Do-or-die Loyola XI stand in Singapore
SINGAPORE—The Loyola Meralco Sparks try to pull off an incredible turnaround when they clash with Home United in the second leg of their Singapore Cup quarterfinal tie at Jalan Besar Stadium here.
After losing the first leg, 0-2, at Bishan Stadium last Monday, the Sparks hope to come out strong against the defending Cup champions, who scored twice in the second half of the series opener.
Sparks striker Phil Younghusband is expected to return to the starting lineup after a 25-minute stint in the first leg which was his first match in close to a month.
“Anything is still possible,” said Sparks coach Vince Santos. “Stranger things have happened in football. But we definitely need an early goal to stand a chance of getting back into the tie.”
The Sparks showed flashes of brilliance in the first leg until they were left undone by an error from goalkeeper Baba Sampana, whose pass to Sam Bonney was intercepted and eventually led to the first goal.
There will be little room for error now for the Sparks who are looking to make the semifinals for the second time in this prestigious tournament.
“They play a very fluid style of football we just have to be aware on the shift in movement and what they do,” said Santos. “We have to be sharper on our transition from defense to attack.”
Graham Caygill and James Younghusband failed to cash in on chances in the first leg, while Matthew Hartmann still managed to send a slew of dangerous balls into the area, which the Sparks still consider as an encouraging sign knowing that they can take the game to Home United’s experienced side.