GLOBAL FC aims to reach new heights in the continental football scene as it takes on Pahang FA on Wednesday, the last day of the Asian Football Confederation Cup group stage, at the Philippine Stadium in Bulacan.
Already making history as the first of two teams to represent the Philippines in the second-tier club tournament in the continent, the reigning United Football League champions target a coveted spot in the knockout stage this time.
Kickoff is at 8 p.m.
Global lost its last match, a 3-0 decision at the hands of top seed and Round of 32-bound South China in Hong Kong two weeks ago that kept the Philippine club stuck in third spot with four points, three behind second-running Pahang.
But Global stayed alive in its bid to join South China in the next round owing to a head-to-head rule after holding Pahang to a scoreless draw at the opponent’s turf in Malaysia in March.
No less than a victory against the Malaysian powerhouse, however, is necessary for Global to advance for the right to face either Persipura Jayapura of Indonesia or Burmese side Ayeyawady United.
“An honorable draw won’t be enough anymore,” Global coach Leigh Manson said in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday. “Make no mistake, we’re very proud to be where we are, but we are hungry and we want to take the next step really badly.”
“Even a draw would show us that we can compete outside the country,” the Scottish mentor added. “But a win for us really cements Philippine club football.”
“This could be a turning point for Philippine club football like what the Azkals did five years ago,” skipper Misagh Bahadoran, one of Global’s national team standouts, said.
Mark Hartmann is expected to link up with Bahadoran up front, while fellow Azkals Amani Aguinaldo and Daisuke Sato anchor the backline along with the last line of defense in goalkeeper Patrick Deyto.
But Global is up against a tough squad that sits on top of the Malaysian Super League, having won its last six matches.
“I don’t think there’s been a bigger club game in Philippine history, because of what it could have in the bigger picture for the country… and because of the ramifications around Asia,” said Manson, who will have 17 players available this time.
Global emerged victorious the first and last time it played in the 20,000-seat facility in Bocaue where the UFL heavyweights drubbed Yadanarbon, 4-1, behind a Hartmann brace.
“So far, it’s been a lucky stadium for us,” Manson said. “Hopefully we can make it two-of-two.”