Southeast Asia Indonesia

“Persija-Persib Rivalry More Intense than The Rivalries of Europe” – Thomas Doll

After a brush with COVID-19 delayed his arrival in Jakarta, Persija Jakarta’s new head coach Thomas Doll led the Macan Kemayoran‘s training for the first time on Wednesday. Overseeing the Persija players at the Nirwana Field in Sawangan, Depok, West Java, Doll entertained a number of journalists flocking the field, all of them eager to hear what the former Hamburg SV manager would say about his newest challenge.

Wednesday’s training session was Persija’s third for the pre-season, however, it was the first to be overseen by Doll himself, who arrived in Jakarta on Monday evening. The German had missed the first two sessions due to a COVID-19 positive test forcing him to undergo quarantine, but with new assistant coach Pasquale Rocco by his side, Doll could easily see the motivation and hard work that the Persija players displayed throughout the session.

When answering the questions fielded to him by the journalists attending the training session, Doll brought up the intense rivalry between Persija and Persib Bandung, dubbed by many as the Indonesian El Clasico or the Old Indonesian Derby. The former Borussia Dortmund boss initially did not understood the rivalry between the two teams but came to be impressed by it once hearing stories about matches between Persija and Persib from his coaching staff.

“Yes, I heard about the Persija-Persib rivalry…it’s like a derby, I have to say,” said Doll, as quoted from Bolasport, “My local coaching staff told me about that.”

According to Doll, the atmosphere generated by the heated rivalry between Persija and Persib easily exceeds those that he had experienced firsthand in Europe. As a seasoned player and manager in European football, Doll has experienced the likes of the Revierderby (Dortmund vs Schalke 04), the Hamburg Derby (Hamburg vs St. Pauli), the Rome Derby (AS Roma vs Lazio), the Budapest Derby (Ferencvaros vs Ujpest), and the Nicosia Derby (APOEL vs Omonia) to name a few.

“It’s like a European rivalry…it’s not like you just came to the stadium on the bus, there’s a lot of emotion involved in it,” said Doll, “I’ve experienced derbies in Hamburg, in Rome, also the matches between Dortmund and Schalke…and the Persija-Persib rivalry can hold a candle to those matches. All of them are important matches, a huge mix of emotion and passion…your heart can get involved in it but you need to think intelligently too.”