UFL Cup Final postgame thoughts: Global FC are back
FT: Global 3, Ceres 1
UFL Cup Final
Telecast Sunday April 17, 9 p.m.
A vintage performance from Misagh Bahadoran and some officiating luck help Global recapture the UFL Cup with a 3-1 victory against Ceres on Saturday, April 16 at Rizal Memorial Stadium. Here are post-game thoughts from “The Passionate Fan” Bob Guerrero.
Is Misagh Bahadoran the Philippines' best player? On Saturday night the man nicknamed “Hollywood” figured in all 3 goals. The first was a tap in from close range off a rebound, the second a finish from Matt Hartmann off his cross, and the third a Messi-like slalom around a shell- shocked Ceres defense.
Misagh used to be a maddeningly over-dribbler. Now he can spot the pass early. Bahadoran was razor-sharp fit on Saturday, and he did much of the dirty work, like beating Juani Guirado for a loose ball for the second goal, and hustling all over the park. He has matured tremendously and now wears the captain's armband for his club. The skipper picked up the Cup Golden Ball award as well for the most valuable player in the competition. It is great to see him become so versatile. He can burn down the flanks as a winger of play center forward and make life difficult with his pressing and work rate.
Bahadoran has transitioned into a complete player. Hikaru Minegishi of Global, a Filipino-Japanese midfielder, is the next who must trod that path. On Saturday Minegishi spurned two opportunities to make the obvious pass to a teammate in a better position, one in either half. The Global mid has plenty of potential and should develop well.
With Stephan Schrock and Phil Younghusband grappling for fitness, Misagh seems to be the Alpha guy for the Azkals right now, especially in the attack.
The contest hinged on a refereeing error that illustrates our issues with officiating. Early in the second half, with Global up 2-0, Daisuke Sato clearly blocks a shot that was going in with his left arm. The arm was outstretched and everybody saw the infringement except main referee Clifford Daypuyat and the assistant ref. No penalty. The Ceres players complained loudly but to no avail. Minutes later Global were 3-0 up after Bahadoran skated around and finished against a dazed Ceres back four. Game over. Two-goal swing.
Ceres remonstrated bitterly after the goal and the match was held up for a few minutes. The coach of the Busmen, Ali Go, was banished to the stands along with team manager James Dinsay.
At the final whistle Daypuyat was accosted by the players and had to be escorted off the pitch by a phalanx of match officials and ballboys. It was rather unseemly.
Daypuyat is a very good referee. I have never seen him make a mistake this big. He is one of three FIFA referees in the Philippines, the other two being Linjun Talaver and Steve Supresencia. The Dipolognon has been a fixture in UFL matches for the past couple of seasons and I have always found him competent. Unfortunately, he blew a big decision in a huge game. One Global player said he also failed to call a handball on Ceres defender Juani Guirado in the first half, so the player called it even.
I spoke to league officials after the game. The pool of refs is tiny, so Talaver and Daypuyat get the brunt of the assignments for the big matches. This Cup I haven't noticed any NCRFA refs in the Cup games, mostly just Daypuyat and Talaver from PFF. Supresencia lives in Iloilo where he works as a teacher and cannot come often.
But the error in the refereeing on Saturday could have been a reflection of the structural weakness of our refereeing systems. One league official says he feels their referees get burned out from too many games. Naturally, the work suffers.
Talaver is from Negros Occidental, so he is never assigned to Ceres games. Daypuyat apparently gets most of the games involving the Bacolod-based teams. That is far from ideal. The team will likely not want to see Daypuyat on the whistle in the upcoming league, but they may have no choice.
We need to have a bigger pool of refs. But the work environment these fine men must endure is oftentimes so toxic. That surely dissuades many would-be match officials from making refereeing a career choice.
So once again, we have a systemic problem that needs the collective efforts of all stakeholders. That is always a tough ask in the Philippines. No doubt, a referee blew a big call on Saturday, but these godforsaken fellows are victims in all of this as well.
Ceres were, as expected, a wee bit run-down. This was their third game in two different cities in a span of eight days. That is not easy to overcome. Juani Guirado, who has been battling fitness issues for a while, had a rough night and was sacrificed at the half, with Jason Sabio moving over to central defense. Bienve Marañon got hurt and was replaced by Orman Okunaiya, another one seeking 100% fitness. (The Ulsterman was actually quite good in his shift.)
Stephan Schrock was introduced late but couldn't make much of an impact. He too, has been hobbled.
One gets the feeling now that it was always going to be difficult for Ceres to thrive in both the UFL Cup and the AFC Cup. Injuries will always pile up. Fortunately although they fell short on Saturday, they still are in great shape in the AFC Cup, which resumes in two weeks.
In contrast Global seemed to have that little bit more energy, especially the midfield that transitioned back and forth from offense to defense all night.
Global's resurgence is good for the league. The 2014 League champs had recently been hampered by controversy, underachievement, and their share of injuries. But they got it all together for another piece of silverware.
In some countries like Germany, (Bayern Munich), France, (PSG), and Scotland, (Celtic), one very dominant and resource-rich club is head-and-shoulders above the rest. That is not the best, because the title race is so predictable. We have been in danger of being in the same situation with Ceres, who ran away with the UFL League last year with plenty of games to spare. But the reemergence of Global means we could likely have two very strong teams in Ceres and Global, plus four sides in Kaya, GAU, Loyola and Stallion who can hang with them. That makes for plenty of competition, and thus an interesting and unpredictable league.
Omid Nazari is a mouthwatering prospect for the Azkals. The Swedish-Iranian-Pinoy didn't score on Saturday but he came close. Nazari combines speed, size, and a lethal finishing touch. I am hoping he gets the a-okay from FIFA to represent the Philippines in the Suzuki Cup in November. He would be a good complement to Phil Younghusband or Javi Patiño up top.
My take on the lack of a live telecast. There has been no shortage of teeth-gnashing about the telecast of the game, which is a day delayed. Many Pinoy fans complain loudly that the match deserves a live broadcast.
Of course they are right, a live broadcast would be great. But as I see it, we should be grateful that TV5, (and its affiliate AksyonTV), even bother to show club football at all. There were no full club football matches on TV 6 years ago, live or delayed. Now we demand live matches and complain when we don't get them.
Truth is, the community of football fans in the Philippines is still relatively small. If we want live telecasts all the time, we have to prove to networks that it's worth it. We must do our part to increase our tribe. That, once again, necessitates an effort from everyone, not just the networks.
Meanwhile, I am simply grateful for TV5's tremendous service to Philippine football with their coverage of the UFL for the past 5 years. My understanding is their contract with the league will be up soon, and they can take a well-deserved bow.
The Cup is over, now the focus is on the other competitions. The UAAP is hurtling towards its final four phase. The AFC Cup, where Kaya and Ceres are doing well, is nearing the end of its group stage. Philippine football is percolating nicely. And in a week or two, the UFL League begins as well. It's a great time to be a Pinoy football fan. – Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.