By Karlo Sacamos
AS Global starts the defense of its United Football League title, two key team members will be missing from the pitch as the focus shifts to the sidelines where its recently acquired reinforcement will be standing.
Global’s title defense is expected to be a lot harder as it will be missing the services of national team members Juani Guirado at left back and Demitrius Omphroy on the right wing, but the squad is counting on the adjustments made by new head coach Brian Reid of Scotland.
After making it to the quarterfinals of the Philippine Football Federation-Smart National Club Championship two weeks ago — considered an early exit for a team of such caliber — Global begins its UFL campaign on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. when its takes on PSG at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Global has captured every major silverware in its three years in the UFL. Aside from winning the Division 1 title last season, the Dan Palami-owned club has copped the 2009-10 Division 2 title and the 2010 UFL Cup title.
But the 42-year-old Reid, who took over from Deding Cabalida, believes it will not be easy especially after seeing some of the teams see action in the national club championship.
“We won the championship last year so there’s always an expectation to win it again,” Reid said. “But definitely there are a lot of tough teams in our division. I say that based on what I saw in the Smart Cup.”
Also, key player Guirado has decided to play professionally in Spain again, while Omphroy has decided to return to the States to strut his wares in Major League Soccer.
Loyola Meralco parades its loaded lineup when it collides with all-Filipino squad Philippine Army in the 5:15 p.m. match.
Aside from their celebrated brothers in Phil and James Younghusband, and Mark and Matthew Hartmann, The Sparks boast of new recruit Freddy Gonzalez, last season’s Division 2 leading scorer who led Pachanga to promotion.
The Troopers, without a significant acquisition, will have to rely on their experience to put on a decent showing.
“Our advantage is we have been playing for how many years already,” Army coach Maj. Patricio Bumidang Jr. said. “Our cohesiveness is there. Discipline is there.”
“But our disadvantage is we’re all locals,” he added, saying the game has changed with the influx of Fil-foreign players although he noted that he sees it as an overall improvement in local football and that he presents it to his crew as a challenge.
“I can say that (it’s a disadvantage) but our being locals will be a challenge for us to excel, that we are going to improve their skill, prove my team’s worth as football players so that they can be at par or even better than foreign players."