TWO powerhouse teams and two other title contenders take to the field on Tuesday when the United Football League Cup holds its own version of the Final Four at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Global and Loyola Meralco clash in the opener at 5:15 p.m., before Green Archers United faces Stallion Penson two hours later in a pair of marquee match-up, where the winners advance to a championship showdown on November 19.
Ekeing out a close 2-1 win over Kaya, Global clinched the first semifinal berth, thanks to a goal in extra time by Misagh Bahadoran on Tuesday at the University of Makati pitch.
The Sparks, on the other hand, arranged a meeting with Global following a clinical 5-0 blanking of Philippine Army in their quarterfinal duel on Thursday, also at UMak.
But Mark Hartmann, who registered a hat-trick in the Sparks’ blowout win over the Troopers, is well aware the real test is upon them as almost half of Global’s roster are members of the national team.
“Now the test begins,” said the Filipino-British striker, who will have plenty of offensive help coming from brothers James and Phil Younghusband.
While the two heavyweights had relatively easier paths in booking berths in the semifinals, the Archers and Stallions had to go through the wringer before advancing.
The Stallions edged out General Trias International, 5-4, in a stirring and exhausting match that went to a penalty shootout as both teams went scoreless after 120 minutes of play.
Yeul Nam, a Korean - of all people - eliminated the Korean-laden Cavite-based squad as he slotted home the Stallion’s game-winning shot in the sudden death.
The Archers likewise needed a penalty shootout against Pachanga in their quarterfinal clash before scoring a 4-3 victory to reach the next round.
After the two teams went scoreless in full and extra time, the Archers prevailed after Ayi Nii Aryee broke a 3-all deadlock in the shootout.