A beefed-up Global FC tries to inch closer to Loyola Meralco when the United Football League heavyweights collide on Saturday at the resumption of Division 1 play at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
With four new players in tow, Global, running second with 22 points in the nine-team standings, hopes to avenge its 0-4 loss in the first round to the Sparks and nudge within a point of the league leaders in the 8:30 p.m. blockbuster.
“If we win the game, it brings the league very, very close,” Global coach Leigh Manson said. “That’s something that will generate excitement as one team is not running away, but several teams are all contesting.”
Global unveiled its acquisitions in former Union Internacionale Manila campaigner Curt Dizon, Mexicans Raul Martinez and German Rodriguez, and 19-year-old Filipino-Japanese defender Daisuke Sato on Friday and are expected to suit up in the weekend match.
“We’re looking to give an opportunity to show that they can step up and play for this club,” Manson said in a press conference where the powerhouse squad also announced local brand Atleta as its new outfitter.
Among the recruits, Martinez, the 26-year-old midfielder who played in his country’s second-tier league and for the Under-23 squad, has impressed Manson the most.
“Raul’s already made a difference, I feel, in training,” the Scottish mentor said. “His tempo fits the way, I believe, football should be played, by keeping the ball. Raul’s brought that and the young players have brought energy and excitement to the team.”
Azkals Misagh Bahadoran, Jeffrey Christiaens, Mark Hartmann Jason de Jong, Marwin Angeles, and Amani Aguinaldo are also expected to be back after their national team duty last week.
“It’s a good mix that we have and I think we’re going on the right track,” Manson said. “We’re in a decent position in the league.”
It’s not only Global that’s shored up its roster as the Sparks welcome newly crowned UAAP MVP Paolo Bugas and Best Midfielder Arnel Amita, who are fresh from their title conquest with Far Eastern University.
Nationals Phil Younghusband and Simon Greatwich are also expected to suit up, although James Younghusband remains sidelined with an injury.
“I’m always looking forward to matches like this. It should be interesting,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said.
Philippine Army takes on Socceroo in the curtain-raiser at 6:15 p.m.