GLOBAL FC’s pursuit of international glory starts on Wednesday when it kicks off its inaugural Asian Football Confederation President’s Cup campaign against Yeedzin at the Cebu City Sports Complex.
The defending United Football League champions, the first Philippine football club to be invited to the tournament featuring squads from emerging Asian football nations, take on their opponents from Bhutan at 7:30 p.m.
“(Wednesday) will be the start of another milestone for Philippine football,” team owner Dan Palami said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at Shakey’s Malate on the eve of the historic event.
“It’s not just for Global FC, but for all the clubs in the Philippines primarily because it opens the doors. We may be the first club, but certainly we will not be the last club to be part of this tournament.”
Two-time champion and six-time finalist Dordoi Bishkek, expected to be Global’s toughest test, opens its bid against Pakistani club KRL at 4:30 p.m. in the opener in Group B action.
Despite having little footage of the opposition, Palami expressed confidence his club has what it takes to fare well and ultimately advance to the final round in September.
“We are in uncharted waters. But we have quite a strong club team. We have a good coach and we have a system now that we are implementing,” Palami said of his team, bannered by eight national team members and coached by Scottish Brian Reid, who steered Ayr United to top flight promotion last year after toiling in the second division for the last five years in the Scottish league.
“I think we stand a good chance of at least qualifying to the final round. We’re approaching it with cautious optimism,” Palami, the 42-year-old entrepreneur from Tacloban and team manager of the Philippine Azkals, added.
Palami is particularly banking on his squad’s defense that has conceded the least goals so far in the UFL with six.
“We have always been one of the strongest teams in defense. I hope that our defense will hold the fort.”
With only two slots allowed to foreigners - given to Polish defender Ben Starosta and Ivorian goalkeeper Moussa Sanogo - Global’s Filipino standouts will have to step up.
And Marwin and Marvin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Jeffrey Christiaens, Juani Guirado, Carli de Murga, Niño Ochoterena, Patrick Reichelt, and Denis Wolf, as well as on-loan compatriots Ed Sacapaño, Jason de Jong, and Joshua Beloya are all expected to rise to the occasion.
“It’s going to be a local show and our local guys are ready to face the challenge. We just hope our progress will be as phenomenal as the Azkals,” said Palami, the man behind the national team’s rise to prominence and who’s hoping to bring the same success to the club level.