Football

RAMPAGING FULLBACK | Global FC makes history after nailing victory in AFC Champions League preliminaries

Global FC photo

Global FC photo

Philippine club football history was made yet again as defending UFL champions Global FC notched a 2-0 victory against S.League side Tampines Rovers in the first preliminary round of the 2017 AFC Champions League.

Second half goals from new boy Ahamd Azzawi and captain Misagh Bahadoran sealed Global’s win in Manila, as they now have the distinction of being the first club from the Philippines to play in Asia’s top club football competition.

Here are five thoughts from the game.

1. History yet again, for Philippine football

After watching bitter title rivals Ceres Negros and Kaya FC progress to the knockout stages of the AFC Cup last season, Global did one better by being the first Filipino club team to play in the AFC Champions League, albeit in the preliminary rounds.

Team owner Dan Palami always sets the bar high for his team, and after being the first Filipino club to play in the AFC Cup in 2015, Global FC became the first to play in the prestigious Champions League, where the likes of Asian powerhouses Guangzhou Evergrande, Al-Ain and Al-Ahli regularly ply their trade.

2. Global’s new signings made an impact

Omid Nazari (Melaka United) and Milan Nikolic (Loyola Meralco Sparks) were some of the names that left in the offseason, but Global have strengthened their squad by the addition of Paul Mulders (Ceres), Ahamd Azzari and Shu Sasaki.

And the trio proved themselves worthy of donning Global’s yellow and blue colors with a winning performance on the field.

Mulders, usually a midfielder by trade, was slotted to the heart of the Global defense to partner with Amani Aguinaldo, and he acquitted himself with an assured display.

Shu Sasaki provided energy from the flanks, but it was Azzawi who stole the show with a goal and an assist to cap off an excellent Global performance.

3. Misagh Bahadoran is still the main man

Kept largely quiet in the first half, Bahadoran sprung to life in the second half as he embarked on his trademark runs to trouble Tampines Rovers.

Against the evergreen duo of Mustafic Fahrudin and Daniel Bennett, Bahadoran was starved of service in the first 45 minutes.

In the second half, this was immediately rectified as his teammates looked to feed the speedy Global captain, and the team duly produced more cutting edge as a result.

Where Misagh Bahadoran goes, Global FC goes as well.

4. Brisbane Roar next

With participation in the 2017 AFC Cup secured, Global could be forgiven for going to the Champions League with a ‘nothing-to-lose’ attitude.

But it is certainly not every day that teams get to play at this stage, and Global duly took the opportunity with both hands as they attacked from the onset against a pedestrian Tampines side hit by several key player departures in the offseason.

Global FC dominated large parts of the game, and Tampines were kept especially quiet in the last 45 minutes, save for a late Khairul Amri penalty in the 88th minute which was parried away to safety by Patrick Deyto.

A trip to Brisbane, Australia is next for Global FC in its quest for participation to the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

While some may consider that a pipe dream, it won’t matter to Global FC, a team that was formed fifteen years ago by friends playing essentially weekend football.

They have come this far, and will have everything to gain.

5. News of PH football’s demise greatly exaggerated

Poor attendances in the recently concluded Suzuki Cup in Manila and the 2016 UFL season had some pundits ring the death knell for Philippine football.

But even just for one night, fans of Global FC and Philippine football proved the naysayers wrong as one thousand strong fans packed the central main grandstand to lend their voices of support.

Rizal Memorial Stadium was decked in Global Yellow and fans starved of live football for two months were treated to a show by the men in yellow.

The flames of domestic football may not have been burning as brightly as before, but it is still glowing, even if at times barely flickering. Fans, with the help of Global’s victory, are needed to keep the flame burning.

Ryan Fenix is InterAksyon.com’s resident football analyst. His football column Rampaging Fullback appears exclusively on the site. He runs the football blog The Prawn Sandwich Brigade, covers football for Sports5, writes for ESPN FC, and serves as a FIFA Ballon d’Or juror. He is also a huge tennis fan. You can follow him on Twitter.

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