Southeast Asia Indonesia

Persiraja to Bring Former Stars Back for the 2nd Half of the 2021 Liga 1 Indonesia Season?

Persiraja Banda Aceh are undergoing a torrid 2021 season. Having been promoted to the Liga 1 Indonesia as third-placers of the 2019 Liga 2 Indonesia season, the Lantak Laju are in an atrocious run of form right now. Since beating PSS Sleman 3-2 in Matchday 2, Persiraja have yet to win themselves another three points, undergoing a 14-game winless run that lasted until this day. The run included two 5-0 beatings at the hands of Bali United and Persikabo 1973, as well as promotion-winning head coach Hendri Susilo being relieved of his duties. Now, with the second half of the 2021/22 Liga 1 season approaching fast, Persiraja must act quickly during the mid-season transfer window in order to reinforce themselves in their fight against relegation.

One of the biggest reasons behind Persiraja’s awful league performance was their lack of quality players. The Laskar Tanah Rencong retained several members of the 2019 promotion-winning team such as captain Mukhlis Nakata, Husnuzhon, Defri Rizki, and goalkeeper Fakhrurrazi Quba, as well as bringing in a number of foreigners in Brazilians Leo Lelis and Paulo Henrique, Serbian midfielder Vanja Markovic, and Japanese midfielder Shori Murata, formerly of Burmese giants Yangon United.

However, after a decent showing in the 2021 Menpora Cup, several of Persiraja’s key players, who had helped the club in their ascent back into the top-flight as well as allowing them to give their Menpora Cup opponents a run for their money, found themselves being poached by Liga 2 side Persis Solo.

Backed by the financial prowesses of Kaesang Pangarep and Erick Thohir, Persis managed to hijack the likes of 2021 Menpora Cup top-scorer Assanur Rijal, winger Miftahul Hamdi, midfielder Feri Komul, and defender trio Eriyanto, Asep Budi, and Ganjar Mukti. Persiraja were unable to cope with the loss of these players and have failed to find their proper replacements, thus leading to their miserable performance in the 2021/22 Liga 1 season.

With the mid-season transfer window on the horizon, Persiraja are exploring the option of bringing the aforementioned players back into their fold, especially considering that the 2021 Liga 2 season is almost over and a number of their former players were severely underutilized at the Laskar Sambernyawa. While a permanent return of these players seems to be a stretch, the Lantak Laju are open to the option of loaning them until the end of the 2021/22 Liga 1 season.

An article from Tribunnews estimated the chances of these six players in returning to Persiraja, with Miftahul, a key player in Persis’ quest for promotion, being the most unlikely player to return to the Laskar Tanah Rencong.

However, the likes of Feri, Assanur, Eriyanto, Asep, and Ganjar are more likely to be loaned back to Persiraja considering that the quintet were periphery figures in Eko Purdjianto’s Persis squad.

Veteran midfielder Feri found himself being down the pecking order inside the Persis’ engine room, with the likes of Kanu Helmiawan, Shulton Fajar, Sandi Sute, and Yoo Hyun-goo being selected ahead of him. The 34-year old have only played 3 games for Persis this season, one of which being a starter in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of PSCS Cilacap.

Likewise, Assanur found it tough to break his way into the Persis starting lineup, with Eko preferring Beto Goncalves or Ferdinand Sinaga leading the attack. The 25-year old striker, nicknamed “Torres,” was often used as an impact substitute, however, in order to develop himself further Assanur needed more minutes underneath his belt, and staying at Persis won’t do it for him.

As for the defensive trio, Eriyanto, Asep, and Ganjar found themselves struggling to notch their mark on the Persis backline. Eriyanto might gain extra minutes for Persis to add to his 3 matches following Alfath Fathier’s injury, however, both Asep and Ganjar were unable to topple Persis’ established center-back duo of Fabiano Beltrame and Rian Miziar. Like Feri and Eriyanto, Gajar was only able to play in 3 of Persis’ matches this season, while Asep has yet to represent the Laskar Sambernyawa.

While negotiations are yet to be held, it is very likely for Persiraja to come knocking at Persis’ door in hopes that they could get their former stars back on board, at least on loan, for the remainder of the 2021/22 season. Akhyar Ilyas’ charges are hoping for a strong mid-season transfer window as the threat of relegation looms even closer towards them with each passing defeat.