Arsenal will travel to Indonesia for a friendly match this summer - and, as the picture above shows, it’s not a path untrodden by the Gunners.
Way back in 1983, Terry Neill was in charge of a side that took in a three-game tour of the south-east Asian country.
Starting out in Medan, on the island of Sumatra, they defeated local side VSP 3-0 before moving on to Jakarta, on Java, where July’s match will take place. There, they disposed of local side VSPSSI in even more comfortable fashion, winning 5-0 - but it was a different story when they headed to the eastern Javanese city of Surabaya.
"A packed house in the tree-lined, 30,000-capacity Stadium 10 November would be in raptures two hours later as the hosts stunned Arsenal 2-0"
In the picture above, David O’Leary exchanges pennants with the captain of NIAC Mitra - a young club that had only been formed four years previously. A packed house in the tree-lined, 30,000-capacity Stadium 10 November would be in raptures two hours later as the hosts stunned Arsenal with a 2-0 win.
Legendary Singaporean player Fandi Ahmad opened the scoring in the 37th minute, with Joko Malis making sure of things five minutes from time. The Gunners fielded a strong team, with the likes of O’Leary, Pat Jennings, Kenny Sansom, Brian Talbot, Alan Sunderland and Graham Rix all starting the game, but three matches in six days amid sweltering conditions - and on what, in Surabaya at least, seems to have been a parched pitch - appeared to take their toll.
The tour came on the back of a difficult season in which Arsenal had finished a disappointing 10th in Division One, but it clearly had some positive impact. The Gunners won their first two league matches of the 1983/84 season and, while Neill would be replaced by Don Howe just before Christmas, finished a more respectable sixth in the table.
The scenes captured here will doubtless stir memories when Arsenal arrive in Jakarta this July - very nearly 30 years to the day since their last visit.
NIAC Mitra can now be found playing as Mitra Kukar in the city of Tenggarong - in the region that we know as Borneo· Fandi Ahmad, who now runs his own academy, later became a coach for SSI Arsenal - the Gunners’ Soccer Schools partnership in Indonesia· One of Ahmad’s sons reportedly had a trial with the Gunners at the end of 2010
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