Philippine national men’s football team stalwarts James and Phil Younghusband are finally joining the nation’s premiere football league.
The famous pair of Azkals are set to join the United Football League first division side Loyola Meralco Sparks FC for the upcoming 2011-12 season. The club is in the midst of a build-up which also saw them signing up another set of Filipino-British footballing brothers: Darren, Mark, and Matthew Hartmann.
Meralco president and MVP Sports Foundation chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan couldn’t help but express his excitement over the entry of the Younghusbands to the Loyola Meralco fold.
“Unang-una, they’re excellent football players,” said Pangilinan. “Pangalawa, may face value yung dalawa, they’re well-known personalities, and in a way, you need someone like them to promote the sport.”
The new players are expected to raise the team’s overall talent level and competitiveness to become one of the top UFL sides. The squad, formerly known as the Loyola Agila FC, finished fifth in the league last season; prior to that, the team consistently placed in the top four of the standings.
But MVP Sports Foundation president and Meralco executive Al Panlilio wants the Sparks to soar higher.
“Meralco is used to winning championships, and with the Younghusbands and the Hartmanns and the other Loyola Meralco players, we want to win the UFL championship this season,” he said.
Phil and James are longtime members of the Azkals, while Mark and Matthew are part of the Under-23 national team set to compete in the Southeast Asian Games this year. Darren was also a former member of the senior national team in the past.
Mark and Darren, who were late additions to the Loyola Agila FC last season, were also part of the UFL All-Star side that shocked the Azkals, 3-2, in an exhibition match earlier this year.
The UFL is the premier competition for football clubs in the country. The first division will have 10 clubs competing in the coming season, which begins October 8.
InterAKTV is part of InterAksyon.com, the online news portal of TV5, which is chaired by Pangilinan.