While local football is struggling to get its house in order, Indonesian players are starting to turn their gaze abroad.
Titus Bonai joined a select group on Tuesday after signing with Thai Premier League side BEC Tero Sasana. The club officially presented him to local journalists at Thephasadin Stadium in Bangkok.
The ranks of Indonesians plying their trade abroad are thin. Syamsir Alam, Alfin Tuasalamony, Yericho Christiantoko and Yandi Munawar play for Belgian second-division side CS Vise — which is owned by the Bakrie family — while Arthur Irawan is with Spanish side Espanyol.
In the latest video posted by BEC Tero on YouTube, Titus pledged his commitment to his new club.
“I’ve wanted to play in Thailand since I watched the Thai Premier League on television,” the 23-year-old striker said. “Thai players are strong, both in training and matches, and that’s what I can learn from them. I give my commitment to BEC Tero Sasana, and I will do my best for my new club.”
Tibo, as Titus is known in Indonesia, attracted the TPL side’s attention when he played for Sabah Select XI in an exhibition against Queens Park Rangers last week in Malaysia.
BEC Tero chairman Brian Marcar asked to meet Titus in Bangkok, and the rest is history. The club’s general manager, Robert Maurer, said he hoped the new signing would strengthen the squad.
“Titus Bonai is a member of Indonesia’s national team who scored a goal into Thailand’s net in the  Southeast Asian Games. He’s a player with a bright future and will help team’s development, also in terms of marketing,” Maurer told BEC Tero’s website.
Maurer added that the club gained lots of attention from Indonesian football fans on Facebook and Twitter when it announced its interest on Titus.
The Fire Dragons, as the two-time TPL champion is known, saw a spike in Twitter followers since signing Titus. From 127 followers in Monday, the club’s Twitter account @becterosasana had 627 followers as of Wednesday afternoon.
However, Titus still has issues to settle at home. Former club Persipura Jayapura says his contract with the Papuan side runs until September.
He has been absent without leave from the club since May. Persipura, which plays in the breakaway Indonesian Super League, has prevented its players from joining the national team. Titus did so anyway, though, joining the Merah Putih for a tournament in Palestine.
Titus started his career at Persipura before moving to Bontang FC and Persiram Raja Ampat. He came back to Persipura in 2010 and helped the Black Pearls win the ISL title in 2011. He gained prominence after scoring six goals while playing for the Under-23 national team in the SEA Games.