Arema confirms its inclusion in Champions League

Indonesian Premier League club, Arema Malang of East Java province, has confirmed its place in the 2007/08 Asian Champions League by winning the 2006 Indonesia Cup 2-0 over Persipura Jayapura of Papua province at Gelora Delta Sidoarjo stadium last Saturday. Their victory was completed with Aries Budi Prasetyo voted best player and Emaleu Sergei top scorer.

Ironically, both clubs qualified for the 2006/07 Champions League but were expelled from the competition by the Asian Football Confederation when the Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) did not submit documentation by deadline. Persipura had won the Premier League (Liga Djarum) grand final and Arema was the Copa Dji Sam Soe champion. While Persipura seemed resigned to its fate, Arema demanded that the PSSI board resign and sought automatic inclusion for the 2007 edition of the AFC event as they could prove they had sent their documentation to PSSI in time. PSSI confirmed its agreement for Arema's automatic inclusion by letter on 25 March.

Although Arema has qualified with back-to-back cup victories, manager Benny Dollo admits that leading Asian teams may be "three or four times better" than Indonesian teams. ”We will face odds in the Asia Championship,” he said. “We need a big spirit against those big teams. Without hard work, we will be easy to beat. Performing in that competition will be my player’s test case."

See also: Indonesia's Arema promised 07 Champions League (21 Apr)