Football: Loyola confident of overturning tie

TANJONG PAGAR UNITED 2

(Monsef Zerka 6, Ismael Benahmed 18)

LOYOLA MERALCO SPARKS 1

(James Younghusband 26)

 

They were off-colour on Thursday's night, but Loyola Meralco Sparks vowed to do better when they meet Tanjong Pagar United again at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Sunday.

This, after the Philippines side fell 2-1 to the Jaguars at the Queenstown Stadium in the first leg of their RHB Singapore Cup quarter-final tie.

Said Loyola coach Vincent Santos after the match: "We still fancy our chances of going through to the next round; Jalan Besar has been nice to us these two seasons and we consider it our home ground.

"We train regularly on artificial pitches in Manila and the size of the pitch there suits the way we play. The fans are closer to the pitch, too."

When The New Paper mentioned Santos' comments to Jaguars coach Patrick Vallee separately, the Frenchman, who was in an extremely good mood after the win, joked: "We also like to play at Jalan Besar, it's my ground, it's my stadium.

"If I sign a new contract, I will ask Tanjong Pagar to..."

Vallee left the sentence hanging, to the laughter of the journalists in the media conference room at the stadium.  

The 2010 S-League-winning coach with Etoile said he was happy with the performance of his charges on Thursday's night, save for the lack of marking that led to James Younghusband's goal off a free-kick in the 26th minute.

The Jaguars took the lead against the run of play in the sixth minute, when Monsef Zerka rose highest in the box to nod home Kamel Ramdani's free-kick.

Tanjong Pagar doubled their lead 12 minutes later via some nifty one-touch football by their forwards. Zerka slid the ball through to Ramdani on the left, who then squared the ball to Ismael Benahmed to tap home from six metres.

Benahmed, Zerka and even captain Walid Lounis came close with their efforts, with the second half petering out after the more exciting first period.

Good game

Vallee said: "I am happy because we won the game... my players stuck to the game plan and we tried to play the ball on the ground, like the lead-up to the second goal. It was a good game for the fans tonight. "We have a little advantage going into the second leg but nothing is finished yet. We will not play defensively on Sunday but play our brand of football and try to win the game."

TANJONG PAGAR: Aurelien Herisson, Anthony Aymard, Walid Lounis, Zahid Ahmad, Ahmad Latiff, Kamel Ramdani, Hafiz Nor (Asraf Rashid 87), Sazali Salleh, John Wilkinson, Ismael Benahmed, Monsef Zerka LOYOLA: Chad Gould, Roxy Dorlas, Park Minho, Jang Jowon, Peter Fadrigalan, Matthew Hartmann, James Younghusband, Philip Younghusband, Jang Jowoong (Paolo Bugas 77), Jeong Byeongyeol (Jake Morallo 67), Baba Sampana

TNP Man of the Match: Sazali Salleh

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