Season Two Review
21 January 2022: We began season two by hiring two new staff members. A new HOYD - Alberto Toril joined, he was much better than the guy previously in his positions, and we also added a new Head Physio.
Spanish HOYD, Alberto Toril joined and looked like an incredible pickup considering the level of football in Indonesia.
1 February 2022: 13 new signings join the club as I had been approaching a lot of free agents prior to the end of season one. The two most notable additions were Cruz, a Colombian midfielder and Kim Jin-Sung a South Korean center back. They would take up two of our four foreign player positions in the squad.
20 February 2022: Signed 6’7” Kenny Athiu with 20 jumping reach! Remember the name...
12 March 2022: Lost Indonesian Super Cup against the league winners from last season, Persib 3-2. Cruz, our new ball winning midfielder, got sent off in the first half on debut, and Athiu scored on his debut with a powerful header.
2 April 2022: Started the Indonesian Premier League campaign with a 2-6 win against last season's champions. Athiu scored a double of headers and Beaza scored a hat-trick on debut. Cruz, who was sent off on his debut, scored a free kick. Baeza was a Chilean winger/striker who we signed on a free transfer. He made an instant impact after signing.
19 April 2022: Yeison Cruz (key CDM) injured for 5-6 weeks.
30 June 2022: We won all 3 AFC group stage games and qualified for the ASEAN Zone Semi Final against Malaysian side Selangor FC.
3 July 2022: Lost 1-0 against Persebaya. This was our first loss in 10 league games without defeat. Persebaya were one of our rivals, and they were let to lose a game this season. They appeared to be the team we would have to fight against this season as Persib appeared to have dopped off in quality from last season.
10 August 2022: Beat Malaysian side Selangor FC 3-1 to reach the ASEAN Zone Final, where we will play Hougang United from Singapore.
17 August 2022: Won the ASEAN Zone Final 3-0 against Hougang United. 16 year old striker Arbeta scored a hat-trick
1 September 2022: At this stage of the season things were going incredibly well in Indonesia. The board were very happy with my performance so far.
You don't often see an A+ board rating in FM, so I was delighted when I saw that beautiful neon green colour.
7 September 2022: Beat A-League side Sydney FC 3-2 to reach the AFC Cup Interzone Final. This was an incredible result. I really wasn't expected to do so well against an A-League side, that is clearly a much large club than PSM.
2 October 2022: I decided to throw my hat in the mix for a number of youth international team jobs, just to try and get some more experience and increase my global reputation. Luckily for me, one nation was willing to give me a chance. On this date I signed a contract and begun work as the Ghana Under-23 manager.
5 October 2022: Just three days after taking the Ghana role, PSM offered me a new 1 year contract. Without hesitation I signed on for another year, as I was enjoying life in Indonesia and wanted to continue to grow and see if we could win the league here with PSM.
We won the AFC Cup Interzone Playoff Final 7-1 against Istiqlol from Tajikistan. We will now play in the AFC Cup Grand Final against Uzbekistan side Lokomotiv Toshkent. This competition was quite confusing as I didn't know how many stages there were. But I learn that the game against Lokomotiv was actually the grand final. The winner of that match would qualify for the Asian Champions League.
15 October 2022: King Kenny Athiu (as we now call him) scored a hat-trick in the league, to reach 41 goals for the season in just 34 appearances!
22 October 2022: Lost first ever AFC Cup Final in the clubs history. 3-2 loss, but we did get 500k for reaching the final. Now we have to win the domestic league to qualify for the AFC Champions League. Lokomotiv proved to be too good for us, and the quality in their team saw them succeed.
29 October 2022: Loss 1-0 to the team top of the league, yes it was Persebaya again. They are now 5 points clear, but we have 2 games in hand which we must win. That was our first loss in 15 games in the league unbeaten which was tough to take, but we wouldn't give up until the league was over. Right now we still have a chance.
2 November 2022: Won the cup semi final 3-0 to progress 4-1 winners on aggregate, we will face Persik in the Final over two legs in December to try and regain our title from last season.
14 November 2022: The title race is heading down to the wire. Our rivals Persebaya are currently top, but we have three games in hand. We cannot afford to lose many more games if we want to win the league this season.
