Spasojević's hat-trick fires Bhayangkara to Liga 1 title, but celebrations put on hold

Goal / Abi Yazid
Ilija Spasojević's hat-trick helped his side secure their top spot in Indonesia's Liga 1, but they now must wait for confirmation by the organiser.

BY        ZULHILMI ZAINAL       Follow on Twitter

Bhayangkara FC are set to become Indonesia's inaugural Liga 1 champions, following their 3-1 away win over Madura United on Wednesday.

All three of the Guardians' goals in the match were scored by former Melaka United striker and recently naturalised Indonesian citizen; Ilija Spasojević.

The win means Bhayangkara are first on 68 points with one league round remaining. Although second-placed Bali United, currently with 65 points, can still close the gap in the final round if they won and Bhayangkara lost, the tie-breaker; head-to-head records between the two sides are in the Guardians' favour.

However, celebrations and official confirmation for the title win has been put on hold following several controversies. In their previous match last week, Bhayangkara had been held to a 1-1 draw by Mitra Kukar at Stadion Aji Imbut, denting in their title hopes. But just a few days later, the league committee penalised the homeside for fielding a supposedly ineligible player in the match; former Liverpool and Juventus midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, and the Guardians were handed a 3-0 win. Mitra Kukar hit back at the punishment and appealed the punishment, claiming that they had not been notified of Sissoko's suspension.

"Not yet (Bhayangkara are confirmed league champions). We still await Mitra's appeal," league COO Tigorshalom Boboy told Goal Indonesia.

The match between Madura United and Bhayangkara too were fraught with controversies. The home side finished the match with only eight players, as three Madura players were sent off by the referee. Madura too were reportedly made to host the clash in an empty stadium.

Accusations were made by fans and those involved in the league that the decisions were made to favour Bhayangkara, a club that are 85%-owned by the Indonesian National Police.

The 2017 Liga 1 is the first season of domestic football in Indonesia, after the suspension that had been handed to the Indonesian FA by FIFA was lifted last year.