2015/2/22 | Indonesia
It is confirmed that Consadole Sapporo of J2 will acquire Indonesian national player Irfan Bachdim from Ventforet Kofu J1. Irfan was transferred to Kofu club in 2014 and was the first Indonesian player to become a J.League player. He is a very popular player with 4 million followers on Twitter. Other than Japan, he has played in Netherlands and Thailand.
After Le Cong Vinh, the Vietnamese star player and Indonesian player Stefano, Irfan is the 3rd south east Asian player to be acquired by Sapporo. Since the players are very popular locally, in addition to being a valuable asset to the team, they are important for the marketing point of view as well.
For South East Asia, Hokkaido is popular as a travel destination not only because of the snow but also because of the food and various indigenous products. Hence for Sapporo, acquiring Irfan not only adds to the value of the team but also increases the exposure of its sponsors and the local government body to Indonesia that has a population of over 200 million.
Last year, Sapporo acquired Shinji Ono. In this off-season, it made an announcement of acquiring Inamoto, who is also a Golden age player like Shinji Ono. Though J2 has a limited budget, Sapporo is getting popular local and international players to increase is strength of the team, in preparation for promotion to J1.
Having said that, when Irfan was in Kofu team, he has only played one game each in Nabisco cup and Emperor’s cup but could not play in the J1 league matches. After transferring to Sapporo team, he will be in J2 and will also have many opportunities to play in the league matches.
At the same time, Gamba Osaka is also targeting the south East Asian market. This scenario will be seen more often henceforth. Since Indonesia has a very huge population, it will be the main focus of the J.League clubs.
This scenario can be compared to the cases of Kazuyoshi Miura, who was transferred to Serie A Genova when he was still not so popular, Hidetoshi Nakata of Perugia, and more recently Shinji Kagawa of Dortmund and Manchester United.
In any case, if these players play well in the league they will pave the way to many such success stories.
(Institute for Future Asian Football/Yomo)