AKTV to air Loyola’s Singapore Cup opening match live InterAKTV · Thursday, May 17, 2012 · 12:42 pm
Local football fanatics will get a chance to see Azkals stars Phil and James Younghusband and the rest of the Loyola Meralco Sparks in top regional club football action.
AKTV on IBC will air the Sparks’ opening match in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup live on Friday, 7:45 p.m.
Loyola will take on Singaporean side Geylang United FC, which competes in the country’s top-flight S.League.
This year’s edition of the Singapore Cup features a 16-team, single-elimination bracket tournament. Loyola is the only squad from the United Football League participating in the competition. Apart from Singapore and the Philippines, the tournament also features foreign clubs from Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, as well as Brunei and Japanese sides that compete in the S.League.
The Sparks are currently third in the UFL table, three points behind league-leading Global FC with a game in hand. The Younghusband brothers are currently the top goal scorers of the league, with Phil scoring 18 goals and James 11. Another Loyola stalwart, Mark Hartmann, is tied for third to fifth places in UFL scoring with nine goals, underscoring Loyola’s firepower.
Loyola also features current and former national players Roxy Dorlas, Jake Morallo, and Anto Gonzales.
Loyola faces tough test in Singapore Cup By Cedelf Tupas Philippine Daily Inquirer 5:30 pm | Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
MANILA, Philippines – A stern test awaits United Football League powerhouse Loyola Meralco when it clashes with Singapore League side Geylang United in the opening round of the RHB Singapore Cup on Friday at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Bannered by Filipino internationals Phil and James Younghusband, the Sparks are the first Philippine side to have been invited to a club tournament since the national team boosted the sport’s popularity to unprecedented heights two years ago. Aside from S-League teams, the 16-team Singapore Cup also involves clubs from Australia, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia competing in a knockout format. If the Sparks, whose campaign is backed by Cebu Pacific, hurdle Geylang, they will return to Singapore in July to play in a two-leg quarterfinal. Although it is currently struggling in the S-League – considered one of the strongest leagues in the region, Geylang ruled the Singapore Cup only a couple of years ago. “We’re honored to be participating in the tournament,” said Loyola Meralco club vice-president Randy Roxas. “We’re looking at it not just for the Singapore Cup but in terms of credibility of the UFL and of Filipino teams to be eventually invited regularly to Southeast Asian tournaments in the future.” The Sparks are currently running second in the UFL, where they are the league’s highest scoring team with 50 goals – 18 courtesy of Phil Younghusband. Loyola actually beefed up its lineup by tapping veteran internationalist Simon Greatwich for the Singapore Cup, which only allows four foreigners for each squad. Winning the UFL title is still a priority, but Loyola skipper James Younghusband stressed the importance of a strong showing in the Singapore Cup. “We’re all excited to be competing internationally as a club,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure on us because we will be representing club football in the Philippines.”
how many foreign players are allowed to play for this cup? i've heard each teams are allowed only 4 foreign players to play? i prefer Jeong Byeong Yeol,Kim Hyo-Il,David Cortina and Gabriel Vorbeck to be in the line-up tomorrow
Last Edit: May 17, 2012 17:17:56 GMT 8 by strikerbon
The Loyola Meralco Sparks in Singapore Part 1: Hope by rick olivares
May 16, 2012 The call time for the Loyola Meralco Sparks was at 4am at Terminal Three of NAIA. Midfielder Jake Morallo arrived early and decided to sit on a trolley near the entrance so his teammates could spot him as they arrived.
The dynamic midfielder hails from Dumaguete but studied and played for Norman Fegidero at West Negros University. If Morallo was one of Bacolod’s best-kept secrets, he certainly made a splash in the 2011 Suzuki Under-23 National Cup as he was a part of the team that routinely destroyed teams en route to the trophy. With the Sparks, he has all the more come to national prominence with some clubs hoping to sign him away from Loyola soon.
In spite of the early call time, Morallo was wide-eyed and couldn’t contain his excitement. It wasn’t simply a trip abroad but the Sparks were competing in a foreign club tournament. “Sana manalo,” he said sounding somewhat unsure.
No one really knew of the opposition. For years, Philippine teams had been taking it on the chin from other national squads. The sports had made tremendous strides in terms of popularity and quality back home. This is where everyone got to see how the clubs have developed.
