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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stallion are 2012 UFL Cup champions

Stallion finishes ahead of the pack
by rick olivares pic by nona c.

The game usually comes down to the best players, a mistake, or desire. Sometimes it comes down to a decision.

Stallion defeated powerhouse Global, 2-1, to win the 2012 UFL Cup at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium to win its very first piece of silverware in the country’s premier football league.

After a three-week stoppage to give way to the Suzuki Cup, the UFL Cup finals finally got underway and Global head coach Dan Palami had to make a decision. To go with his second eleven that had defeated Loyola to book the finals seat and had stayed behind in Manila to train while everyone was in Thailand and Singapore or to go with his usual starters?

“I made a decision,” offered Palami. “It was a gamble. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. That’s football.”

A sluggish Global took to the field against a Stallion squad that trained during the lull in UFL play while missing only national player Jason de Jong. From kick off, Stallion immediately threatened as Global tried to get its bearings.

In the 25th minute, forward Rufo Sanchez with Global defender Jerry Barbaso marking him slipped a square pass to Joo Young Lee who with a one-touch through ball hit a cutting Ruben Doctora Jr.

Doctora caught the defense flat-footed and suddenly Global goalkeeper Roland Sadia was the loneliest man in the world. Doctora’s sure-footed finish gave Stallion a 1-0 lead while a stunned Global looked on. With Stallion still celebrating the goal, they forgot to get back on defense.

At the reset, a quick forward pass found a cutting Izzo El Habbib. Stallion’s defenders were likewise caught napping and it forced keeper Wilson Muñoz to come out. El Habbib flicked the ball in for the equalizer in stunning fashion for the equalizer seconds after Doctora opened the scoring.

The El Habbib goal woke both clubs from their stupor as they ratcheted up their defense.

But Stallion first had to deal with a marauding Patrick Reichelt who would blow by Lee Wong Hyung and Bervic Italia for a series of frightening crosses. Misagh Bahadoran, showing no signs of the hamstring injury that struck him off the Suzuki Cup lineup, headed a ball just wide left. In their next offensive set, another Reichelt cross targeted a cutting Jeffrey Christiaens but his one-touch volley hit the post.

The score remained knotted at a goal apiece heading into the half.

Stallion sent in Jovanie Simpron into the fray at the reset while Global gradually introduced their bench mob beginning with Alex Obiang for Demitrius Omphroy in the 60th minute, Marwin Angeles for de Murga in the 70th minute, and super sub Kevin Capolei albeit a little too late to have any effect on the match.

One minute after Obiang came in, Simpron made his presence felt when he found a cutting Pi Yong Jae on the right flank. Before he could be closed down by Global’s defense, Pi fired a cross that found Sanchez who beat Val Kama in the air for a deft header to give his side a 2-1 lead.

At this time, players from both sides were going down with cramps, a result from the long layoff. Yet some, like Sanchez, playing on one leg, gamely soldiered on with the stakes too high. “I wanted this so bad,” he later said. “We came so far away for this. Cramps? I play on.”

Global on the other hand redoubled their efforts but El Habbib, de Murga, Obiang, and Juani Guirado all missed shots from inside the box. Global, cup winners in 2010, had two excellent chances to equalize or even take the lead but El Habbib flubbed a shot from inside the box with no one in front of him while an Obiang header that was on target was punched out by a diving Muñoz.

Stallion held firm in the face on the relentless pressure by Global and when referee Michael Barajas blew the whistle to end the match, the Barotac Nuevo-based football club were the 2012 UFL Cup champions.

Declared co-head coach Ernie Nierras: “With this win, we proved that not only belong in the first division but we are also among the elite. We knew that we would play our best against Global because great teams bring out the best in you.”

Stallion was promoted to the UFL Division One in 2011-12 season along with Division Two champions Nomads. The addition of their Koreans from Iloilo-based Central Philippines University solidified their play in last year’s league where they finished fourth behind champion Global, Kaya, and Loyola.

Doctora was named the Golden Ball winner. Teammate Muñoz was adjudged the Best Goal Keeper while Loyola’s Phil Younghusband took his third successive Golden Boot Award for scoring a tournament high 10 goals.

A gracious Palami said that Stallion deserved the win and the loss will serve as a painful lesson for his club on what needs to be done for the league play that kicks off in February. “It is nice to hear the accolades about our club but that only places more pressure on us to live up to that. We were not able to bring it today but we will learn from this. I am not ruling out changes in our team but we will have to analyze that in the coming days. But I am proud of my team and what we accomplished. Global will be back.”

Nierras on the other hand praised his Spanish contingent of Sanchez and centerback and team captain Joaco Cañas. “They were a huge part in this. I cannot praise them enough.”

Added co-head coach Dr. Eu Hyung Pe, “It took some time to teach the system of ball possession to our players. We ran drills hundreds of times to get them right. But when the Spanish players came in they understood it right away and we had no problems in our offense and defense that became better.”

Stallion manager JR Robles took a few minutes to find the right words for his victorious squad: “Champions. Sarap pakinggan.”


Read about the success of Spanish players here in the Philippines HERE.

This is one of the promotional materials used by AKTV when promoting the UFL last season. Surprisingly, it only made use of a few teams and all national players in an attempt to bring in fans of the national team. While not a bad idea it does do an injustice to many other teams. And from the very beginning, the other teams sounded off their displeasure at this. It served as a motivation for stallion coach Ernie Nierras. He got his "revenge" after his team, Stallion, beat all the fancied teams for the 2012 UFL Cup title.

No comments:

Post a Comment