Biantan : Cebu footie legend gives Global FC a try

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By Jack Biantan

Big Jack

Friday, October 14, 2011


CAGAYAN DE ORO -- Cebu's football coaching legend Graeme Mackinnon gives Philippine coaching another try but this time at a higher level when he leads defending champion Global FC against Queen City United FC of Cebu in the United Football League.

The match is set Sunday, October 16, 1 p.m. at the Alabang Country Club Club A football field.

It will be an interesting match as Mackinnon will go up against the team of his best friend and former player with the great Cebu team M. Lhuillier, Mario Ceniza.

Ceniza has formed the Cebu Queen City United team in less than a month with the support of Cebu construction tycoon Ricky Dakay. The Cebuanos were supposed to play Pachanga FC last Sunday but the match was scrapped because of bad weather.

It will be a tough start for Mackinnon as he will try to give Global their first win after their surprise 2-3 loss to the Ernie Nierras coached Stallions FC in the UFL opener at the Rizal Memorial stadium last Oct. 8 . Mackinnon was not yet allowed by his doctors to fly to the Philippines from Sydney, Australia as he was still recuperating from a knee replacement surgery.

At 65 years old, I have known Graeme since the late 80's when he was still coaching the legendary M.Lhuillier football team of Cebu. He led the Jewelers to the PFF National Championships title in 1988 in Bacolod city with a very young team captained by Mario Ceniza.

Through the help of Cebu's sports patron Michel Lhuillier, Graeme established the M. Lhuillier Sports Development Foundation (MLSDF) to train young footballers in Cebu province in the 90's. The MSLDF also sponsored the Scoop Cebu Sports Awards. Graeme also wrote a football column for a Cebu daily newspaper The Freeman and coached Springdale, a powerhouse in Cebu's local youth tournaments.

Graeme actually made it to Cebu not because of football. He went to Cebu as a businessman buying furnitures for his father's furniture shop in Australia. Before his Cebu stint, Graeme was a promising semi-professional footballer in Australia until he injured his knee. He came to Manila to play for San Miguel Corp in 1980 under Juan Cutillas who now coaches the Kaya FC. After San Miguel folded up he went to Cebu and the rest is history.

Coaching Global will be the biggest challenge for Graeme as he has not coached at senior level for a long time now since he led the Exas team to the Cebu Amateur Football Club (CAFC) tournament title in 1998.However, he has kept himself busy coaching youth teams in Australia since he went back down under in early 2000's.

He did not take too long to accept Dan Palami's offer to coach Global. He has not signed any contract with Global and would stay with the team until they are happy with his performance. He accepts that it is a daunting task to be asked by Palami to get back into the hustle of coaching a senior team but he is excited to be involved in Philippine football again specially this time when football is gaining grounds in the Philippine sports scene.

Part of Graeme's problem when he coaches Global is that he is not yet very familiar with the players. Although he has watched the team playing the Stallions via live streaming, he accepts that it will take time to know his players.

He is also very excited to play the Queen City FC on Sunday. Aside from clashing tactics against his best friend Mario Ceniza, some players seeing action for QCFC were his players under the MLSDF and Springdale. They are Julius Acre, Junard Aguilar, Benedict Ariola, Martin Bontia, Jack Reston, and Josephat Sacil.

Graeme was set to arrive in Manila Thursday and held his first practice for Global. It will take time for him adjust to a higher level of competition like the UFL. He is a senior citizen but he is not the oldest UFL coach. Juan Cutillas of Kaya FC holds that record.

Graeme is ready to take the challenge. Palami gave him the job to coach Global because he knows he is not only a good coach but also a winner. I have known Graeme for almost 30 years. We have worked together for the Cebu sports media and Cebu football for a long time. He was even one of the four of my wedding sponsors from Cebu who showed up in my wedding here in Cagayan de Oro city in 1999.

Global under Mackinnon is in good hands. Trust me. GOD BLESS (jackbiantan@gmail.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on October 15, 2011.

Sports

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