Bali United picked up from where they had left off before the international break and made it three wins out of three as they beat Persebaya Surabaya 3-1 in Friday’s Liga 1 Indonesia action. Newly naturalized Cambodia national team attacker Jean Befolo Mbarga was the star man of the match with his two goals, while Jefferson Assis’ penalty cemented Stefano Cugurra Teco’s men position in the top-half of the Liga 1 table.
Former Preah Khan Reach Svay Rieng danger man Mbarga, who was born in Cameroon, was one of the two foreign players who officially received Cambodian citizenship over the international break, alongside Phnom Penh Crown’s Japanese midfield maestro Yudai Ogawa. However, issues with Mbarga’s papers meant that the striker sat out Cambodia’s exit from the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, with the Koupreys crashing out in a 1-0 defeat on aggregate at the hands of Pakistan.
Mbarga refused to let that disappointment get to him, however, and he pulled off an industrious performance up front for Bali United at the Kapten I Wayan Dipta Stadium, breaking the deadlock after 44 minutes after he had latched onto a superb pass from Mohammed Rashid. The goal meant that Mbarga became not only the first Cambodian to play in the Liga 1, but also the first Cambodian to score in the Liga 1.
Dusan Stevanovic’s header three minutes after the restart restored parity for Persebaya, however Mbarga struck again in the 55th minute to regain Bali United’s lead, weaving his way through two Persebaya defenders before beating Andhika Ramadhani in the Bajul Ijo goal.
The Serdadu Tridatu‘s victory was sealed in the 77th minute after Mbarga, who was on a hat-trick, was fouled within the area. The Cambodian unselfishly allowed former Maltese top-flight top scorer Jefferson to score from the spot, which ensured that Bali United are in the league’s top five places for at least another matchweek.