Odds against Global, but don't count them out
Philippine side's S'porean coach driven by revenge, national pride in Cup final
Tonight's RHB Singapore Cup final will be contested by two foreign teams for the first time in the competition's 20-year history.
But, there will still be a Singaporean winner in the clash between the Great Eastern-Hyundai S.League's Japanese side Albirex Niigata and Philippine outfit Global Cebu at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
That man is Global head coach, Akbar Nawas.
|ALBIREX NIIGATA||GLOBAL CEBU|
It will be a second straight Singapore Cup final for the 41-year-old, who led Tampines Rovers last year when they were beaten 2-0 by Albirex.
A victory tonight would help Albirex claim all eight pieces of silverware up for grabs in Singapore football over the last two seasons. The Japanese side had earlier won the S.League, TNP League Cup and Great Eastern Community Shield.
Speaking ahead of a training session at the Jalan Besar Stadium, Akbar said he is driven by revenge and national pride.
"Of course, there is a sense of pride being the only Singaporean involved in the Cup final," he said.
"It's amazing that I'm in the same position I was in last year - being in charge of the only team that can stop Albirex from winning everything.
We’ve watched videos of Albirex’s last two matches, and we’ve prepared well for them.Global Cebu coach Akbar Nawas
"And of course, losing last year is motivation for me. It doesn't matter the make-up of my team now.
"Last year, I didn't win, and now I'm facing the same opponents. So I'm out to get revenge."
Akbar readily admits, however, that his side are the underdogs.
Global midfielders Paul Mulders and Dennis Villanueva, both Philippine internationals, are suspended.
The club's situation is worsened by injuries to midfielder OJ Clarino and defensive lynchpin Amani Aguinaldo.
Another Philippines international midfielder, Matthew Hartmann, was sold by the club in August.
Indeed, Akbar had only 12 players to work with in the team's first training session at Jalan Besar on Thursday. Another two players arrived yesterday.
Before heading here, some players were also unhappy, claiming that they were owed wages.
The New Paper understands that administrative delays stemming from a transition in ownership of the club was the key reason behind the wage issues. But those issues were ironed out before the team flew to Singapore.
Despite the less-than-ideal preparations, Akbar is bullish of his team's chances.
"We've watched videos of Albirex's last two matches, and we've prepared well for them," he said.
"Of course, we cannot just go out there and be too bold with our gameplan. That's the reality of not having a full team.
"We must be wary of Albirex, because they are a good team, as they were last year, but I know my players will be right up for it."
Global skipper Misagh Bahadoran is confident he and his teammates can pull off an upset over Albirex.
Despite noting the Japanese side's stingy defence - they have kept 19 clean sheets in 33 games in all competitions, conceding only 19 goals - he believes his side have what it takes to score.
Said the 30-year-old attacker: "We flew all the way here for nothing else than a win, and we will go 100 per cent.
"We know Albirex have won many trophies and we know they are a very good team, but Global have also played a high level of football in the (continental) AFC Cup and even Asian Champions League qualifiers.
"We've played against very good teams like Johor Darul Ta'zim and also scored against them... Tactics, strategy, and physicality all play a part in games.
"Football is about who wants it more. We are not afraid, and we're going for the win."
- Home United v Hougang United (Today, 5pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)