Cup final on, but Global face tough task
Philippine club's skipper says off-the-pitch issues are over and game will carry on
The RHB Singapore Cup final will go on, finalists Global Cebu confirmed yesterday, following initial fears that off-the-pitch issues would result in the traditional finale to the domestic season being cancelled.
This Saturday's showpiece between Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League champions Albirex Niigata and Philippine side Global was earlier in jeopardy, as sources revealed that Global players were threatening a no-show because of a wage dispute.
The players were allegedly owed wages, some of them for up to six months.
But, speaking after a players' meeting with the club's management yesterday, Global captain Misagh Bahadoran revealed that the issues have been resolved.
"This was a misunderstanding between the club and us players, and I'm glad to say the problem has been fixed, and we will be flying to Singapore tomorrow," he said, declining to reveal details of the solution.
TNP understands that administrative delays stemming from a transition in ownership of the club was the key reason behind the wage issues. But those issues have been ironed out before the team flew to Singapore.
The final, though, will feel like a David-versus-Goliath encounter.
It is understood that the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has made special provision for Global to register four more players from within their club to beef up numbers, but even then, sources revealed that the Philippine side are set to arrive with no more than 14 players.
Paul Mulders and Dennis Villanueva, both Philippine international and partners in the Global midfield, are suspended. The club's situation is worsened by injuries to OJ Clarino and Amani Aguinaldo.
I'm glad to say the problem has been fixed and we will be flying to Singapore.Global captain Misagh Bahadoran
Of the four more players that FAS has allowed Global to register - sources revealed that the quartet were ratified by the Philippines Football Federation as being registered to the club - two were unable to travel.
It's a historic moment... our first Singapore Cup final.Global coach Akbar Nawas
This leaves the Philippine side with a maximum of 14 players for the Cup final.
Bahadoran believes that despite the difficulties, Global can still overcome Albirex.
He said: "We are coming to win, there's nothing else on our mind. We have good players, and a strong team.
"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 the game."
Global faced Hougang United in the two-legged semi-finals in September with only 13 players on their roster - due to registration issues - but beat the Cheetahs 4-3 on aggregate.
Global coach Akbar Nawas said: "It's a historic moment for both Global, Philippine football and also for myself, leading the club into our first Singapore Cup final.
"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."
Akbar was the coach of a Tampines Rovers side that were pipped to the S.League title by Albirex by one point in 2016.
"You could say revenge is on my mind," said the Singaporean.
"Yes, we may be depleted and have suspensions and injuries to our key players but we are up for the challenge."