The team streams in at first, one at a time then in bunches. The team then makes its way to the ticket counter where they are given a special lane in order to accommodate the personnel and the loads of equipment brought in.
It isn’t solely Morallo who is excited. Matthew Hartmann, suspended by the Philippine Football Federation for issues stemming from the 2011 SEA Games is suiting up on a technicality. The suspension did not cover foreign matches as the federation forgot to include the Asian Football Confederation.
“I hope to contribute,” he chimed in. Ditto with midfielder Simon Greatwich who will be playing his first game with Loyola.
Surely hope and optimism are genuinely evident in the squad. On loan midfielder Anto Gonzales brims with a megawatt smile despite the earliness. While waiting for other teammates, the rest of the Sparks go up to the food court to grab some chow. Talk centers on recent UFL and NBA matches as well as the recent brawl in NAIA between a couple of celebrities and a newspaper columnist. Goalkeeper Ref Cuaresma, back from a coaching seminar in Malaysia is cracking jokes.
Cuaresma’s horsing around continues when the Sparks learn that their flight is delayed. He falls to the floor as if he has fainted. People snap pictures of the ‘unconscious’ player.
The players, led by Phil Younghusband, gather around head coach Kim Chul Su to examine his tie and the Loyola Meralco Sparks crest that has been sewn onto his long sleeved polo shirt. The Korean coach is known for being nattily dressed even in the stifling and humid tropical heat. The coach smiles.
“I wonder how many ties coach has packed with him,” wonders aloud the team’s striker.
“One for breakfast, one for lunch, there’s one for every occasion,” jokes forward Mark Hartmann.
“Master Kim” as the coach is fondly called has made the Philippines his home for eight years now. His English remains a tough challenge. “I’m shy,” he offers. Kim once attended a coaching seminar in England but because of the accents, he had a hard time understanding what was being said. But once on the field with formations being drawn on the board, he understood. “The accents – he says of the Younghusband and Hartmann brothers – are sometimes hard to understand…”
The Korean talks about his football philosophies that he has imbued his Far Eastern University teams with. He has done the same with the Sparks but not exactly the way he wants it. “It will take time,” he says noting that he has been with Loyola for less than a year. “Maybe soon.”
Now unleashed from his shyness, he talks about Barcelona’s tiki taka, Manchester City’s incredible Premier League finish, and Philippine football. His English may stop him but like everyone else thus far, he is animated and hopeful.
The trip is long and largely uneventful which is really how flights should be. The only difference is when Phil Younghusband is asked to invite the passengers to watch the match by Loyola on Friday.
Cebu Pacific flight 5J801 touches down at Changi at exactly 10:05. While going through immigration, Hyo Il Kim, one of the Korean midfielders on the team is hoping to see more of Changi. The airport was recently named the world’s best airport but since the team was in the budget terminal the main airport will not be seen.
The presence of the Korean, Fil-Brits, Europeans, and Africans on the team has created a new dynamic in the squad. Formerly an alumni team of Ateneo, there are now only two from the school left in the squad – defenders Patrick Ozaeta and Dexter Versario (although team management and the coaching staff are largely alumni from Loyola Heights based school).
On the shuttle to Santa Grand East Coast Hotel where the team will be billeted, Master Kim and the other Sparks rib Hyo and Byeong Yeol Jeong. Over lunch where room assignments are handed out, the two Korean players are separated and they both cheerily protest. “No!” pleads Hyo who gesticulates to emphasize his points as their teammates crack up in laughter. “Together.”
Belay Fernando, acting as team manager as Woowee Evangelista will be unable to join the team because of work, asks Master Kim who smiles and laughs at the ‘predicament’ of his fellow countrymen.
After lunch, most players go to the room to get some badly needed rest. Midfielder Davide Cortina goes with his fiancée, Belle Nayve, who works with the club, to Queensway to purchase some boots along with defender Roxy Dorlas.
Cortina sold his restaurant in Italy to move to Germany where he met Nayve. And n their travels, the couple moved to the Philippines. Once Cortina saw the burgeoning football scene, he joined a club. The Italian, quickly noticeable being his long hair is tied in ponytail, is quiet and reserved. He is rooming with Dorlas, who hails from the Hague, Netherlands.
Practice is at 5pm at the Jalan Basar Stadium where the team will play Geylang United in Friday’s first round match-up.
