Southeast Asia Indonesia

Bali United Clinch Back-to-Back Liga 1 Titles Thanks to Persib’s Failure to Win

Persib Bandung spurned their chance to win this season’s Liga 1 Indonesia after they could only muster a goalless draw with Persik Kediri in Friday’s Matchweek 33 action. This meant that the Maung Bandung are four points adrift league leaders Bali United with only one matchweek left to go – effectively handing the Liga 1 title to the Serdadu Tridatu.

Taking on newly-promoted Persik, who have already secured their participation in next season’s Liga 1, Persib went on the offensive straight away at the Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium, which was replied in kind by Persik. The two teams pressed each other, exchanging attack after attack, with Youssef Ezzejari almost capitalizing on a Teja Paku Alam mistake in the 12th minute, only for the Spaniard’s shot to balloon skywards.

Dikri Yusron in the Persik goal did top bins throughout the match, denying the likes of David Da Silva, Bruno Cantanhede, and Frets Butuan in the first half before he and the Persik defense warded off intense assaults from the Maung Bandung in the second half.

In the end, both teams fail to find the breakthrough after 90 minutes and the match ended 0-0, effectively ending Persib’s title chances for this season.

News of Persib’s failure to beat Persik was well-received by the Bali United camp as it meant that they have successfully defended their Liga 1 title, and even though they were well-beaten 3-0 by Persebaya Surabaya in their own Matchweek 33 game later that night, the Serdadu Tridatu still celebrated their second league title in history.

By winning this season’s Liga 1, Bali United became the first team to have successfully defended their Indonesian league title since Pelita Jaya (now Madura United) in the 1988/89 and 1990 Galatama seasons, and the first one to have done so in the modern incarnation of the Indonesian top flight. Head coach Stefano Cugurra Teco also etched himself in Indonesian football history by becoming the first head coach in Indonesian football to win three consecutive top-flight league titles, having won the Liga 1 with Persija Jakarta in 2018 and masterminded Bali United’s first league title in 2019.

With Indonesia’s ascent within the AFC Club Rankings, winners of this season’s Liga 1 were assured of a spot in the 2023-24 AFC Champions League qualifiers, with Bali United making their return to Asia’s premier club competition for the first time since the 2020 season. The Serdadu Tridatu are also assured of a spot in the 2023-24 AFC Cup group stages should they lose the qualifiers.

As league runners-up, Persib also made their return to Asian competitions, with the Maung Bandung having last appeared in such competitions in 2015. They are assured of a spot in the 2023-24 AFC Cup qualifiers, which would entail them a spot in the group stages should Persib do well there.

With the title all sewn up, the final matchweek of this season’s Liga 1 will decide who will finish third – with a possibility of qualifying to next season’s AFC Cup should Bali United qualify to the ACL group stages – as well as the final relegation place.

Bhayangkara FC, Arema FC, and Persebaya will be competing to see who will get bronze this season, while fallen giants Persipura Jayapura, PSS Sleman, and PS Barito Putera will have to do well in the final matchweek to avoid the fates of Persiraja Banda Aceh and Persela Lamongan, who were already relegated to next season’s Liga 2.