Peter Odemwingie scores again as Essien's Persib see coach depart
There was joy for ex-Stoke City winger Peter Odemwingie and angst for his former Premier League rival Michael Essien after the latest round of matches in Indonesia's Liga 1.
Madura United went top on Monday evening with a 1-0 win over bottom club Persiba Balikpapan, with Odemwingie extending his lead in the scoring ranks with a strike eight minutes before the break -- his 13th of the season.
The former Nigeria international fired home with a low shot from just outside the area as Madura United secured their eighth win of the season.
But Essien's Persib Bandung are facing up to life without long-serving coach Djadjang Nurdjaman who resigned on Sunday after yet another defeat.
Despite signing former Real Madrid and Chelsea midfielder Essien and ex-England striker Carlton Cole, Persib's 2-1 loss at the hands of Mitra Kukar kept the big-spending team in 12th in the table.
After 15 games, the West Javan team, who had been tipped to challenge for the title. have won five, drawn five and lost five, scoring just 14 goals in the process. They are eight points behind behind high-flying Madura United.
Djadjang, appointed in 2013, has been under pressure from fans and management from early in the season, even when the team were near the top of the standings. So it was little surprise that he handed in his resignation.
"Persib is very grateful for the achievements, professionalism, dedication and loyalty shown by coach Djadjang since the beginning of 2013," read a statement on the club's official homepage.
Djadjang, who led the team to the Indonesian league title in 2014, leaves with Persib closer to the bottom than top. Much was made of the big signings, but Cole has started just one game all season, and failed to find the net in just 180 minutes of action so far this season.
Cole's impact stands in stark contrast to Odemwingie. The now 36-year-old -- he celebrated his birthday on Saturday -- has been the import player of the season so far, with a number of match-winning performances, and assists, to go along with his average of almost a goal a game.
Essien has been more active and influential than Cole, but has failed to make the impact expected. And, with crucial refereeing decisions going against Persib in recent games, the scrutiny has been building.
The club added that assistant Herrie Setyawan will take charge for the rest of the campaign, though ESPN FC understands that other options will be considered.
Team Manager Umuh Muchtar, a vocal critic of Persib's performances so far this season, paid tribute to the departing coach.
"He has done this for the team and I respect that," Umuh said. "Now we must focus on getting the best possible results over the remainder of the season and making sure that we don't get dragged into a relegation fight."
Asian expert John Duerden is the author of Lions and Tigers: Story of Football in Singapore and Malaysia.Twitter: @JohnnyDuerden.