Global went to Hong Kong full of hope and excitement after dismantling Yadanarbon two weeks ago, but will return to the Philippines knowing that they will need a win in their last 2015 AFC Cup group game following a 3-0 defeat to South China AA at the Mongkok Stadium in Hong Kong Wednesday night.
In need of a win, Global sought to grab the first goal of the match as soon as possible. The first solid chance came as a result of a free kick 10 minutes in. Mark Hartmann’s dead ball delivery located Misagh Bahadoran, but the Global captain’s header was collected by South China goalkeeper, Mora Medrano. Five minutes later, the visitors had another crack at the South China goal only for a wonderful sequence of passes involving Dennis Villanueva and Hartmann reach an offside Bahadoran.
Momentum stayed with Global, who kept on finding ways to breach Medrano’s goal, albeit unsuccessfully. Seventeen minutes after kick-off, Daisuke Sato’s cross intended for Bahadoran was cleaned up by the South China defense. At the 26th minute, Paolo Bugas and Hartmann linked up nicely, but Raul Martinez blew the play up with a misplaced pass. A minute over the half hour mark, Global had another chance off the dead ball, but Medrano was positioned well enough to get to the ball.
The number of chances the Philippine champions had was plenty, but after not converting any of those to goals, the home side began to be more aggressive. In spite of having less chances approaching halftime, it was the Hong Kong club that broke the deadlock, five minutes before the interval. Super sub, Michael Cheng, raced into the box to knock home Daniel McBreen’s cross. At the half, the hosts were ahead 1-0, quite harshly for Global.
The second half began quite similar to the first with the opening minutes slowly played. However, the efficiency of South China was on display with them finding a way past Patrick Deyto again nine minutes after the restart. Off a corner, Bojan Masilič towered over to head the ball into the Global goal to double his team’s lead. A damaging third nearly came soon when Cheng just missed out on getting a touch to Jack Sealy’s threaded pass across the goal. The men in yellow did get opportunities, but Bugas blasted his shot off target at the hour mark, and Hartmann had an attempt blocked three minutes later.
With only 21 minutes left, Deyto kept out a McBreen shot that could only have made things worse for Global. The visitors spent a good portion of the match on the attack, but were undone by the home squad’s clinical finishing. At the last minute of normal time, substitute, Paolo Salenga, was teed up by Hartmann’s forward pass, but Mora got to the ball before the winger did. In added time, McBreen rubbed salt in the wounds of Global with a needless third for the team that has a 100% record in the competition. A Hartmann chance, a minute later, looked to cancel it, but to no avail, as it was saved by Mora. Not long after, the final whistle sounded with Global battered by South China, 3-0.
For Global to advance into the knockout stages, they would need a triumph of any margin over Pahang, who were 7-4 victors tonight. In the last time they met, Pahang dominated, but were frustrated by the resolute Global defense, anchored by Jun Badelic. Now, Global will need not only to blank their opponents, but also to score more than them. The crucial match between Global and Pahang will be played on May 13, at the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan.
*Writer’s previous knowledge was wrong as he initially understood that goal difference will primarily break any tie on points. Instead, it has been known after the publication of this article that head to head record will be the primary tiebreaker, meaning that a win by Global will be enough for them to qualify as they would win in aggregate over Pahang. The two teams drew in Malaysia earlier this year.