Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fair Play: A great finale to a great UFL Cup

IF you missed the UFL Cup finals last Monday, you sure did miss one great game.  There was drama, excitement, and of course, great goals and great plays.

You couldn't ask for a better ending for the UFL Cup.

When it comes to club football, like most fans, writers have their favorites.  And I've always been fond of Global, ever since I've heard of this club. But man, you'd have to admire the Stallion for the grit they showed in that final.  Possession-wise, Stallion was back-pedaling for most of the first half, and in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

Patrick Reichelt, it seemed, was ready to print his name down the flank but 20 minutes after half, it was the Stallion that got ahead, and even if you're a Global fan, you'd have to admire that goal for its beauty.

I've always been fond of goals that involve the keeper, and no not the Hail Marys where the keeper launches it to the opposite box, hoping for a striker to latch on to it.  The go ahead goal by Rufo Sanchez was came after a series of great passes and movement off the ball, starting from the keeper.  Global, which seemed on the verge of getting the go-ahead goal at that team, was simply unable to react and when Pi Yong Jae launched it to the box, Rufo found himself open for the header.

Global, though, was still in it, even up to the final whistle.  They’ve had numerous chances, even deep in injury time.  A header by Izo Elhabbib to the bottom corner was tapped out by Munoz, while a powerful shot by Juani Guirado—who could have taken more time with it—went to the sky.

In the end though, it was the Stallion that got the Cup, a pleasant surprise considering most thought Global would win it.

Sportsmen are usually superstitious folks and I remember Michael Jordan, after an embarrassment in Orlando during the 95 playoffs, ditched his No. 45 for his No. 23 and his old Air Jordans.  Stallion coach Ernie Nierras has been wearing mis-matching shoes to the games, ever since Stallion started winning.

And I guess, it would be safe to assume he’d be doing the same come Jan. 12, when the Stallion travels to Bacolod to face Ceres in the PFF Smart Cup round-of-16.  Coach Ernie also said he’ll have new players—which he’ll be keeping as a surprise for now—for the Smart Cup. With the UFL Cup in tow, the pressure will be on the Stallion, to at least make the final.

As for Global, the players will recover.  A club that doesn’t know how to deal with a loss has no business in football.
It really was a great finale to a great tournament.  Here’s to even greater football in 2013.

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