The Far East Express: S1 Part 1 – Reality Check

The Far East Express has arrived in Indonesia! This is a collaborative effort between DP-FM, FirstEmperorLee, OffTheBarFM and SadPanda333 has bought a late ticket to join in the journey to the AFC Champions League, welcome aboard! SadPanda333 (blogger) will take their turn fifth, after OffTheBarFM.

During ‘The Preview’ episode, I ran through the Asian football legend who will manage our journey – Cha Bum-Kun (Cha Boom) and some information about our first club KS Tiga Naga who are in the Indonesian Liga 2 (2nd tier).

Here we will learn a bit more about the club, the squad, backroom staff, transfers, tactics, pre-season and the first half of the league season. A lot to get through I know but you may see other bits pop up on the way as I want to give everyone an in depth look at what we’re working with.

The Club & Liga 2

One of the first things Cha Boom had to do is learn what the board wanted to see this season.

Working within the wage budget is key and should be fairly straight forward due to the 1k cushion in the budget. They want us to fight bravely against relegation, after some research this made more sense as Tiga Naga are one of two semi-professional teams in their league – all the other ten teams are professional clubs meaning they already had an upper hand when it comes to signing players. Being in the second tier, the cup isn’t really important to Cha Boom at this stage.

Cha Boom looked deeper into the club to learn there is not much to know! No rivals, no icons or legends of the club – I’m guessing if the club got promoted Cha Boom would definitely be on there in some capacity. Also some of the cheapest tickets about at £1 a game or a tenner for a season ticket! With a minimum of 22 games plus cup games a season, take my money! The fact that the club has only sold 62 season tickets is a worry – £620 isn’t going to do much for the club financially…

A bit more about Liga 2 now, which consists of 24 teams who are split into to groups of 12. Even though they are in small leagues there is a lot to play for. The top 4 of both groups qualify for the promotion play offs. The respective top 4’s go into mini groups with the top two of both groups advancing to the semi finals.

This is where it gets a bit crazy/weird. Effectively the two teams who win their semi finals go into the final of course but both are guaranteed promotion – the final decides the Liga 2 champions. The losing semi-finalists then go into a third placed play off, the winner becomes the third promoted team?! Absolute carnage, I know.

Squad rules are slightly different to what we’re all used to so all teams can only sign Indonesian players, you’re only allowed 3 over 35s in a registered squad. There must be 7 under 21s registered in the squad and there is no set age limit for players – a 15 year old can play league and cup football!

As the 2020 season was declared void due to Covid-19, Tiga Naga are still regarded as a newly promoted side after coming up to Liga 2 in 2019.

The Squad

This is what is at Cha Boom’s disposal going into pre-season..

Well, Mr Bum-Kun will have to have his work cut out as this squad is really lacking talent in centre midfield and central defence. There are some highly rated players in there but that still leaves the team very stretched for talent. The 4 big guns of the team are below for visual stat inspection

All 4 players lack technically bar striker Sasongko I’d say and how is goalkeeper Firmansyah rated for 4 stars with his stats?! Lets see if he can prove Cha Boom wrong and pull through for the team with his experience. The transfer market will need to be hit to see what can be found although Indonesian only players does narrow down the market by some way.

Backroom Staff

Cha Boom didn’t know what to expect with the staffing here at Tiga Naga nor the quality of them. It was clear straight away that some new faces were required however.

Only a space left for a Head of Youth Development despite the youth system being more or less non existent at the club. The recruitment & medical departments required immediate attention. After extensive searches and for staff who wanted to work for Cha Boom and Tiga Naga, the challenge here just got a whole lot harder. Take a look at the completed backroom staff…you will be shocked at the standard.

Jaw dropping stats – believe this was the best available who wanted to join Cha Boom’s adventure. Assistant Manager Bento and Goalkeeping Coach Tharjaki Lubis (who isn’t bad to his credit) were already here but the rest had to be brought in even if it was rather reluctantly.

Transfers

So the market in Indonesia shuts before the start of the season which isn’t ideal but Cha Boom still managed to get four free transfers in to boost the squad, again this was the best of players who wanted to join which didn’t leave the Manager much choice.

Three midfield reinforcements were brought in, Muhammed Zuhairi being the stand out star rating wise as he joined on a non-contract term basis.16 year old Nanang Wahyudi & 15 year old Dodit Fitrio Faidzin may become starters with some work in training however, due to the standard of coaches, match practice will be key for both. 16 year old Dede Zakaria comes in to compete for a spot at left back however, his technical abilities need work.

Only two players left, Ghulam Faktar Rachman left on loan for League 3 side Gresik United for the season. Strange one this, rated 1.5 star and was captain of the squad when Cha Boom arrived which was quickly changed. Full back Jones Einsgerika Sado was allowed to leave for free as it was clear that he wouldn’t be good enough for the squad.

