CEBU CITY, Philippines – Hours after Global FC absorbed a stinging setback from Kyrgyz club Dordoi FC and bombed out of the AFC President's Cup, the team joined its ardent supporters collectively known as "Global Force" for a post-tourney celebration.
It was, in no way, meant to overlook the numbing defeat Global had suffered and the sad realization that it's far from belonging among the big boys of "emerging" Asia just yet. Rather, it's about celebrating the historic appearance of a Pinoy club in the competition, and what this brings to PH football.
"There's the realization that we (still) have much to achieve, much to learn when it comes to international competitions for clubs, especially with the limitation of foreign players (to two per club)," said team owner Dan Palami.
Global ended up third in the four-nation Group B qualifiers, compiling three points on a 5-0 triumph over Yeedzin of Bhutan against back-to-back losses to KRL of Pakistan (0-2) and eventual group winner Dordoi (1-6). Dordoi and KRL took the group’s top two spots and advanced to the final round in September.
"For me, looking at the positive side of it, the biggest realization was that club football in the PH is here to stay. With all the support we’ve been getting from Global Force in Cebu, Manila, Leyte, Iloilo and everywhere else, this is actually the first time that I've seen the culture of a club as they do it outside the PH and how it can be (here).
"And this is a good sign not only for Global FC but for all the clubs who have the desire, the vision to go international. They should continue aiming for that. Global opened the doors for an international club tournament here and I think this won’t be the last time we will be here and I'm sure the next time, we will do better," he said.
Global botched its last chance to advance after squandering a 1-0 lead against a Dordoi side that benefited from the four-goal explosion of Mirlan Murzaev and Global’s shaky goalkeeping and defending.
"I don't think we're that far behind (in terms of competitive level). The scoreline might look like it was a lopsided match but we were actually in the thick of the game, except that we're caught in the counters and that's where we’re weak and also with second ball coming off from our back-four, that’s where we had problem," Palami said.
"Having said that, while our defense wasn't as strong as we wanted it to be, we were actually able to create good opportunities against teams we're playing here. So that, for me, was positive going to the next tournament we’ll be joining," he added.
Dordoi, according to the Global honcho, is a de facto Kyrgyzstan national team, having a bunch of national mainstays. KRL, for its part, was a finalist last year.
"It's a pretty heavy group and nevertheless it allowed us to gauge ourselves and see where we are in the international level and I think from this tournament, there could only be big improvements for the club," said Palami.
Global returns to the UFL and is raring to see action in its next international foray, the 2013 Singapore Cup, where they will play S-League side Warriors FC on June 1.
Notes: Majority of the crowd at the Cebu City Sports Center chanted "Ed-sa, Ed-sa" in an effort to convince Global coach Brian Reid to send in Ed Sacapaño (on loan from Army) in place of Ivorian keeper Moussa Sanogo.
The audience was displeased with the way the six-foot Sanogo manned the post, often going out of line and showing butter-fingers in collecting the ball. There was even once instance when he did the bizarre and joined the attack. Reid dispatched Sacapano at the 61st.
According to Palami, Reid "had some qualms putting the 5-foot-9 Sacapaño against a team that’s on the average is taller than him." "When you're a keeper, certainly size has its advantage." Well, that was not the case in that fateful match.
Palami also admitted that they weren't able to "properly scout" Sanogo, a late replacement to Global’s injured keeper Roland Sadia.