Loyola Meralco tries to wrap up quarters vs Kanbawza sideBy Cedelf P. Tupas
Philippine Daily Inquirer
SINGAPORE—United Football League side Loyola Meralco Sparks try to finish off Kanbawza of Myanmar today when they clash again in the second leg of their quarterfinal showdown in the Singapore Cup here.
Leading 3-1 after their first leg triumph Thursday night, the Sparks only need to avoid defeat by two goals to advance to the semifinals, where they will meet Singapore League powerhouse Tampines Rovers in October.
Tampines, powered by naturalized Singaporean striker Aleksandar Duric, completed a 4-1 aggregate win over Abirex Niigata Friday night.
A two-goal defeat by the Sparks will lead to extra time and, if needed, a penalty shootout, but the Sparks are confident they won’t have to go through it to progress in their maiden appearance here.
“The win in the first leg gives us a lot of confidence,” said Loyola striker Phil Younghusband, who scored the first goal in the first leg that was marred by crowd trouble caused by supporters of the Burmese side in the second half.
The Sparks used quick counter-attacks to take the fight out of Kanbawza and skipper James Younghusband expects more of the same incisiveness from Loyola, which took a break Friday.
“I think if we can play the same way in the first leg, we will be okay,” said James Younghusband.
“The first leg showed we that we can play a system that can be effective at this level,” said Loyola Meralco president Randy Roxas.
Frustrated by the Sparks’ quick passing, Kanbawza finished the game with nine players after Hia Htwe and Kyaw Zayar Win were sent off, leaving them suspended for the second leg.
But the Sparks will also miss Italian midfielder Davide Cortina due to suspension after he picked up his second yellow card of the tournament in the first leg.
Also missing the second leg are defenders Alex Elnar and Peter Fadrigalan, who had to fly back to Manila Friday because of work commitments.
Former UAAP MVP Pat Ozaeta, who has been bothered by an injury the past two months, is expected to fill in for Elnar at rightback, while fleet-footed winger Jake Morallo could replace Cortina at midfield.