The Philippine champions, Global FC frustrated Pahang FA to end the match the same way it started at 0-0 at the Darul Makmur Stadium in Kuantan, Malaysia earlier tonight. Junjun Badelic stood firm at goal to keep the Malaysians from celebrating a win in their first home game in this season’s competition.
Straight from kickoff, Global attempted to catch the opposing defense unaware. Just inside the opening minute, Mark Hartmann crossed the ball into the Pahang box, but no blue shirts got to it first. The home side, then, started to make Global defend, albeit routinely, as two crosses were unable to find its intended targets. Daisuke Sato’s ability to win balls with his pace earned the Filipinos a free kick. Hartmann’s delivery caused problems inside the Pahang penalty area, even striking the woodwork before getting cleared.
The Malaysian champions, afterwards, had a quick succession of chances. Fauzi Roslan was denied twice by Junjun Badelic, while Azidan saw his shot deflected away. Gopinathan Ramichandra, scorer of the winning goal in Myanmar, also had a saved chance at the 18th minute. Not to be outdone, the Filipinos created two chances after the midway point of the first half. Hartmann fired a volley wide, while Khairul Azhan Khalid easily collected Dennis Villanueva’s ambitious attempt from distance.
The reigning Malaysian league and cup champions exchanged opportunities with the visitors. Hafiz Kamal and Gopi failed to make the most out of their chances, while Hartmann’s shot inside the Pahang area went straight to Azhan. In fact, Global almost took the lead when Paolo Salenga drifted away from his marker to set up Hartmann, only for the Fil-Brit playmaker to send his shot a few inches over the bar. Teams entered halftime scoreless.
After the break, the home team asserted dominance, bombarding Global with numerous attacking sequences. Fullbacks, Sato and Jerry Barbaso marshalled the flanks, while the duo of Raul Martinez and Amani Aguinaldo made it difficult for Pahang’s players to launch an easy shot. Nine minutes after the restart, Azidan Sarudin’s free kick located Hafiz, who could not accurately guide the ball into the net with his ball.
His teammates, Azam Abdul Azih and Shahrizan Salleh, also had clean looks moments later on, but were also unable to hit the target. Twenty minutes before time, Fauzi sprinted to gather the ball by beating Global’s offside trap. He was able to get to it, but did not get to slow down in time to masterfully strike the ball past Badelic. Perhaps, the biggest chance of the game came at the 78th minute. Substitute, Dickson Nwakaeme saw Gopi wide open, but there were no repetition of his heroic feat last fortnight after he smashed his shot off the mark. The Nigerian was inserted to open space in the attacking third, but Zainal Abidin Hassan’s plan backfired as the forward, who scored twice in Myanmar, gave away possession by fouling most of the time.
On the other side, Hartmann and Richard Talaroc had rare opportunities to score, which did not have the right mix of power and accuracy to hear Azhan. Hafiz tried his luck from long range with four minutes to go while Azam and Saiful Nizam Miswan wasted their tries in winning the match as neither forced a save from Badelic. The night could have gone well for Global, but Aguinaldo was shown a second yellow card for an alleged time wasting move in the last minute of stoppage time. With the sending off, Aguinaldo will miss the group stage match against Yadanarbon.
Global FC now move to third place with a point earned from the stalemate. South China defeated Yadanarbon in Hong Kong to seize control of Group G. The Burmese side, now at the bottom having lost their two games in the tournament, will host the Filipinos next week.