Asia 50 Exclusive: Boaz Solossa, the history-maker

The year 2016 was an epic one in Boaz Solossa’s career, with both the Indonesian national team and his club side Persipura Jayapura. The Jayapura native sat down with FourFourTwo to talk about it all, including becoming the first Indonesian to crack our annual Asia 50.

Boaz Solossa and the Indonesian national team fell just short in their bid to win the AFF Suzuki Cup for the first time last year, narrowly losing the final to favourites and defending champions Thailand 3-2 on aggregate.

But anyone in Southeast Asia that saw the Indonesian captain play understood exactly what the country’s football is all about in the tournament, held in Myanmar and the Philippines.

He’s an example for young players in Indonesia now. His discipline and attitude inside and outside the field makes his performances so consistent

- Adam Alis, Arema FC midfielder

“I thank God for my good performance for both the national team and Persipura Jayapura,” he said when he spoke exclusively to FourFourTwo.

It’s easy to understand that attitude as Indonesia’s FIFA ban was only lifted last year, a sanction that prohibited Indonesia from taking part in international football for a year.

Considering their limited preparation that makes their effort at the Suzuki Cup all the more impressive and while Boaz was disappointed the country lost a fifth AFF Championship final, he knows they gave their best against the current standout in Southeast Asia.

“In the first leg we won against Thailand (2-1) and the second leg we fought and gave our best,” he said.

“But Thailand was better prepared, that’s why they won the second leg (2-0).”

The 30-year-old was also keen to stress how impressed he was by all the hard work the other players put in.

“I’m proud of myself and my teammates' performances,” he added.

Along with Thailand’s continuing dominance and the re-emergence of the Garudas, last year’s AFF tournament also further underlined the development of some of the region’s former strugglers.

Myanmar and Vietnam were the other teams in the semi-finals, ahead of traditional powers like Malaysia and Singapore, while Laos and even Cambodia have proven more competitive.

Boaz is a special player. In the national team he’s our captain, a player who I think is a role model

- Bagas Adi Nugroho, Arema FC defender

According to Boaz this is an indication of the growing maturity taking place across Southeast Asia.

“Their football is now carefully structured and well-managed,” he said. “As a result they play well at the Southeast Asian level.”

In terms of Indonesia’s domestic football scene, Boaz remains hopeful it can now carry on without incident, including the potential pitfalls that exist from the shady characters that perpetually loiter around the sport.

Football-mad Indonesia is a sleeping giant in the region and deserves a clean run to get back on track.

“If you want Indonesian football to progress you have to prevent the footballing mafia intervening,” he said.

“Only by doing so we can do our best in Southeast Asia.”

Boaz enjoyed great success at club level in 2016

The fact that there are more and more Southeast Asian players competing outside their own nations has caught Boaz’s attention.

Some of the names in this category includes Indonesian Andik Vermansyah, who plays for Selangor FA in Malaysia, and Thai superstar Chanathip Songkrasin, who will soon link up with Japanese side Consadole Sapporo on-loan from Muangthong United.

“It’s very good because their experiences can motivate other players,” he said. “Also they can put their experiences from playing abroad to good use in their national teams.”

While Boaz failed to win a continental title with his national team, his club Persipura Jayapura did manage to capture the championship last year, despite the fact they were without their captain for some time.

The Black Pearls made the most of the national situation to win the 2016 Indonesia Soccer Championship and Boaz always had faith they could get over the line.

In the end they finished four points clear of runners-up Arema Cronus.

“I was always confident that Persipura would win the championship because we are not dependent on one or two players,” he said.

“Also, we always pray before the matches.”

To conclude the interview session, FourFourTwo asked Boaz's thoughts about becoming the first Indonesian ever to make our annual Asia 50, a list of the best Asian players from across the globe.

“I can only thank God,” he said. “I’m very happy for this recognition.”