16 November 2022: Without our star striker Athiu, we struggled against 14th placed Borneo. We were 2-1 down and it looked like we were going to lose the game, but our midfielder Kambuaya rescued a point with a 92nd minute equaliser! Would that be the goal that potential keeps us in the title race?
18 November 2022: First game as Ghana U-23s boss. We played against Ivory Coast U-23s in the CAF U-23’s Championship Qualifier. We set up in a 4-2-4, similar to what I use at PSM. We lost the match 3-6, I quickly realised that tactic isn’t going to work for the players we have. We have terrible defenders, and we were far too open using that formation. Next game we will try a 4-3-3 DM.
We drew the next game 2-2, an improvement. Lots of work needed to be done with this young Ghana side.
23 November 2022: We just have 5 league games left to play. We are currently second in the league, but we have two games in hand. Win both and we go top. We just beat the current champions Persib 3-1, after they took a 1-0 lead. Athiu scored a brace and now has 33 league goals and 49 goals in all competitions this season.
The league table with just 5 games left to play - we still have a chance.
26 November 2022: Beat 4th placed Tira 4-1 to secure a top two finish. King Kenny scored all four goals and now has 53 goals this season!
30 November 2022: The next match was our final game in hand, we had the opportunity to go 1 point ahead of Persebaya and take the top spot in the league. The match was against 15th placed Persita, and we had a full strength side bar our suspended center back - Rifqi.
This season I was quite naive and only have two center backs in the squad. We have gotten away with it so far, but I think that was our undoing in this situation. I played Colombian midfielder Cruz at center back, and we were 1-0 down in the 15th minute. We pulled two goals back through Hariyadi and Beaza, but a later Persita free-kick meant we dropped points, and now we are 2nd in the league, 1 point behind Persebaya with 3 games left to play. We need them to drop points if we have any chance of winning the league now.
10 December 2022: After beating Persik 2-0 away in the first leg of the Indonesian Cup Final, we were confident facing them at home, especially as reigning champions of the competition. King Kenny Athiu made sure it was his name in the headlines as he scored a hat-trick to give us a 5-0 lead on aggregate. Persik fought back with two late goals, but it wasn’t enough and we were crowned Indonesian Cup winners for the second season in a row. Now we turned our focus to the final two league games of the season, desperate to claim a domestic double.
The players celebrated winning the Indonesian Cup for the second year in a row!
18 December 2022: It is the final day of the season and we are 2nd in the league, just one point behind Persebaya. The winner of the league qualifies for the AFC Champions League group stage. We play against 6th placed Bhayangkara at their ground and Persebaya play 15th placed Persita at their ground. It is unlikely we will win the league now, but it is still possible.
We set up with our strongest possible team (bar our injured left back), in our 4-2-4 formation that had been so successful this year. However, just five minutes into the game we were 1-0 down. Numberi scored a great strike. Just ten minutes later we were 2-0 down, and it felt like our whole season was over already. Although Persebaya were still drawing 0-0, so if we could put it back we had a chance. Our full back bombed forward and scored in the 19th minute to get us back in the match, and Kenny Athiu scored right before half-time to make the scores even 2-2, with his 59th goal of the season in all competitions. Going into the second half we just needed one goal, and we would be league champions (if Persebaya’s game stayed 0-0). But, we conceded just two minutes into the second half, and our hopes were shattered when Persebaya went 1-0 up. To make things worse we conceded again, and lost the final game of the season 4-2. Persebaya won 1-0 and were crowned Indonesian Premier League champions. Our goalkeeper Syah had performed so well all season, but in the final match he was terrible - he had a 5.9 rating. It was a gut wrenching way to end the season.
At the end of season two of my GOAT Challenge, we finished 2nd in the Indonesian Premier League, were Indonesian Cup winners, and runner up in the AFC Cup Final. Persabaya deserved the league title, losing only one league game the entire season. We finished on 81 points, four points behind Persebaya. However, a real positive from the season was our +54 goal differential, which was +14 better then Persebayas. If we are at PSM next season, I am confident that we can improve again, and go one step further to finally win the league title.
We had a number of standout performers this season. Rizky Eka was one of our best wingers and over the course of the season racked in an incredible 27 assists. He was awarded Young Player of the Season in our club, and at 22 I am sure he will continue to grow and do well for our side.
