UFL title within Global’s reach
ARTHUR Kouassi came through with a brace as Global moved on the cusp of the United Football League crown Sunday after turning back Stallion, 3-0, at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
The Ivorian striker scored both his goals in the first half, before Filipino-Iranian Omid Nazari capped the victory with a curling free kick from 30 yards four minutes from time.
Raising its tally to 44 points from 17 matches, Global only needs a draw against Laos on Sunday to wrest the crown and a rare league and Cup double—a feat last pulled off by Stallion three years ago.
Global was hard-pressed to pick up the win, after suffering a 0-2 loss to JP Voltes on Wednesday, giving the rest of the contenders a glimmer of hope to catch up with the leader with three matches remaining.
Ceres-La Salle managed to close the gap to just six points after a 4-1 win over Loyola last Saturday.
But coach John Burridge’s side hardly gave Stallion time to settle on the ball, while turning to Kouassi, who started up front in the place of the suspended Misagh Bahadoran.
“It was very difficult because we’re in the business end of the season,” Burridge said. “The players know that if they lose, the pressure is on. When you get to this position, it’s so close yet so far.”
Patrick Deyto also sparkled on goal for Global, denying Balot Doctora early on, before Kouassi’s deflected strike beat Ref Cuaresma in the 27th minute.
Kouassi doubled the advantage a minute before halftime with a well-placed shot at the near post, after a clever turn against David Basa.
Burridge said Global can’t afford to take Laos lightly despite its woeful record this season.
“It’s not over yet,” he said. “We can’t take Laos for granted. I will not rest until we get that one point.”