Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Preview of Geylang vs. Loyola

This appears in the Wednesday, May 16, 2012 edition of the Business Mirror.

A Preview of Geylang vs. Loyola
Geylang United (2-2-8) vs. Loyola Meralco Sparks (10-2-2)
by rick olivares

It sounds like a tall order but the Loyola Meralco Sparks will be attempting to match of do one better the achievement of Thai club team Chonburi Province when they reached the finals of the 2006 Singapore Cup where they ultimately lost to Tampines Rovers.

The Sparks topped the first round of the 2012 United Football League and thereby received an invitation from the Football Association of Singapore to participate in this year’s tourney. Aside from Loyola, there are four other foreign clubs taking part in the tournament --  Cambodian club Phnom Penh Crown, Brunei’s Duli Pengiran Muda Mahkota, Myanmar’s KBZ, Malaysia’s Harimau Muda B, and Laos’ Yotha.

Since the massive buildup of Loyola dating back to the 2011 UFL Cup where they finished runners-up behind Air Force, the Sparks have been a league power. Following their 2-2 draw with Kaya, Loyola now totes a 10-2-2 record.

On the other hand, the Eagles, as Geylang United is nicknamed, seem far removed from the year when they won the Singapore Cup by beating Bangkok Glass, 1-nil in the finals. The team has struggled this season in the S League as they are dead last in the 13-team standings with a 2-2-8 record for a total of 8 points. Woodlands Wellington has the same number of points but has a better goal difference. Geylang has only notched 11 goals this season while conceding 29.

They lost a number of talented players who helped them to an eighth place finish last season. That includes Korean midfielder Kim Jae Hong, fullback Syed Thaha and forward Hafiz Rahim who scored the winning goal that won for Geylang the 2009 Singapore Cup.

The poor play saw the club move Mike Wong to coach Geylang’s Prime League team while Kanan Vedhamuthu has taken over the S.League squad. It is seen as a demotion for Wong as the Prime League is the reserve team competition in Singapore.

At goal for the Eagles is Yazid Yasin who aside from being team captain once suited up for the national team. Backstopping him is third-string national goalkeeper Ridhuan Barudin. Vedhamuthu has his squad playing a little more defensive with a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Geylang recently called up the talented raw forward Andy Recha from the reserve team. And it was Recha’s late strike that completed Geylang’s comeback from two goals down against Singapore Armed Forces that boasts of national players like Hassan Sunny, Daniel Bennett, and Erwan Gunawan.

The team’s scoring sock comes from midfielder Slovakian Josef Kaplan and Michael King who was a reserve player for English side Burnley. King has a mean free kick as evidenced in his stunning goal against Young Court Lions for their second win of the season. Geylang’s energy comes from Yasin, Kaplan and King.
Geylang United's Michael King.

King isn’t the only Englishman on Geylang. There’s former Arsenal youth player Rhema Obed who has had a difficult time marshalling the defense of Geylang after the celebrated Oliver Nicholas, another Arsenal youth player who also saw time with Blackburn and Newcastle left right after the start of the new season. Nicholas, was a promising addition who had strengthened the defensive line of the Eagles. His departure leaves a gaping hole in the back that Wong and Vedhamuthu have struggled to replace.

Despite working with a team in transition and rebuilding mode, Vedhamuthu nevertheless believes his side can compete. “We will respect the team we are drawn against in the first match, and we look to progress from there. I have only just come to know they have some key players of caliber and quality, so we will need to be prepared against this Philippine team. We should take nothing for granted.
While Loyola will be missing the services of Korean midfielder Jeong Byeong-Yeol who is recovering from a bout with dengue fever, head coach Kim Chul-Su will tap Matthew Hartmann and Simon Greatwich to fill the vacated midfield. Hartmann will be able to suit up for Loyola because of a technicality where the Philippine Football Federation’s one-year suspension from club play following disputes arising from his national team stint did not cover play outside the country. It will be Greatwich’s first taste of action with Loyola although he was lined up at the start of the UFL season. Greatwich last played during last year’s World Cup Qualifying match against Kuwait.
Loyola takes on Geylang this Friday, May 18, 2012 at 7:45pm at the Jalan Basar Stadium. 


  1. any final word if this will be aired in AKTV?

  2. It will be fiesta game again for all of us pinoys here in SG...the last time Azkals played last year, we occupied almost 90% of the seats...tara nah!