By Jill Espiritu
MANILA Philippines -- MATAO Guam's relentless attacking strategy baffled Global FC’s starting defensive line as they scored two unanswered goals within the opening ten minutes of play and another at the start of the second half before bowing to the semi-pro club 5-3, in another friendly at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila, Philippines.
“I’m very disappointed that we let this game go,” said head coach Gary White in a flash interview following the friendly match. “We dictated the tempo of the game early on, but our naïveté showed on defence in the second half. The average age of this squad is only 21 and we need more games like this to gain playing experience for the young team.
“We don’t have competitive games like this in Guam and we hope to utilize these types of friendly matches more often. These experiences really help the team’s development,” White added.
Matao captain Jason Cunliffe dazzled fans with an early goal off a cross from Zachary DeVille to open the game. Three minutes later, 17-year-old Christian Schweizer burned Global FC defender Jerry Barbaso on the left side and sent a pass into the goal box before tumbling from a Barbaso slide tackle. With a handful of Global FC defenders and the team’s goalkeeper, Etouni Jerome Sylvain, scurrying to clear the ball, the Matao’s Ian Adamos pushed the ball enough to get it past the goal line for the 2-0 Guam lead.
Global struggled early to find quality shots against Guam goalkeeper Dallas Jaye and the Matao’s defensive line through most of the first half. Global FC’s Patrick Reichelt scored his team’s lone first-half goal in the 25th minute with a follow-up shot from free kick.
Global FC’s defence continued on high alert into the second half, as Devin Mendiola sent a beautiful cross from the left side to DeVille. Global FC’s defenders could only watch as DeVille used precision and power to head the ball in for a goal in the 47th minute.
Moments later, Global FC’s Angel Carlos Guisso leaped for a header outside the goal box following a corner kick and was credited with a goal when the ball managed to roll past the goal line in the 50th minute. Global FC then tied the game with aggressive play through Guam’s defenders in the 65th minute.
Global FC forward Misagh Bahadoran avoided two Matao slide tackles to bulldoze his way into the center of the attacking third. Unable to find a clear shot, Bahadoran passed the ball to Carlos Martinez de Murga, who finished the play to knot the contest.
Minutes later, Martinez de Murga swapped his player jersey to tend the goal after Global FC coach substituted Sylvain for Spain-native Angel Guirado, the same Azkals team member who scored twice against the Matao at Panaad Stadium in Bacolod City June 12.
Even with the substitutions made on Global FC’s side, the Matao had a string of at least three shots on goal, the first when DeVille managed to break free from Global FC’s defensive line. His shot was blocked in desperation by both Martinez de Murga and a Global FC defender. Guam’s Marcus Lopez got his shot when he found himself all alone with the ball on the left side.
Unluckily for the Matao, Lopez’s shot hit the cross bar and was cleared after it slammed straight down. Game referees deemed the ball as just missing the goal line. Guam’s Dylan Naputi had a chance from the right side, but Martinez de Murga was there to block his shot.
Global FC answered back by forcefully attempting to push through Guam’s defense in the final minutes of the game. After the Matao defense was able to kick away a shot attempt, Izzeldin
Elhabbib followed up with a shot from about 20 yards out in the 87th minute to put Global FC on top for the first time in the game. Global FC’s Mohammad Ghasemi added an insurance goal in injury time after the Matao defense converged in front of the goal to stop a shot by Guirado, only to have Ghasemi free near the right post.
“We definitely caused trouble for Global FC,” Cunliffe said. “You can see the potential of this team, but you can also see the immaturity and inexperience. After the tying goal, you could see the heads of some of the guys dropping. I tell the guys that football is 90 minutes, not 75, not 78 – they have keep focused all the way through.
“Coming from behind to win makes for entertaining football, but when you’re on the opposite end of that, it’s not a good feeling. It was a very emotional loss for the team and we’re just going to have to find a way to take the positives from this game and learn from the mistakes to never let his happen again,” Cunliffe added.
Global FC, a semi-pro club in the Philippines currently is second place in the league rankings on points behind Kaya FC, according to the UFL Web site. The club boasts of seven players on the Azkals’ roster and a host of international players from Spain, Japan and Iran, along with African natives from Cameroon, Ghana, the Ivory Coast, Libya and Sudan. The club team also defeated the Azkals in a mini-tournament before the Philippine national team faced Guam in a FIFA friendly match in Bacolod City June 12.
The Global FC match is the second of three for the Matao during a weeklong training trip in the Philippines to prepare for July’s East Asian Football Championship preliminary round. The Matao’s final game during this excursion will be the third of a triple header Saturday at the Rizal Memorial Stadium against the Stallion FC Gilligan’s.
The first two games will pit the Philippine Army FC versus the Green Archers United Globe and later, the Philippine Navy Red Juice against the Loyola Meralco Sparks.