Persebaya Surabaya head coach Aji Santoso has voiced his confidence in his team’s preparations for the upcoming 2022/23 Liga 1 Indonesia season. This confidence came despite the Bajul Ijo offloading a good majority of their key players from their recently-concluded 2021/22 campaign.
“Our search for players is almost complete,” Aji told Antara when asked about Persebaya’s activities in the current off-season, “All of the local and foreign players that we want are all in place.”
Persebaya’s preparation for the upcoming season has become a subject of concern by their faithful Bonek supporters’ group. While the club has been signing players, most of the Bajul Ijo‘s key men from the previous season have all left the club. Brazilian midfielder Bruno Moreira is set for a move to the Greek football leagues, Japanese star man Taisei Marukawa has already signed for PSIS Semarang, while Sierra Leone international Aile Sesay has been released upon the completion of his contract.
The Bajul Ijo have also offloaded a good chunk of their local talent. Both Rachmat Irianto and Ricky Kambuaya have joined Persib Bandung, while the likes of Samsul Arif, Oktafianus Fernando, Hambali Tolib, Mokhamad Syaifuddin, Ady Setiawan, Rendi Irwan and even captain Arif Satria have all departed the Gelora Bung Tomo Stadium.
Thankfully for Persebaya they’ve managed to retain the services of their wonderkid Marselino Ferdinan, however from the players that the Bajul Ijo have signed and announced so far, none of them have enticed the appetite so far.
Whilst Andre Oktaviansyah was decent for Persikabo 1973 in the previous season, both Leo Lelis and Mochammad Zaenuri have failed to save their teams from relegation despite their decent performances. Brazilian defender Lelis was part of the Persiraja Banda Aceh defense that conceded a league-high 69 goals last season, while Zaenuri was part of the Persela Lamongan team that ended their 18-year-long stint in the top-flight.
Despite this, Aji remained confident that Persebaya would do well next season, especially considering the number of players who were linked to the Bajul Ijo. Brazilian attacking midfielder Higor Vidal was linked to a move to Surabaya and he has already said his goodbyes to his current club, Greek Superleague 2 side Anagennisi Karditsa, while strikers Weslen Junior (Brazil) and William Akio (South Sudan) are vying to fill up that single foreign striker slot in Aji’s team. As for their AFC player, Persebaya has set their eyes on Iskra Danilovgrad’s Japanese attacker Sho Yamamoto as Taisei’s successor.
As for their local players, Persebaya has been scouting for some excellent youngsters, with names such as former HNK Rijeka player Brylian Aldama, Muhammad Salman Alfarid, and Samuel Christianson Simanjuntak being rumored to have signed for the Bajul Ijo.
Aji’s reputation as a star-making head coach who can bring the best out of his relatively unknown players is also a cause for confidence, as Persebaya seeks to upset the star-studded squads of Persib and Arema FC next season.