Persib Bandung midfielder reserves special praise for Michael Essien

Persib Bandung midfielder Raphael Maitimo made a special mention of foreign recruits Michael Essien and Carlton Cole after he scored in his side’s 1-0 victory over Persiba Balikpapan in the Indonesian league.

The former Chelsea star made the switch to the less-known Asia league back in March following his release from Panathinaikos earlier last summer. Essien initially faced the prospect of a five-year jail term for illegally participating for the Indonesian club without prior registration with the immigration authorities. However, both he and Carlton Cole have since been allowed to take part in the playing field with the club taking responsibility to resolve the issue.

Maitimo, 33, bagged the only goal of the game for Persib as they earned a well deserved win over Balikpapan in the Indonesian top-flight, and he followed to thank Essien and Cole for the support and motivation provided on the pitch, he said: "Thanks to Michael Essien. He is very passionate and motivated on the pitch. He and Carlton Cole motivated me and they always talk positively."

Essien participated through the full 90 minutes of the league encounter while Cole was nowhere to be seen in the squad. The win takes Persib to eighth place in the standings, six points behind league leaders Madura United. The former Ivory Coast international is said to have received multiple offers to ply his trade in the Chinese Super League, but he opted to join the less-famed Indonesia league in order to develop more foreign interest.

The Champions League winner is currently the highest paid player in the division’s history with a package of around £647,000 a year. He signed a one-year contract on his arrival on Persib, but he could further extend the deal by an additional 12 months, should he make a significant difference towards the club’s progress.