THE 2nd Crusaders Football Cup 11-Aside football tournament is refreshing tournament for the young and and so young footballers away from the popular 7-Sided festivals which has been dominating the local scene for a long time now.
Games on Jan. 14: Magis FC vs XU; 3:30 Monte Carlo FC vs GHU FC
Envisioned by the young and dynamic Xavier University Men’s Varsity team coach Ivan Caiña two years ago, the tournament this year attracted four teams, Magis FC, Xavier University, Monte Carlo FC and Glorious Hope United FC in the men’s category and the Xavier University Women’s Varsity and Higala FC Girls team.
I missed the opening day of action but the New Year’s fixture after the Christmas break was a feast to any rabid football fans who sneaked in to the spacious Xavier University field in Divisoria.
Action was intense in the Men’s category as Magis FC and Glorious Hope United FC battled a 1-1 draw and Monte Carlo FC rallied in the end game to draw Xavier University 2-2.
Ironically the Women’s category was a lopsided affair as Higala FC whipped the out of shape Xavier University Women’s Varsity, 7-0.
I have never realized until then that there is so much talents in Cagayan de Oro City. This tournament has become a venue for all young and veteran footballers to show off their skills.
It was exciting to watch former Davao Aguilas Kerby Relova heading the equalizer for Magis FC against GHUFC after Aljuc Mahilum gave GHU FC a go a ahead goal in the first half.
Relova was a regular at the Aguilas line-up last season until he was sidelined with a foot injury. He has under gone an operation and is now fit and back on the pitch.
Jean de los Reyes, a former XU player and a member of the FC Meralco-Manila until it folded up early this week, was lively at the midfield also providing his accurate passes to Relova.
But what was impressive also was the presence of the Magis FC old guards and now respectable coach Don Derequito, and Weng dela Riarte in the Magis line-up. The ageless duo were still effective in their brief exposures and showed off lots of skills just to prove to everyone that they still can play the beautiful game.
GHUFC also brought with them some younger players from Bukidnon like goal scorer Aljuc Mahilum to support their old reliables and also efficient local youth coaches Aliver Aguaviva and Rome dela Peña.
“We should have more tournaments like this to allow younger players to see older players play the game. The tournament also allows us older players to have venues to play competitive football,’’ coach Dela Riarte said.
The XU and Monte Carlo match was equally exciting with the experience Berter Palarca putting Monte Carlo FC ahead in the 20th minute from the penalty spot after he was fouled by defender Juan Fernandez inside the box. Monte Carlo had a chance to lead by two goals after Palarca was once again fouled inside the box this time by Lloyd Neri. Sweeper Rey Tablang however missed his penalty shot.
The penalty miss ignited the Xavier lads offense as Alhirt Bahala equalized at the end of the first half also from the penalty spot after his team-mate Mark Golez was fouled inside the box.
The young booters of XU coach Ivan Caiña then continued to push forward in the second half as Chazz Rosales scored off a volley from 25 yards outside the box. They then tried to protect their lead but collapsed in the end game as Jovan Cartagena equalized for Monte Carlo with a solo run from a counter attack.
It was also nice to see young and very talented players like Jovan Cartagena formerly with Higala FC and Corpus Christi team captain Kenneth Guion playing in the senior level. Guion will lead the Northern Mindanao team to the Palarong Pambansa in Vigan, Ilocos Sur this April.
As the tournament resumes today with Magis FC playing XU in the first game and Monte Carlo clashes with Glorious Hope United FC in the second game, local players have to thank the dynamic and young Xavier University coach Ivan Caiña for organizing this tournament. The best of three series between Higala FC and XU Women’s Varsity team will kickoff the busy football Sunday at 8 a.m.
Together with the XU Athletics Department, Caiña has made sure that the local football community has a tournament that they could call their own. (firstname.lastname@example.org)