UFL: Pasargad shows a pulse, Army ponders uncertain future

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Pasargad, are, incredibly, on something of a rich vein of form after holding Stallion to a 0-0 draw last Tuesday.

The top tier’s bottom club leaned on a solid night by keeper Amie William N’Sangou and a disciplined defense to pick up their second draw in three matches. In the Land of Pasargad, this qualifies as a red-hot streak.

Stallion laid siege to the Pasargad goal frame in the second half but could not find a breakthrough. IN the first half they squandered possession with a series of ill-advised long balls.

New coach Myk Agbayani, on the helm of Pasargad now for three matches, can take a lot of credit for the precious two points, which bring Pasargad’s total to six, four less than eighth-place Socceroo with seven games still to be played for both teams. Team Socceroo fans aren’t out of the woods yet. Only one side gets dropped down to Division 2.

“Inayos ko talaga ang depensa kase yan talaga ang problema” said a relieved Agbayani afterwards. Agbayani also coaches Emilio Aguinaldo College in the NCAA and was head coach of Forza before getting eased out in favor of Malaysian Nor Azlan Mohamad Nasir.

If Agbayani can keep Pasargad in the first division after this league, it will be a herculean feat.

Agbayani

Global’s goalie coach Jorge Kuriyama watched the game and noticed that the defense looked more organized. Pasargad stalwart Jay Torres played right back and shone.

Agbayani has a find in Michael Ebare. The Bukidnon native sparkled in the first half, deftly controlling a north-south ball with a sublime touch only to spray his volley just wide. Brought over in the transfer window by Agbayani from EAC, the kid does have a bright future. He showed his versatility by swapping wings in the second half after playing in a central position in the first.

* * *

Army GTI, after holding Kaya 1-1 in the first half, eventually lost 5-1. Their hopes for a Super Cup slot (only the top six make it) have really dimmed, as they now trail sixth place GAU by six points.

“They (Army) are just training Kaya right now” mused one observer.

I chatted with Roel Gener after the game. I learned just how tough it is to be a player in this squad.

Gener said he played on just two hours sleep, after a 12-hour shift on duty on the previous  night that ended at six am. After a short rest he had to coach in Army’s summer football clinic. Then the game, where he got subbed in the second half.

The team trains when it can, but the schedule is erratic. Fitness will always be an issue. No wonder they were unable to press Kaya at all in the second half, when Dave Perkovic’s men romped.

What will happen to Army GTI once the league is over? Will the two partners continue this rather peculiar batchoy-with-kimchi casserole? Everything seems up in the air.

In the meantime, Army’s players are not getting younger, and without adequate support from the higher-ups in the service, they will be unable to directly enlist the young players they need.

Lets hope they work something out. Army is still a team with a lot of pride and a great history. It will be sad to see them fade to oblivion.

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