Younghusbands look at cup positives

Loyola Meralco Sparks duo Phil and James Younghusband believe there are plenty of positives to take from the club's first-ever participation in the RHB Singapore Cup.

The fourth-placed side in the 2012 Singapore Cup.

By Gabriel Tan

The United Football League outfit were one of five foreign sides invited to play in Singapore's premier cup competition earlier this year and were the only one to reach the semi-finals, where they eventually fell to Great Eastern-YEO's S.League giants Tampines Rovers earlier this month.

Loyola returned to the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday to take on Gombak United in the third place playoff but were unable to end their campaign on a winning note, as first-half goals from Iqbal Hussain, Mustaqim Manzur, Fairoz Hasan and Julien Durand handed their opponents a comprehensive victory.

While Phil Younghusband admits the manner of the defeat was hard to swallow, he believes they can look back at their performances with pride once the dust has settled.

"At the moment, obviously it's very disappointing to have lost," he said. "Obviously, we came here really wanting to win the bronze medal.

"But I think once we get back to Philippines and let it all digest, all of us will look at it as a really good experience."

His older brother was quick to agree with the sentiment, and stressed how beneficial their frequent trips to Singapore have been in building up the Sparks team spirit.

"It's all about the long-term plan about improving football in the Philippines," James Younghusband said. "Our participation in the Singapore Cup has definitely been beneficial.

"Going away as a team, it really helps us get to know one another better, especially given we're a fairly young club, and it shows on the field."

Nonetheless, both of the Philippines internationals were effusive in their praise of Gombak, whom they believe were of a higher level than the sides Loyola normally play against in the UFL.

"We're not used to playing against teams like Gombak," the older Younghusband revealed. "They were well organised and they knew what they wanted to do.

"They deserved to win today [Sunday]."

"We looked really tired but that is no excuse," Phil Younghusband added. "Gombak are a very good team.

"They got the ball out wide and were extremely effective.

"I would say we let them play to their qualities but take nothing away from them. They were a very good side."

Loyola will now turn their attentions to the UFL Cup, where they are currently in a good position to progress to the quarter-finals from Group C with two wins from their opening three games.

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