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.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Loyola defeats Harimau Muda, 3-0, to advance to q’finals of Singapore Cup

A condensed version of this appears on the Tuesday May 28, 2013 edition of the Business Mirror.

Loyola defeats Harimau Muda, 3-0, to advance to q’finals of Singapore Cup
by rick olivares

Singapore -- The Loyola Meralco Sparks made its triumphant return to Singapore with an impressive 3-0 win over Malaysian S.League side Harimau Muda B in the opening round of the 2013 Singapore Cup at the Jalan Besar Stadium last Sunday.

The Sparks got goals from Phil Younghusband scored a brace while Jang Joo Wong, playing atop their 4-2-3-1 formation, found the back of the net for his first international goal in the win.

It was the first bit of good cheer the Sparks got in the last few weeks as they have dropped out of the race for the UFL title following some crushing losses and disappointing draws after leading the league in the early part of the season.

“I am hoping that this is where we turn the corner,” said team manager Carlo Rodriguez a day before the game. And the beleaguered Sparks did just that to advance into the quarterfinals of the Singapore Cup for the second consecutive year.

“When we came last year it was for the experience. Now, we have the experience,” noted head coach Vince Santos.

Although the Sparks took control of the match from the opening whistle, it was the Malaysians who had two early chances to score but forward Maxsius Musa fired wide in the fifth minute while a one-two combination pass between Yazid Zaini to Iskandar Hanapiah three minutes later also went awry.

Phil Younghusband’s back heel pass in the seventh minute to older brother James in the right wing saw Loyola in a good position for their first chance but the latter’s cross sailed away.

In the 17th minute, Phil Younghusband was felled inside the box by defender Ashmawi Yakin who was the last line of defense after the Filipino broke through several defenders. Referee Abdul Malik Bashir sent off the Malaysian leaving Harimau Muda with only 10 men on the pitch. A minute later, Younghusband made good on his spot kick to give Loyola the opening goal of the 2013 Singapore Cup.

Malaysian head coach Razip Ismail lamented the sending off his player. “It’s too harsh to give a player a red card. In our last game against Woodlands, almost the same situation but the player never got a red card only a yellow card.”

Santos offered somewhat of a mild counter, “The chance we created to concede a red card was with eleven men. It’s the last man then there’s a chance for a red card. But if it happened anywhere else in the field then I would have not expected a red card.”

Loyola dominated possession of the match as they completed 83% of their passes (439-531 attempts). They also got stellar wing play from Matthew Hartmann on the left and James Younghusband on the right. But it was their ability to hold the ball and find holes in Harimau Muda’s defense that had the Malaysians playing cautiously and opting to attack on the counter.

In the 40th minute, a brilliant nine-pass set saw Phil Younghusband find Jang Joo Won on a long ball release. The Korean deftly maneuvered between two defenders before firing to his left but well under the arms of the diving Harimau keeper Ilham Amirullah for a 2-0 lead that gave the Filipino side some breathing room.

The Malaysian side, their Under-19 national team, played better in the second half, with a 4-4-1 formation. But they got few opportunities to break through.

Decried Ismail, “We couldn’t break the opponent back four, I don’t think maybe we get a clear try at the goal. We never had one clear chance. You need to go inside the box. We lacked ideas maybe because of less man.”

Harimau Muda retained better control of the ball in the second half and that afforded them a few attacking opportunities. In the 78th minute, Hanif Dhazir who had come in the match as the Malaysian’s first substitute for forward Yazid Zaini, unloaded from 25 yards out but it was wide left. One minute later, Musa sent another long range shot well high over the crossbar leaving Loyola keeper Ref Cuaresma unchallenged for the most part of the match.

With several hundred Filipinos at Jalan Besar Stadium cheering on the Sparks, Loyola stepped up the pressure with their substitutes all making an impact.

Angelo Marasigan, in for Matthew Hartmann, had a brilliant turn, but fired straight at the keeper.