Febri Hariyadi came in half way through the season as a free transfer, and claimed the right wing position quickly as his own. In 27 appearances he scored 9 goals and assisted 12 goals in all contributions. A current Indonesian international with 24 caps, he will also be an important member of the side as we move forward.
Yeison Cruz was one of my foreign players that I signed on a free transfer at the beginning of the season. The 21 year old Colombian had a tough start in Indonesia, with 2 red cards in his first appearances. But once he had settled in and eased his obvious anxiety/excitement to be at PSM, he became one of our most consistent performers. He ended the season with 38 appearances, 6 goals and 16 assists. He is now rated 4 and a half stars and I believe he will get even better next season.
Kim Jin-Sung was without a doubt our best defender this season. The South Korean joined from Madura United and was a formidable force at the back. He started 46 games and was consistent throughout, averaging a 7.40 in the league, and a 7.43 across all competitions. Next season I will look to sign another center back to match his level, as at times he looked isolated at the back this season.
Arbeta Kruniangung was a young player who I backed right from the moment we signed him. £100k looked like a lot to be spending on a 16 year old at the time, but I think he more than exceeded expectations and his price tag. He scored 25 goals in all competitions this season (for some reason the AFC Cup games are not showing in the end of season stats). Not only has he been a bagsman but he created a lot of opportunities for others too, with 11 assists this season. At just 17 years of age now, he could go on to achieve great things for Indonesia. His 16 finishing is his key attribute, and I know that will only get better and he grows into a more mature player.
The star of our season, and there are no two ways about it, was Mr King Kenny Athiu. He would have been called Sir King Kenny Athiu, but we didn’t win the league title, so I think Mr is more appropriate. However, this South Sudinese monster absolutely tore the Indonesian League to shreds. He scored 40 goals in his 28 league appearances, setting a record in the competition. He scored 59 goals across all comps, and was called up to his international side numerous times scoring for them twice as well this season. He is 6 foot 7 inches tall, and with 19 jumping reach now, he was just unplayable for most of the Indonesian defenders. He was an absolute machine, and next season I intend on keeping my attacking partnership of King Kenny and Arbeta and looking to strengthen other areas of the team.
Four of our players were named in the Indonesian Premier League Team of the Year: Right Back - Maulana, Kim Jin-Sung, Cruz and Athiu.
Personally, I was delighted to win Best Coach of the Year for the 2022 season, as well as pick up a Coach of the Month Award in May. One disappointment this season has been the board's unwillingness to allow me to complete any coaching badges. They won’t let me do any as they are afraid I will move to another team. This could be their downfall. I am tempted to leave. I know we are building something special at PSM, but I wouldn’t say no if a bigger job came up, especially if they are allowing me to complete coaching badges.
In other news - the FIFA World Cup took place this season in December (Summer World Cup in Qatar). Much to my disbelief, it was USA against England in the Final. The game ended 0-0, England were the side who created far more chances, although USA kept the ball better. The game went to penalties, Phil Foden and Declan Rice missed for England, and De la Fuente scored the winner for the USA. So the United States of America are the 2022 FIFA World Cup winners! For the first time in the nation's history. An incredible day.
26 December 2022: I was approached by two different International teams. Both from Africa, and both with some really excited players that I could potentially work with.
The first job offer was from Ivory Coast. They are currently ranked 41st in the world and have players such as Zaha, Kessie, Eric Bailly and Nicolas Pepe, just to name a few.
The other job offer was from Nigeria. They are currently ranked 17th (much to my surprise!) They have players such as Osimhen, Ndidi, Onyeka and Ihaenacho, just to name some of their best players.
In the end it was quite an easy choice, I decided to go with the higher ranked nation, and so I signed terms with my first senior international team - Nigeria.
The Nigerian FA expects me to win the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in June 2022. I was delighted to see that expectation, as that is one of the trophies I am aiming to win in this challenge. I am really excited to manage this talented Nigerian team, and I am hopeful that we can win our first major international trophy. They had a perfect qualifying campaign winning all six of their games against Gabon, Sierra Leone and Botswana.
Until next time, thanks for reading!