The Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) have selected Bali United and Persija Jakarta as Indonesia’s representatives for the 2021 AFC Cup on Wednesday’s executive committee meeting. The two clubs are set to make their third AFC Cup bow next year, having qualified for the competition based on their merits from the 2019 season and having attained the proper licensing necessary for the upcoming competition.
Bali United’s qualification to the 2021 AFC Cup was seen as a foregone conclusion, considering what the Gianyar-based club have achieved and done in recent times. With the 2020 Liga 1 season still postponed until at least February 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the AFC requiring member nations to register their representatives for 2021’s continental club competitions by December 22nd, the decision was made to appoint Bali United, champions of the 2019 Liga 1 Indonesia, as Indonesia’s representative number one for the 2021 AFC Cup. The Serdadu Tridatu‘s return to the continental stage was further ensured by the fact that they’ve passed all the requirements to receive a license to compete in AFC-sanctioned competitions for 2021 on November.
Determining the second Indonesian representative for the 2021 AFC Cup was a bit trickier. Normally the berth would go to the 2018-19 Piala Indonesia champions, however PSM Makassar as the latest cup winners have failed to attain an AFC license. Things got even more complicated when 2019 Liga 1 runners-up Persebaya Surabaya also failed to receive an AFC license. 2019 Liga 1 3rd placers Persipura Jayapura were the heavy favorites of receiving Indonesia’s second AFC Cup slot for next year, however Persija, who had initially failed to attain an AFC license, managed to win their appeal and subsequently receive an AFC license for the 2021 season. The Macan Kemayoran, despite finishing a disappointing 10th place in the 2019 season, were the beaten finalists of the 2018-19 Piala Indonesia, and based on their domestic cup merit, Persija was chosen as Indonesia’s second representative for next year’s AFC Cup.
“We have decided to choose both Bali United and Persija Jakarta to represent Indonesia in the 2021 AFC Cup,” said PSSI chairman Mochamad Irawan in a press release after the meeting, “The two teams have qualified for the AFC Cup based on their achievements from the 2019 season and they’ve passed all the licensing requirements to participate in the competition in the latest AFC club licensing cycle. We hope that the two teams will be able to make us proud in next year’s AFC Cup.”
The 2021 AFC Cup will be Bali United’s third, having appeared in the competition’s 2018 and 2020 editions. The Serdadu Tridatu, back then being coached by Widodo Cahyono Putro, crashed out of the 2018 AFC Cup in the group stages, before the 2020 edition saw Stefano Cugurra Teco’s side being unable to complete the competition due to it’s COVID-19-enforced cancellation. Likewise, 2021 will be Persija’s third outing in the AFC Cup, having qualified to the ASEAN Zone semi-finals in 2018 – being eliminated there by Singapore’s Home United (now Lion City Sailors) – before being eliminated from the group stages in 2019.