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.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Loyola turns back Kanbawza 3-1

Loyola Meralco Sparks team captain James Younghusband raises his arms in victory following his squad's 3-1 win over Kanbawza in the first match of a two-legged series in the quarterfinals of the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night. Younghusband scored in the 91st minute.

Loyola turns back Kanbawza 3-1
by rick olivares pics by brosi gonzales

July 5, 2012
Jalan Besar Stadium

Hydration. Check.

Communication. Check.

Defense. Check.

Guts and heart. Check.

The all-important first win. Check.

They say experience is the best teacher. After their hard-fought first round win over Geylang United in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup last May 18, the Loyola Meralco Sparks came prepared and loaded for bear as they flashed deadly form to turn back Myanmar side Kanbawza, 3-1, last night at the Jalan Besar Stadium in Singapore.

During their match against Geylang, players dropped to the pitch in alarming numbers. Furthermore, the Singaporean side exposed what everyone knew back home – the Sparks’ suspect defense.

This time around, Loyola slew the ghosts of their first ever match on foreign soil as well as their stunning collapse in the UFL just a little over a week ago with a near perfect game against fancied Kanbawza that is currently running second in the Myanmar Premier League. The defense was solid after a shaky first 10 minutes while the on-field communication among the players was excellent.

However it was Kanbawza that looked dangerous in the first 15 minutes of the match as they proved to be faster than they looked on television. One quick counter changed the course of the game.

As the defense repulsed one attack, midfielder Jeong Byeong-Yeol found space on the left flank. With a defender a foot behind, the Korean pushed up closer then unleashed a cross that found Phil Younghusband with only one defender to beat. Younghusband quickly turned and fired a cracking shot that  blew past keeper Kyaw Zin Htet in the 15th minute. It wasn’t only a goal that KBZ conceded as they also lost Htet to injury.

The goal not only silenced the huge Myanmar crowd that came to support their home side but it also changed the course of the game. The goal allowed Sparks to breathe a little easier. They settled down and executed the game plan where they disrupted the diamond formation and short passing game of the PN Sivaji-coached side such that they resorted to long balls just to feed menacing forward Charles Obi.

Matters continued to go south for Kanbawza when midfielder Hla Aye Htwe was issued a red card by referee Leow Thiam Hoe for striking Sparks midfielder James Younghusband in the face. The sending off of Htwe was met with disdain by the predominantly KBZ crowd with some fans in the lower areas throwing water bottles and a metal cane towards assistant referee K Surindranath.

The match was stopped for eight minutes as stadium officials sought to restore order. Singaporean police arrived minutes later to assist the stewards in crowd control.

The Philippine club doubled its lead in the 66th minute when midfielder Mark Hartmann pounced on a loose ball that reserve keeper Yawai Zin was unable to hold on to after a Phil Younghusband shot from the left side of the box. It was Hartmann’s second goal of the tournament and it silenced the huge Burmese crowd whose passion for their side lent for an electric atmosphere.

Myanmar lost another player in the late stages of the second half when another player was sent off when substitute Kyaw Zayar Win was booked for consecutive cards following a late tackle on Loyola’s Park Min Ho and dissent against the call.

Instead of pressing their advantage, Loyola surprisingly sat back and KBZ striker Soe Min Oo latched onto a long long ball from the midfield line to finally beat Sparks’ keeper Ref Cuaresma with a header to make a game of it, 2-1. Just as Younghusband’s goal changed the momentum for Loyola, Oo’s goal was gave KBZ new life. For a maddening five minutes, Kanbawza kept the ball in Loyola’s half.

In one corner, Oo won a header that Cuaresma was able to parry away. The ball fell in front of KBZ forward Tercio Nunes who blasted a shot only Loyola midfielder covered the goal line and sent the ball away leading to a dangerous counter that had the Burmese players frantically scampering after Phil Younghusband. Although Zin stopped the Loyola striker’s shot, it allowed the Philippine team time to gather their wits and adjust.

Going once more on the attack, the Sparks put the finishing touches on a near masterpiece of a match in the first minute of stoppage time when the Younghusband brothers played a little give and go inside the box but this time with James firing a powerful shot past the diving Zin. The third Sparks goal, borne out of an 11-pass sequence put the match’s outcome beyond a reasonable doubt.

As Hoe sounded his whistle to bring the two-hour match to an end, Loyola defender Alex Elnar ran to the sideline in front of the Filipino gallery to raise his arms in triumph. “Hindi ako nag-cramps,” he yelled to no one in particular. Elnar was one of the Loyola players who went down during the Geylang match due to extreme dehydration.

