Mitra Kukar FC – Club 1 - Season 2 – Update 2
After taking the reigns at the back end of the 2019 season, I didn’t give Mitra Kukar the introduction they deserved as I wasn’t sure if I would retain my job if I failed to provide promotion. From some basic research about Indonesian football it seems that their fans are highly regarded as some of the most passionate in the world, however this can often boil over into violence when things don’t go their way. That being said, I wasn’t keen on the idea of being attacked by an angry mob if I managed to screw up the end of the season. However, given our successful promotion I feel like now is a good time to introduce you to the club and the squad, particularly now that I have had a chance to put my stamp on things.
Mitra Kukar – A background
Mitra Kukar were founded in 1978 and are based in Tenggarong which is on the East side of Indonesia's main island, Borneo. The club has a decent history for its young age, winning the top league in Indonesia 3 times (mostly recently in 1988) before the league was restructured in the early 2000’s. Their most recent success was finishing 3rd in the Shopee Liga 1 in 2013, however relegation to the second division followed in 2018.
The club plays their home games at ‘Aji Imbut’ which hold 35,000 supporters, although our average attendance last year was between 2,500 and 3,000 fans so there is definitely some growing room! The stadium is absolutely beautiful, however unfortunately there isn't many good pictures on the internet – feel free to go and check it out for yourself on google earth!
Preseason and Transfers
Despite the 4 month break, preseason flew by in a hectic storm with players and staff coming and going on a regular basis. I made a consious effort to imporve our staff in all areas given that my manager profile was almost as good as the backroom staff when I joined (and I had 1 in almost all of my attributes!). We now have the 4th best backroom setup in the league and my scouts have managed to find a few gems as you will see below.
Player transfers followed in a similar vein with some big names joining the club during the offseason. I’m sure we will meet the majority of the key players over the course of the season, however I will highlight a few now.
Our new highest paid player (currently earning £1.3k per week) at the tender age of 39 is our new striker Beto - an Indonesian international!! (despite being born in Brazil as he has been living in the country for over 5 years). I would never normally go out and buy older players as they very rarely work out for me, however I felt that I couldn’t pass this opportunity by given that Beto was the top scorer in the Shopee Liga 1 last season. Hopefully he can repeat his return of goals for us again!
As I mentioned in my last update, we now have 4 foregin player spots to fill in our squad. I felt that these places needed to be located in some key areas for us were I couldn’t find any decent Indonesian players so I targetted striker, left and right wing and center back.
The players that I have brought in are as follows:
Leandro Rodriguez - Left winger from Argentina who is already the favourite for the league player of the season and looksvery good
Talipudin - a new right winger from Brunei. Right wing seemed to be a big weakness for us last season so I am hoping that he can perform well in this role.
Sulaiman – Our new number 1 striker from Malaysia and is one of the favourites to be the league top scorer this season. I am very excited to see him in action.
Halim – Also from Malaysia, our new center back who should hopefully provide a solid base to build on
As you can see there are of course may other transfers we have made (14 in total) however the majority of these are for squad depth and I do not see them getting much game time. Maybe the only other players to note are Murdinato - our new number 1 between the sticks, Fakdawer (or Dominggus as I like to call him) – our other center back and Antara – our new right back.
I am going to continue to play the standard 4-4-2 at the start of this season – given that it got us promoted. Usually I would play with overlapping fullbacks wherever possible, but I can seem to find any good attacking fullbacks so instead I have opted to play with a flat back 4 in the hope of being defensively solid.
Defensive wingers also seem to be the norm in Indonesia so I have been playing around with the balance of one defensive winger and one attacking winger in preseason.
The two boys in the middle are both on attacking duties as I am hoping they will be able to provide some forward runs to support the strikers, given we only have one attacking winger.
I expect this may change over the season, but this is what we will be starting the season with.
Overall, I am delighted by our business during the winter break and it appears that I am backed by the pundits who have predicted us to finish in 12th place (out of 18) despite being newly promoted. Obviously the first goal this season is to avoid being relegated, however with some of these additional I believe we could easily obtain a top half finish as well as progressing far in the national cup competition, Piala Indonesia, which offers a spot in the AFC Asia Cup – the second tier continental competition in Asia.
*In my next update I will bring you the first few games of our maiden season in the Shopee Liga 1 as we battle some of the biggest teams in the country! I hope you all enjoyed and as always thank you for your support, particularly Tango, Justice, ScottT, FMBlake and Griffo for your comments on my last post!*