Loyola has one point from its last two matches after being held by Stallion 1-1 on Thursday. It comes on the heels of the dramatic loss to Green Archers on Saturday.
The wind is definitely not in the sails of the Sparks. The winning feeling has vanished, as has their status on top of the table.
Thursday was a bitter pill to swallow for Vince Santos’ men. They struck first with an incredible Phil Younghusband free kick that found the gap in the wall between Masood Shadideh and Justin Arends to find the net. But a Balot Doctora strike just before the half negated it.
Loyola rained shots on the Stallion goal frame in the second half but Kuloy Muñoz decided to channel his inner Manuel Neuer and deny every one of them.
Muñoz was pressed into service after Stallion bid adieu to Pedro Marenco. He has been very shaky in relief, but on Thursday he morphed back into the goalie who helped lead Stallion to the 2012 UFL Cup. His late tip save over the bar on a stiff strike was the pick of the saves.
I’m glad Muñoz is back in form. If the Iloilo-Negros Occidental All-Star game we are planning pushes through, he will be the only Ilonggo goalie that I know of. The other two, Air Force’s Louie Sobrevega and Kaya’s Mark Sorongon, are both recuperating from knee ligament surgery.
What should Loyola do differently to get back into the groove? In my opinion, nothing.
Loyola created chances. Plenty of them. In a sense, that is what winning Football is about. Making enough opportunities so that enough of them bear fruit. It just didn’t materialize for Meralco on the night.
There are still nine more matches in the league. Global are still in reach. The panic button should remain unpressed.
The Sparks should take a collective chill pill. They look tight. As Borat, the character created by Sascha Baron Cohen would say, “tight like anus of man.” The pressure of winning seems to weigh heavily upon them. Perhaps they need to rediscover the joy of football. Maybe it sounds cheesy, but I think they need a bit of the “happy happy” zen vibe of Ateneo Volleyball mentor Anusorn Bundit. Then maybe they can bring back some of that momentum.
Momentum is on the side of Green Archers United Globe after another dramatic late win against Team Socceroo. I watched until the 78th minute on TV then drove to the stadium. Naturally I missed Robert Lopez Mendy’s winner.
But Mendy was bossing the game early on with fierce shots on goal and some neat passing too. He’s coming into his own in that attacking mid slot.
GAU have now won four on the trot, including upsets versus Kaya and Loyola. All this without Chieffy Caligdong.
Team Socceroo are ferocious in attack with Diego Barrera, Park Yi Young and Lee Jeong Woo. But there’s a drop off in quality with the rest of the side, although keeper Gui Hasegawa was superb. The missed a chance to put even more room between themselves and Pasargad.
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Sad to learn that Diding Cabalida, Roroy Piñero, and Brax Bracamonte are no longer with the national team as assistant coaches. These are three fine coaches and even better gentlemen. Bracamonte will focus on Philippine Air Force. It is my understanding that Piñero and Cabalida have other coaching gigs that will keep them busy. I’m sure they will find plenty of work.
Piñero has the distinction of being associated with the two great events in Philippine Football over the last quarter-century; the 1-0 win over Malaysia in Rizal Memorial in 1991, in which he played in, and the Miracle in Hanoi in 2010, where he assisted Simon McMenemy.
The Azkals should eventually get another local coach to assist the team down the road. My vote goes to UP mentor Anto Gonzales. If, and when he decides to stop playing for Pachanga PLDT Home Fiber, which will not happen soon it seems.