IT’S difficult to watch a Philippine football club lose in an international competition. It’s worse when that club that carries the name of your hometown once had the potential to be great. Let’s face it: Global Cebu FC right now is but a shadow of its former self. Following its second defeat in the 2018 AFC Cup Group Stage, a 3-0 loss to Burmese side Yangon FC in Myanmar, it’s rather hard to imagine how the club can bounce back from its dismal form.
It wasn’t long ago when Global was an emerging force in the region. In the 2017 edition of the AFC Cup, Global topped its group, winning five matches, drawing none, and just losing once for an impressive total of 15 points to advance to the knockout stage, where it lost just by one goal on aggregate (4-5) to Singapore’s Home United in the two-leg Asean Zonal semi-finals.
Fast forward to March 2018 and what was unthinkable a year ago is painfully unfolding: Global is in a rut. Halfway through the AFC Cup group stage, it’s on the brink of elimination. After three games, winless Global languishes at the bottom of Group G with only one point from a 1-1 draw at “home” against Indonesia’s Bali United. Even more ridiculous is that Global has netted just one goal while having conceded five.
The defense is leaking, the attack can’t pull the trigger – Global’s prospects don’t look too good. The only chance Global can advance to the knockout stage of the 2018 AFC Cup is nothing short of a miracle. By miracle that means Global has to win its last three matches for a maximum of nine points.
I’ve looked at the different scenarios, but if Global wins all its remaining matches – two at “home” at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium against Yangon United on March 13 and against FLC Thanh Hóa on April 11, then away against Bali United on April 25 – that would give Global 10 points in total, and perhaps a chance to advance as group runner up.
Winning three games seems asking too much, but who knows? Global might just get its act together, and with some luck, pull off an incredible feat. Without inspiration from the crowd in its faux home matches in Manila, Global Cebu can look somewhere else: from its Philippines Football League rivals Ceres-Negros FC.
Sometimes, nothing can fire up a failing club more to win than seeing its greatest rival succeeding with aplomb and in style. Global Cebu FC should watch the replay of how Ceres broke down the impregnable defense of Burmese champions Shan United at the packed Panaad Park and Stadium late in the game held last March 6. Of how the poacher in Patrick Reichelt pounced on a defender’s freak mistake to break the deadlock in the 79th minute. Of how, four minutes later, a mercurial Mike Ott, in a moment of genius, beat several defenders to create a magical pass to an unmarked Bienvenido Marañon, who cooly slotted the ball for the Busmen’s decisive second goal.
Global Cebu should see how delighted the fans of Ceres-Negros are.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on March 09, 2018.
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