With the prospect of playing in the 2021 AFC Cup group stages in the horizon, Bali United have acted quickly and secured new contracts for their two key foreign players, Dutch striker Melvin Platje and Iraqi midfielder Brwa Nouri at the end of December. Since all Indonesian football competitions had been ground to a halt thanks to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Serdadu Tridatu will not take the field in any official matches until at least June 22nd, which marks the start of the AFC Cup group stages for teams in the ASEAN Zone. Realizing that their key players must get important game time before then, Bali United have arranged a loan move for Platje, with the Dutchman returning to his homeland to play for Eerste Divisie side De Graafschap.
Playing in the Eredivisie as recently as 2019, De Graafschap are currently on a push for promotion back into the top flight as they’re now currently 3rd in the second-tier Eerste Divisie. It is hoped that Platje’s presence would enhance De Graafschap’s firepower that would help their promotion bid.
32-year old Platje will join Mike Snoei’s men in a short-term loan basis, joining De Graafschap from February 1st and departing the team on June 1st, just in time to rejoin his Bali United teammates as they prepare to face-off against the likes of Hanoi FC (Vietnam) and Boeung Ket FC (Cambodia) in the AFC Cup.
It is hoped that this loan move would ensure that Platje, a key component in Stefano Cugurra Teco’s attacking line, could remain match-fit despite the lengthy hiatus of Indonesian football. The Serdadu Tridatu are not taking any chances in their preparation for the AFC Cup, as they had experience in playing an out-of-match-fitness team in the competition before. In 2018, Bali United inexplicably played out the reserves for their first AFC Cup group stage match against Yangon United of Myanmar due to the first team preparing themselves for that year’s President’s Cup, which resulted in Yangon United battering Bali United 3-1 at their very own Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium.
Bali United made the announcement of Platje’s loan deal after the player had departed Gianyar for the Netherlands and he had passed his medicals at De Graafschap on Monday.
With Platje’s loan move now made official – having been rumored by the Dutch media for the past few days, Bali United are rumored to be arranging a loan deal for Nouri as well to retain his match fitness. Like Platje, Nouri is linked with a loan move to a club in his homeland, with the former Ostersunds FK player being connected with a temporary deal with Zakho FC in the Iraqi top flight.