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Aleks Vrteski playing the waiting game as frustrations build in Indonesia

Aleks Vrteski playing the waiting game as frustrations build in Indonesia

The Perth-born custodian must kick his heels as he and scores of Indonesia-based players wait for an announcement on the start date for the new domestic top-flight competition Indonesia   By WILLIAM VALLELY

When Australian goalkeeper Aleks Vrteski signed for one of Indonesia's biggest clubs in November 2011, even he would not have envisaged the political turmoil currently engulfing the nation's domestic football leagues.

Vrteski joined Persija from former Indonesia Super League club Solo FC and had some idea of the uncertainty surrounding the local game, with two 'top-flight' rival leagues running concurrently.

But he had spent just one season playing in the Indonesian Premier League with Persija Jakarta - helping the side finish fifth - when the game's governing body in Indonesia - the PSSI - proposed a merger of the two domestic leagues; the Fifa-recognised IPL and the rebel ISL.

Talks between the two leagues and their associate clubs began in earnest in July - the same month the 2011-12 IPL season ended.

But Vrteski sees no sign of a resolution in time for proposed start of the new top-flight season in December: "There have been rumours that the leagues will start in November, but negotiations are still taking place and they think the league will start in January," he told

Vrteski - one of several Australian players in both leagues - said players in Indonesia are struggling with the uncertainty of the situation, and some have decided to move on.   

"It is a little bit frustrating, you are training to try and keep yourself fit, but you don't know what is going on," he said.

"I've had a couple of offers from other clubs in Indonesia but they are in similar situations so it's difficult to decide what to do."

The 24-year-old, who spent two separate spells at hometown club Perth Glory earlier in his career, said he had also received interest from clubs in Thailand and Singapore, but is determined to see out the two-year contract he signed with the Jakarta side.

"I've had a couple of offers from other clubs in Indonesia but they are in similar situations so it's difficult to decide what to do."

- Aleks Vrteski as the PSSI struggles to unite the two top flights.

"At the end of the day it makes you feel like a real footballer, playing in front of 30- or 40,000 people," he said.

"I'm enjoying the lifestyle, the people and the culture. Regardless of what city you go to you get welcomed warmly. It's just the uncertainty at the moment that is frustrating."

Football-mad Jakarta is in a state of flux, with fans disappointed and frustrated that the politics of the leagues is preventing them from seeing their beloved players.

Vrteski explains there is a residual resentment from some of the fans in Indonesia, who are disappointed at the continual re-branding and reforming of clubs.

When the leagues split, so did many clubs, meaning the merger of the two top flights may result in affecting the identity and status of many teams.

"The fans are disappointed, at the end of the day the proposals [shifting teams into different leagues and re-branding] are like saying if Barcelona was to have a new Barcelona, there would be chaos," he said. 

Training has been the only outlet for Vrteski and his team-mates as they attempt to prepare for the new season - whenever that may be.

With club and league officials at loggerheads and increasing pressure from the terraces, clubs like Persija are faced with the challenge of preparing its players for a season that could start tomorrow or in a few months time.

Vrteski said coaches had great difficulty in conditioning players as they know as much - or as little - as the players.

"The club has organised a few games in November but when you prepare yourself you prepare yourself for a whole season so it's difficult," he said.  

Despite the state of uncertainty, Vrteski still finds time for humour, joking the proposed games in November would feel more like exhibition matches than competitive fixtures.

Quizzed on a potential return to the A-League, Vrteski revealed he had received an offer from an unnamed A-League club at the end of the 2011-12 season, but the opportunity was not comparable to his current position in Indonesia.

"If the opportunity was right, I would love to come back to Australia and fight for the No.1 jersey," he said.

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