FRIENDS turn to foes as Global FC and Loyola Meralco face off in a crucial, possible title-deciding United Football League match on Tuesday night at the Emperador Stadium in Taguig.
With seven national team standouts back with their respective mother clubs after a friendly against Malaysia in Cebu, the league-leaders collide in an expected all-out battle as the result will greatly affect the championship race.
A victory by Global, which welcomes back Amani Aguinaldo, Curt Dizon, Jason de Jong, Charles Pettys, and Daisuke Sato, in the 7:30 p.m. encounter will tighten its grip of the top spot in the nine-team standings. Global has 41 points, two ahead of the Sparks, with still a game on hand.
“If we win, we’ll go cruise control (the rest of the way),” De Jong, the Global skipper, said.
But Global coach Leigh Manson played down the gigantic matchup, obviously refusing to pile pressure on his wards.
“Tuesday is another game. I’m not being funny,” the Scottish mentor said. “With all respect to Loyola, it’s just another three points — no more, no less. It’s not a ‘big’ game, it’s another game. That’s no disrespect.”
Unlike Global, which actually has the luxury to end up with a draw, the Sparks have to grab a win, which would give them the provisional lead.
“The easiest way to pick up points on them is to beat them and we’re looking for no less than that,” Sparks coach Vince Santos said. “We’re going to win.”
It’s easier said than done, however, as the Sparks, despite having Azkals James Younghusband and Simon Greatwich back, will continue to miss the services of Phil Younghusband, who’s out with a groin injury.
“This team, I believe, needs to be pushed to a knockout match to play well. I hope having our backs against the wall will bring the spirit back,” said Santos.
Green Archers United, behind Azkals hero Patrick Deyto, tries to add misery to relegation-threatened Pasargad as both teams collide earlier at 5:15 p.m.