Attacking midfielder Jake Morallo who performed well in last year’s Singapore Cup came in the 74th minute for Jang and he had three scoring chances.

Seven minutes after his introduction into the game, James Younghusband’s long forward ball found Morallo with space to operate just outside the right side of the box. A defender blocked his initial cross but Morallo recovered the ball drawing out Amirullah. With a crowd in front of him, Morallo’s pass to a wide open Phil Younghusband, who had run up in support as the third man, was exquisite. The long-time national player could do no less than blast the ball into an empty net for a 3-nil lead and the clincher.

Santos pronounced himself “satisfied” with the win. “Morale was a bit down after one of our losses it’s good to have our morale back. It helped they got a man down but before that we were showing good movement. We created some chances and I think we deserved at least that first goal when they went a man down. It was a little easier after that.”

The Sparks had a great practice in Manila before leaving for Singapore and in their final one, the night before the Harimau Muda match, saw the players moving with a lot of energy. “The cloud we were under in lifted in the past few days,” noted Santos.

“I knew we were going to win,” chimed in a joyous Alex Elnar who before boarding the team bus bound for Jalan Besar Stadium related how when the team attended Holy Mass at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, a few minutes walk from the team hotel in Bugis. “During the Homily, the priest talked about the Holy Trinity and in our practices, we’ve been working on our three-man runs.”

And after the 3-nil win? “Three goals and a clean sheet? Yes!” roared Elnar.

Ismail on the other hand could only shake his head. “This is our worst game. Our worst performance. (Defender) Syawal Nordin injured his knee during warm-ups and we had to replace him.”

“This is not Harimau Muda team that you’re used to seeing. Very difficult opponent (Loyola); an experienced team. I think maybe we are tired after two hard games in the S.League (both wins – 3-nil over Tanjong Pagar United and 2-0 over Woodlands Wellington). We are also did not know this opponent even though I understand there are a few national players in this team.”

In perhaps the best compliment paid to the UFL side, Ismail said, “We never played anyone with this quality.”

The Malaysian coach also named several players who he thought played well for the Sparks: “I think number 23 (Mark Hartmann), and the striker (Phil Younghusband) is not bad. The captain (James Younghusband) also. They moved very well and they play good football. They are a good team with experience.”

Starting XIs:

Ref Cuaresma

PJ Fadrigalan    Chad Gould    Jeong Byeong Yeol   Roxy Dorlas

Simon Greatwich    Mark Hartmann

James Younghusband   Phil Younghusband     Matt Hartmann

Jang Joo Won

Ridzuan Abdunloh

Iskandar Hanapiah    Yazid Zaini    Maxsius Musa

Akhir Bahari    Azzizan Nordin

S Vikneswaran    Nashriq Yahya    Osman Yusoff   Ashmawi Yakin

Ilham Amirullah


Loyola: Angelo Marasigan (67) for Matthew Hartmann, Alex Elnar (69) for Jeong Byeong Yeol, and Jake Morallo (74) for Jang Joo Won.

Harimau Muda: Hanif Dzahir (20) for Yazid Zaini, Syafwan Syahlan (59) for Iskandar Hanapiah, and Nur Areff Kamaruddin (64) for Azzizan Nordin.

Loyola: completed 439 of 531 passes – 83%
Harimau Muda: completed 296 of 369 passes – 80%

Notes: The Jang brothers – midfielder Jang Jo Won and forward Jang Joo Won – have another brother playing in the S. League. He is Jang Jo Yoon who is playing with Woodlands Wellington FC. Jang Jo Won also once played in the S. League.

Arrival at Jalan Besar Stadium

Interview with Razip Ismail

Interview with Vince Santos


  1. sir, we can't see the interview with jake morallo.

    1. Sorry! They are now published for viewing.

  2. Sir Rick,

    Are you going to cover or write about the ongoing 2013 PFF Suzuki Cup U-23?