AFC Cup: Global show true Pinoy fighting spirit at Pahang
Thoughts on Global's 0-0 draw with Pahang on Wednesday, March 11 in Group G of the AFC Cup.
This was a very pleasant surprise indeed. Global had zero momentum going into this game after stumbling 2-0 to Kaya over the weekend and still feeling the sting of that 6-1 loss to South China a few weeks ago. Global missed Misagh Bahadoran and Patrick Deyto to injury. Ray Jonsson was a late scratch. A plethora of big guns were not availablefor a variety of reasons. The threadbare squad that went to Kuantan was, in many spots, green and callow. John Kanayama, just 18, filled in at the left flank.
Pahang must have seen this fixture and looked ready to devour the Pinoys like a steaming hot plate of Nasi Lemak. But the feast never happened.
It's obvious that Pahang took this game lightly, perhaps due to fixture congestion. They gambled in trying to rest some players and they paid dearly for it.
The home side still should have won, though. Several attempts in the second half should have at least threatened goalie Junjun Badelic.
But Global battled, played proper football, were not cowed, and did have opportunities as well. Mark Hartmann narrowly misfired twice while Yoyong Talaroc also pulled an attempt wide.
To be honest, I feared another ugly result especially after learning that Jonsson and Deyto weren't playing because of fitness issues. But the ball was especially round on Wednesday night, and Global purloined a point.
Because South China also walloped Yadanarbon 3-1 on Wednesday, Global is alone with one point in third place in the group. Suddenly qualification is a realistic goal.
JunJun Badelic has joined the ranks of promising young Pinoy keepers. Once I was fearful that Patrick Deyto would not have enough competition for the Azkals #1 shirt. Now I fear less.
Paolo Pascual is developing very nicely with Green Archers United. In the pipeline are Paeng De Guzman of DLSU and Ace Villanueva of UP. Benilde's Ronilo Vallies Bayan cannot be forgotten, even Deyto himself is impressed with him. Ricky Monserrat, a sixteen-year old Filipino-Aussie with Loyola, has a big future. Now Badelic joins the conversation.
Against Pahang the native of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, was composed and solid in keeping a clean sheet. Not bad for a young kid being thrown to the lions on an international stage in front of a hostile arena. He made a superb punch-out early in the game and denied Pahang an opener with a great reflex smother midway through the second half.
Apart from two rather poor goal kicks in the second, Badelic was spotless. Midway through the second half Ramachandra Gopinathan was left wide open by a mis-positioned Jerry Barbaso. Gopi aimed for the right corner and missed the frame, but what was remarkable about the play was that Badelic appears to have anticipated the Malaysian's intent and was on that side of the goal anyway.
No doubt the training under Global's goalkeeping coach, Jorge Kuriyama, has paid dividends.
Global has another young goalie in the wings, Felipe Tripulca. Lets see if he will be given a shot with Global or elsewhere.
There will be a goalkeeping seminar in Manila this coming May. Once a neglected part of Pinoy football, goalkeeping is suddenly getting a boost in all directions.
Last Wednesday's game only confirms Mindanao's stature as a growing powerhouse. Three Mindanao-bred players started for Global on Wednesday, Badelic, Amani Aguinaldo (Davao), and Jerry Barbaso (Dipolog). A fourth, Talaroc, from Manticao, Misamis Oriental, came on as a sub. All of them played quite decently, although Aguinaldo was unjustly sent off.
The Pahang-Global game came three nights after FEU won the UAAP Season 77 championship with a lineup stacked with Mindanao players, many from Compostela Valley.
On Wednesday afternoon I had lunch with Warner Gesulga, a licensed coach from Valencia, Bukidnon. He tells me that there is plenty of youth football in Bukidnon, from Maramag to Camp Philips to Manolo Fortich. FIFA also footed the bill for a field there.
I have come to the conclusion that having more youth players per se is not the problem. We seem to have enough all over the country. How can you explain that UAAP and UFL players come from ComVal, Davao, Tagum, M'lang, Dipolog, and other places in Mindanao?
What is needed are competitions, programs, coaches, and facilities that help the most talented prospects get on the path of being world-class players. FEU's quasi-academy is one step.
Global still faces an uphill battle. I really don't know if Matt Hartmann will be allowed to play in the AFC Cup. But Global need him, Bahadoran, and others to be fit. They will have difficulty competing for the next four matches with this bunch.
Next Wednesday Global travels to Mandalay, Myanmar, to take on Yadanarbon, who lost their first two games. Aguinaldo will not be available because of his suspension, although the team is appealing the red card. A win on the road will help give fans even more reason to hope, but it won't be easy.
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.