Thursday, September 17, 2009


Arema Malang sprung a surprise on Saturday when it named Dutchman Robert Rene Alberts as its new coach.

As of Friday, only two foreign names were known to be in the running to succeed Gusnul Yakin as coach — former Indonesian national team coach Ivan Kolev of Bulgaria and Miroslav Janu of the Czech Republic, who coached Arema in 2006-07.

The leading candidate was reportedly local coach Suharno, formerly of Persiwa Wamena.

After a lengthy debate, though, Alberts emerged as the new man in charge.

“[Alberts’] vast experience, especially with youth development, was the main reason behind our decision to choose him,” Muhammad Nur, the Arema Malang Foundation chairman, said on Sunday.

“We want to build a club for the future, not just survive in the [Indonesian] Super League this season. So we’ll need more young players on the squad. We believe that Alberts has the capabilities to lead those youngsters to achieve something this season, and bond them together to make a great Arema team in the years to come.”

Alberts, 55, may not be a familiar name to Indonesian football fans, but he has more than 17 years of experience around Asia. He started his coaching career in 1992 with the Malaysian side Kedah FA, before leading Home United and Tiong Bahru, now Tanjong Pagar, in Singapore’s S-League.

He was appointed as the South Korea Football Association director of coaching in 2002 and also managed its under-17 national team.

He returned to Malaysia and coached its U-19 team, while also serving as the Malaysian Football Association’s technical director from 2005 to 2008.

His last post was at the helm of Malaysian club Serawak FA, which finished 12th in the second division last season.

Alberts is scheduled to arrive in Malang, East Java, on Thursday. He will be the club’s second Dutch coach after Henk Wullems, who led the side during the 2003-04 season.

Arema has yet to win a first-division league title in its 22 years of existence, though it did win the Copa Indonesia in 2005 and 2006 under the guidance of Benny Dollo, the current Indonesian national team coach.

“This season, we just want [Alberts] to take the club to a higher level than last season’s 10th place,” Nur said. “We think a top four finish is a realistic target for the club.”

Club manager Rendra Kresna said Alberts would start work immediately as Arema has yet to form a squad list for next season.

“We hope by the end of August we will have a definitive squad list for next season,” Rendra said.

Arema received a boost on Monday as national team goalkeeper Markus Horison, who had been without a team after his contract with relegated PSMS Medan expired, said he would play for the East Java club.

“I’m going to Malang on Wednesday to finalize the deal,” Markus said.

The deal, on which Arema officials declined to comment, is reportedly worth around Rp 750 million ($75,000) a year.