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    Fancied Sparks looking to break Air Force curse

    Feb 20, 2013

    STALLION-Sta. Lucia FC and Loyola Meralco aim for a share of the United Football League lead when they take on separate unpredictable military teams on Thursday night at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig.

    The Stallions face Army at 5:15 p.m. before the Sparks tangle with Air Force in the main game at 7:30 p.m. with the favored clubs seeking a third straight win in a bid to catch up with defending champion Global FC at the top on nine points.

    Coming off a 4-0 victory over PSG – their second straight rout of the tournament, the Stallions hope to keep the momentum going against the Troopers as they bank on Spanish standouts Rufo Sanchez and Joaco Cañas, Hyo Il Kim, and national team member Jason de Jong.

    Still, the reigning UFL Cup champions remain wary of the Troopers, who will be led by veteran Azkals Ed Sacapaño, Boogie Margarse, and Roel Gener, along with Relan Bretana, who scored Army’s lone goal in their 4-1 loss to the Sparks on opening night.

    “The Armed Forces teams, you never take them for granted,” Stallion coach Ernie Nierras said. “I’m not gonna look past any team. We’re gonna prepare the way we prepare all the time.”

    Meanwhile, the Sparks take on their second straight opponent from the military in the Airmen, who lost to Nomads, 1-0, in their first game of the season.

    Compared to other opponents, the Sparks have always found the Airmen a tough nut to crack.

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    It was an aging Air Force squad which denied a Loyola Meralco side bannered by brothers James and Phil Younghusband the UFL Cup title during their 2011 championship match.

    Freddy Gonzalez, the former playing owner of Pachanga and considered the Sparks’ prized recruit, is well aware of his team’s history with the Airmen.

    “Air force has been a tough team for the Sparks, but I think if we execute our game plan properly and don’t get frustrated and try to score early, I think we’ll have a good game,” said Gonzalez, who scored for the second straight game for the Sparks in their 1-0 win against his former team last week. 

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