Tricky cup openers for Global, Loyola

United Football League giants Global have been handed a tough RHB Singapore Cup debut after being pitted against champions Warriors FC in the opening round.

Loyola Meralco Spark vs Global: Carli de Murga
Gabriel Tan

By Gabriel Tan

Following the success of Loyola Meralco Sparks in 2012, Global will become the second club from Philippines to compete in the competition after it was revealed they are one of four invited sides this season.

However, they were immediately handed a tough route to the quarter-finals after Sunday evening's draw handed them a tie against Warriors, who won the title last year after beating Tampines Rovers 2-1 in the final.

Although the eight-time Great Eastern-YEO's S.League champions have not had the best of starts to 2013, they remain one of the strongest sides in the competition on paper, boasting a host of Singapore internationals including Daniel Bennett, Shi Jiayi, Hyrulnizam Juma'at, Sufian Anuar, Erwan Gunawan and Hassan Sunny.

In addition, the Warriors also have a strong foreign contingent to call upon in Bosnian marksman Mislav Karoglan, Croatian centre-back Marin Vidosevic, and Japanese trio Shimpei Sakurada, Tatsuro Inui and Kazuyuki Toda - the latter an ex-Japan international who played at the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Nonetheless, Global boss Brian Reid is likely to be confident his side have what it takes to compete against the Choa Chu Kang Stadium outfit, given he too has a host of established names to call upon.

The Global squad is littered with up to 11 Philippines internationals, including a plethora that played at the 2012 AFF Suzuki Cup like Patrick Reichelt, Carli de Murga, Denis Wolf and Marwin Angeles.

With their maiden AFC President's Cup campaign also on the horizon, Global have recently bolstered their squad with the loan signings of Azkals Eduard Sacapano and Jason de Jong, as well as permanent moves for Joshua Beloya and Turkish midfielder Koray Gunduzoglu.

Loyola have perhaps been handed a slightly easier start given they are up against S.League outfit Harimau Muda, who are made up mostly of under-19 players from Malaysia.

Still, the Sparks would do well to be wary of the Young Tigers given they represent their country's finest youngsters and are picking up some form in the league at the moment.

After Saturday's 2-1 win over Courts Young Lions, Harimau Muda are currently 7th on the table with 11 points from their first eight games, but coach Razip Ismail believes they will still be underdogs in their clash against Loyola.

"Our opponents made the semi-finals last year and we are aware of that," he told FOX Sports. "It's the first time I've heard of this team but I believe they will be even more prepared this year.

"But anything can happen - the Singapore Cup will be a different ball game and a different tournament because it's a knockout competition. We'll try our best and hopefully luck will be on our side.

"It all depends on how well we play in each match and if we can play our best and beat our opponents, maybe we can cause a few upsets."

In particular, Loyola will have to keep an eye out for centre-back Syazwan Tajuddin and wingers Maxsius Musa and Ridzuan Abdunloh, who have all shown promising signs so far this season.

Image courtesy of UFL Philippines (Mark Dimalanta, InterAKTV)

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