A GLOBAL side bannered by local players begins its quest for international glory when it arrives in Cebu on Friday for the Asian Football Confederation President’s Cup from May 8 to 12.
The defending United Football League champions, the first Philippine football club to take part in the tournament featuring squads from emerging Asian nations, concludes its buildup in the Queen City of the South with only two foreigners in the fold – as per tournament rules.
New recruit Moussa Sagono and Ben Starosta are set to be the foreign reinforcements of the squad, according to team owner Dan Palami.
Sagono, who saw action in the top flight of the Ivory Coast league, is expected to replace fellow Ivorian and injured first-choice goalkeeper Roland Sadia, while Pole Starosta is set to be part of the back four.
They will join locals Marwin and Marvin Angeles, Misagh Bahadoran, Jerry Barbaso, Jeffrey Christiaens, Carli de Murga, Niño Ochoterena, Patrick Reichelt, and Denis Wolf, as well as on loan compatriots Ed Sacapaño, Jason de Jong, and Joshua Beloya.
Reliable Filipino-Spanish defender Juani Guirado is also expected to fly in and supply another needed boost for the squad, which is drawn in Group B with two-time champion Dordoi Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan, as well as Yeedzin of Bhutan, and Pakistan’s KRL.
Global coach Brian Reid admitted he will be missing the services of the rest of the squad’s foreign standouts in Izzo El-Habib, Ange Guisso, Koray Gunduzoglu, skipper Yu Hoshide, Val Kama, Sadia, and Delon Patrick Yao.
“I’m not obviously satisfied with that (team’s makeup) because I’d like to take everybody,” the Scottish mentor said. “It’s disappointing because we’ve got some good foreign players and I feel sorry for them they can’t be a part (of the tournament).”
“It’s a difficult situation for myself as a coach to get the right ones to go. It’s never a perfect solution,” he added. “It’s trying to get the right balance and you hope to utilize players who can play two or three positions so we can be more flexible because we’re going in with a very limited-sized squad.”