Antony Sutton provides the lowdown on the three-time Indonesian Super League champions, whom Pahang will face in the Round of 16 of the 2015 AFC Cup…
Who are they?
Persipura Jayapura hail from New Guinea, the second largest island in the world and one Indonesia shares with Papua New Guinea. For many years the club underachieved on the domestic stage but that ended when they won the first division title in 2005. After the Indonesia Super League was formed in 2008/09, they became a byword for consistency, winning the league three times and finishing runners-up in the other three seasons.
One reason behind their success in recent years is the relative stability of the club. When coach Jacksen F. Tiago moved to Penang ahead of the 2015 season, Persipura promoted Osvaldo Lessa, Tiago’s long-time assistant. There is consistency on the pitch as well with players like Boaz Solossa, Bio Paulin and Ian Kabes providing a formidable spine that has lasted several years.
29-year-old goalkeeper Dede Sulaiman has stepped into the first team for the 2015 season following the departure of South Korean custodian Yoo Jae Hoon. The club have confidence that he is the man for the job, but the Indonesian goalkeeper has struggled to make a mark with other clubs throughout his career and the jury remains out for many.
Besides that, Persipura do not have any obvious weakness, but they do have a terrible knack of being on the receiving end of big defeats in Asian club competitions. For example, in the semi-finals of the 2014 AFC Cup, they obtained a reasonable result of a 4-2 loss away to Kuwaiti side Qadsia SC, only for the team to implode at the Mandala Stadium and lost the home leg 6-0.
Attack. Persipura are built for power and pace. Striker Boaz Solossa is something of a local hero and his lightning pace has long been a threat to rivals. Despite a career checkered by injuries, he remains the Indonesian Super League’s leading scorer of all time.
Ahead of the new season, three new players were signed, epitomising the Persipua approach. Consistent defender Ricardo Salempessy has returned to the club he started his career after a spell away, while the club have recruited two technically gifted, powerful players in Lancine Kone and Zulham Zamrun who can turn a game. Indeed, Zamrun was one of few shining lights for Indonesia at last year’s AFF Suzuki Cup.
Besides them, the underrated Kabes sits in the midfield and does the unspectacular stuff that allows the others to turn on the afterburners.
Without a doubt, Solossa takes the plaudits. The local lad, who was named as one of the best Indonesian players in the last 25 years, broke into the first team when he was 18 and has been a mainstay ever since, averaging two goals every three game and being at the heart of the club’s recent triumphs.
He has seen his career hampered by injury on occasion but has always fought back and found himself among the goals. His pace will always be a threat while his awareness of his position on the field and of those around him has increased in recent years.
There have been offers for him to play overseas, but Boaz has remained resolutely loyal to his first and only club and as he approaches his 30th birthday. With how things going, it certainly looks like he may well be there for a few more years to come.
Being difficult to get to! Direct flights from or to Jakarta can take seven hours if they are available. Failing that a transit or two maybe necessary. And given the lack of infrastructure in Papua, even local derbies can mean a trip to the airport.
Eduard Ivakdalam is still spoken of in reverential terms despite having left the club in 2010. In many ways as synonymous with Persipura as Steven Gerrard became with Liverpool, Ivakdalam joined the club in 1994 and went on to make some 300 appearances for them – a club record.
Australian midfielder Robbie Gaspar, who spent several years playing in Indonesia, was effusive in his praise of his one-time foe. “He was great technically, had a great left foot and knew how to dictate the tempo of the game,” recalled the former Sabah player. “I know all the players looked up to him for advice.”