UFL Preview: Global FC eyes return to the top

Myke Miravite
Can Global FC stamp themselves as the best football team in the country? One football reporter analyzes their chances

A RETURN TO GLORY? Global FC remains as good a team as any as they prepare for to kick off the new UFL season

MANILA, Philippines – Starting out as a group of football enthusiasts who used to play on a patch of grass behind Quezon City Hall, Global FC has gone far when it comes to local success. To date, they are one of the winningest clubs in the country and have earned prestige with a big chunk of the national team wearing its jersey.

Even before the Azkals ignited a revolution for Philippine football, Global had already been making waves on the local football scene. Straight from being promoted to the UFL’s top tier, Dan Palami’s squad surprised everyone when they ended the season second, just three points behind 2011 League champions Air Force.

After the Suzuki Cup miracle in Hanoi, the club went on to recruit big name players from the Philippine National Football Team. They consequently won the 2012 edition by edging Kaya FC through goal differences.

In 2013 however, the league saw Stallion FC’s rise prompting Global’s slide back to being the bridesmaid, trailing the Iloilo-based side in the final table by a mere three points.

In between those league recognitions, Global also has one UFL Cup trophy, a Philippine Football Federation (PFF) National Men’s Club Championship title and a fourth-place finish in their debut in the Singapore Cup.

Looking to return to their former glory, Global FC kicks off the upcoming season against defending UFL Cup champions Loyola Meralco Sparks on Tuesday, January 14 at Emperador Stadium.

Back with a vengeance

During last year’s preseason, Global seemed poised to stamp its dominance on the local football scene with a second League crown in two consecutive seasons. They were, as a matter of fact, the team to beat in the 2013 League until Stallion FC sneaked in out of nowhere to steal the show and the title that could have been – and perhaps should have been – theirs.

In the past couple of years, Global has banked on its Azkals stars Misagh Bahadoran, Jeff Christiaens, Carli de Murga, the Guirado brothers and the Angeles twins, to name a few. They also threw in foreign reinforcements in Izzo El Habbib, Yu Hoshide and Ben Starosta to join local bets Jerry Barbaso from Dipolog and Masbate’s Aaron Altiche. It was a lineup any coach in the UFL would want to have; Global became the barometer of the UFL.

This season, in an effort to reclaim the UFL League crown, Global has added two more superstars in its lineup: Mark Hartmann from the Loyola Meralco Sparks and Rufo Sanchez from Stallion. Reports also indicate that the club has signed Filipino-American Charley Pettys from USL Professional Division side Los Angeles Blues. Although Sanchez’s move did not push through, with the 2013 UFL Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner being slapped with a one-year suspension, the future still looks bright for this Global squad.

Paul Mulders will be leaving the club and the country in search of a new team in Europe however, while Ed Sacapano returns to the Philippine Army after his loan contract expired at the end of the year. Juani Guirado and Reichelt have likewise left the country as early as mid-2013. Ange Guisso and James Shaw round up Global’s list of dropped players.

A tougher climb this time

With teams catching up to Global when it comes to signing big names, this season will be a tougher ride for Brian Reid’s boys. Hartmann, regarded as the most lethal free-kick specialist in the country, will be vital to his squad’s 2014 campaign. His spot-on crosses and steady midfield plays should make life easier for Global’s forwards El Habbib and Guirado. Goalie Roland Sadia also appears to have recovered from his injury while Barbaso, Marwin Angeles, and even Altiche have steadily improved in the past year.

With De Murga – probably the most versatile and stingy defender in the league when he’s healthy – still sidelined, Global’s defense remains a big question mark when the League kicks off. It will be up to Amani Aguinaldo, Starosta, Val Kama, Delon Patrick Yao, and Barbaso if they can keep up with the Phil Younghusbands and the Ruben Doctoras of the UFL.

Global will also be likely missing the services of its top striker El Habbib, who tweeted on January 9, less than a week before the League starts, that he will be out for at least a month.

Championship, international experiences will be an edge

Global, a team that is already comfortable with their contender tag, will have its championship and international experiences as its edge. The squad is made up of national team members who are veterans themselves of the AFC Challenge Cup and the Peace Cup. As a group, Global also made strides in the last Singapore Cup, finishing 4th in the tournament. They are also the 2010 UFL Cup champs and finished in the top 3 in 2011 and 2012.

For the 2014 Season, the UFL has added matches to give the League ‘more of a marathon feeling’ and contenders like Global tend to get an advantage in longer seasons. With other teams revamping their rosters, Global also gets an edge when it comes to chemistry, with its core from the previous seasons still intact.

However, with the intensifying competition in the UFL, Global must prove that they are up to the growing challenge if they are to etch their mark as the most successful club that Pinoy football has ever seen. – Rappler.com

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