Younghusband ready for Geylang test

Loyola Meralco Sparks striker Phil Younghusband is hoping to do the Philippines proud when they make their RHB Singapore Cup debut against Geylang United on Friday.

Credit Mark Dilamanta (UFL Philippines, InterAKTV)

By Gabriel Tan

Loyola are one of six foreign sides that have been invited to the 2012 edition of Singapore's premier cup competition, although Phnom Penh Crown and DPMM FC have since been eliminated by Great Eastern-YEO's S.League giants Tampines Rovers and Home United respectively.

However, the Sparks, who are currently third in the United Football League, come up against a struggling Geylang United at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Friday and appear to have a good chance of progressing to the quarterfinals.

And while Younghusband admits his team are unsure what they will be coming up against when they take on the Eagles, they are relishing the chance to see where they stand on the regional stage.

"It's the first time a local club has been invited to play in the Singapore Cup so we'll really be representing the Philippines," the 24-year-old told ESPNSTAR.com in an exclusive interview.

"It'll be a measure to see how far Filipino football has come; we get to see where we are [compared to the region].

"Either we find out how far we need to catch up, or how far we are ahead, or whether we're level with them. It will be a good gauge and we're excited.

"The difficult thing is we don't know what to expect. We haven't seen anything about the other team, we don't know which players to look out for and their style of play, so that's probably a disadvantage at the moment."

On Wednesday, Loyola coach Kim Chul-su revealed he has set a semi-final target for his side, and while Younghusband is quietly hoping they can go all the way, he remains fully focused on the clash with Geylang at the moment.

"I wouldn't want to predict where exactly we'll finish, but you never enter a competition and say we're not going to try and win it," the Philippines international added.

"Realistically, we have to get this game out of the way first and take one step at a time.

"We know from the next round onwards there will be two legs, so if we get a good result [on Friday] then it'll be a great thing not just for us, but the Philippines."

And regardless of where they do eventually finish in the competition, Younghusband is hoping the Sparks can pick up valuable experience which will serve them in good stead as they look to win the UFL.

"This [playing in the Singapore Cup] is a great thing in terms of gaining experience," he admitted. "Our players will be playing against better players and that will make them better.

"If you play against a stronger team and you're able to compete, you get a lot of confidence from that, which should help us in our local league."

Loyola are currently third in the UFL, three points behind leaders Kaya but with a game in hand.

Image courtesy of Mark Dilamanta (UFL Philippines, InterAKTV)



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