Liga 2 Indonesia side Sulut United have announced the departure of their young rising star Natanael Siringoringo to Liga Premier Malaysia side Kelantan FC on Friday. This came after Kelantan owner Norizam “ZamSaham” Tukiman revealed that the Red Warriors have signed an Indonesian player for the 2021 season in his Facebook page on Monday.
Norizam’s Facebook post displayed a photograph of the Indonesian player signing a contract with Kelantan, however his facial features were obscured from view thus leaving viewers guessing about the player’s identity. Malaysian sports website Vocket FC speculated that the player in question might be Madura United defender Risna Prahalabenta, however bola_manado, a football Twitter account based in the North Sulawesi city of Manado, published a tweet on Tuesday that Sulut United, who were based in the city, had allowed one of their players to join Kelantan.
And on Friday, all of the speculations regarding Kelantan’s mysterious Indonesian player were answered.
A former professional futsal player, 22-year old Natanael was a player honed by the rustle and tussle of North Sumatran football. Hailing from the region’s capital of Medan, the right winger started off his career as a futsal player with local side SDR Binjai FC, earning himself a call-up to the tryouts for the Indonesia U-20 futsal national team in 2018. However, people around Natanael pointed out to him that his skills on the futsal pitch is better suited for football and in 2019 he switched codes to the beautiful game. PSMS Medan became Natanael’s first club as a professional player and he managed to guide the Ayam Kinantan to the 2019 Liga 2 round of 8.
Natanael’s performances with PSMS were so good, then-Indonesia U-23 national team head coach Indra Sjafri was impressed enough to call him to the national team training camp in preparation for the 2019 SEA Games in the Philippines. Unfortunately for everyone, Natanael did not made the cut into the final squad for the SEA Games as he was injured during the training camp.
Sulut United, a newly established yet ambitious football club, took Natanael underneath their wing for the 2020 season after his release from PSMS. Despite the 2020 season being scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Natanael played for the Hiu Utara in a number of friendly matches and he retained his PSMS form with his new team, which prompted an impressed Shin Tae-yong to call him up to the U-23 national team training camp which was held at the end of December, which prepares the Indonesia U-23 national team for the 2021 SEA Games which will be held in Vietnam.
Natanael’s call-up meant that he’s the first Sulut United player to be called up for national duty while at the same time being the only Liga 2 player to be called up to the Timnas Garuda setup in 2020.
Understandably, Sulut United highly covets Natanael and the Hiu Utara had huge plans in store for their wonderkid, however Norizam and his Kelantan side came knocking and the opportunity to play overseas was too much for Natanael to pass over. Despite being reluctant to let their prized player go initially, Sulut United eventually relented and Natanael officially became a part of Norizam’s massive rebuild of the Red Warriors.
Natanael’s signing was only the first phase of Norizam’s 2021 plans for Kelantan. Three more foreign players are scheduled to arrive at the Sultan Muhammad IV Stadium in due time, one from Greece, one from England, and one from Spain. Moreover, a good bulk of Kelantan’s local players for the 2021 season will be derived from the youth, ensuring a sustainable squad for years to come.