Pacesetters Loyola, Global keen to sustain gains as second round of elims begins
By Karlo Sacamos
THE two United Football League pacesetters that ended the first round differently hope for the same positive start to the second round of hostilities against separate upset-conscious foes on Saturday at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
League-leading Loyola Meralco and second-running Global FC square off against opponents that gave them a hard time in the first round in Socceroo and Green Archers United, respectively.
After a sizzling start to their campaign that saw them win their first five matches, the Sparks slowed down in their last three games, where they settled for two draws and one come-from-behind win.
One of those draws was a 3-3 stalemate against Socceroo, which the Sparks meet anew at 6:15 p.m.
The stalemate against the Sparks was one of few bright spots in the first round for Socceroo, the newly promoted side that is second to last in the nine-team standings with five points.
“We started off strong, but you can’t help but have some dips and we’ve had ours,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “In spite of us having our dips, we’re still on top, we’re still undefeated. There are positives to take out of this.”
“But we’re always looking to improve,” added the former national booter of his injury-riddled squad led by Phil Younghusband.
Global, on the other hand, takes the field in the nightcap at 8:30 p.m. against an seventh-running Archers side that also held the 2012 champion a 0-0 draw in the first round.
But unlike Loyola, Global finished the first round resoundingly with a 5-1 rout of defending champion Stallion.
What’s scarier is that Global coach Leigh Manson feels that his club, only a point behind the Sparks with 19, is performing only “around seventy percent” with a slew of injured standouts yet to see action, including versatile Carli de Murga, whom the Scottish mentor believes is “possibly our most naturally talented center midfielder.”