Lately Global has beefed up its lineup with a gaggle of new Azkals and foreigners. But on Tuesday, it was one of their established stars who carried them into the UFL Cup semifinals.
Misagh Bahadoran's 92nd minute extra time strike proved to be the game-winner as Global won 2-1 in their UFL Cup quarterfinal versus Kaya.
Bahadoran also had a hand in Demit Omphroy's 33rd minute opener, and throughout the game made several creative passes that belied his reputation as a dribble-first, pass-later player.
After the final whistle his teammates tossed him into the air in celebration.
The game was played in front of a packed grandstand in the University of Makati, and with both teams supported well, the atmosphere was truly remarkable.
Kaya lost, but Eddie Mallari's equalizer, a glorious 25-meter volley, may be the goal of the Cup this far.
Kaya started with a surprise: Anton Del Rosario, usually a wingback, started on the right wing.
It was a cagey first half hour on the mushy Umak turf until Bahadoran unleashed a cannon that Kaya keeper Saba Garmaroudi parried.
The rebound fell to Omphroy and he tapped it in for 1-0.
Then just before halftime Mallari leveled with his right-footed volley.
"I remember crackin' it and that s**t goin' in" recalled Mallari after the game.
Twelve minutes into the second half Global owner and head coach Dan Palami raised eyebrows by yanking Izo Elhabbib, who had threatened the Kaya defense all game, in favor of Patrick Reichelt.
Reichelt took his usual right wing slot, sending Omphroy to an attacking midfield position.
Meanwhile Kaya relieved the ineffective Antonio Ugarte in attack and replaced him with Armand Del Rosario. Soon after Nate Burkey came in for Kross Ubiam.
Denis Wolf could have won it late in regulation but his two long-range missiles in the last five minutes went high.
In the 89th Omphroy had a chance as well but his curling free kick was dealt with by Garmaroudi.
Moments later Kaya almost had a winner. Global keeper Roland Dely Sadia ventured out to punch a ball clear, but the ball was controlled by Kaya's Guamanian midfielder Jonah Romero, who chipped it towards goal. Fortunately for Global, Carli De Murga read the situation perfectly and stationed himself in the goalmouth, enabling him to clear the ball off the line.
Global grabbed the lead again for good two minutes into extra time when Bahadoran collected the ball near the edge of the penalty area. While the tiring Kaya defense dithered he dribbled towards the center and reeled off a low right foot strike that beat Garmaroudi, sending the Global crowd into rapture.
Kaya seemed to have little gas left in the tank as it was Patrick Reichelt who had two chances in the second half of extra time, both saved.
Kaya inserted striker Dario Dakic into the game in extra time for the injured Eric Dagroh, but to no avail.
As Michael Barajas' whistle finally sounded, the Global players erupted in celebration while the Kaya players slumped in exhaustion and dismay, with Masanari Omura dissolving into tears.
"My coach Yu (Hoshide) told me to break inside the defense since the defense was getting tired" explained an ecstatic Bahadoran afterwards.
Global now plays the winner of Thursday's clash between Loyola and Army in the UFL Cup semifinals.
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A note on the Ultras Kaya and their poor behavior that night. I have long admired the Kaya cheering squad, the Ultras Kaya for their energy, dedication and organization. They are the most enthusiastic cheering squad in the UFL. In fact just a few days ago I replied to a Tweet that praised them as the league's best.
But a lot of that respect went out the window on Tuesday.
Several of their supporters were repeatedly flashing dirty fingers at the Global side of the grandstand. Some also appeared to make loud and aggressive chants towards Global fans. At one point I could have sworn I heard them chanting "beat the wankers" at the direction of the Global supporters.
After the game they lit fireworks, which are illegal according to League rules, and UFL Match Coordinator Ritchie Gannaban tried to get them to extinguish them. According to Gannaban, the Ultras refused to put out the flames and some even taunted him. Says Gannaban "there are good fans and bad fans, and these are examples of bad fans. The bottom line is you have to respect everyone."
I'm with Gannaban here. I thought the Ultras Kaya behaved in a puerile, reckless, and provocative manner. Thankfully the Global fans largely ignored the Ultras Kaya's heckling.
Do we want the UFL to be like some European leagues where opposing fans need to be kept apart by policemen and rows of buffer seats? I would hope not. Fan violence has killed hundreds, maybe even thousands in the history of Football, and the league is correct to nip this nonsense in the bud before it gets out of hand. The UFL should always be a place that is safe to bring kids. This stuff makes that difficult.
A cheering squad's function is to cheer on and motivate its team's players, not insult its opponents and their fans.
In my opinion the Ultras Kaya need a mature and clear-minded leader who will control their baser urges. Their conduct that night cannot possibly reflect the values and sportsmanship that Kaya Football Club represents, and I hope they clean up their act in future games.
You can follow Bob on Twitter @bhobg333.
Editor's note: The blogger's views do not represent Yahoo! Southeast Asia's position on the topic or issue being discussed in this post.
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