Global FC makes a perfect start to AFC Cup against Magwe
Global FC got their AFC Cup campaign started on a high note, defeating the Myanmar side Magwe 1-0 at Rizal Memorial Stadium on Tuesday, February 21. Here are some notes from a successful night for the Philippine club.
Your imports matter. Every team sport needs transformational players, especially a low-scoring game like football. Global picked up some good foreign ones in the off-season.
Wesley Dos Santos earned Man of the Match honors with his stellar play at centerback. The Brazilian saved a goal with at least one brilliant tackle stretch-out tackle. Darryl Roberts from Trinidad was creative up top, although he was unable to break free of a generally well-organized Magwe defense.
But the best import for me was Germaine “Kemy” Agustien. The Curaçaoan-born former Netherlands youth international is oozing with football IQ and skills. The central mid is capable of picking out a team make and threading an inch-perfect pass to him. His composure on the ball is second to none. He also produced a shot on goal in the first half.
No wonder the 30-year old was on the books at Swansea in the Premier League and at Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar. He has been haunted by injuries all his career, which must be one reason why he finds himself in the Philippines now.
Plenty of Pinoys had solid outings on Tuesday, especially Matt Hartmann at left back, Jerry Barbaso at right back, and Amani Aguinaldo in the middle of the defense. But your allocation of 4 foreigners, one of which must come from an AFC country, needs to be used wisely, and Global has done just that. Magwe's foreigners, on the other hand, were largely invisible.
Misagh scored, but otherwise had an indifferent evening. Bahadoran got the home supporters off their fannies with a lovely first-half goal. Matt Hartmann's cross was not dealt with by a Magwe defender, and Bahadoran pounced, poking past the Burmese keeper despite feeling the hot breath of another Magwe defender bearing down on him.
That was the only really bright spot of an otherwise mediocre evening.
Just before the half Bahadoran commits a ridiculous foul, lunging at a Magwe ballcarrier from behind even though the ball was in a different zip code from his feet. Yellow card. This happened near the center circle, far from the goal, so it makes the error doubly bad.
Moments later he streaks down the heart of the Magwe midfield and instead of sending the ball out wide to an unmarked Barbaso, keeps it and is promptly dispossessed. Same thing happens in the second half when he fails to dish to a supporting Hikaru Minegishi on a breakaway. Bahadoran then squanders 3 more chances for the balance of the half.
Misagh is one of the Philippines' most reliable scoring threats. But he needs to keep on constantly improving and keep the bad habits at bay. Global, and the Azkals, have stiffer competition coming their way and his teams are counting on him to perform.
Tactical notes. Matt Hartmann assured me that Global would be playing possession football, with fewer long balls. But the home side mixed it up on the night, also throwing in some probing balls from the back.
Misagh was originally deployed at right wing but he made frequent forays around the park, and was in a central position when he scored.
Hartmann did Yeoman's work shoring up the left side of the defense while Barbaso seemed to be given freer reign in bombing forward from right back.
The team kept their 4-4-1-1 shape well. A few times one defensive player would storm forward, and a midfielder would take his place to keep shape. Imai has them well-drilled. But this was all accomplished against a somewhat undersized and punchless visiting team that seemed to employ an attacking 4-3-3 formation but couldn't find any sting for most of the game. Tougher assignments surely await Global.
Ceres picks up a big point on the road. Ceres-Negros wasn't quite as fortunate on opening night, settling for a 1-1 draw in Hanoi. Bienvenido Marañon's rebound goal shortly after the half was sensationally cancelled out by Nguyen Van Quyet's acrobatic volley. It's a peach of a goal.
Ceres fans shouldn't be too disappointed. A point on the road in a hostile environment such as the My Dinh stadium is welcome in any competition, at any level. Ceres will use this as a springboard for better things. They host Tampines Rovers, who seize solo leadership of Group G with a 2-1 win over felda United, in Panaad on March 7.
Thomas Dooley has some great ideas for the upcoming PFL. I was able to chat with the Azkals coach during the game and he had some thoughtful and interesting ideas for the upcoming league, especially the two teams in action.
Dooley is proposing that each team have a list of 7 protected players that they can keep. The rest of the unprotected players can be picked up by other clubs, and especially expansion clubs. This would prevent one or two big, rich clubs from hoovering up all the best players. I'm not saying that this will happen in the inaugural season, but it is a possibility, since Ceres and Global appear to have the biggest war chests around.
The PFL needs to be compelling, unpredictable and competitive if it is to attract fans and sponsors. Nobody wants to see a few teams be too dominant and blow out the bottom-feeders. That has been a recurring theme in local club football where there is a huge gulf in class between the haves and haves-not. We need close games and just the right amount of parity to make things interesting, or else we could end up like Scotland, where one team, Celtic, is the perennial champ. (They currently lead the Scottish Premiership by a whopping 24 points over second-place Aberdeen, having won 24 of their first 25 matches.) Football in Scotland is very well-established so fans will stick around, but our startup league will need all the help to be sustainable. Players also need constant close games to stay sharp.
I think Coach Dooley's thinking has a lot of merit and deserves some thought. Either his protected list, or something similar, should be put into place. We need some long-term, big-picture thinking to make the PFL work. Ceres and Global are off to the races in the AFC Cup, but the PFL will be their bread-and-butter. – Rappler.com
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.