Global FC entered the match as favorites, and rightly so, after dispatching Forza FC, 4-1, Sunday evening to kick off their UFL Cup 2015 campaign at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
It is difficult to say whether the score reflected the complexion of the match with Global having chance after chance, only for them to either squander it with poor decision making or move slowly enough to give Forza’s defense time to recover.
Global characteristically opened the game as the more threatening of the two teams on the pitch. The reigning UFL Champions tried ways to move around the stingy Forza defense, but whenever they managed to squeeze the ball into the area, loads of men in tangerine and black were there to imply pressure. Yet, the determination of Global to score right away was just too much for Forza. Just inside nine minutes, Ronie Espinosa fouled Izo Elhabib inside the box, resulting in a spot kick for Global. As designated spot kick taker, Mark Hartmann drilled his shot nonchalantly past Forza keeper, Jaysan Galarrita. However, the referee spotted an infraction among the players outside the box, therefore ordering a retake. It was not a problem for Mark, who easily slotted the ball to make it 1-0.
Forza aimed to respond immediately, albeit without success. Blanchard Belinga Ambara tried to smash a long range effort to stretch Global FC goalkeeper, Patrick Deyto. Instead, it sailed too high to even bother the Philippine international, who was merely a spectator in the majority of the match. Mark, the younger of the two Hartmann brothers playing for Global, was involved again in his team’s second goal. This time around, he provided a good ball for Norio Suzuki to fire home, 10 minutes after Global went ahead. Plenty of chances came for the club dubbed as the People’s Club, but Elhabib, Minegishi and Suzuki, all fell short in extending the advantage before halftime. A setback came before the interval for Global when Amani Aguinaldo had to be taken off after uneasily falling to the field. Jahanbakhsh Zabihi Taher came on in his place come the restart.
In the second half, Global shuffled their cards with the hopes of revitalizing their movements back and forth the pitch. Despite making the changes, Global were still spearheaded by Mark Hartmann and Suzuki, with the duo looking most likely to give Forza’s defense some headaches. On the other side of the field, Deyto was beginning to be a part of the game, often having to move around in order to derail Forza’s forwards. With only 16 minutes left, Minegishi finally scored a goal, uncannily off the post and in, after Mark Hartmann set him up with a textbook pass. Three minutes later, Mark grabbed his second by hitting a thunderous strike from around 25 yards. The two quick second half goals seemed to have broken the backs of Forza, who were beginning to gain attacking rhythm.
At the last minute of added time, however, Forza claimed a consolation goal after Jangobah Nuai Johnson’s free kick sneaked into Deyto’s goal to deny Global a precious clean sheet. “We’re disappointed in losing our goal [clean sheet],” Global Coach Leigh Manson expressed. In addition, he cited the team’s lack of rhythm. “The timing, the quality of our balls, our movement, and our pressing was not quite what I was hoping for.” Still, three points is three points for Manson who sent a message to all his players. “This wasn’t our strongest team tonight. I’m going to need to do that with all these competitions. We’re going to have to keep rotating players. Players need to understand when they’re on the pitch that they need to make as big of an impact as possible.”
Global will play against idle Manila Jeepney FC on Sunday at 1:45 PM while Forza will be given a chance to claim their first points when they square off against Laos FC on the same day at 4:00 PM.