It probably goes without saying, nevertheless, I will -- this match will be an intensely fought one. Is that an understatement?
Stallion (10-0-1) would like to continue racking up those wins and the three full points that come with them on order to hold off Global and Loyola.
They’ll be up against Army that will come out with an air of urgency and desperation magnified by the 1-nil loss to Air Force last Saturday (with the goal courtesy of Antonio Albor in the 74th minute). It was Army’s first loss in six matches to their military rival and as a result, it dropped ignominiously to tenth spot that is the automatic relegation zone.
A few weeks ago, Army was at ninth place and no matter how bad it was it meant at least a playoff battle to avoid dropping down to the second division. But an Air Force win over sliding Nomads gave the Airmen some hope and now they booked their second win of the second round.
A mere three days after that colossal flop against Air Force, Army is back in action. Before, it was to keep their heads above water. Now, it’s for survival. Do they have the mental fortitude to get right back up? Can they pull off the biggest upset of the season by defeating Stallion?
When both sides battled last February 21, Stallion won, 2-1, with the former looking vulnerable in the second half. It was an ugly pattern for a while for the UFL Cup champions who after taking an early lead, would relax and concede some second half goals. But they have since corrected that flaw.
That February 21 encounter was Army’s second game of the UFL season and their confidence, despite losing, 4-1, to Loyola in the season opener, was pretty good. They’ve been shellacked repeatedly since and they play with an edge, perhaps, of dead men walking, nowadays.
It’s a sad fate for the proud and once feared military teams. Navy is at eighth spot in the nine-team second division. Army? They’re staring at being relegated.
Why Stallion will win this game?
For one, they have a deeper team with more lethal weapons. More than 10 different players have scored and that means there is no dependency on Rufo Sanchez to score.
Second, their bench has become even more confident as they have delivered. Plus they have the second best defense in the league.
Army on the other hand has the worst defense as they have allowed 37 goals. If they can make a game of it in the first half, keep it tight and score a goal. The problem for Army is the second half. If Boogie Margarse and Ric Becite are influential in this match, they have a slim chance. But they’re also missing Rodrigo Betita who is still serving out his six-month suspension and Relan Bretaña who is out on accumulation of yellow cards.