Mitra Kukar – Club 1 – Season 5 – Update 5
After my last update we head into our final few games with Mitra Kukar as we look to tie up the league title and go out with a bang!
We started off with another comfortable win over Makassar, however our attention was focused on our next two games as we played Bandung and Tira, second and third in the season. First up we travelled to Bandung as we aimed to completely knock them out of the title race. And it started well with another towering header from Aryanto half way through the first half, but an equaliser from Bandung on 64 minutes made for a nervy finish. An just when we thought that we had secured a decent point, Bandung snuck in a last gasp goal to snatch the 3 points.
That result gave Tira the chance to close the gap at the top before we played them in a crucial title deciding game. Additionally, Tira payed an extra game during the week due to them being involved in the upcoming cup final, so entered the game just 1 point behind us (although they had played an extra game). Apart from the game against Tira, I feel that the rest of our run-in is very straightforward so this game is absolutely huge.
The game against Tira was a very tight affair as you would expect with both defences seeming to come out on top, however it was our defence that manged to finally break the deadlock as Aryanto nodded down from a corner for his centre back partner, Sukmana, to poke home at the back post. That turned out to be the only goal of the game and we secured all three points, which I felt probably won us the league. We left the game with a 4 point lead over Tira who had 4 games to play, whereas we still had a game in hand.
Our game in hand turned out to be a demolition job as we tore Madura United apart scoring 5 goals, including 2 late strikes from Sulaiman, which meant we moved 7 points clear at the top of the league. Surely we couldn’t throw it away from here with just 4 games to play?
We followed on from our victory over Madura in fine style again as we face Pusamania Borneo on a crucial weekend. We fell behind just before the break despite being the most dominate side, however Rudi scored two quick goals on 63 and 68 to kick off a crazy final 20 minutes. Borneo drew level on 73 minutes whilst at the same time Tira conceded in their fixture meaning that if we could find a winner we would be crowed champions!
We rung the changes and pushed for a winner in the final 10 minutes and finally secured the three points as we hit top gear in the final 3 minutes with Rudi completing his hat-trick on 87, before goals from Ramdan and Sulaiman finished the scoring.
That result, combined with Tira being unable to find a winner in their game meant that we had won the league as we led by 9 points with 3 to play, and we had a superior head-to-head against Tira this season (drawing 1-1 earlier in the year and recently winning 1-0)!
We had done it! What a final season this had been for me and the club, I couldn’t be more proud of what we have managed to achieve here – however I will go into this in more detail tomorrow as I will have a full overview of my time with Mitra Kukar.
Following us officially winning the title I felt it was the right time for me to announce that I would be leaving at the end of the season, so that I could get a proper send-off from the fans in our final 3 games.
Understandably, both the board and fans we dismayed at my decision, however my ambitions lie higher than winner the Indonesian Shopee Liga 1!
Unfortunately, we couldn’t quite finish the season as I would have wanted as we won our remaining away games, before rounding off the season with a bore 0-0 draw in my final ever game in charge. Ironic really when you consider how few of these there have been during my time here!
And just to confirm, here is the final league table when all has been said and done:
Overall, a very good season from everyone involved. I can’t speak highly enough of Rudi and Ahmad this year, both scoring over 20 goals which is incredible, as well as Aryanto being our 3rd highest scorer from the centre of defence! Sulaiman has also had a much better season this time around and has managed to score 9 goals from just 11 starts. On the right wing, I have been impressed with both players, Talipudin and Erliandry, who have both produced a fair even number of goals and assists per start (Talipudin 4 goals, 14 assists in 32 starts and Erliandry 2 goals, 7 assists from 16 starts).
The runaway fans player of the year this season is Ahmad with 52% of the vote, and he also picked up league player of the season as well as top scorer as well.
Overall, I am obviously delighted to have won my first title as a manager and feel that it is now the perfect time to leave Mitra Kukar in search of a new challenge. I am definitely going to miss this incredible team we have built over the 5 season I have been here, but I have no doubt that they will continue to challenge at the top after I have left.
*Join me tomorrow as I have a reflective overview of my time at Mitra Kukar. I will also be selecting my two favourite players from every team that I manage and making an overall squad by the end of the challenge. Let me know who you would select as your two best Mitra Kukar players from my time here. Thanks for your support!*