Sunday, October 09, 2011

Fair Play: Great UFL Cup opener and a great champion

(This is my draft of my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu)
LAST Saturday, Dan Palami watched as one team which controlled the offense in the entire second half still end up losing to a team that was barely holding on.

And too bad for the Philippine national team manager, it wasn’t the Azkals against Vietnam, it was his Global FC losing to the Stallions of coach Ernie Nierras, 3-2.

With the way Global was attacking the Stallions with impunity, it seemed inevitable that the defending champions would take a 3-0 lead before half time, but despite having the advantage in shots on goal, 11-3, they were trailing 2-0.

Sure, the Stallions rarely had the chance to test Paolo Pascual but when they did? They made it count.

Francis Gustilo made UFL Cup history as the first guy to score in the first local match to be televised live and he made sure people will still be talking about it next year when he scored from a wonderful strike from 40 yards.  The commentators said the goal from Gustilo, who also made the record book as the first person booked in a live local game, is an early candidate for goal of the year.

Then Jovanie Simpron took advantage of a defensive miscue to beat the Cebuano keeper on a one-on-one for 2-0.

And, perhaps because the football gods have a sick sense of humor and wanted to let Dan and Global fans feel what Vietnam felt, in a late first half attack, Global had four chances to score only to be foiled by the gutsy Stallions defense and keeper Wilson Munoz.

It pretty much the same story in the second half, with Global initiating the attacks and the Stallions getting the goal.

After Ruben Doctora made it 3-0, Global, finally got on board  with what for me, is an even wonderful goal than Gustilo’s, though I think only the guys who saw the match on TV got to appreciate it.

The menacing Remi Sery blocked a defensive clearance that was so powerful the shot ricocheted off his foot straight to goal.

Then Izo El-Habbib, described by some to be the best striker in the Philippines, beat Munoz with a header in the 84th before Yu Hoshide slid in what seemed to be an equalizer before it was disallowed for offside.

And you could hear the fan reactions after that all and I’m pretty sure Global FC supporter Ria de Leon strained her vocal chords letting loose some choice words at the officials.

Graeme Mackinnon, who said it wasn’t clear on TV if Hoshide was really offside, said Global didn’t have to rely on getting the calls right to get the equalizer.

“Sometimes you get that call and sometimes you don’t. They shouldn’t have needed that to get the draw. They should have had it before that,” the incoming Global coach said.

And he was right. Misagh Bahadoran, who showed wonderful ball control and speed, had a few chances to score, including a free header in the second half.

Janrick Soriano, who played in the Homeless World Cup, had his moments when he came in the second half but failed to capitalize.

And thanks to the upset, the already intriguing Group of Death in the UFL Cup just got more interesting.

As I write this, it’s still hours before the Cebu Queen City United vs. Pachanga match and I’m sure whatever the results, next week’s round of matches—Global FC vs. Cebu and Stallions vs. Pachanga—could determine the early qualifier from the Group.
 (Update, just learned that only one match was played today, while all others were cancelled due to to unplayable conditions)

DONNIE THE TWO-TIME CHAMP. After defending his WBO minimuweight crown in Mexico against a Mexican three times—a first for a Filipino—Donnie Nietes had another rare achievement by winning his second world title against a Mexican in home soil.

Now that’s determination.

Donnie isn’t that known among non hardcore fans but I hope the boxer whom Freddie Roach says is the country’s best next to Pacquiao, will get the world recognition this humble former janitor deserves.

Congrats Donnie!

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