Football: Persija Coach Back After Threatening to Quit
Wimbo Satwiko & Sandy Pramuji
Coach Iwan Setiawan was back in camp with Persija Jakarta on Wednesday, three days after threatening to quit, giving the club a much-needed boost ahead of a key match against Mitra Kukar in the breakaway Indonesian Super League.
Iwan, who announced his retirement after an emotional loss to Persisam Samarinda on Sunday, showed up for Persija’s workout in Jakarta.
“I talked with [Persija chairman] Ferry Paulus on Tuesday night and the management agreed to help me in my fight against unfairness in Indonesian football, especially against bad officiating,” the 43-year-old coach said. “I hope we can work together to make Indonesian football better.”
Iwan stunned everyone when he announced he was quitting during a press conference after the Persisam match. He was upset with what he called poor officiating, and he singled out referee Jumadi Effendi.
Most of all, he was angry Jumadi had called Persija midfielder Fabiano Beltrame offside, disallowing his 61st-minute goal. Television replays, however, suggested Jumadi made the right call.
Iwan, who has been coaching since 1998, said on Wednesday that he was fed up with bad calls and unfairness in the league.
“I’ve been around for a long time and seen lots of irregularities here,” he said. “I think I hold the record as the coach with the most suspensions because I routinely protest referees. All I ask is for just, fair play in the league.”
Persija players, Iwan said, had pleaded with him to rethink his decision to quit.
“They asked me to stay but I told them I couldn’t if management didn’t help me clean up the league and get rid of bad refereeing,” he said. “So when the chairman agreed to be more critical of the bad things going on in football, I decided to stay.”
Iwan can now shift his focus to today’s match against Mitra at Gelora Bung Karno in Jakarta.
Persija currently sits in seventh place in the standings with 19 points from 12 matches, while the East Kalimantan club is four points above it in fifth.
“Mitra Kukar has been playing well this season and is always dangerous in attack. We’ll try to win the match,” Iwan said.
However, the Kemayoran Tigers will be missing Beltrame, goalkeeper Andritany Ardhiyasa and defender Hasim Kipuw. They’re all suspended for yellow card accumulation.
Mitra manager Roni Fauzan said their absence would benefit his club.
“That will open up Persija’s backline. Now we have to be ruthless in front of their goal and capitalize on our chances to win the match,” he said.
The squad, Roni said, would ride the momentum of winning two of its last three matches.
“Our players are highly motivated and are looking forward to taking on Persija on its own turf,” he said.
On Tuesday, Persiwa Wamena rose to the top of the ISL standings with a 4-2 victory over Pelita Jaya at home. The Papuan club now has 29 points from 14 games, two ahead Sriwijaya FC and Persipura Jayapura.
Japanese defender Yuichi Shibakoya scored Persiwa’s first goal at Pendidikan Stadium in Wamena in the eighth minute. Erick Weeks Lewis added goals the 23rd and 28th minutes, while Pieter Rumaropen added a fourth in the 48th.
John Tarkpor scored both of Pelita’s goals, striking in the 72nd and 89th minutes.
Pelita is in 12th place with 14 points from 12 games.
Also on Tuesday, Persela Lamongan fought back from a goal down for a 2-1 win over PSMS Medan at Surajaya Stadium in East Java. The win moved it to fourth.