JOHOR BAHRU, MALAYSIA —Reigning United Football League champion Global FC faces its toughest test yet on Tuesday when it battles 2015 AFC Cup winner Johor Dairul Ta’zim at Larkin Stadium here.
Sitting at the top of Group F with six points after victories over Magwe of Myanmar (Burma) and Boeung Ket Angkor of Cambodia, Global tries to solidify its hold of the lead against the thee-time defending Malaysian Super League champions.
With four points from two matches, JDT is hard-pressed to pick up maximum points against Global, considering that only the top team in the group is guaranteed to advance to the next round.
A win by Global will widen its gap on JDT to five points, a healthy cushion for the Filipinos who will have two of their last three group matches played at home.
Global has been in fine form despite the absence of a competitive domestic league and Japanese coach Toshiyaki Imai’s charges go into the match riding high on their impressive 2-0 away victory over Boeung Ket last week.
Deployed to a more advanced role at midfield, former Filipino international Paul Mulders scored twice against the Cambodians in his best performance for Global so far after a one-year spell at Ceres-Negros last season.
Leaving no stone unturned in preparing for the match, Global arrived in this bustling city near the Singapore-Malaysia border last Wednesday to train as well as scout JDT in an MSL match over the weekend.
Owned by the crown prince of Johor Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim, JDT captured the AFC Cup title in 2015, the same year Global debuted in the competition.
Global CEO Dan Palami said the game against Johor, considered as one of the region’s most established and richest sides, will be a good gauge on his club’s progress the past few years.
“This was a match we were really looking forward to when the draw was made,” said Palami.
“We know JDT is one of the strongest teams in the Southeast Asian region and it’s going to be tough playing against a team that is also backed by a huge crowd, but we are confident to get a result here.”