Previous
Crystal Palace
Wolverhampton Wanderers
6:00 AM UTC
Game Details
West Ham United
Manchester United
6:00 AM UTC
Game Details
Arsenal
Aston Villa
8:30 AM UTC
Game Details
Chelsea
Liverpool
8:30 AM UTC
Game Details
Next
IndiaIndia
TajikistanTajikistan
2
4
FT
Game Details
JapanJapan
QatarQatar
1
3
FT
Game Details
QatarQatar
United Arab EmiratesUnited Arab Emirates
4
0
FT
Game Details
IranIran
JapanJapan
0
3
FT
Game Details
 By John Duerden

Peter Odemwingie shines in Indonesia as Zokora and Carlton Cole flop

Peter Odemwingie of Madura United
Madura United's Peter Odemwingie has been the best big-name import in Indonesia this season.

The Indonesian Liga 1 season is one third of the way through, with Robert Alberts' PSM Makassar holding a one-point lead from Madura United, for whom Nigerian import Peter Odemwingie has been a revelation.

The official return of professional football in Southeast Asia's largest nation in 2017 after the year-long FIFA ban has brought many talking points.

At the top of the list is the form and fortunes of several high-profile imports whose performances have been less than consistent in the twilight of their careers.

Here are the ESPN FC grades so far:

Peter Odemwingie (A)

There are few imports in the whole of Asia, never mind Indonesia, who have made such an impact in such a short time as this well-travelled winger. The news Odemwingie was coming to Java was widely reported, but was overshadowed by the arrival of his former African rival Michael Essien.

⚽ ��

A post shared by Peter Osaze Odemwingie (@peterodemwingie11) on

The former West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City winger sits on top of the scoring charts, thanks to nine goals in just nine starts.

As well as the quantity, the quality has impressed. There have been all kinds of strikes -- spectacular rockets, smart finishes, clean headers. He is not hanging around the penalty spot waiting for service, the 35-year-old pops up all over the pitch, and has also created a few for others.

It has even led to the coach insisting that his team are not over-reliant on Odemwingie. Such words are music to the ears of high-profile imports.

The man, who earned 63 international caps, has played a major part in Madura United's rise to second spot, just a point behind PSM.

Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko
Ex-Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko, right, has been good value for Indonesia's Mitra Kukar this season.

Mohamed Sissoko (B+)

Sissoko has quietly settled in to Indonesian life, chatting to local journalists about how comfortable he finds Ramadan in the country.

He is adapting to life on the other side of the white line with similar ease.

After missing the first game of the season with Mitra Kukar, the Malian midfielder has played all 900 minutes of the subsequent 10 games. He has become an integral part of the engine room, and is bringing leadership, too.

His arrival in East Kalimantan sparked a good run of form for the team. Only two games of the subsequent 10 ended in defeat. Mitra have climbed into seventh, and are just five points off top spot.

Four goals from the former Liverpool and Juventus star have made a difference, and he is arriving late in the penalty area on an increasing basis. He is playing with a greater authority and developing an understanding with his teammates.

Shane Smeltz (C+)

The league is proud that it has a player currently in action in the Confederations Cup in Russia. "Good luck Smeltzy!" said Borneo on social media and there has been plenty of coverage given to his fortunes in Russia.

The 35-year-old, who moved from Wellington Phoenix in the A-League, had a successful stint in Malaysia last year, and usually provides a decent goal return anywhere he goes. He has yet to really get going in Indonesia, but two goals in five starts is not bad.

However, Smeltz still needs time to get on the same wavelength as his teammates. The Kiwi is not as mobile as he once was, and benefits if the supply is there.

The trip to Russia has halted the slowly building momentum, but there have been enough signs that the goal threat will be there for the rest of the season.

Michael Essien ( C-)

The former Chelsea and Real Madrid midfielder is the biggest name playing in Southeast Asia. Essien's arrival was big news, given the stellar career and major titles won in the big leagues of Europe.

At times, there have been flashes of the Ghanaian in his prime: a through pass here, and a flash of vision there to remind of the world-class talent that shone on the biggest stages in the previous decade.

Yet, he has not produced the goods on a consistent basis. It took until June when he even managed to complete a full 90 minutes.

The nadir came with a missed penalty in May that he was not supposed to take, drawing the ire of the team manager as it was blasted over the bar. A late equaliser from the opposition just made it worse.

It has been an average season so far. For such a big signing and famous player, that is not quite enough.

One of the best midfielder my bro mickael essien ����

A post shared by Didier Diggy Zokora (@zokoradiggy) on

Didier Zokora (D)

It was a little surprising that Semen Padang made their marquee signing a defensive midfielder who famously does not score goals.

He never found the back of the net in a league game for Tottenham Hotspur or Sevilla, and scored just once in 123 appearances for Ivory Coast.

It has not helped that the club, after a decent start, have been in poor form that has seen a drop to just one place above the drop zone.

Zokora has been generally disappointing, with the Indonesia media lamenting a perceived lack of fitness and energy. The 36-year-old has managed to play only four full games, though there is hope that he will find his feet once the season resumes.

Carlton Cole unveiled at Persib Bandung in Indonesia
Carlton Cole has played only 200 minutes in the first third of the Indonesian season, with no goals.

Carlton Cole (F)

It just hasn't worked out. The ex-England man has played barely 200 minutes all season and has not managed a goal. Cole has not really come close to scoring, and has looked out of sorts, shape and fitness and has been out of favour.

Team manager Umuh Muchtar said in May that playing with the former West Ham striker was akin to playing with 10 men.

It was reported at the end of May that Cole was on his way out. But while he got a second chance off the pitch, he has struggled to find opportunities on it. While the 33-year-old has not been misfiring, he has barely received the ball in any dangerous situation, and has been unable to make things happen on his own.

In the end, Cole will be judged on how many goals he scored and at the moment, it is not looking good.

Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.