Left to right: Salenga, Talaroc, Minegishi, Badelic, Kanayama, and Michael James Jonsson. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.
Global Football Club has long been an outfit that supplied quality players for the national team. On Tuesday Global hosted a gala dinner in Makati Shangri-la for its sponsors and the media to unveil their squad for the 2015 UFL season.
Among the team were plenty of new Filipino players who Azkal fans could be seeing in international action for either the senior team or the U22/23 side that will attempt to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games and play in the SEA Games as well.
Let’s meet a few of them who could make an impact this year.
Otomo. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.
Satoshi Otomo is the most senior of the new Global players at 33. Otomo’s mother is from Zamboanga and his father is Japanese. He has one Azkals cap already.
Otomo has played in the J-League, Japan’s top flight, and has also extensive experience in Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand.
“His attitude to training is very good,” says Global boss Leigh Manson.
Otomo usually plays in the wing but in the recently concluded Smart- PFF national club championship he showed is versatility by playing at left back in the semifinal win against Ceres.
Mark Hartmann has told me that we shouldn’t be fooled by Otomo’s age and that he is still extremely quick.
Hikaru Minegishi is 23 years old and, like Global Azkal Daisuke Sato, is a product of the youth system of J-League side Urawa Red Diamonds. He was also a part of the Sendai University team, which has a very good reputation in Japan.
Minegishi’s mom is from Olongapo, and Manson loves his ability to feed strikers in dangerous places. He did just that in the semifinal win against Ceres with an assist for Mark Hartmann’s clinching extra time goal in the 3-1 win.
“He’s a quick, very technical player, and his first touch is very good,” explains Manson. The Scottish gaffer is also in awe of his work ethic.
“There’s no need to motivate him in training,” he adds.
Villanueva and Kanayama. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.
Dennis Villanueva. The 22-year old Filipino-Italian was an unused sub during the 2014 AFF Suzuki Cup. He plays mostly in the center of the midfield. When asked if he is a holding (defensive) midfielder or an attacking one, he replies that in Italy, central defenders must be both attacking threats and defensive stoppers.
Villanueva was developed in the Lazio youth system growing up but also played for Ostiamare in Serie D, the Italian fourth tier. His family’s roots are in Laiya, Batangas.
Villanueva’s greatest moment in a Global shirt was in the National Club Championship semifinal against Ceres when he broke a 1-1 deadlock with a goal off a rebound in extra time.
“He has come along a lot and is really starting to show his potential,” enthused Manson.
ALSO READ: Elastopainters honor SAF dead.
Michael James Jonsson is the 31-year-old younger brother of longtime Azkal defender Ray. Like Ray he played in Grindavik in the Icelandic first division as well as with another club called Reynir.
Jonsson is a midfielder/defender who Manson says “looks very decent” in training.
“I wish I had come here ten years ago,” he admits candidly. Jonsson also speaks a smattering of Cebuano, since there mother is from Liloan in Cebu.
Older brother Ray is also with Global now and Manson says that even though he turned 36 on the night of the gala, he is still very sharp in training and could be very useful for Global in the UFL.
John Kanayama already has some experience with the U22 team. The 19-year-old Australian, who has a Japanese father and a Filipino mom from Manila, is a central midfielder from Western Sydney.
His biggest contribution for Global was during the Charity Cup final, which they won against Kaya last year. Kanayama was involved in two goals that night in a 3-1 win.
Paolo Salenga is another new signing for Global. The NU Bulldog is playing in his final year of UAAP football and his goal tally of six is exceeded by only three other UAAP goalscorers, UP’s Jinggoy Valmayor, UST’s Steven Anotado (nine goals apiece,) and FEU’s Eric Giganto with ten.
The Floridablanca, Pampanga native was part of the Bolkiah Trophy team that picked up a draw against Laos and a win over Timor Leste in Brunei last year.
Salenga already has UFL experience with Pachanga.
The striker was part of the recent Japan training camp for the U22 team, where he was able to find the back of the net in at least one training game against tough Japanese opposition.
Global has two very promising young goalies in Jun-jun Badelic and Felipe Tripulca, both 20.
Badelic is from Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and played a year of NCAA football with Emilio Aguinaldo. He came on as a late substitute for Global in their tuneup game against the Azkals before the Suzuki Cup, delivering a smart 1v1 save against Misagh Bahadoran.
Tripulca, from Legazpi City, Albay, was recruited from the University of Makati Hardy Herons football team. (Gotta love the nickname!)
Tripulca. Image copyright Bob Guerrero.
Patrick Deyto, Global’s first choice keeper, says that Tripulca had remarkably good fundamentals when he got to the team, but has improved even more under the tutelage of Global’s goalie coach Jorge Kuriyama.
Of the two, Badelic is the slightly taller one. It appears that Global intends to bring Deyto, Badelic and Tripulca to the AFC Cup, a tournament that requires each club to have three keepers on the roster.
Richard Talaroc is another youngster, a San Beda product, who joins Global from Team Socceroo. Leigh Manson has so much faith in him that he brought him in at the half of the Smart-PFF final for the gimpy Izo Elhabbib.
Two other young Global players were at the gala, Mark Winhoffer and Marco Casambre. Winhoffer, has an American dad and spent some time in the Chicago area. Casambre, a defender, is from renowned footballing hotbed Claret School, the same cradle of football that birthed former Azkals Anto Gonzales and Ariel Zerrudo.
Winhoffer and Casambre both play for Global at the youth level and were also part of Gonzales’ U15 squad in 2013.
* * *
Global used the occasion to announce that they will be kicking off their AFC Cup campaign on February 25 with a home game against Hong Kong’s South China. A venue was not announced so it remains to be seen whether Rizal Memorial or the Philippine Stadium in Bocaue, Bulacan will play host to the match.
The AFC Cup is an international competition for up-and-coming member associations of the Asian Football Confederation. Global play in a double round-robin group with Malaysia’s Pahang, South China, and a Myanmar side, either Yangon United or Yadanarbon.
It was also revealed that Global, a sponsor of the Philippine team in the Homeless World Cup, would field a team in this year’s competition composed of players from communities affected by the Typhoon Yolanda in 2013.
Global begins their defense of their UFL league title on Saturday with a game against Green Archers United Globe at 8:15 pm in Rizal Memorial.
Follow Bob on Twitter @PassionateFanPH.
Image copyright Bob Guerrero.