Call time at the hotel lobby is at 4pm, but well ahead of the time, the Younghusband brothers make their way there for a quick meeting with Chelsea Singapore officials. Even abroad, they are clearly recognizable as the face not just of the Sparks but the resurgence of Philippine football. They both confess to enjoying accommodating these requests. “It wasn’t so long ago that we had to beg for attention for the sport,” said James. “We want to keep the attention of football.”
Goalkeeping coach Dang Cecilio is already down feeling recharged by the short nap. When asked of Loyola’s chances, Cecilio makes no bones of the match-up with bottom dwelling Geylang. “We will not leave anything to chance,” he notes in Filipino. “We will respect them but play them hard. We have a chance to move on.”
While the rest of the team has yet to come down, the lobby is filed with players from Phnom Penh Crown. Earlier, I had a long talk with my counterpart, Andy Brouwer, an Englishman who has made Cambodia his home and is the team’s media officer. He keeps tabs on the Philippines and is glad for the chat.
The Phnom Penh Crown players over lunch beg team management for a change in their backroom staff when they see team’s female staff -- Belay Fernando and the team’s physiologist – reveals Brouwer. “They got excited and asked for a change in the backroom staff.”
I met the Cambodian team’s coach, Englishman Dave Booth, during a FIFA seminar early this year, where I was asked to give a talk about establishing media relations. Booth, who has been in Asia for a long time looks relaxed. “We’re only facing Tampines,” he dryly says of tonight’s match-up. The Cambodians are up against the Singapore side Tampines Rovers who boast of noted scoring machine Alexsandar Duric.
“Good luck,” I bid Booth and Brouwer.
“We’re going to need it,” says Brouwer as their team gets on the bus for long ride to Clementi Stadium that is on the other side of the island nation.
That evening, Phnom Penh Crown, long time under achievers in regional club football, gain a measure of respect as they take the fight to the Singaporeans and only lose after a late Duric goal, 4-3.
The Loyola Meralco Sparks in Singapore Part 2: Adjustments by rick olivares pics by brosi gonzales
March 17, 2012 The match against Geylang United can’t come at a more opportune time. For the Loyola Meralco Sparks, their miraculous comeback against Kaya would be their last bit of football play until their next one. Except there was about a two to three week break because the Philippine Men’s Football National Team was going to be playing so participation in the 2012 Singapore Cup was sure to keep the team’s competitive edge honed to razor sharp keenness.
But as the Sparks began their second day in Singapore, the coaching staff was concerned about their players’ not being fully rested. There was the problem of room availability and not al the players arrived at the same time. It was decided that following the player inspection at 1130am, the team would head out for lunch at Orchard Road to be tendered by club president Randy Roxas then do some walking around that world famous stretch of shopping. After that, the team would be in lockdown mode. Game focus was going to be the order of the day.
With injuries and the unavailability of several players, a few of the Sparks will have to play in different positions. This was all discussed on the first training day when the coaches discussed the movement with the players. “The important thing is we get to practice that on the field,” underscored assistant coach Vince Santos who arrived Wednesday just in time for practice.
Santos himself had to make personal adjustments when his decided to hang up his spikes due to an injury and other interests. A feared striker during his schooling days, Santos decided to go into coaching in high school when he realized that it was important to correct flaws in a player’s fundamentals and mechanics at an age when they were still malleable. As a member of the Sparks’ coaching staff, it’s a dream come true for the former Ateneo Blue Booter to be able to coach both in school (FEU) and with a club (UFL).
Like any other footballer, there are days when he wishes he could lace his boots on. However, the moment he made the decision to commit himself to coaching and building a grassroots program, he was fine with not playing.
“We don’t really know much about Geylang so we could play cautious at the start before we can decide how to play them. But of course, we will not just sit back and relax. It is important that we establish ourselves early in the match,” said Santos.
One player who might not be able to suit up is Italian midfielder Davide Cortina. During the player registration, he showed his International Transfer Certificate from his previous club in Dusseldorf and the card is printed in German. The Football Association of Singapore needs to verify the ITC before Cortina is allowed to play.
The news somewhat dampens the mood.
But not entirely. Words quickly spreads that their match against Geylang United will be shown live on AKTV back home. That means the people back home will get a chance to see the match.
