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Piala passion in Indonesia

Football is an absolute passion in Indonesia, stadiums are full everywhere in the country, and in particular when comes the Cup, Piala Indonesia, which us now reaching its climax, with the quarter finals on the way. Get a glimpse of what to expect in the next 2 weeks on MyCujoo.tv.

Piala Indonesia quarter finals are starting on 24 April, with only Liga 1 teams left

By Scott McIntyre
From Tokyo

With almost 700 local languages, a sprawl of more than 16,000 islands spread across an area wider than continental Europe and home to 261 million people Indonesia is one of the planet’s most fascinating nations.

Follow the Piala Indonesia quarter finals on mycujoo

It’s also one of the most passionate when it comes to football, with crowds of 60,000 or more not an uncommon occurrence even in the second division and a matchday experience that’s flowing with colour, noise and vibrancy a staple at venues across the sprawling nation.

It’s a raw passion that draws in huge masses of this enormous country and which equally captivates those foreign players and coaches that have been fortunate enough to experience football inside Indonesia.

One of those is Dejan Antonic who, growing up in Belgrade, was a member of the same Yugoslavia youth teams that featured the likes of Boban, Stimac and Prosinecki who won the U20 World Cup in 1987, but who told MyCujoo that nothing compares to what’s he’s seen during his time playing and now coaching in Indonesia.

“For me, it’s been an amazing experience in this country now for almost 15 years and whenever people ask me if Indonesians like football I tell them no, they love it.”

There can be no questioning the football history and pedigree of Indonesia who were the first Asian nation to qualify for a FIFA World Cup (way back in 1938) but organising the hundreds of football clubs that are dotted across the huge nation has proven a challenge down the years.

Various bodies have jostled for control of football in the nation and for a spell earlier this decade there were two separate leagues being run side-by-side. But with a stable PSSI now having regulated things efficiently, the last couple of years have seen a further rise in the popularity of the game.

It also means that after a seven-year hiatus the national cup competition – the Piala Indonesia – has returned to the football calendar and this week marks the quarter final stage of the tournament with all of those matches available on MyCujoo.

60,000 fans in Persebaya

Antonic's Madura United are an ambitious young club, formed out of the ashes of Persipasi Bandung Raya just three years ago. Antonic knows that they have an almighty challenge on their hands as they face Persebaya Surabaya – one of the nation’s most storied clubs over their 91-year history, even if most of their 20-odd titles came back in the earlier days of Indonesian football.

“The last time we played Persebaya there were 60,000 people in their stadium and you need to remember that in Europe not even many clubs in the Champions League, for example, see this kind of support.

“In Indonesia football can change so quickly and you might not know what will happen tomorrow morning but we have a plan to build this club steadily and the Piala Indonesia is a big part of that.”

Antonic is one of a host of coaches and players that are in the rather unusual situation of being at their second club during this same cup, given that the Piala Indonesia kicked off back in May last year.

The 50-year-old admits it’s not often that a cup competition takes more than a year to complete but they are some of the challenges that organising football in Indonesia presents.

“This is a strange situation for me because when the Piala Indonesia began I was the coach of Borneo and I led the team to the quarterfinals before taking this job at Madura and now my new club is also in the quarterfinals, so you can say I coached two quarterfinal teams!

“It would be an unusual feeling for sure if we were to meet Borneo in the final and it would be amazing for Madura because it’s been quite a while since they’ve been in the final of a big competition.”

Historic Makassar

That’s certainly not the case at PSM Makassar, another of the quarter finalists, who are the oldest and one of the most successful clubs in Indonesia.

They face Bhayangkara in the two-legged quarters starting with a road trip to Jakarta this week and they’ll do so with a new face in the form of young Australian defender Aaron Evans.

Having spent the last two seasons in Indonesian football with Barito Putera, the 24-year-old, now has the honour of playing for this historic club and that’s something that’s not lost on the player from the Australian capital of Canberra.

“I grew up wanting to be a professional footballer but there aren’t many opportunities in Australia. So I moved to Asia at a young age to chase those dreams and I certainly went through a lot to get to this stage.

Aaron Evans, Australian defender for PSM Makassar, will play the Indonesian Cup quarter finals against Persebaya

“When I go home I have friends who are surprised that I’m playing in Indonesia but when you tell them about the game here, they immediately understand.

“I was completely blown away when I first arrived in Indonesia, totally got smacked and it’s hard to describe just how big the passion is for the game here.

“In my second year at the club, we played at Persebaya Surabaya at a beautiful stadium with 50,000 people. You walk onto the pitch with all those fans dressed in green and it’s an amazing sight.

“Last year I brought my family to another game against Persija Jakarta where there was 45,000 people and again you just saw that passion.

“If you are not used to it those situations can be intimidating for sure, the supporters are so fanatical and you immediately know how big of a match it is that you are playing in.”

That’s the kind of passion that will be on display on MyCujoo.tv viewers over the next couple of weeks with all of those storied clubs – Persebaya, Persija, Persib Bandung, PSM and others – in action in the last eight of the Piala Indonesia.

With the winner also earning a ticket to the AFC Cup next year there’s also plenty on the line for the final eight as they jostle to be crowned Piala Indonesia champions.

Follow the Piala Indonesia quarter finals on mycujoo