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Gabriel Tan
Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sports

Singapore Cup: The foreign legion

The New Paper | Gabriel Tan | Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Brothers Phil (left) and James Younghusband.

There is little doubt that Loyola Meralco Sparks will count on Phil and James Younghusband for inspiration in this year's RHB Singapore Cup campaign.

The Philippine side open their bid for silverware in Singapore against Laotian club SHB Champasak in the first round on Sunday at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

If anyone ever needed a reason to catch the Sparks in action, it would be the two brothers, who enjoy celebrity status back home.

Blessed with dashing good looks and a talent for football that was enhanced at Premier League giants Chelsea, the Younghusbands have been the darlings of Philippine football since they burst onto the scene in 2005.

They continue to be big hits in the Philippines, no doubt helped by the fact their public image has been largely untarnished over the years despite living life in the spotlight.

On the field, they have also achieved plenty.

Phil, 26, is already the Azkals' all-time leading scorer, while James, a year older, has played in three AFF Suzuki Cups - the region's biggest international football competition.

The duo have been at Loyola since 2011 and were both part of the side that finished fourth in the 2012 RHB Singapore Cup.

Last year, the club reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Tanjong Pagar United.

The Sparks are certainly one of the contenders for this year's Singapore Cup.

While Phil is the club's leading striker and James raids down the right flank, the Younghusband brothers aren't the only weapons in the Sparks' arsenal.

Long before the two brothers arrived on the scene, a certain Freddy Gonzalez was the star of Philippine football and he is hungry for one final hurrah with the club.

The likes of Simon Greatwich, Matthew Hartmann, Roxy Dorlas and Robert Canedo, meanwhile, are all seasoned campaigners.

NEW SIGNINGS

To further add quality to their ranks, Loyola coach Vincent Santos also raided reigning United Football League champions Stallion FC, signing a host of key players from their title-winning squad, including South Korean winger Lee Joo Young and Spanish centre back Joaquin Canas.

The Younghusbands will once again be the stars for the Sparks, and will be the main reason why the stadium is likely to be filled up when they arrive in town.

Backed up by a more-than-capable supporting cast, Loyola will be a force to be reckoned with.

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