Pika Minegishi and Matthew Hartmann fired three goals each as Global overwhelmed Laos, 7-0, to clinch the United Football League title and complete a double in the 2016 season at Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Carrying the momentum of their UFL Cup triumph last April, Global lost just once in 18 matches to secure the crown ahead of their October 16 duel with deposed champion Ceres-La Salle.
Global has 47 points from 18 matches, nine points clear of second place Ceres, which only has two games remaining on its schedule.
With the victory, Global also etched its mark as the most successful club in the UFL, having won five trophies, including three league crowns in five years. Global also has two Cup victories – in 2010 and 2016.
The club also matched the double achieved by Air Force in 2009 and Stallion three seasons ago.
Missing standouts Misagh Bahadoran, Dennis Villanueva, Amani Aguinaldo and Pat Deyto, who are on national team duty, Global still proved too much for a Laos side that started the game with only 10 players.
Minegishi struck twice in the first nine minutes, before Hartmann put Global 3-0 up in the 20th minute as coach John Burridge’s side dominated from start to finish. Minegishi grabbed his hat trick in the second half, raising his tally to 18 goals for the season.
Ivan Petrovic also got on the scoresheet, before Hartmann found the back of the net twice to match Minegishi’s output.
The title-clinching victory capped a sensational turnaround for Global, which was shut out of trophies last season when Ceres emerged as the rising power in the league.
“I’m happy that we are here at the top,” said Global CEO Dan Palami. “This season we have been able to create a real team, not just getting together, outstanding players, but forming them as a team. You can see their cohesion and they work and fight for each other and it has manifested throughout the season.”
Global actually entered the 2016 season pumped up and motivated after getting shut out of trophies in the previous year.
The club signed Omid Nazari, Serge Kaole, Arthur Kouassi and Milad Nikolic at the start of the year to shore up the lineup, before Petrovic was brought in at the start of what has turned out to be a gruelling league campaign.
“It’s been a tough journey, start of the year, we were not the favored team to win the Cup and the League,” said Palami, noting that Ceres had made the most noise at the start of the season when it signed Stephan Schrock. “We’re happy that we’re able to prove to everybody that Global is the most successful team in the Philippines.”