It is not the first time that Arsenal has visited Indonesia. The English Premier League giant’s first visit was in 1983 when it played friendly games against local soccer teams.
There was a match against Niac Mitra, a Galatama club, at the Gelora 10 Nopember stadium, in Surabaya, on June 16, 1983, in which the Gunners were defeated 2-0.
Former national team player Joko Malis was one of the players who managed to break through Arsenal’s defense. He scored a goal shortly before the end of the match while Fandi Ahmad scored the first goal at the 37th minute.
“With a high fighting spirit, the players performed optimally. Fandi Ahmad scored the first goal in the first half. In the second half, it was my turn to score the second goal,” Joko recalled as quoted by Kompas.com.
Joko said he scored the goal after Fandi, who managed to pass through two or three Arsenal players, passed the ball to him.
The time that the match was played -- 2 p.m. local time -- benefited Niac Mitra because Arsenal players had not had time to adapt to the hot weather in Surabaya. Referee Ruslan Hatta even gave a red card to one Arsenal player, Alan Sunderland.
Nevertheless, Joko said he was not so sure Indonesia’s success in the Surabaya of game 30 years ago could be repeated.
He said it would be very difficult for the Indonesia Dream Team to defeat the Gunners as it was a world-class soccer club and much more solid.
“Changes in players and coaches have often occurred over the last several years. Clubs, such as Persipura, are currently more solid than the national team,” he said. (fan/ebf)