Southeast Asia Indonesia

Bali United Swaps Nouri for Rashid

Having lost both of their opening two games of the 2023/24 Liga 1 Indonesia season, Bali United rang the changes by ending the contract of reliable Iraqi defensive midfielder Brwa Nouri and replacing him with Palestine international midfielder Mohammed Rashid on Thursday.

2-time Liga 1 champions Bali United are suffering the worst possible start to a campaign – taking on both PSS Sleman and Borneo FC Samarinda in their opening two league matches, the Serdadu Tridatu succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at home to the Super Elja and being well-beaten 3-1 by the Pesut Etam away at the Segiri Stadium. This, combined with a dismal run that stretched back to the tail end of last season, placed Bali United head coach Stefano Cugurra Teco under immense pressure, as the club found themselves in the wildly unfamiliar position of being bottom of the league with the third matchweek approaching fast.

With the club knowing that they have to act quickly before being dragged into an unexpected relegation battle this season, the Bali United management decided to perform a critical change to the team. But, much to the dismay of the Bali United supporters who expected Teco to exit the club, the Bali United management instead decided to prematurely end the contract of Nouri, who had been with the Serdadu Tridatu since midway through the 2018 campaign.

Overlooking his critical error in the opening day of the season that saw him gift PSS the winning goal, Nouri had been a reliable servant of Bali United, making 103 league appearances and winning the Serdadu Tridatu back-to-back league titles in 2019 and 2021/22. Nouri’s presence provided a sense of stability towards Bali United’s midfield, as well as providing the defense with some additional steel. His passes proved critical in creating attacking opportunities as well as warding off danger within the midfield.

With a tenure lasting around five years, Nouri was Bali United’s longest-serving foreign player, with the 36-year old even considering retiring at the Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium. Sadly, those plans were not to be.

Whilst both Teco and Bali United CEO Yabes Tanuri applauded Nouri’s services for the club, rumors began to ran wild amongst supporters that the former Iraq international was “sacrificed” by Teco in response to Nouri questioning his “outdated tactics,” with his blunder against PSS being used as justification for his contract termination. The rumors were intensified by the reactions of former Bali United players Melvin Platje and Stefano Lilipaly towards the news of Nouri’s release on social media, which expressed concern that something is very wrong behind the scenes at the Dipta.

Bali United did not take long in finding a replacement for Nouri, with former Persib Bandung midfield general Rashid being drafted in. Despite only playing one season at the Maung Bandung, Rashid has established himself as a fan-favorite amongst the Persib favorite, with fans often expressing their desire to see his return in Persib colors.

And whilst Rashid’s decision to join Bali United would leave a sour taste in the mouths of Persib fans, the 28 year-old’s return is something worth anticipating by Indonesian football fans considering his excellent performances throughout his first tenure in the archipelago.