SINGAPORE—Facing a one-goal deficit against one of the finest clubs here, the Loyola Meralco Sparks hope that a return to the stadium that has been kind to them in the past will spur them to a remarkable comeback.
The Sparks battle Tanjong Pagar in the second leg of their Singapore Cup quarterfinal tie Sunday night at Jalan Besar Stadium, site of some of the club’s biggest victories.
Tanjong Pagar nipped Loyola, 2-1, in the first leg at Queenstown Stadium Thursday night and the S-League side only needs a draw in the second leg to advance.
Under the aggregate rule, a one-goal victory by Loyola after regulation will lead to extra time. A penalty shootout is needed if the margin remains one goal for the Sparks.
James Younghusband’s stunning strike averted what could have been a disastrous night in the first leg for the Sparks, who are confident they can turn the tide in the second leg.
“I still fancy our chances,” said Loyola coach Vince Santos. “It’s just one goal and it’s a full 90 minutes ahead. Jalan Besar has been nice to us. It might be lucky for us.”
Santos said the wider and longer Jalan Besar pitch favors “the way we play.”
“The fans are closer to the pitch and it gives the players energy and maybe that can spell the difference,” said Santos, whose team lures big crowds—even more than Singapore League matches.