Tactics

This was the toughest thing for Cha Boom to decide, limited with what to go with due to the squads best positions and roles but it was decided that a 4-3-1-2 would be the way to start things off.

The tactic is kept simple due to the talent of the squad, the aim is to essentially play keep ball to frustrate opposition and when the time is right to work the ball into the box to get chances on goal. Not a massive fan of the ‘Carrilero’ or ‘Centre Midfield’ roles but Cha Boom can only work with what’s at his disposal.

Pre-Season Results

Pre-season is very long, 3 months in fact. The teams that are available to play are all local teams with their being no room to travel to play others who form Indonesian football, this caused pre-season to be quite repetitive in fact. The general performance was good but the only relatable team was PSPS who are in the same division as Tiga Naga, a win and a draw against them were decent results and stood in good stead at this point.

June 2021

This was it, the start of the league season and the beginning of Cha Boom’s quest to become a legend of Asian football management.

Well…erm…that was a painful start! The team got off to a flyer beating PSPS 4-1 with the attackers running riot. Striker Joko Sasongko got us off to a flyer before playmaker Niko Malau scored a brace before setting up striker Wisnu Nugroho to complete the rout. The losing streak started at league favourites Sedem Padang (2-0), the standard in talent was clear to see in that game but more of a fight was given vs. Sriwijaya FC losing 3-2 as the defence crumbled time and time again. Goals courtesy of defender Nazil Gifaldi Sanali & striker Saktiawan Sinaga.

Badak Lampung up next but again it was fairly straight forward for the opposition sweeping Cha Boom’s men aside 2-0. Safe to say a control possession tactic against the big teams was proving difficult as the team were getting ripped to shreds on counter attacks. Probably the most frustrating game was against Cilegon United, after equalising through Wisnu Nugroho, the team only go and let Cilegon score straight from the restart chasing a 2-1 loss – something that is of high annoyance when it happens!

A tough month and a tough start back in management for Cha Bum-Kun. Was it the tactic? Was Cha Boom being too nice after losses? Something had to change that’s for sure.

July 2021

I think we can all be in agreement that the less red the better this month as the boys needed to start getting consistent points on the board before falling away top 4 early.

It was definitely better and Cha Boom’s assertive team talk brought a 4-0 win vs. Muba Babel United. Wisnu Nurgroho & Joko Sasongko both grab braces and it was pleasing to see the strikers firing. Another run of 4 without a win followed however, the difference this month is they were not all losses! 0-0 draws with Persekat (the other semi-pro team) and Perserang were respectable but winning one of the games would have gone a long way. Issues going forward were now effecting us due to the constant reliance on the strikers.

A 1-0 loss vs. Persis Solo followed as the league high flyers dominated the game and the team struggled to keep hold of possession and then another draw came vs. PSKC (1-1) which was a better performance but it still wasn’t too convincing.

After reviewing the squad again and the tactic, it was clear trying to keep the ball against essentially better teams wasn’t doing us any favours. Cha Boom then came up with a new creation.

Back to old school vibes with a 4-4-2 in a counter attacking format. This should give some more options out wide, it’s very low risk which should suit the team. The strikers seem to love their headers so early crosses should allow the team to take advantage of that.

The new tactic got us going with a 2-0 win vs. PSMS. A much better performance from the boys and looked a lot more alive in the game. Both wingers were outstanding supplying Joko Sasongko & Saktiawan Sinaga with crosses for their respective goals. Indonesian Cup action to finish the month, playing league four side Persim. It was a 1-0 win for the Tiga Naga boys thanks to a Niko Malau free kick. It wasn’t the best performance but its good to advance to the 2nd round and to see where the cup takes us – as long as we don’t get any good teams in the draw!

A much better month for Cha Boom, who is very intrigued to see if the 4-4-2 tactic can get the team firing on a regular basis.

League Table

Let’s see where the team is placing at the half way point of the league season.

The pick up in points in July has the team sitting in 8th place which is above expectation. Cha Boom’s men are only 4 points off of 4th place which will be targeted, amazing how Persekat sit fourth even though they have drawn 7 games! 4th down to 10th is close points wise so hopefully results carry on in upward trend to see where it leads the mighty Tiga Naga.

What’s Next?

When part 2 arrives, essentially that will be the end of my stint in control of the save, will we make the play offs or will FirstEmperorLee have to endure a Liga 2 season as well?

Make sure you check out the other content creators on the links below;

FirstEmperorLee – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/emperor_fm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj5uNW6M8qoBpe5sLbu6N6w

OffTheBarFM – Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/offthebarfm – Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWTLmf7GIQMgraZxoanKQXg

SadPanda333 – Blog site: https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/

I will be back with the second part in a few days and hopefully it will be good news! Thanks for reading guys, I hope you’re enjoying the early ride aboard The Far East Express.

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