Southeast Asia Indonesia

Arema Assembles Star-Studded Squad after Last Year’s Title Slip

Having missed out on the Liga 1 Indonesia title last season due to a late-season slump, Arema FC are taking no chances in having a shot of winning their first top-flight title in 12 years. To that end, Arema president Gilang Widya Pramana has been splashing the cash in the transfer market, bringing a talented crop of local players into the Kanjuruhan Stadium as well as retaining their foreign legion that have played an instrumental role in their title challenge last season.

Striker Carlos Fortes was the only major exit at Arema, as the Singo Edan management moved quickly to secure the services of their other foreigners – Brazilian goalkeeper Adilson Maringa, Portuguese defender Sergio Silva, and Japanese defensive midfielder Renshi Yamaguchi – for the next couple of years, as well as retaining the services of head coach Eduardo Almeida.

Arema’s major transfer activity this off-season involves their local players, as the club management released a number of names from last season’s squad and replaced them with several notable names that are all too familiar to the Indonesian football audience.

The first wave of transfers saw Evan Dimas and Adam Alis switching Bhayangkara FC for the Singo Edan, as well as the signings of Gian Zola and Andik Rendika Rama from Persib Bandung and Madura United respectively. The second batch saw Hanis Saghara being signed from Persikabo 1973, Hasyim Kipuw returning to Malang from a stint at PSM Makassar, and Ilham Udin Armaiyn following Kipuw in switching Makassar with Malang. Last but not least, Arema have, most recently, unveiled former Persita Tangerang duo Irsyad Maulana and Syaeful Anwar as their latest signings, with the former also returning to Arema after several years away.

Currently, Arema are seeking a foreign striker to succeed Fortes, and a number of names have been touted to act as the Portuguese’s replacement. There was the aptly-named Fabio Fortes, who currently plays at Portuguese second-tier side Academica de Coimbra, as well as Belenenses SAD striker Kikas, currently on loan at another Portuguese second-tier side, Mafra. And most surprising of all, former Persija Jakarta man Marko Simic was touted as the Singo Edan‘s next star striker.

With an excellent backing throughout the transfer market and ample time for the new players to gel with each other, there will be no excuses for Almeida should he once again fail to claim the Liga 1 title this upcoming season. The Singo Edan have longed too long for a league title and their ambitious transfer activity shows that Arema are more than ready to throw the gauntlet in next season’s title race.