Global bags UFL crownBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Pushed to the limit, Global responded with steely resolve to clinch its first United Football League title at the Rizal Memorial Stadium Tuesday night.
Sudanese striker Izzo El-Habbib scored on a header in the second half and Global defended resolutely to secure a 1-1 draw against Loyola Meralco which was all it needed to add the crown to its UFL Cup win last year.
Under pressure after Kaya briefly topped the table following a 1-0 victory over Penson Stallion-Giligans earlier, Global got what it needed to finish with 42 points and pip Kaya on goal difference.
“It was a tough match and I think we got a little lucky,” said Global manager Dan Palami. “We defended very well and perhaps the football Gods were smiling at us.”
El-Habbib continued his scoring streak with a looping header past Ref Cuaresma in the 65th minute after pouncing on a seemingly harmless ball from David Basa from near the halfline.
But the Kaya faithful was given a glimmer of hope when Sparks forward Kim Hyo-il equalized from close range eight minutes later, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.
Despite its strong performance midway through the season, the Sparks finished third after securing only two points from their last three matches.
Carli de Murga—the most consistent player for Global having played almost every position except goalkeeper—was awarded the Golden Ball, the league’s equivalent for the MVP award.
Phil Younghusband received the Golden Boot for finishing as the first division’s top scorer with 23 goals.
Freddy Gonzalez of Pachanga emerged as top scorer and Golden Ball winner in the second division.