After short and unsuccessful stints with Bali United and Mitra Kukar, Sutanto Tan joined Persija for the 2016 Torabika Soccer Championship (TSC). He made the starting lineup for the opening match against Persipura in Jayapura, and played the full 90 minutes. Deemed underperformed on the match with ended 1-1, then coach, Paulo Camargo, decided to sideline Sutanto for the following matches.
Playing as attacking midfielder/ second striker under Camargo’s command did not run well for Sutanto. His performance was overshadowed by other offense-minded players such as Ade Jantra, Ambrizal Umanailo, and Ramdani Lestaluhu. After the first match, the ex Hougang United player only played in 7 games with only 240 minutes. In those period, he made one starting appearance and the other six were as substitutes.
During mid-season, Persija was casted by series of unfortunate events. Winless results in succession, caused by injury and disciplinary problems, which ultimately led to Camargo’s departure. But those events brought a blessing to Sutanto. Caretaker Jan Saragih rearranged Persija’s playing system, which later was applied as well by M. Zein Alhadad.
Saragih’s first match was against Mitra Kukar on Friday, August 5. Under a delicate situation from lack of players, he experimented by posting Sutanto on midfield, along with Amarzukih and Ade Jantra. The result was not too disappointing: a 1-1 draw. Sutanto played quite well in the match, and since then, his role and position were renewed, while his debut season was rejuvenated.
Sutanto gradually adapted to his new role and became team’s regular in the last 20 matches of the season. He made 16 appearances with 1.276 playing minutes and only absent in 4 matches due to 3 accumulated yellow card suspensions and fitness problem.
However, Sutanto still needs to improve his defensive attributes if he’d like to continue to play as central midfielder. Though his distribution stats is quite pleasing among Persija’s midfielders (second to Hong Soonhak in passes completed per match), his tackling quality is still poor. He made several late challenges, which led to bookings. Hence, his unsatisfactory yellow card records, which is also team’s third worst after Soonhak and William Pacheco.
Sutanto stays with Persija for the 2017 season. He must convince his quality to the newly appointed coach, Stefano Cugurra Teco. He has the shot to be called up to the U-23 Indonesian national team, for the Southeast Asian Games on August. To such a degree, the door to the senior national team is also opened for him.
Written by Pramuaji