GLOBAL showed its depth despite being undermanned.
Playing without almost half of its lineup, the reigning League champion still proved too good for a full-strength Loyola Meralco squad, 2-1, to reach the Finals of the United Football League Cup on Tuesday night at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
With several key players staying on in Cebu with the national team that will play a friendly against Singapore on Thursday, Global turned to foreigners Alex Obiang and Izzo El-Habbib to score the goals, enabling the powerhouse squad to move a win away from securing its second Cup title in three years.
Standing right in Global’s path however, is the Stallion which repulsed Green Archers United, 3-1, in the other semifinal pairing to arrange the title showdown against the defending champion.
The two teams meet in the winner-take-all finale on Monday night also at the Rizal Memorial field.
The win marked the first time Global defeated the Sparks since the last League play.
“Every victory is sweet but when you beat a team you haven’t beaten in the last League, it’s even sweeter,” said Global owner Dan Palami, whose team lost to the Sparks, 3-4, last February, before settling to a 1-1 draw last June.
Global played without Azkals Marwin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jeff Christiaens, Juani Guirado, Carli de Murga Demit Omphroy, Patrick Reichelt, and Denis Wolf, but didn’t seem to have missed their national teammates as Cameroonian Obiang drew first blood right in the sixth minute, before Sudanese El-Habbib doubled the lead in the 83rd minute.
Three minutes later, the Sparks’ James Younghusband, also a member of the national team but given the go-signal to play for his club, tried to start an uprising after converting a close-range strike.
But the Sparks could not get the equalizer.
“They really showed me what they are made of,” Palami said of his non-Azkals players, especially Jerry Barbaso and Fidel Nnabuife for their stellar defense on the Sparks’ Phil Younghusband.
Palami is set to fly to the Queen City of the South later in the night to reunite with the national team.
“Hopefully I’ll be as lucky in Cebu as I was now.”
In the second semis game, former national team member Ruben “Balut” Doctora Jr. sparkled for the Stallions, scoring a brace, the first which tied the game in the 70th minute that eventually forced the extra period, and the second a goal late in overtime that doused any hope of an Archers’ fightback.
After the Archers’ Floriano “Tating” Pasilan opened the scoring in the second half, the tide slowly turned on the Stallions’ side with Doctora equalizing and Lee Hwon Yung scoring the tiebreaker.