Ryan Fenix provides the lowdown on Pahang's 2015 AFC Cup opponents from the Philippines...
Who are they?
Global FC were founded 15 years ago when a group of football enthusiasts from Tacloban, Leyte formed a team to play football games in Manila before eventually joining minor local tournaments. In 2009, they joined the second division of the fledgling United Football League and earned automatic promotion to Division 1. From then on, their rise has been meteoric as they won the UFL Cup that same year while finishing second in the Division 1 the following season. They went on to win to lift the first division title in 2012 and 2014 – the latter earned them an automatic slot in the 2015 AFC Cup.
Domestically, Global are always one of the favourites to challenge for the title. As Global head coach Leigh Manson puts it: “A club like Global should be winning trophies.” Internationally, Global FC are still finding its feet. Last year they were unable to qualify from the group stages of the AFC President’s Cup, a competition for clubs from emerging countries in Asia, despite playing at home in Cebu City.
A rather painful 6-1 home drubbing in the first match of the 2015 AFC Cup group stages against Hong Kong side South China AA shows that Global still have a long way to go to replicate their domestic brilliance in the international stage.
The 6-1 defeat may not suggest as much, but one of Global’s strengths is having plenty of players who have played international football for the Azkals in their roster. In fact, in recent times, Global have supplied the most players to the national team. Misagh Bahadoran, Mark Hartmann, Daisuke Sato, Amani Aguinaldo, Ray Jonsson and Patrick Deyto all have had international tournaments under their belts, most notably in the AFF Suzuki Cup and the AFC Challenge Cup.
An administrative error in the submission of player personnel lists has caused them to unable to field their first-choice starting XI, which includes Roland Sadia, Yu Hoshide, Hikaru Minegishi, Satoshi Otomo, Izzo Elhabib and especially Matthew Hartmann, a player they acquired just for this tournament. Without those players, Global struggled heavily in that defeat to South China – their first ever AFC Cup match and the first for any Filipino club. Global have since appealed for the inclusion of the players, but at the moment it looks bleak.
Head coach Leigh Manson has always backed the team to play the “Global way”, which he describes it as: “We let the ball do the work. We control match tempo. We can play long balls but we retain possession.”
Being one of the stronger teams domestically, Global tend to control possession and boss the midfield while patiently stringing out passes to test lesser opponents, but against stronger teams in the AFC Cup, it is unclear if they still prefer to stay compact and try to hit teams on the counter. Without most of their star players, Global might tweak their style of play to compete with their opponents in the AFC Cup.
Global forward Mark Hartmann (yes, he's related to the abovementioned Matthew) led the UFL in the goal-scoring charts last season with 27 goals in 24 games, en route to winning the Golden Boot. Although he has struggled to replicate the same form for the national team, Global will be relying on him to find his shooting boots if they are to advance to the next round of the AFC Cup.
Global have regarded themselves as the "People's Club". Manson once explained to ABS-CBN Sports: "I think it’s because of our relationship with the Tacloban city and the people. I think it’s important that we don’t forget that this is about the people [and] about giving you, no matter what your background [is], a chance to follow a dream, whether you’re a player [or] a fan. That, for me is why we regard ourselves as the people’s club. We go out and do a lot of work in the communities. We take time to interact with our fans and we don’t forget them."
The moniker may have also come about because of the number of Azkals in their ranks in recent years.
Many people know Dan Palami as the Azkals team manager and Global head honcho, but perhaps not many people know that Palami himself once took the field for the club. In the dying minutes of the 2011 UFL Cup battle for third place, with the game already won, Palami came on as a substitute to take his place in Global’s left wing to the raucous cheering from the crowd. It is strange that a chairman is considered a club legend, but without Palami, it can be said that Global would not have become what it is today.
(Pictures: Global FC Facebook)