Into the last eight of the 2017 Singapore Cup, Global-Cebu FC braced for a challenge of a foe that has become quite familiar. Boeung Ket Angkor, the Cambodian champions, have already met the Cebuanos twice this year in the group stage of the 2017 AFC Cup. On both occasions, the Cambodians tasted defeat. Meeting in a neutral venue didn’t change their fortunes, as the outcome has remained the same.
Through Paolo Salenga’s brilliance, Akbar Nawas’ men reminded their opponents of the gulf that exists between the two sides as they ran out 3-1 winners on Tuesday night in Singapore. Boeung Ket Angkor can still reverse the situation, but it would take a miraculous comeback to take a semifinal spot away from Global-Cebu.
It did not take long for the Cebuanos to get in front, as Salenga did well to pounce on a loose ball near the onion bag. By taking an early lead, many expected Global-Cebu to kill the match right away by slotting in more goals. But it was not the case, as the Cambodians worked hard to pluck an equalizer before the break.
Having been the better side since falling behind, Boeung Ket Angkor tested the resilient Global-Cebu defense. Perhaps the effort shown by the men from Phnom Penh in the attacking third was just a tad too much, that they were exposed on the break late in the half. Misagh Bahadoran padded the Cebuanos’ lead just before halftime.
It seemed that Global-Cebu were cruising to a comfortable win when an incident in the 53rd minute led to a penalty for the Cambodians. Khuon Laboravy gave them a lifeline after he converted from the spot to reduce the deficit to just a goal.
As the game was back on, both sides kept going in search for a game-changing fourth goal. Proving their superiority, the Cebuanos took that coveted goal thanks to Salenga. The former National University Bulldogs standout drilled the ball in just 14 minutes after his team had conceded on the other side of the pitch. With his effort, Global-Cebu restored their two-goal lead, which they kept for good.
Finishing the first leg of the quarterfinals as 3-1 winners, Global-Cebu may now feel confident of their chances of making it back to the semifinals of the Singapore Cup. They will be back in action on Friday for the second leg, and for as long as Akbar Nawas prevents his team from losing by two goals or more, then the Filipino champions have a cup semifinal to look forward to in Singapore.