Pahang holds Global to goalless draw in do-or-die match, clinches playoff seat

By Ivan Saldajeno

BOCAUE—From a devastating 1-6 defeat in its very first AFC Cup match against South China at the Rizal Memorial Stadium last March, many did not expect Global to still have a shot for the knockout stages entering Wednesday night's showdown with Pahang at the Philippine Sports Stadium.

The UFL squad came too close to nail the berth.

Global barely missed out on making the AFC Cup playoffs after Pahang once again held the team to a goalless draw in their knockout match for the right to join South China in the next phase.

The result effectively gave Pahang, which can still make the knockout stages with a draw, the other playoff spot for Group G.

In a must-win situation, Global stepped on the gas early on.

Mark Hartmann and Misagh Bahadoran fired long-range efforts in the seventh and the 12th minutes respectively that were off the target.

With Pahang beginning to tighten up its defense, Global opted to slow things down before Hartmann decided to give it a shot again from outside the box in the 36th minute. Azhan Khalid grabbed the ball to save the attempt.

Global got another huge chance three minutes later when one of its players got fouled just outside the penalty area on the right wing. Renato Gonzalez, however, badly missed the free kick, which bent past Pahang's wall before going off-target.

Hartmann got his best chance seconds before stoppage time when he tried to drill in a strong attempt that Khalid failed to properly save. The deflection, however, was enough for the ball to hit the post before it was cleared out.

Pahang got its first decent attempt just before halftime as one of its players went down after a Global foul outside the box. The first half ended scoreless as Matias Conti's free kick went high above the bar.

Dennis Vilanueva started Global's second half charge when he fired a shot that went straight to Khalid two minutes into the payoff period.

Pahang started to get active offensively as Mohd Saiful Miswan shot an off-target try from the right wing in the 52nd minute.

Two minutes later, Patrick Deyto was put to the test when Razman Roslan tried a shot inside the box. Deyto, who struggled as Global's goalkeeper in the tournament, emphatically saved Roslan's attempt.

Villanueva tried one more attempt in the 59th minute, but the ball sailed above the post.

Bahadoran had another shot in the 65th minute, but Khalid easily saved the attempt.

Conti tried to chip in a shot against Deyto in the 67th minute, but the shot was too strong that the ball went high above the bar.

Gonzalez misfired one more attempt in the 72nd minute as his shot goes way off.

Hafiz Kamal threatened anew for Pahang two minutes after, but his shot also went off the goal.

Khalid, however, maintained his clean sheet as he saved shots from Hartmann and Raul Martinez.

Substitute Paolo Salenga tried his own luck offensively in the 80th minute, but his shot went off-goal as well.

Global continued to charge offensively, but Villanueva's attempt went straight to Khalid and shots from Bahadoran and Salenga went off-target.

Bahadoran still had chances before stoppage time, but Khalid saved his two attempts.

Late substitute Richard Talaroc pulled two tries in stoppage time, but both his shot were off the goal as well.

The Pahang players celebrated after the final whistle as the draw formally earned them a playoff seat after finishing the group stages in second place with eight points behind South China, which completed a 6-0-0 sweep of the preliminaries with a victory against Yadanarbon. Global finished in third place with five points.