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.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Loyola hopes to bring home some silverware

Loyola hopes to bring home some silverware
by rick olivares

There’s an air of excitement in this fourth trip of Loyola to Singapore never mind it’s a battle for third place. It is still where no Filipino football club has gone before. The conclusion of the Singapore S. League and Singapore Cup are both coming to its end.

Even after the disappointing loss to Tampines Rovers in the semifinals where the Sparks got blanked 5-0, there was an air of optimism. The team went into the tournament with hardly any expectations. A semifinals berth and an opportunity to win third place is beyond belief. Even here in Singapore outside the Filipino community, there is also an appreciation for what the UFL club has brought to this tournament.

“They play great football and will only get better,” said Tampines Rovers striker Aleksandar Duric after their second leg match with Loyola. “Every time they play there is a great atmosphere and a big crowd. That is good not just for Philippine football but also for Singapore and Asia.”

For Loyola to celebrate properly, they will have to defeat Gombak United in the battle for third place in this 2012 Singapore Cup.

However, it has been a wretched October for Gombak United. The Bulls, as the club is nicknamed, have taken it on the chin losing all four of its matches for the month. The month started with a close 3-2 loss to Geylang United. That was followed by a 6-1 shellacking by Singapore Armed Forces. In both their semifinals matches with Singapore Armed Forces in the Singapore Cup, they lost by a pair of 1-nil results. The Bulls (7-7-9) have fallen from sixth place in the S. League standings to ninth; 21 points off leader Tampines Rovers.

Gombak has an opportunity to move up to eighth place but they’ll be up against Japanese club Albirex Niigata that is currently in fourth place.

The club once took a three-year sabbatical from the S. League in the early years of the new millennium after financial woes. Upon their return, they won the Singapore League Cup in 2008 but have since fallen off again. In the scoring leader board, Mustaqim Manzur has scored six goals while Hafiz Rahim has four. In 23 matches thus far in the S. League, Gombak has scored 23 goals while conceded 29.

But it should also be noted that Gombak has worked its way out of the cellar with its improved play, October notwithstanding. They may also be 0-4 for the month but they’ll no doubt want to go out with a winning note.

Aside from Mustaqim and Rahim, Gombak hopes that tall Korean attacking midfielder Jung Hee Bong can help their cause. Gombak has played a more defensive brand of football in the latter stage of the S. League.

Loyola will be missing several players for the match. Amani Aguinaldo, Michael Menzi, and Eric Giganto are with FEU in the University Games back in Bacolod where they are in the semifinals. New midfielder Rodrigue Nembot was a late addition to the Sparks and is ineligible for Singapore Cup play. Right back PJ Fadrigalan is unavailable because of work. Midfielder Davide Cortina stayed back home while recuperating from a knee injury.

But the Sparks are buoyed with their recent 8-1 whitewashing of Nomads and are keen to pick up some silverware, the club’s first ever. “It will be good for us to end this tournament on a very high note,” said team captain James Younghusband. “”We have to work for it and hope that we bring some silverware back with us to the Philippines.”


Read this on Chad Gould

Quotes from the Loyola Meralco Sparks:

Ref Cuaresma, goalkeeper:
I feel both happy and sad about today's game. Happy because we have a chance to win this and bring glory to our club, country, and the UFL. Sad because it is our last game of the tournament. I feel we grew as a team here in Singapore. And it's always nice to go to Singapore.

Anto Gonzales, midfielder:
We're going in confident about what we have to do. We have a great opportunity to achieve something for our young club. We will be up against a team that has been established in the S. League. They may not be doing well now but that doesn't mean they will not give their best. We are doing something for Philippine football here.

Roxy Dorlas, defender
We look at this game in a different way. We are not just representing Loyola but also the UFL and the Philippines. We hope to do well.

Chad Gould, defender
It feels good to be able to achieve something for Philippine football again. To be a part of this is massive. We hope to play our best for this game.

S. League notes: Tampines that is barely holding off guest squad DPMM of Brunei in league play. The Stags have a 5-0 aggregate win has a 15-4-4 record good for 49 points. DPMM has a 15-3-5 record and has accrued 48 points. Both clubs have a plus-24 goal difference so their final fixtures are going to be very interesting on how they finish.

You have to read this article written by good friend Fabius Chen of the Straits Times and its about Singapore/Tampines striker Aleksandar Duric. How many people will drive a cab for this? This man, Loyola idolizes!

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