In a battle between Division II rivals, Forza FC edged Laos, 1-0, courtesy of a first half goal netted by Jangobah Johnson to collect their first win in the UFL Cup 2015 held Sunday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium.
Shayan Jafary got the ball rolling by putting the ball off target seven minutes after kick-off. Out of nowhere, Forza’s Stephane Burda engineered a scrappy play, his pass reaching J. Johnson who rounded past the goalkeeper and easily tucked the ball into the net to make it, 1-0, for his team. It changed the complexion of the match with Laos venturing forward more often. Shortly, a free kick taken by Jafary caused a bit of trouble for Forza as it sailed across the face of goal before the Forza defense got rid of the ball. He had another one at the 16th minute but it did not bother Forza goalkeeper Martin Villaflor. Five minutes later, Laos had a penalty claim dismissed. It appeared like Ronie Espinosa fouled Aaron Altiche, who received the ball inside the box from Patrik Franksson. The referee, however, was not fully convinced that Espinosa’s challenge was malicious so play kept on.
Both teams moved towards the attacking third with flair but neither managed to make the critical touch that may have changed the game. Forza had more attempts in the opening half, manifesting their desperation to level the score as soon as possible. Jafary linked up with Alhassan Mohammedu with the latter heading the former’s cross off target at the half hour mark. More shots came Laos’ way before halftime with Franksson’s shot off Cheick Camara’s pass at the 38th minute saved by Villaflor.
In the second half, Forza addressed Laos’ attacking barrage by attempting to pad their lead. However, shots from Mervin Evangelista and Jangobah inside the first 15 minutes of the second half were off target. Not long after, Laos resumed their search for an equalizer as Figo Elhabib’s effort was cleared by Espinosa at the 61st minute. Eleven minutes later, Franksson had a shot saved for a corner. In the ensuing play, Mohammedu’s shot was headed off the line by Noel Brago to preserve his team’s lead.
Sensing danger, Forza had two opportunities to make things more comfortable for them in the game’s last quarter of an hour. Cristian Zubiri failed to hit the target while his colleague Amadou Ngom forced a save from Laos goalkeeper Oliver Moreno. Keeping the deficit slender, Laos hunted for a goal that will keep them undefeated in the tournament. Chances from Jafary and Reginald Jukes tested the Forza defense, albeit without success as Villaflor and his backline survived the determined Laos squad’s attacking barrage.
“We’re happy we got a victory over Laos and to win one game in the first round,” expressed Jangobah Johnson whose strike was enough to earn the three points for Forza. “Pressure is always on the team that’s leading,” he added as his team survived Laos’ relentless yet unsuccessful pursuit for an equalizer. As it stands, Forza move to third place, level in points with Forza but own an inferior goal difference.
Forza will hope for their second straight win when they play against Manila Jeepney on Saturday, May 16, at 6:15 PM. Meanwhile, Laos will take a 13-day break before also taking on Manila Jeepney on May 23, at 4PM.
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