Bali United’s Stefano Cugurra Prepares for long wait for title defence

For Bali United manager Stefano Cugurra, the wait for Indonesia’s Liga 1 to resume has already been a long one – the last match was March 15 – and the wait is set to go on until at least February 2021 with the announcement of another postponement.

Players want to play and managers want to manage, and with no games, the job of the manager gets harder. For Cugurra, this means regular meetings with his players to manage their mindset as well as their fitness as the wait goes on.

Stefano Cugurra Staying In Bali

Coach Teco, as the Brazilian is called, has decided to stay in Bali with his wife and children as he awaits the leagues resumption, telling baliutd.com “I am still with my wife and children in Bali. I did not move our family to the USA or Brazil because it is better to be in Bali. I am still worried about the current pandemic situation. I am afraid that travel on planes will be stopped while I am away. It is better to be in Bali. with my wife and two children.”

Stefano Cugurra awaits the resumption of the 2020 Liga 1 season (image courtesy Bali United)
Stefano Cugurra awaits the resumption of the 2020 Liga 1 season (image courtesy Bali United)

Pandemic Wreaks Havoc On Title Defence

The pandemic has also wreaked havoc on the champions title defence, as midfield enforcer Paulo Sergio requested to have his contract with the club terminated to enable him to return home to his family in Portugal, a request that was granted by the club.

And while the teams early performances in the AFC Cup have been poor, the Indonesian outfit still had the potential to advance from their group, before the cancellation of the Europa League equivalent of the Asian continental competition.

Indonesian Liga 1 Restart Will Be Difficult To Manage

If and when the Indonesian Liga 1 season resumes, potentially in February 2021, it will be 11 months since any players kicked a ball in competition, a situation which makes it difficult for Teco to plan for.

However, the experienced manager who won the Liga 1 title with Persija Jakarta in 2018 before moving to Bali United and delivering another title in 2019, understands the intricacies of managing in Indonesia, having first worked as a conditioning coach with Persebaya Surabaya in 2004.

This background on what is needed to keep players occupied off the pitch and firing in tropical conditions while also dealing with PSSI bureaucracy gives Teco an advantage over other managers in the division.

“Yes, regarding the continuation of this year’s League 1, we have received information from the PSSI that we will resume in February. We know that the players will without official competition due to the pandemic for at least 11 months, as March 15 is the last time Bali United played. Hopefully we will be back on the pitch early next year.”

“Physical trainers also continue to provide training programs to maintain the physical fitness of the players. This is done to maintain their physical condition for when they come back together with the team in Bali,” concluded Coach Teco.

After orchestrating Persija Jakarta’s first title in 17 years in 2018, in a season where the traditional powerhouse did the League and Cup double, before masterminding Bali United’s historic first-ever title, Cugurra is better placed than most managers to navigate the challenges the eventual restart will bring.

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