Mitra Kukar – Club 1 – Season 3 – Update 4
We come into today’s update on the back of an 18 match unbeaten run in the league, and with just 6 games of the season to go we are just 2 points off second place and 4 points off top – can we secure our first league title as a manager?
First up we were playing mid table Makassar at home and following our amazing run I was confident that we would be able to pick up another 3 point – how wrong I was! We went 1-0 down to an 11th minute penalty and then two quickfire goals in the 33rd and 34th minutes effectively put us out of the game. We were very poor throughout, barely creating a chance until Fadhilla managed to grab a consolation goal in the 91st minute. I know this is just one game, but I am already a bit nervous that my team does not have the mental strength to keep winning and really put the pressure on the top two…
Before the next game occurred I received the below message (one of my favourite graphics in football manager) which showed us how we compared to our title rivals. From the looks of the fixtures, Tira had the easiest run-in, followed by us and then Putra who were the only team to play more than one top half team in their remaining games.
Our defeat last time out had left us with ground to make up, and this was not helped as just before the game our best player this season, Talipudin, picked up an injury in training and was likely to miss most if not all of our remaining games.
Luckily our attacking flair did not seem to be weakened by his absence and we managed to find ourselves 3-1 up just after half time against Persib Bandung. However, our defensive fragility reared its ugly head once again as we conceded from two corners, including a 95th minute equaliser. Needless to say I was not happy, although we did have a glimmer of hope as second place Putra lost their game, meaning we closed the gap to 4 points with 4 games to go.
The next game was just as disappointing as we could only muster a point at home to relegation threatened Persib Balikpapan. We now find ourselves 6 points off 2nd with just two games to go. Effectively we have to win our remaining 3 games and hope that Putra also drop points to have any chance of a top 2 finish. To make things worse, our right back is also now injured for the rest of the year.
Next up we faced off against Bhayangkara FC, another mid table team with nothing to play for, however they looked like world cup winners compared to us in the first half and we were counting our lucky stars when we went into half time at 0-0. We did manage to improve in the second half and some late changes made all the difference as Sulaiman gave us the lead with 15 minutes left to play. A couple more late goals from Al-Ayyubi (85) and Sena (93) with his first goal for the club rounding off a great result.
To make things even better, Putra had lost their game meaning we were only 3 points behind and we play them next! (It is also important to note that teams are sorted on head-to-head rather than goal difference in this league so we had to win!)
The week leading up to the game started well as I received news that Talipudin would likely be fit enough to play at least 45 minutes in the game, however it ended in the worst possible way as our goalkeeper, Stojanovic, who has been so good this year also picked up an injury, meaning he would miss the last 2 games of the season.
The injury to our keeper was worsened as our only other right back was suspended for the game meaning we had to play a centre back there instead (due to the injury our right back had sustained a few weeks ago). And we got off the worst possible start, conceding after 14 minutes and then having yet another injury, this time to our left winger. We were extremely poor throughout the game and you could see that Putra wanted it more so when they got their deserved reward on 72 minutes I was not surprised. Fadhilla scored off the bench again on 85 to give us some hope but we couldn’t find anything else in the last 5 minutes and slipped to yet another defeat.
The defeat means we now cannot finish in the top two which is very disappointing. Our final game was against already relegated PSS Sleman who we could only muster a pathetic 1-1 draw against.
Amazing, we finish the season level with 3 other teams on 57 points and end up in 4th place. Considering our unbeaten run I am a little disappointed to not finish a bit higher, especially knowing 2 more wins would have put us in second place.
Not what we had hoped for after our amazing run, but our young team just didn’t seem to have the experience to pick themselves up when it mattered the most and we crumbled to an undeserved 4th place.
The board have offered me a new deal as mine is due to expire, and to be honest after that heart-breaking end to the season I thought about quitting and finding a new challenge, but how can I leave when we got so close to our goal? I have built this team into title challengers and I should be the one to take it where it belongs – the Champions League!
My new contract is a 2 year deal, however I will lay out my future plans now:
*My next update will be an overview of the season, as well as transfer ahead of the new season as we seek to push for the title next year! Thanks for your support and apologies that we couldn’t get the finish we all wanted!*
- If we don’t qualify for continental football this season, then I will resign and find a new job. I don’t see us being able to challenge much in the competition even if we do get there so I don’t see much point in hanging around if we aren’t making much progress.
- If we do qualify then I will see out my contract and lead the team into the Champions League for the first time before moving onto a new challenge!