The Indonesian is catching everyone’s eye in the K League…
Not many expected a certain Asnawi Mangkualam to draw as much attention when he joined Ansan Greeners at a time the club were struggling at the bottom of the K League 2.
Asnawi was preceded by several ASEAN players in the K League. Lương Xuân Trường from Vietnam played for Gangwon and Incheon United from 2016 until 2017. Another Vietnamese player, Nguyen Cong Phuong also played for Incheon United in 2019. But they were all returned to their home countries, leaving K League without any remarkable performances.
However, factors such as a relatively smaller physique may have caused difficulties for ASEAN players to adapt the style of K League. But Asnawi was different.
It did not start all that well for the Indonesian in South Korea. He had to face a two-week quarantine as per COVID-19 protocol after unexpectedly coming in contact with an Indonesian fan. Asnawi has since secured his position in the starting line up and by Round 8 of the K League 2 was chosen a a member of ‘Best 11’ as the recorded his first assist which led to a winning goal for his team in his fourth match since his debut.
From the post-match interview, Asnawi commented, “I wanted to make my Indonesian fans proud, who bought tickets and travelled all the way here to support me.”
Asnawi’s outstanding performances also brought a significant notice to his club, Ansan Greeners, as well as the K League. The number of followers for Ansan Greeners’ official Instagram used to be around a thousand. The club’s channel was almost unnoticeable. However, just three months since Asnawi joined the club, the number of followers rocketed beyond 60,000. This is the biggest number of followers among any other K League clubs, including K League 1.
From the K League official YouTube Channel, the highlight clip of Asnawi’s performances have reached 1.92 million views, which has established the best viewership record ever out of all video contents released by the official channel so far. The K League broadcasting right was purchased by TSB, which is Indonesia’s biggest sports broadcasting channel.
‘ASEAN Quarter’ for K League was introduced in 2020. The reason why the K League has decided to actively bring in more ASEAN players was to build up an opportunity to enter the South Eastern Asian Market, where the football fandom is exceptionally high. However, there was a moment when the effectiveness of ‘ASEAN Quarter’ has been in doubt because no K League clubs used it in 2020, when initially introduced.
Now, thanks to Asnawi’s incredible showing, it is understood that several clubs in K League 1 and K League 2 are already considering signing up players from ASEAN countries.