By Karlo Sacamos
UNION Internacional Manila boosted its chance to move up to Division 1 of the United Football League after surviving Cimarron, 4-3, on Saturday night at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill, Taguig.
Ebenezer Owuso fired a brace, while Simon Bayembg and Ali Mahmoud chipped in a goal apiece, but the squad had to endure anxious moments before securing second place in Division 2 over Agila.
The team will play in a two-leg series against the ninth-ranked Division 1 club for a spot in the top flight.
Union, a diverse mix of Filipinos, Africans, Europeans, and South Americans, raised its points total to 31 with still a game left to play. Third-running Agila has 27 points.
Socceroo is already assured of an automatic spot in Division 1 next season after ruling the second-tier with an unbeaten 14-game streak.
“This is a very important win for us,” Union coach Jorge Muller told Spin.ph. “We really are looking forward to be playing in Division One to prove that we deserve to be playing in the major league.”
Cimarron actually drew first blood 36 minutes into the game when Yves de Luis found the back of the net, before Union unleashed its wrath.
Bayembg scored the equalizer four minutes before first-half stoppage time and Owuso struck to give Union its first taste of the lead six minutes into the second half.
Mahmoud joined the scoring party six minutes later, before Owuso completed his two-goal effort in the 64th as Union erected a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead.
Cimarron mounted a comeback as the sixth-running squad pulled to within a goal after Juan Roy and Bismark Frimpong found the back of the net, but that proved insufficient.
Philippine Army is running ninth in Division 1 with seven points to show. The Troopers still have a chance to overtake Nomads in eighth place. But unless they beat PSG and powerhouse Global in their last two games with an average margin of 12 points, they will be Union’s opponents in the playoff.
“We know they (Army) are a very strong team,” said Muller, whose team had the chance to scout Army in its 1-2 loss to Pachanga-Diliman on Saturday. “Even if they are in the ninth position in first division, every first division team is very strong. We will have to play our best football to overcome them.”