“I think our preparation made a huge difference because we knew what they wanted to do and we took it away from them,” said an ecstatic Phil Younghusband who also preached caution. “We kept our heads in the game and got a great result. But it’s not yet over. There’s one more to play.”

There wasn’t any need for Gonzales to urge his teammates to gut this one out as he did during the Geylang match when the team wilted from the pressure, the humidity, and the intensity of the match. “We played much better. We were always talking out there as we covered for one another. This helps us a lot in our confidence.”

The two sides play once more in this two-legged quarterfinals series with Kanbawza that is played in the neutral ground of Jalan Besar, home to Singapore club, Young Lions. The team with the highest total of goals will advance to the semifinals of the prestigious competition.

Loyola: Ref Cuaresma, Andres Gonzales, James Younghusband, Philip Younghusband, Roxy Dorlas, Jang Jowon, Alexandro Elnar, Park Min Ho, Davide Cortina, Jeong Byeong-Yeol, and Mark Hartmann.

KanbawzaKyaw Zin Htet, Han Wing Aun, Win Min Htut, Nyarna Lwin, Khaing Zaw Tun, Soe Min Oo, Samuel Hanson, Hla Aye Htet, Nay Win Aung, Tercio Nunes, and Charles Obi.

Filipinos came out in force to support the Sparks. While below, the starting XI for last night's game. Standing L-R: Jeong Byeong Yeol, Jang Juwon, Park Min Ho, Ref Cuaresma, James Younghusband, Mark Hartmann. Crouching L-R: Roxy Dorlas, Anto Gonzales, Alex Elnar, Davide Cortina, Phil Younghusband. KINDLY CREDIT IF YOU BORROW ANY MATERIAL AND PLEASE SEND THE LINK.


  1. Para na rin akong nanood ng game because of this very detailed account. THANK YOU! Glad you're in Singapore to cover this game. Mabuhay!

  2. Thank you so much for the kind words. Sunday ulit. And I hope you read my other stuff on bleachers brew.

  3. Another good write, Ricky! Wish we were there to see the action... And thanks for the tweetcast last night, we were glued! :D

  4. Nice detailed report. Hopefully, AKTV will televised the next match. This just shows how Philippine football is making a way for itself. Keep it up LMSFC.

  5. Hi. Thanks for the kind words. It's not AKTV's fault. There is no television feed from Singapore. It wasn't even shown on ESPN Star. We'll figure out what we can do for better coverage on Sunday.

  6. I was there! It was a great and exciting game with very passionate supporters from both sides...bring it on!....James E of Bukit Timah

  7. Thank you very much Rick. Thanks to Cedelf too. Without your tweets we back here in Pinas wouldn't be able to follow the match. My MAN OF THE MATCH RICK OLIVARES & CEDELF TUPAS. You did mankind a big favor. If I were to describe the feeling its like Frodo and Sam of the LOTR trilogy bringing the ring to the fire of Mordor and saving humanity. Thats how these two guys delivered the play by play to us. I just hope Rick you don't get carried away with those cursing words as I am afraid I won't be able to let my 7 year old football fan son read it. I will let him read Cedelf instead which is of general patronage. Hahaha. May I suggest you try out audio coverage instead via YM, skype or anything else. So that we can hear also the crowd. Thanks again and God bless! When shopping be on the lookout when you go to Weston sports that's Burmese territory. - foodie

  8. I hope someone can have at least a short highlights video. I hope any Football loving Filipino in Singapore with DLSR cam can do that for us. Thanks also Rick for the detailed match account of the match.

  9. Methinks its time to give Ref Cuaresma a chance as backup Goalkeeper for the Azkals behind Neil and Roland. He seems to have done a fine job in this game ...

  10. Have video. High def. Taking too long to upload.

  11. Great win, and great read. thanks Sir Rick. Sparks did not win the UFL trophy, but they are creating big waves in this tourney, OBF till Sunday! Godbless Sparks, and Godbless Sir Rick and Sir Cedelf. XD

  12. Rick, I hope you could adjust the quality and have it uploaded. thanx in advance.

  13. Hi Rick..I have some video but its not high def would u like me to post?

  14. Sure thing. Kindly send me the link.

  15. Salamat for this at sa mga nag tweetcast kagabi. Mahirap 'manood' sa Twitter pero ok parin.

  16. rick, convert it to .m4v or iphone formate using quicktime 7. should save you space and time!- Coco

    Great article!

  17. Awesome coverage! First time for me to follow a matching via social media. Looking forward for tomorrow's game.

    By the way, I saw the highlights of the 1st leg but can somebody upload at least a huge portion of the 1st match? I'm anxious to see the possession and passing game stated in the article.