Akbar Nawas-coached Global eye Singapore Cup upset vs. Albirex
Despite having only 14 players to call on, Global-Cebu FC are bent on beating the odds in the Singapore Cup final on Saturday night.
They're hoping to become the first Philippines team to lift the trophy as they face holders Albirex Niigata (S) in the tournament's grand final at Jalan Besar Stadium.
Off-field problems have plagued Global, who are said to be in the midst of a change in management. According to The New Paper, players were threatening not to travel to Singapore due to unpaid wages, with some claiming they haven't been paid for up to six months.
After an emergency meeting, the issues have since been resolved. But Global have travelled to Singapore with just 11 starters and three substitutes at their disposal.
Philippines international midfielders Paul Mulders and Dennis Villanueva are suspended, while wide man OJ Clarino and defensive lynchpin Amani Aguinaldo are out with injuries.
The Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has allowed the club to register four more players, but only two of them were able to travel.
Despite the circumstances, captain Misagh Bahadoran believes Global FC have what it takes to beat the favourites Albirex.
The all-conquering White Swans are just one match away from matching last season's quadruple feat, having already retained the Charity Shield, League Cup and S.League.
In September, Global faced a similar issue with just 13 available players, but still managed to edge Hougang United 4-3 over the two-legged semifinals to reach this stage.
"We are coming to win, there's nothing else on our mind. We have good players and a strong team," 30-year-old Bahadoran said.
"Once we step on the field, we will get the job done. When we last came to Singapore, we brought only 13 players, but we still won."
While it will be the tournament's first all-foreign final, there will be a local flavour with Singaporean coach Akbar Nawas at the helm for Global.
Akbar, who turns 42 three days after the match, is hoping for better fortunes on this occasion, having lost 2-0 to Albirex in last season's showpiece when he was still in charge of Tampines Rovers.
"On a personal note, facing Albirex for a second-year running for me feels more of a challenge, because I lost to them last year [with Tampines]," he said.
"You could say revenge is on my mind. Yes, we may be depleted and have suspensions and injuries to our key players but we are up for the challenge."
"It's an historic moment for both Global, Philippines football and also for myself, leading the club into our first Singapore Cup final."
With Albirex missing the services of key centre-back Takuya Akiyama, Trinidadian marksman Darryl Roberts could continue his hot scoring form which saw him accumulating seven goals to be the tournament's top scorer.
The last foreign invitees to win the Singapore Cup was Thailand's Bangkok Glass, who edged Tampines Rovers 1-0 to lift the 2010 trophy.
Kenneth Tan is a Singapore-based football writer on S.League and AFC Cup for ESPN FC and FourFourTwo. Twitter: @KennerveT