A historic match took place on Wednesday night at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium when Global FC hosted Hong Kong’s South China AA. The monumental match was the first time a Philippine club football team played in the continent’s second-most important club football tournament. The outcome, nonetheless, was less romantic than the occasion as the visitors put on a clinic to thrash Global, 6-1, in their opening Group G game.
The home side had the worst of starts in their first game in the AFC Cup. South China striker Daniel McBreen pounced on a defensive lapse committed by Patrick Deyto to grab the lead for the Hong Kong squad. Deyto’s kick struck a South China player, prompting the Filipino goalkeeper to move forward in order to clear the ball better. Unfortunately for him, McBreen got to the ball first and chipped it over everyone else before it gradually strolled into the back of the net just two minutes after the kick off.
After giving away a calamitous opening goal, Global asserted themselves to notch an equalizer to get back into the game. They produced three good chances—two from Jerry Barbaso and Mark Hartmann whose long-range attempts have been off target, while Misagh Bahadoran was unable to head in Ray Jonsson’s cross from the right flank. Momentum was in Global’s favor at that moment but South China displayed their tremendous counterattacking play that caused plenty of problems for Global throughout the match. On their part, Global moved with more patience, eagerly waiting to find gaps in the stiff South China defense.
Ten minutes in, Lo Kong Wai got room to shoot inside Global’s box but was denied by Deyto. Moments later, Global’s Raul Martinez blasted his shot wide from outside the box. On the other end, Jack Sealy launched a volley from way out only for it to be easily saved by the Global goalkeeper. At the 18th minute, Misagh Bahadoran earned his side a free kick. It was awarded within the range of free kick specialist Mark Hartmann’s range but the Global forward could not get his shot to dip into South China AA goalkeeper Mora Medrano’s goal. In between those chances, both teams relatively split possession but the visitors looked more dangerous whenever they controlled the ball.
The floodgates opened for South China AA in the 27th minute when McBreen collected his second goal of the match to pad his team’s advantage. Mahama Awal, who has given Global FC a massive concern in counterattacks, led the way by sending a cross into the box. His initial cross found Chan Siu Ki but the forward’s attempt was stopped by Deyto. The young goalkeeper however was not able to get anything on to McBreen’s attempt which has been the result of Awal’s second cross along the byline. Global, now 2-0 behind, had trouble in breaking down the well-organized zonal defense of South China as they tried their luck, albeit unsuccessfully from far out.
Six minutes into the break, Awal’s sumptuous cross from the right wing found Chan Siu Ki. Like his earlier attempt in the game, Deyto managed to block the shot but again had no chance in preventing a catastrophic third from going in as Lo Kong Wai was at the right place at the right time to flick in South China AA’s third of the night. Halftime whistle sounded with Global down 3-0 in front of the 1300 spectators who graced their debut in second-tier Asian club football scene.
With the hope of pulling one back right away in order to get a result out of their first game, Hartmann opened the second half by firing a shot over the bar at the 47th minute. But it was the red-hot South China AA that was able to score next, increasing their lead two minutes after. Bahadoran fouled Lo Kong Wai from around 30 yards. Captain Chan Wai Ho, on the ensuing free kick, whipped in a delicate shot that struck the top corner with Deyto and the rest of the Global defense helplessly turned into spectators of the magnificent set piece. Awal also had a shot on target but was routinely gathered by Deyto 10 minutes after the restart. It was immediately followed by Chan Siu Ki’s wasted effort. It came at a time when Deyto was off his line due to high pressure exerted by South China AA. Fortunately for Deyto, the South China striker did not hit the mark.
The visitors did not wait longer for a goal to come their way. A key cog in their attacking sequences, Awal finally barged into the scoresheet at the 66th minute. Chan Siu Ki located Philip Chan who then diverted the ball towards the winger who coolly slotted it into the onion bag. Nine minutes later, the hardworking Cameroonian netted his second of the night to further dampen Global’s curtain raiser in the tournament. Going up 6-0 with only a quarter of an hour left, South China AA took their foot off the gas to allow the home team in finding a consolation goal. John Christopher Kanayama and Bahadoran had a go inside the last 10 minutes of normal time. The former’s shot did not bother Mora who also had to flex muscles in keeping Bahadoran’s shot from breaching his goal.Three minutes before the 90, Michael Jonsson turned a lot of frowns upside down when he smashed his strike off a poorly-dealt Hartmann cross past Mora to finish the game at 1-6.
Scorer of two goals that dictated the pace for South China AA, the 37-year old McBreen was delighted with the result. ““[Coach told us to] press early and try to put them under pressure,” shared the Australian who grabbed the lead off a defensive error to score instantly, putting Global off pace from that point. “We went on from there and I thought we played really well,” he added. Meanwhile, Bahadoran remains hopeful of their chances in the tournament. “We lost the game 6-1 but that showed that we found our mistakes now. We will know what level are we in,” he stated as they are set to prepare for their upcoming Group G match on March 11 when they travel to Malaysia and face Pahang FA. The Malaysian club uncorked their AFC Cup campaign with a 3-2 win over Myanmar club Yadanarbon.
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