Friday, June 14, 2013

Fair Play: A crazy finish to UFL title chase

LAST year, Kaya FC watched helplessly from the stands as Global FC bagged the UFL title with a draw against the Loyola Meralco Sparks in its final game in the season and I think that bitter memory was still fresh in Kaya’s mind when it took on Global again last Thursday night.

Global needed a win to keep its title retention bid alive, while Kaya was already out of it and was a sure fourth-placer with 31 points behind third-placer Meralco, Global and Stallion.

However, playing for pride spurred Kaya to one of its best games so far, overhauling a two-goal lead to beat the defending champion, 3-2, and hand the UFL title to Stallion, which finished the season with 46 points on 15 wins, 1 draw and two losses. The Stallion, which also beat Global for the Cup last December, finished the season with an impressive 60 goals in 18 matches, more than three per game, while allowing 22.

For Global, its defense faltered when it needed them most, but what makes the loss more disappointing is not losing that two-goal lead, but those calls that didn’t go their way. It started with that debatable penalty in the first half which resulted to a Chris Greatwich penalty, and that non-call on Izzo El-habbib in the second half. (Click here to see video of that penalty call)

I think the ref recognized his error by making that silly make-up call, calling a foul on Kaya FC while a defender and Izzo were jostling for a the ball just outside the box.  Fortunately for the ref--and unfortunately for Global--the free kick didn’t go in.

Yes, the officiating was spotty , but I don’t think the refs gave the game to Kaya.  Global simply never recovered after that penalty by Chris and they lost their form in the second half and when Carlie de Murga scored that own goal, their spirits were simply deflated.

It’s a painful and bitter lesson for Global, one that the Stallion thought it had to bear in mind for one year after that 1-1 draw with Loyola last Tuesday.

Can Global bounce back? Of course it can.  All tough and top teams find their character when they’re down.

Aside from the game, it seemed there was also some bit of action in the stands, with one mother accusing the Ultras Kayas of hitting her son, who was cheering for Global.  Kaya FC has since condemned the move and one of the leaders of the Ultras have apologized but it was an incident that shouldn’t have happened.  Lots of things are said and done that people later regret or revel in the seconds after a goal or the final whistle and though I admire the spirit of the Ultras Kayas, one of these days their practice of celebrating a goal by running to the other supporters is going to bounce back at them.

It seems the other UFL supporters are just too nice because I know of some who’d beat the crap out of you if you gloat in front of them.

I heard Global Force is planning to file a complaint but I’d rather they don’t--well, save for that incident when a kid got hit.  That’s sports and sometimes actions are influenced by the result.  However, if they pursue that, well, it’s their right.

So who was I rooting for that night?  Global of course, as I wanted to see the team get that second chance in the AFC President’s Cup but it’s good, too, that Ernie Nierras, the Malditas coach who’ve done a lot for the country, tastes success with his club and gets a chance in the President’s Cup.  Yes, Stallion, which has a lot of foreigners, will have to deal with the limit in the AFC President’s Cup but for a coach who also handles a national team, he’ll know how to solve that.

QUOTEWORTHY. “So it’s not Global Above All or Una Kaya... but Una Stallions Above All as Kaya repeat comeback win over Global.”---GMA football writer Roy Moore after Kaya’s 3-2 win over Global.
(www.cebufootball.blogspot.com)

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