustration at the home fans.
Friday’s matches saw two East Javan clubs taking the stage with both of them losing their respective matches – Borneo FC condemning visiting Persela to a 2-1 defeat that cemented Laskar Joko Tingkir‘s place in the bottom of the standings, while an entertaining match took place at the Gelora Bung Tomo in Surabaya, with hosts Persebaya succumbing to a 4-3 defeat at the hands of Persipura Jayapura.
Persik take on fellow promoted side Persiraja Banda Aceh at the Brawijaya Stadium in Kediri on Saturday, only for Persiraja nick all three points thanks to an early goal from Defri Rizki. Last but not least for the East Javan clubs, Madura United played their match on Saturday, a daunting away trip to defending champions Bali United at the Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium and returned home empty-handed after a Melvin Platje brace sent Bali United to a superb 3-1 victory.
Other matches in the 3rd Liga 1 matchweek saw Bhayangkara FC and Persija Jakarta playing out an entertaining encounter behind closed doors at South Jakarta’s PTIK Stadium on Saturday, with Bhayangkara’s Ezechiel N’Douassel scoring what seems to be an offside goal that denied Persija all three points, with the Jakarta derby ending in a 2-2 stalemate. Sunday’s action saw PSM Makassar and Barito Putera playing out to a 1-1 draw at the Andi Mattalatta Stadium in Makassar, while TIRA-Persikabo earned their first win of the season after dispatching Persita Tangerang 3-1 at the Pakansari Stadium in Cibinong, Bogor Regency.
With both Liga 1 and Liga 2 entering a two-week suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Persib are flying high on top of the Liga 1 table with 9 points, after winning all 3 of their games. Defending champions Bali United are on 2nd place, with 7 points from 3 games, with Borneo and Persipura, both of them on 6 points each, rounding off the top 4. The relegation places are occupied by PSS and Barito Putera, both of them having 1 point after 3 matches, while Persela are dead last after losing all three of their games.