THE Loyola Meralco Sparks seek to put their recent Singapore Cup heartbreak behind them, kicking off their United Football League Cup campaign on Thursday against Laos at the University of Makati pitch.
Coming off an 0-5 aggregate semifinal loss to the Tampines Rovers, the Sparks are looking to have a fresh start in the local league when they plunge into action in the 7 p.m. game.
A win for the Sparks will give them three points, and a tie with Pachanga and Nomads for the Group C leadership.
Laos, which lost to Nomads, 0-1, last Sunday, is also looking for its first win in the tournament.
Runners-up in last year’s Cup play, the Sparks boast of one of the league’s most potent offensive teams with the presence of brothers Phil and James Younghusband, and Mark Hartmann.
While their offense is unquestioned, the Sparks’ defense has been shaky in the past.
And defenders Chad Gould, a former national team member, and PJ Fadrilagan, and goalkeeper Mark Sorongon are the additions who are expected to bolster the team’s backline.
“We like to play fast, move the ball, but we need to fix our defense,” Loyola owner Randy Roxas said. “I hope our acquisitions have addressed that.”
In Group A action, General Trias tries to move closer to a quarterfinals berth as it faces Socceroo at 9 p.m.
The Cavite-based, Korean-led club currently has four points like tournament favorite Global, but has the lead owing to a superior goal difference.