The climax of FA League Cup is upon us and with all the events that unfolded in the last few days, we expect nothing but fireworks in the conclusion of this inaugural tournament. Here is the perfect pass blog’s preview of the 2014 UFL FA League Cup Semi-Finals.
Loyola Meralco Sparks FC vs Global FC
Global Coach Leigh Manson bared to us last week on the possibility of having a watered down squad in the semis, but the cancellation of the second Azkals tune-up game in Doha just erased all of that. With the early return if the Loyola Azkals players, much is expected for this explosive semi-final.
Loyola is of terrific form as of late with a fit-again Phil Younghusband scoring in all of his recent competitive matches. The Meralco-backed squad have scored an average of 3.67 goals in their last three competitive games and have shown good defensive quality against a tough Kaya side in the quarterfinals.
Global FC meanwhile have been the higest scoring team in the tournament scoring a whopping 34 goals on the way to the semi finals. Mark Hartmann has been on fire in the tournament together with Fil-Mexican Edgar Briones and Izo El Habbib.
Having only lost one game against a tough group, Loyola are slight favorites after their quarterfinal performance which saw their defense shackling Kaya’s top guns. They will be missing Simon Greatwich who is suspended but has been playing well in in his recent games. Max Wright and Brian Fredrick would have to pick up the pieces in midfield in order to compensate for the loss.
A possible return of Joo Young Lee could well be the surprise for Loyola in this game as he has missed games due to a medical procedure.
Global has yet to be tested in this tournament against as they have largely been playing weaker opponents in their group. Hartmann is expected to play a more central role with the two more natural strikers up front with Briones and El Habbib. It is not known if whether Jason De Jong will play as he has not suited up in Globals last few games but is always present in the venue.
Global is the favorite to win this game with their National players and strong foreign reinforcements
in tow but gutsy wins of late by Loyola will show them through the final.
Match Prediction: FT Loyola 1-0 Global (HT 0-0)
Ceres-La Salle FC vs Pachanga-Diliman FC
Ceres and Pachanga both locked horns in their first meeting last September 20 with Ceres beating the Diliman squad by 4 goals. It already feels like a long time since as Pachanga has improved tremendously and Ceres are still unbeaten in the FA league Cup.
Ceres played its worst game of the season in the quarterfinals but were lucky enough to get past Stallion FC 3-1. Missed opportunities in the game and a poor second half in the quarterfinal may have prompted Ceres to pullout its players from the Azkals training in Doha earlier last week. It is expected that the Bacolod-based team will be very eager to bounce back from the self-admitted poor performance.
Pachanga-Diliman meanwhile struggled to beat Manila All-Japan in the quarterfinals only to be saved by a Lee header in extra time to qualify for the semi-finals. Injuries to key players in striker Ginggoy Valmayor and defender Andrew Santiago was the primary reason for this but both are expected to play in the Semis.
The Ceres attack has been nothing but dangerous in this tournament so far. Deadly in the counter attack and especially in set-pieces, the extra work has brought Ceres a lot of success since. Key players to watch would be top scorer Adrian Gallardo Valdez and winger’s: Orman Okunaiya and Jinho Kim. Azkals’ Patrick Reichelt has yet to regain his scoring form from early in the tournament, hopefully he gets it this week in time for the Suzuki Cup.
Ginggoy Valmayor has been on-point so far for Pachanga, to be followed by the ex-Socceroo duo of Jeong Woo Lee and Yi Young Park. Also waiting in the wings is Shaiyan Jafary Dastjerdi who was a revelation in the League this year. It is expected that Ceres would have the advanatage given the injury to Valmayor with the Bacolod squad still managing to score goals even in their worst games.
Ceres has a glaring advantage on the defense as it has only allowed an average of one goal in its last 3 competitive matches. The towering presence of Sang Min Kim and Juani Guirado in central defense makes it difficult for the opposition to score but are not invincible. Pachanga-Diliman meanwhile has allowed an average of 2.67 goals in the same category and the recent injury to Santiago does not help their cause against this prolific Ceres team. The Pachanga defense is the weakest in all four semi-finalist
The Diliman-based squad would need a perfect game in order to make an upset, but this is highly improbable given the injuries to key players. The Bacolod squad boasts of a strong first 11 and also has the deepest bench with the likes of Kyum Son Cho, Dodz Pasinabo, Jayson Panhay, Jason Sabio, and Jeff Christaens.
Match Prediction: FT Ceres 4-0 PDFC (HT 3-0)
Action Starts at 445PM tomoorrow at the Rizal Memorial Stadium. Please come and watch as the Grandstand Fee of P100 is the cheapest in any major sports league in the country. Do note that Senior Citizens and Students (with ID) have FREE access to the grandstand and Bleachers are FREE. IVG