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Can Jakarta’s Silvio Escobar fill in the shoes of Marko Simic?

Persija Jakarta have been dealt a blow ahead of the commencement of their AFC Cup 2019 campaign with Marko Simic’s exclusion. But can their new signing Silvio Escobar fill Simic’s shoes?

The Indonesian champions are set to start their AFC Cup group stage campaign against Becamex Binh Duong on Tuesday, 26th February. The big match-up at the majestic Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, however, will not feature Persija’s Croatian striker Simic.

Where is Simic?

He has been forced to stay in Australia after his arrest at the Sydney Airport on 10th February and is set to miss the club’s matches until at least 9th April. The charges that have been put against him are that of indecency against a woman on a flight from Bali.

As far as Simic is concerned, he has had a troubled past and not long ago, he was involved in a controversy after Indonesian singer Via Vallen made his indecent messages public. But how much will the club miss him?

Persija Jakarta striker Marko Simic faces allegations of sexual assault on flight to Australia

Ever since arriving from Malaysian club Melaka United in December 2017, the Croatian has been a hit. In 38 appearances for the club, he has scored 26 goals and his incredible goalscoring form in the Liga 1 last year helped Persija win the league after 17 long years.

The Croatian was on the scoresheet in Persija’s 3-1 victory over Home United in the first preliminary round of the AFC Champions League. He featured in club’s defeat in the next round of the competition against Newcastle Jets in Australia. But he hasn’t been allowed to leave the country since, where legal proceedings are underway.

Can Escobar be a worthy replacement?

Persija were quick to replace Simic ahead of the AFC Cup group stage with Perseru Serui’s 32-year-old Silvio Escobar joining them on a year-long deal. The Paraguayan striker has spent two seasons in the Liga 1 and has played in 61 matches.

His returns, however, are not as impressive as Simic’s – 18 goals, a 294-minute per goal ratio and four assists to his name. With opponents of the likes of Ceres Negros, Shan United and Becamex Binh Duong waiting for them in the group stage of the AFC Cup, Escobar will have to be at the top of his game.

Persija, on the other hand, would hope that Simic’s case is cleared and he can be registered as their player in case they qualify for the knockout phase of the continental tournament.

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