GLOBAL FC opens its Asian Football Confederation Cup campaign against South China of Hong Kong on Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
After participating in the AFC President’s Cup and Singapore Cup the last couple of years, the defending United Football League champions take part in their toughest tournament yet — the second-tier club competition in the continent.
“We’re excited to be a part of history, help raise the standard of football here,” Global coach Leigh Manson said in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
The Philippines was given slots in the tournament ranked just behind the AFC Champions League after Asia’s football governing body last year made changes to the format of its club competitions.
The lone representative in the country after Ceres-La Salle fell short in the playoff round, Global starts its stint against no less than the veteran squad regarded as the best in Hong Kong, having won a record 41 Division 1 titles in its premier league.
“We have a lot of respect for our opponent,” Manson said, but the Scottish mentor expressed confidence in his side’s capabilities of pulling off an upset in the Group G match that kicks off at 8 p.m.
“It’s a great unknown,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can tell us where we’re going to finish because no one’s ever done it before.”
“We could find out that South China are well advanced over us,” he added. “We could find that we are at par with them or even stronger that they are.”
South China coach Mario Gomez promised a victory for his squad on the opponent’s turf.
“We expect to win and we’ll give our hundred percent,” the Mexican mentor said through an interpreter.
Manson just expects his wards to play near-perfect football and avoid silly mistakes against a formidable foe.
“We have to make sure there’s few unforced errors to give ourselves a great chance to start our campaign with a win,” said the Scottish coach, who is fielding an Azkals-loaded squad led by fit-again skipper Misagh Bahadoran and bolstered by three foreign standouts.