Despite losing on the night, 2-1, to Boeung Ket Angkor of Cambodia, Global-Cebu booked their way into the semifinals of the 2017 Singapore Cup following a 4-3 aggregate victory, Friday evening at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Paolo Salenga provided the spark once again for the Cebuanos, as his early goal did enough to fend off the determined Cambodian side. The forward made a great run to meet Hikaru Minegishi’s cross into the back of the net just four minutes in. In doing so, Salenga had notched his third goal of the tie, proving to be a handful against the Boeung Ket defense.
Billed as heavy favorites even in the second leg, Global looked to make the Cambodians’ impending exit harsher. But it was not the case, as Boeung Ket gave themselves the opportunity to threaten the 2016 United Football League and Cup champions.
Khuon Laboravy, also a scorer in the first leg, knotted the match at 1-1, just six minutes after Salenga opened the scoring. The 28-year-old supplied the swift response by instinctively positioning himself to finish a patient attacking move. It set up a tense first half that ended with both teams still inseparable.
Come the second half, the Cambodians were more aggressive, as they pursued to reduce the deficit on aggregate. Twenty minutes into the period and they found what they were looking for through Esoh Paul Omogba. The Nigerian towered above the Global-Cebu defense to guide the ball past Patrick Deyto. It brought life back to Boeung Ket’s bid to make the semifinals.
The tension was palpable at the Jalan Besar, as Global-Cebu did their best to keep the tie from slipping away from them. Deyto commanded the defense well in the dying minutes, posting a crucial save nine minutes before time to preserve his side’s aggregate lead.
Soon after, the final whistle sounded, with Boeung Ket winners on the night but Global-Cebu emerging 4-3 winners over the two legs. A semifinal place awaits Akbar Nawas’ men, the third time they’ve reached the stage following their 2013 and 2015 stints. Hoping to do one better, the Cebuanos will return to the city state later this year.