Southeast Asia Indonesia

Liga 2 Club Causes Controversy with Kung-Fu Kick

Liga 2 Indonesia side AHHA PS Pati caused controversy last week after two of their players caused a ruckus in the club’s 3-0 friendly match win over Liga 1 Indonesia outfit Persiraja Banda Aceh. Defender Syaiful Indra Cahya was sent-off after directing a devastating “kung-fu kick” at opposition counterpart Muhammad Nadhiif, while AHHA PS Pati captain Zulham Zamrun was involved in an altercation with Persiraja’s Defri Rizki, which ended with Zulham being sent-off by the referee for his troubles.

The friendly match at the Pancoran Soccer Field in South Jakarta was meant to be used as part of the two teams’ preparation for the 2021/22 season. AHHA PS Pati were preparing to embark in this season’s Liga 2 which is set to start at the end of this month, while Persiraja were using this match to get themselves ready for the second matchweek of this season’s Liga 1 which was held from September 10th to September 12th.

AHHA PS Pati ran out 3-0 winners at the end of the friendly however the result was overshadowed by two incidents that occurred during the match.

The first incident saw former Arema FC player Syaiful attempting to clear a loose ball away. Swinging in a powerful kick, Syaiful managed to launch the ball away from his half, however in the process the defender’s boot struck an incoming Nadhiif on the head. Young defender Nadhiif had been chasing the same loose ball that Syaiful had cleared away and he was unfortunate enough to be in the path of 29-year old’s kick.

Syaiful’s kick managed to break off a couple of Nadhiif’s teeth and the youngster had to receive treatment for a possible head injury. The referee wasted no time in brandishing a straight red card for Syaiful and AHHA PS Pati were down to 10 men.

The Central Java-based club were reduced even further to 9 men after Zulham had collided with Defri in a tussle for the ball. Former Persib Bandung and PSM Makassar winger Zulham then kicked Defri after the two had recovered their bearings, prompting former Persija Jakarta man Defri to retaliate with a punch. The altercation almost resulted in players from both sides clashing on the Pancoran Soccer Field pitch, as Zulham attempted to go after Defri. However, the referee acted swiftly and ejected Zulham straight away once the tension between players had escalated.

Immediately after the friendly, AHHA PS Pati manager Doni Setiabudi and chairman Atta Halilintar sent out apologies to the Persiraja camp, with Syaiful personally apologizing to Nadhiif in person as well. Both Syaiful and Zulham were also ejected from AHHA PS Pati’s training camp in Jakarta and the duo could have their contracts terminated due to their unacceptable actions in that friendly against Persiraja.

Syaiful and Zulham’s actions were met with severe condemnation from not only the Indonesian football community, but also from the worldwide fraternity of the beautiful game. Spanish news outlet Marca ran a piece on Syaiful’s horror kick on Nadhiif, dubbing it as the “horror kick of the year.” There were calls to sack Syaiful and Zulham from the AHHA PS Pati team immediately while the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI) slammed down a warning on the Liga 2 club to “not recruit such brutal players again.”

The Indonesian Professional Footballers’ Association (APPI) also stepped into the issue, with the organization planning to hold a reconciliation meeting between Syaiful, Zulham, Nadhiif, Defri, and Mukhlis Nakata as Persiraja captain, as well as inviting all footballers within Indonesia to participate in an education session that would hopefully prevent such behaviors from repeating itself in the future.

Since YouTuber Atta had taken control of Putra Safin Group (PSG) Pati and rebranded them into AHHA PS Pati earlier this year, the club, formerly known as Putra Sinar Giri Gresik (PSG Gresik), was no stranger to controversies. The rebrand from PSG Pati to AHHA PS Pati itself was an issue since PSG Pati had just relocated to Pati in Central Java from Gresik in East Java only months earlier, which prompted some backlash from the Bala Yodha, PSG Pati’s newly-formed supporters group.

The club, nicknamed the Java Army, also signed Nurhidayat Haji Haris, who had been expelled from the Indonesia national team training camp due to disciplinary issues, only a short time after his expulsion from Shin Tae-yong’s squad. AHHA PS Pati caused more controversy when they signed Yudha Febrian, another member of the Indonesia national team who was expelled from the squad due to disciplinary issues, when the player in question was being mired in a sexual harassment scandal.

And prior to Syaiful and Zulham’s controversy, AHHA PS Pati had released two of their players, both of whom having represented the Timnas Garuda, due to their “star syndrome” spreading “bad influence” within the squad. It was hinted that one of the players who had their AHHA PS Pati contract terminated was Yudha and while Nurhidayat was also hinted as being the second player released from AHHA PS Pati, his presence in the club’s final training session prior to their friendly with Persiraja squashed those rumors.