ANYONE could clearly hear the tongue-lashing from Pachanga owner John Gutierrez, whose voice reverberated as his team stared at a one-goal deficit at the half against Philippine Army in their United Football League match on Tuesday.
“That’s a f***ing second-division squad. You gotta win this,” were the words overheard outside the dugout.
But Philippine Army, which escaped relegation last year and formed a formidable side with General Trias International in the offseason, proved it is one of the title contenders this season as it added another goal in the second half en route to a stunning 2-0 victory at the Emperador Stadium.
John Cain and Kang Dae Han found the back of the net for the Korean-powered Troopers, who vaulted from sixth to solo second spot after hiking their point total to seven, five behind leader Loyola.
Army also dealt Pachanga, the UFL Cup runner up, its second loss in four games that dropped the emerging squad to fourth place.
Despite having the mouse’s share of possession, the Troopers never wasted any opportunity and showed how the cohesion has developed between the Filipinos and the Koreans.
“(Communication’s) not a problem, because we just play the sport. We can feel each other,” Troopers co-head coach Min Byung Jik said through an interpreter.
Cain unlocked the Pachanga defense just eight minutes into the game when the homegrown Filipino scored off a cross by Kang, who was at the firing end in the second half when he headed in a looper from Relan Bretaña three minutes before injury time.
Pachanga brandished a fluid passing game, but lacked precision in it as Ariel Zerrudo and Nate Burkey missed what were the team’s best chances in the second half.
“Very unlucky night for Pachanga,” coach Noel Marcaida said. “Kung pupuntahan mo yung stats, for me, it was a 70-30 game (in our favor). Pero out of that, thirty-percent possession they had at sa dalawang chance nila, nakuha nila yun.”
“(Army is a) very tough team,” Marcaida added. “Compare mo yung Army noon and now, dati maraming butas, pero ngayon yung Koreans yung nag-fill in ng mga butas nila.”