By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Reporter

Global FC ready to roll in UFL Cup

Posted on February 04, 2016

FOLLOWING a year of “almosts” for the club in 2015, domestic side Global FC is bent on getting back to the top form it is accustomed to, beginning with the United Football League (UFL) Cup which kicks off its new season this weekend at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Global FC members during their training in Baguio -- Charmaine Cruz/Global FC
“We are very excited for the new season as it provides new opportunities. Everything is back to zero. We are in what they call in world football a ‘rebuilding phase.’ One or two players that were great for the team -- Roland Sadia and Yu Hoshide -- have moved on but we brought in new players who we hope would be great for the team as well,” said Global coach Leigh Manson in an interview with BusinessWorld.

Among the new players for Global are goalkeeper Nick O’Donnell, who previously played for defending champion Kaya FC, Arthur Kouassi (from Manila Jeepney FC), Milan Nikolic and Sean Bateau (from Stallion FC).

They join Global mainstays like Misagh Bahadoran, Amani Aguinaldo, Dennis Villanueva, Mark and Matthew Hartmann, OJ Clariño and Daisuke Sato.

“Last year, we were very close too many times for us to be happy. We were one goal away from getting a shot at the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup quarterfinals. That was an almost. Then we finished second in the League although our record was better than Ceres. We lost some valuable points against Green Archers and Jeepney. Again an almost. We reached the final of the Smart Club Cup and finished second to Loyola. An almost again,” said Mr. Manson, in setting up where they are coming from heading into the new season.

The three-year coach said that important for them as they begin their campaign is to improve in every possible way, which is why they are carefully planning their moves, particularly in the selection of foreign players in their roster.

This is more so now that the UFL is now implementing a rule limiting the number of foreigners in the lineups.

As per directive from the Philippine Football Federation, acting on the orders of the AFC, UFL clubs should only have five foreign players in their lineups, four of whom can be included in the 18-man roster for matchday. Of the four, one should be an Asian player.

This was opposed to the previous rule that allowed unlimited number of foreign players on matchday but only five foreigners on the pitch at any given time.

“The biggest part we had to look at as we prepare for the season was the changes in the foreign players rule to five. It’s going to be tough for foreign players to keep a spot that is why we are having three Filipino goalkeepers to give us enough options on the field. So with limited slots for foreign players we had to make sure those we get are game-changers. They have to bring something that you cannot get from the local players,” Mr. Manson shared.

“Also we are working on ways to help finish things off on the field. Last year, while we dominated some of the teams we faced, we were caught in counterattacks. At the end of the day we should do a better a job at playing at a high level throughout. And we have to be productive in our possessions,” he added.

Suspended from the UFL Cup last year because of player eligibility issues, Mr. Manson said they moved past that episode and focusing on the task at hand.

“As far as what happened in the UFL Cup last year, what is done is done. We have done a lot personnel changes and what is important for us now is to tell the players that when they play for Global they should be giving 100%. And that they should be looking to win. Obviously we want to win in style but sometimes we have to be practical and just get the result that we need,” the coach said.

Zeroing in on the about-to-start UFL Cup where they are bracketed in Group B along with League champion Ceres-La Salle FC, Loyola Meralco Sparks FC, Green Archers United FC, Nomads FC and Pasargad FC, Mr. Manson said they like where they are, notwithstanding the group being called the “Group of Death.”

“I like what we have been given because we get to test ourselves against Loyola and Ceres early. And although it has been called the “Group of Death,” it is not exactly that as you have four teams going through and it is the just order of how you would finish,” he said.

Group A has defending UFL Cup champion Kaya FC, Stallion FC, JP Voltes FC, Laos FC, Forza FC and Agila MSA FC.

“In our group, on paper you can pinpoint the four teams that should advance to the net round but anything can still happen. As far as Ceres, it is also competing in the AFC Cup as well as in the UFL Cup so it has a lot in its hands and you can never know how it will affect the team. We and Loyola are focusing on domestic campaigns but where we finish depends on the how the players respond,” said Mr. Manson.

Acknowledging that they are on rebuilding mode, Global players said they are nonetheless bullish of their chances.

“We started preparing in January in Baguio and we have made progress since with the new players coming in. I think this team is better than last year and we have a good chance of competing for the title,” Mr. Villanueva said in a separate interview.

“Just like the other teams we are also adjusting as we have new players as well and lost some. So the first few games may be sort of a feeling-out period but hopefully we pick things up as the tournament progresses,” Mr. Bahadoran, for his part, said.

The UFL Cup begins on Saturday with Forza vs. Agila at 4 p.m., Pasargad vs. Global at 6:15 p.m. and JP Voltes vs. Laos at 8:30 p.m.