Global FC's former head coach John Burridge, who had also worked as Singapore national goalkeeping coach in the past, has said that the Filipino club have it in them to crush Tampines Rovers' AFC Champions League (ACL) dreams.
The two teams will meet in the ACL 2017 preliminary round 1 in Manila on Tuesday. The winner of the tie will take on Australia's A-League side Brisbane Roar while the loser will enter the group stages of AFC Cup 2017.
While the match is expected to be a close contest as the two sides are filled with national stars as well as foreign imports, Tampines have a slender edge over the United Football League champions due to their considerable experience of playing at the continental stage.
Also, Global were thrashed over two legs in last year's Singapore Cup quarter-final as Tampines progressed to the next round with a 5-2 aggregate scoreline. However, both sides have undergone quite a lot of changes ahead of the new season, with Global also replacing Burridge with former Mongolian and Chinese Taipei national coach Toshiaki Imai.
Skippered by Misagh Bahadoran, Global have Philippines stars Paul Mulders, Hikaru Minegishi, Amani Aguinaldo and Dennis Villanueva. They have also secured the services of Brazilian defender Rafael Dumas, Japanese forward Shu Sasaki and Australia's Yianni Perkatis.
"Global are a very strong force to be reckoned with, they have got players who can hurt you and have very good technique. It's going to be a very tight game," Burridge said, as quoted by Today.
"They have got some great players. Matthew Hartmann, who plays in midfield, was in the Southampton academy — that's how good he is. Amani, he's six-foot-one (1.85m) and very dominant in the air at the back. Misagh can do extraordinary things with the ball; Pika [Minegishi], who plays on the left, is very quick."
On the other hand, Tampines have let go off their last season's marquee player Jermaine Pennant but have signed key foreign stars of the likes of former U17 Croatia captain Ivan Dzoni and Japanese winger Ryutaro Megumi along with Lions stars Khairul Amri, Madhu Mohana and Daniel Bennett.
Madhu, who was part of the Lions squad that took on Philippines in last year's Suzuki Cup squad, believes that the familiarity with Global players will help them get a positive result on Monday. "We are all confident and ready. The guys are all familiar with their playing style. It's a good advantage going into the match," the 25-year-old said.