There’s also a podcast recording of the Back Four Bums and several players guest on the show. Santos brings down a box of specially colored Ray Ban glasses that fit the Loyola colors. The players don them and take a bunch of photos. Ref Cuaresma leads some players in an impromptu pose like the boy bands of yesteryear.
And there’s more tonic for the concern about Cortina’s status for the match. The team leaves for Orchard Road and excitement fills the air. Some players have been here before although not necessarily to shop or see the sights. Anto Gonzales was here before as a player. That was in 2007 during the Asean Football championships. Unfortunately, the team was on the receiving end of a pair of 4-0 butt kickings from Malaysia and Indonesia. The coup de grace was a scoreless draw with Myanmar. The team wasn’t complete then and minus Phil Younghusband who was not released by Chelsea. The Azkals adjusted by playing Chris Greatwich up front with Aly Go. “Hopefully, this time, we’ll get a different result,” wished Gonzales who is thrilled to be called up to the national team training camp in Cebu. “Again, we are missing players so we don’t know how things will work out.”
Jake Morallo like many of his teammates are excited to see Orchard Road. The sheer number of people walking about, the massive billboards and LCDs, the malls, it’s a welcome and inviting change from the drab surroundings of the Santa Grand East Coast Hotel that is close to Changi Airport. The shuttle bus drops the team off just behind the elegant Ngee An City. The team walks around the world famous thoroughfare and Morallo is like a kid in a toy store.
People stare at the team that is dressed in red tennis shirts and shorts. Some Filipinos recognize the players and ask for pictures. The players gladly oblige.
The team is undecided on where to eat. After all, it isn’t easy to find a place during the noontime crush that can seat a party of over 20 people. Chinese food. Italian. Chicken wings. There are suggestions. When someone suggests Friday’s at the Hereen (just across the Mandarin Orchard Hotel), Randy Roxas wonders, “You mean we’re in Singapore and we’re going to eat at Friday’s? We have that back home.”
But the restaurant has enough space for the team so Friday’s it is. The team is split into two areas with tables bunched together. By lunch’s end, Phil asks those seated in our area to guess how much we’ve been billed. Every one quickly makes a guess. Master Kim tops the bets with a Singapore $450 tab. Vince Santos wins it (he guessed $250 and the bill is at $253 but the overall cost is close to a $1000). The players chorus “Thanks, Randy.”
The team walks about. There will be time for sightseeing and some shopping after the game. But for now, it’s a return to the hotel to get some rest and prep for the business of football. Practice is at 5pm once more at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
Sparks debut in Singapore Cup, AKTV to carry live telecast By Alder Almo (philstar.com) Updated May 18, 2012 09:39 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The Loyola Meralco Sparks begin its quest in a “win or go home” tournament style in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup at Jalan Besar stadium in the Lion City tonight.
The Sparks, the only Filipino club invited in the region’s prestigious invitational tournament, are the odds-on favorite to win the match against the Geylang United Eagles, who are currently in the bottom of Singapore’s S.League.
The match which will be aired live over AKTV on IBC starting at 7:45 pm.
In Goal.com, 61 percent of its readers believe the Sparks will win tonight's match with 31 percent of which predict a 2-0 scoreline.
Loyola Meralco is hell bent on dishing out an impressive showing in its first try in the Singapore Cup, marking the first time that a Filipino football club is invited in an international club competition since the Philippine Azkals' meteoric rise in the past two years.
Azkal Simon Greatwich will beef up the already potent line-up of the Sparks which boasts of explosive scorers Phil and James Younghusband and Mark Hartmann.
But the Sparks, who are currently third in the country's United Football League, are still wary of the 2010 Singapre Cup champions.
The winner of tonight’s match will face the winner of Myanmar’s Kanbawza FC-Woodland Wellington FC match in a two-leg quarterfinal series in July.
Three clubs have already advanced in the quarterfinals of this tournament that kicked off last May 14.
Home United leaned on John Wilkinson’s goal in the 40th minute to beat Brunei DPMM (Duli Pengiran Muhda Mahkota) FC, 1-0 last night. Home United will meet Singapore Armed Forces in the quarterfinals after the latter hacked out a 6-5 penalty shootout win Balestier Khalsa last May 14.
Tampine Rovers, meanwhile, also advanced as they came back from one goal down to score a 4-3 win over Cambodia’s Phnom Penh Crown last May 16.