By Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Gosh, I almost forgot about an e-mail sent to me by an avid fan of the United Football League’s Loyola Meralco Sparks some weeks ago.
Good thing I saw Aly Borromeo and Phil Younghusband on television where they were the guests of the PBA coverage.
The topic that triggered my memory was the Singapore Cup where Loyola-Meralco represented the Philippines and won.
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“As a football fan, there are two reasons for me to be very ecstatic and proud to be Filipino,” wrote Jerry Sison of North Fairview. “First is the incredible rise of the Philippine Azkals, both here and abroad. Second is the fantastic performance of Loyola Meralco in the 2012 Singapore Cup where they triumphed, 2-1, over the formidable Geylang United FC in their opening match.”
According to Jerry, this is the first time that a Philippine football club was invited to play in a top regional football competition, probably because the other countries felt that none of our club teams were good enough.
Loyola-Meralco, he said, is the first foreign team to win in this tournament this season.
Led by brothers Phil and James Younghusband, the Sparks advanced to the quarterfinals slated this July, “a sure sign that the team is fast shaping up to be a UFL heavyweight.”
“The win also gives credence to the fledgling Filipino league.”
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At this point, there is one thing that worries Jerry Sison and, as I was to find out later, all the officials of the Loyola Meralco starting from club chair Al Panlilio.
Will midfielder Matthew Hartmann be allowed to play in the Singapore Cup this July?
“On the eve of their Singapore Cup debut, the team was informed that the Philippine Football Federation was disallowing Matthew Hartmann to participate. Hartmann was suspended by the PFF for one year after he had abandoned the national team at the height of the Southeast Asian Games competition in Indonesia,” Panlilio said.
“We were surprised because the Singapore Cup is not a PFF sanctioned event. Singapore league officials said they did not receive any notice from the AFC or the FIFA regarding the Hartmann case.”
While the Sparks prepare for their return to Singapore, a lot of people are hoping that the PFF would reconsider their decision and allow Hartmannn to play.
“It would be such a waste for a talented booter like Hartmann to miss out on a chance to play in the Singapore Cup,” said Al, who is also the president of the MVP Sports Foundation.