Southeast Asia Indonesia

Persebaya Snaps Arema’s 23-Game Unbeaten Record

Persebaya Surabaya has opened up the Liga 1 Indonesia title race even wider on Wednesday night after they ended league leaders Arema FC’s 23-game unbeaten run at Gianyar’s Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium. Taking on the Singo Edan in the latest edition of the Super East Java Derby, Persebaya had Samsul Arif to thank as the veteran journeyman striker landed the killing blow in the 80th minute, ensuring that the Bajul Ijo had pulled themselves back into title contentions with three valuable points.

Samsul, who had played for Arema between 2013 and 2015, scored the winning goal late into the game with a thunderous right-footed shot that went beyond the reaches of Arema goalie Adilson Maringa, with the Persebaya striker having made Arema defender Bagas Adi Nugroho eat his dust in the goal’s buildup.

Arema were left struggling to pry open the Persebaya defense throughout the match, especially considering that they’re without both Carlos Fortes and Kushedya Hari Yudo for the derby. Portuguese striker Fortes, Arema’s top-scorer of the season, was suspended for the occasion, while Kushedya, who was set to start the derby, pulled out in the last minute after suffering an injury during the warm-up.

This defeat proved even costlier for the Singo Edan after they’ve lost Bagas to a straight red card in the dying minutes of the match following his harsh elbow on Samsul.

Persebaya’s win meant that they remain 5th in the Liga 1 table but are now just four points off leaders Arema. The Singo Edan are currently standing on thin ice considering the three teams below them – Bali United, Persib Bandung, and Bhayangkara FC – have yet to play their Matchweek 27 games. Second-placed Bali United are just a point off Arema while third and fourth placers Persib and Bhayangkara are both two points behind the Singo Edan.

With the trio playing their Matchweek 27 games on Thursday and Friday – Bali United taking on Persipura Jayapura on Thursday and both Persib and Bhayangkara playing games on Friday against Persela Lamongan and PSM Makassar respectively – the perfect chain of events would see Arema tumbling down all the way to 4th place at the end of Matchweek 27, adding more spice to an already exciting title race.