Halfway through the AFC Cup 2015 Group Stage, undermanned Global FC were unable to take points back to Manila as two second half goals courtesy of Djedje Maximin Djawa and Win Htay Kyaw were enough for Yadanarbon FC to sink the Philippine champions, 2-0, earlier today at the Mandalar Thiri Stadium in Mandalay.
In the opening minutes of the first half, Yadanarbon controlled the tempo of the game. They produced more chances with their touches but the visitors held firm on defense. Junjun Badelic, hero at Kuantan, instinctively stopped every shot coming his way in the first half. Nanda Lim fired five minutes in, but his attempt from outside the box was easily saved by Badelic. Eight minutes later, Captain Yan Paing headed the ball from close range but instead of going into the net, the ball went above everyone else before Badelic promptly catches the ball.
Chances continued to flow for the home team with Tin Win Aung’s long distance attempt going way beyond the goal. The next chance though was something different. Nanda Lim moved into the Global box before setting up Djawa whose shot from around nine yards was blocked by Masaki Yanagawa. At the 26th minute, Djawa almost put his team ahead but Badelic managed to parry his shot away from entering his net.
Global did not have a lot of good chances in the first half hour of the game but they turned up the heat approaching halftime. Mark Hartmann spearheaded the Global offensive just right after Djawa missed another chance. The lanky forward connected with promise twice with Yanagawa in corner situations, but were unable to connect lethally to snatch the advantage from the Burmese. With most men in yellow busy up front, the home squad launched a quick counter attacking play off a corner, only for Badelic to keep the score level at halftime with a good stop.
After the break, Yadanrbon regained momentum with Tin Win Aung nearly opening up Global’s defense. His presence with the ball lured Badelic to rush past him. The Burmese midfielder then sent the ball towards the middle of the box, only for Yanagawa to clear it for what ended up to be a useless corner for Yadanarbon. A minute later, Ye Ko Oo’s free kick was headed away from danger by the alert Yanagawa who was patrolling along Global’s central defense throughout the match. At the 50th minute, the Global attack almost found a way to score past Thiha Sithu, with Dennis Villanueva evading three men in blue only for the Yadanarbon keeper to block the ball in time.
The Philippine club may well rue not converting that rare chance, as Djawa and his teammates found the breakthrough seven minutes after the restart. After forcing a poorly thought shot the minute prior, Thet Naing nicely teed up Djawa who buried his shot from 12 yards into the net past the helpless Global defense, which was caught napping in the circumstances. Falling behind, Global began to explore deeper into the Yadanarbon half. Raul Martinez unsuccessfully found anyone with his free kick at the hour mark, while Hartmann could not hit the target from 30 yards out. On the distaff, Yadanarbon defender Okpechi Happiness had the luxury of moving forward to double the lead, but Badelic managed to palm the ball away.
Global looked for a much-needed equalizer and had a few good chances to level the score in the last 20 minutes of play. Dennis Villanueva had two shots on target, with one almost too strong for Thiha Sithu in stoppage time. Hartmann was also a recipient of a decent Richard Talaroc cross but the Fil-Brit forward only managed to send it straight to Thiha Sithu. Yadanarbon also had opportunities to seal the points, including a horrible error by Badelic that almost led to an easy goal for Tin Win Aung only for the midfielder to fire wide, failing to capitalize on an unguarded net. After a flurry of late Global chances, it was substitute Win Htay Kyaw who found the back of the net, quite trivially to cap off their first win in the completion. He was neatly set up by fellow game-changer Sithu Aung in the last play of the match. Immediately after the restart, Singaporean referee Sukhbir Singh signalled the end of the match to the delight of the home fans.
The result puts Global back to fourth place as they slip to their second defeat in three games. They have a chance to redeem themselves in front of the Filipino crowd on the 15th of April, when they host Yadanarbon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium. In the return fixture, Global will look to bring back the suspended Amani Aguinaldo and the injured Misagh Bahadoran to stay alive in Asia’s second most important club football competition. Meanwhile, the Burmese are now in third place, just one point adrift of second ranked Pahang FA. The Malaysians are currently playing against the group leaders, Hong Kong club South China AA, as of press time.