What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
With every passing stage of the 2011 UFL Cup, that old adage applies better to Global FC and serves as a stern warning to the remaining clubs team in the competition.
The defending cup champions entered the round of 16 as the 15th seed, a wildcard, after finishing third in Group C.
But Global has been on a roll in the knockout stages, flashing fine form against second seed Army 3-nil to set up its quarterfinals clash with Pachanga, the same club it ousted in the semifinals of the PFF-SMART Club Championship earlier this year.
The two met in the “group of death – Group C – where they drew 2-2 despite Pachanga taking an early two goals to none lead. Late entry Angel Guirado galvanized his team into action and the defending champions scored two late goals to salvage a point and avoid an early and inglorious exit.
The Red Phoenix had an opportunity to beat Global in that October 23 match but midfielder Oussey Diop missed a penalty that could have given his side a 3-1 lead with minutes remaining. Instead, Guirado targeted midfielder Franco Borromeo from just outside the Pachanga box for a spectacular bicycle kick that led to the equalizer.
As the two teams took to the field on Saturday at the University of Makati pitch, Global FC paraded an intact line-up while Pachanga was decimated. In its round of 16 clash against Navy, the Norman Fegidero Jr.-coached side saw four players whistled for yellow cards — a total of 52 fouls were called by referee Allan Ramirez many of which were questionable.
That meant that Fegidero would be without four of his starters for the Global match: defenders Jalsor Soriano, Camelo Tacusalme and Ronald Batisla-Ong and midfielder Diop. With starting right back Aldwin Riedler already missing for two matches after getting married and striker Chris Ojamire still recovering from a groin injury, Fegidero was effectively six men down. As a result, he was forced to put players in positions that were not to their strength.
However, once the game began, the two sides remained scoreless, even if Global dominated the left flank, where midfielder Franco Borromeo and newly-promoted striker Janrick Soriano were lined up. The two executed their combination passing game against the overmatched Gino Palomo and Shirmar Felongco on defense.
In the 16th minute, Global midfielder Yu Hoshide sent the ball forward with a head flick to Soriano, who timed his run perfectly to beat the high defensive line of Pachanga. With only Felongco, one of the players affected by the shift from his normal position, to beat, Soriano rifled a cross. It evaded Pachanga defender Yves Ashime’s boot, and an onrushing William Guerridon did not miss it for a diving header.
Almost immediately after Global scored, Pachanga found its resolve on offense. It found spark and poise with the entry of Joshua Fegidero for Carlo Tacusalme.
In the second half, Global coach Graeme MacKinnon waited to see if his team’s adjustments would stem the tide of the Pachanga attacks. The second half entry of Anu Farrah for Pachanga helped the side a bit, but the lack of patience and quality shots prevented any decent chances for a goal.
In the 55th minute, MacKinnon gave his faltering side a shot of adrenaline when he introduced Angel Guirado and Misagh Bahadoran into the game. The two quickly re-started the Global offensive that put Pachanga back on their heels.
Pachanga had two more decent chances to equalize but Fegidero’s long-range strike saw Global keeper Paolo Pascual up to the task. Pachanga forward Alu Kigbu was mostly ineffective as he was missing Diop behind him and Cross Ubiam alongside him, as the latter was forced to play the holding midfield position against the dangerous Izzo El Habbib. Kigbu did have one chance to salvage a goal but he muffed the close range shot.
With only three minutes of added times, Global repeatedly beat back Pachanga’s attacks. And when referee Wilfredo Bermejo blew the game’s final whistle for the 1-nil result, the Red Phoenix were once more ousted from the competition as Global moved.
“We knew they (Pachanga) were hurting,” said Pascual after the match. “But this is football and you take every advantage you have. But as you can see they are a quality side and we had trouble with them. Our speed gave them serious problems. I’m happy that we’re moving on.”