Indonesia crown first Liga 1 champions in over two years as Bali United claim second title

Indonesia's Liga 1 has crowned its first champions in two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with Bali United claiming the 2021-11 title to make it two triumphs in a row. Bali United FC

For the first time in over two years -- and since the COVID-19 pandemic began - Indonesian football has champions once more after Bali United secured the 2021-22 Liga 1 crown on Friday evening.

With two games left to play, Bali could have wrapped up the title in their game against Persebaya Surabaya but were instead handed it with second-placed Persib Bandung's 0-0 draw against Persik Kediri meaning they could no longer overhaul a four-point lead in the final round.

Bali were the last team to be crowned Liga 1 champions in 2019, with the 2020 campaign was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic and eventually abandoned at the start of last year.

Liga 1 was finally able to return last August with the competition organisers deciding to adjust the fixture schedule away from the traditional format matching a calendar year to one crossing over years and more akin to major European leagues.

After a prolonged absence, the 2021-22 Liga 1 campaign certainly did not disappoint and -- at one stage -- promised a five-horse race for the title.

Gradually, Persebaya, Arema and then Bhayangkara faltered to leave Persib as Bali's sole challengers until coming up short in their own quest on Friday.

Boasting key contributors all over the park has been a key factor behind Bali's triumph, although it is impossible to look past the contributions of striker Ilija Spasojevic, whose 22-goal haul sees him leading Liga 1's scoring charts at present.

Bali, who will feature in the AFC Cup -- Asian football's second-tier club competition -- later this year have also qualified for the playoffs of the top-level AFC Champions League next season by virtue of being Liga 1 champions.