Sparks hope to plug holes in backline as it battles Pasargad
By Karlo Sacamos
LOYOLA Meralco, which has recently become vulnerable on defense, tries to regain its bearings as it takes on Pasargad on Tuesday in the United Football League at the Emperador Stadium in Mckinley Hill.
After building a reputation last year as a top defensive team by conceding just two goals in eight games in their Cup conquest, the league-leading Sparks have become penetrable as of late with injuries ravaging the squad, including measles-stricken top center-back Joaco Cañas.
Cañas had formed a solid defensive tandem with Sam Bonney in the backline along with goalkeeper Baba Sampana.
“(Our backline has been) built on Sam and Joaco. With Joaco falling ill, we had to make adjustments,” said Sparks coach Vince Santos, who has fielded Yves Ashime in Cañas’ place.
The Sparks have now conceded 10 goals in 11 games so far. In their last game alone, they allowed three goals as Global eked out a 3-2 win that halted Loyola’s long undefeated run that dated back last September.
Fresh from their first loss in almost six months last Saturday, the Sparks hope to get back on the winning track and as they face the cellar-dwellers at 5:15 p.m.
Both squads are on opposite ends in the nine-team standings, with a victory for the Sparks creating some breathing room on top with second-running Global creeping up after coming within a point after the result last Saturday.
One constant for the Sparks has been their offense, led by Phil Younghusband, the second-leading scorer in the league with nine goals.
And the Sparks try to rain goals against a rusty Pasargad side that lost top defender Jaham Taher to Division 2 side Manila Jeepney in the transfer window.
Pasargad is also coming off break of more than two weeks, having last played February 20 when it lost to Philippine Army, 0-2.
Kaya FC, running third in the standings, tries to keep in step with the leaders as it faces Green Archers United in the nightcap at 7:30 p.m.