Limpag: We are here to stay

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Sunday, October 23, 2011


IT WAS, as one fan said it, quite a difficult match to watch.

Cebu Queen City United getting hammered on national tv by the Stallions FC, 8-0, in the first ever football match aired live that featured a Cebu club.

Disappointing? Yes.

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Who wouldn’t be with a scoreline like that. Who wouldn’t be when you knew Cebu could have scored four times.

Confidence-shaking is how coach Mario Ceniza described it.

I’m sure, too, the players, culled from Queen City United, Crazy Horse and Hiroshi FC—clubs who rule regularly in Cebu tournaments--are shattered.

These players are no stranger to seeing 8-0 scorelines, but these were when they were the ones scoring as these three clubs have dominated Cebu football for quite some time.

So, was that 8-0 loss to an Iloilo team a condemning picture of Cebu football?

No, not really. It just highlights the team’s lack of preparation for the UFL Cup because the team had to cram everything—player selection, identifying positions, conditioning, drills—in four short weeks.

Just a month ago, these guys had no inkling they were going to be part of the country’s football landscape, going merrily about their jobs, playing footie at the rubber oval at CCSC just for fun.

And turning guys who haven’t seen a football field in months, and haven’t been in a really competitive match longer to becoming UFL- ready in so short a time?

And, what’s more disappointing in the match?

The players and coaches know they could perform better. They know they could represent Cebu better. They know that at their best, they could give the Stallions a run for their money.

So why did they join the UFL Cup?

Well, I think what helped convinced Queen City when Santi Araneta met them with the officials was when he said they might get the luck of the draw and face the weak teams—and there are weak teams in the UFL Cup.

Then boom, the draw happened. Queen City got in the Group of Death.

But you know what? I think it’s good that Queen City got this draw.

This early, the club knows what it takes to be the best of the UFL because they’ve faced some of the best the UFL can offer. The club officers know what they are getting into and joining the UFL is no walk in the park.

It takes a lot of hard work, planning, sacrifice and training. And of course, a longer time to do it all would be a great help.

And despite the 8-0 scoreline? It wasn’t one-way traffic as Queen City had its moments against the Stallions. It’s just that against any other Cebu club, the defensive lapses Queen City had would have been forgivable.

But in the UFL? Make a mistake and you’d pick the ball at the back of your own net.

But that doesn’t mean there was nothing positive to pick up about the game.

Despite conceding those five goals, I think Cebu actually had a better showing in the second half, as it managed to make goalkeeper Wilson Muñoz earn his money.

As Raffy Fenix, one of the commentators said, Cebu had its chances but just couldn’t capitalize.

“I give Cebu one year, and they’ll be a team in the first division,” Santi told me the other day.

And I like, too, some of the fans’ reaction. Nobody’s leaving the Queen City ship.

“Bawi ra ta!” someone said at the Azkals Sports Bar viewing party.

“It’s a good learning experience,” someone posted online.

Like the Queen City United management, who are willing to go through the process to make the UFL Division 1, their fans are here to stay with them too.

We were once on the outside looking in in the UFL, but thanks to Cebu Queen City United, we now have our own team to follow.

Club football and club football support are slowly gaining ground in Cebu, thanks to the UFL and the pioneering folks of Queen City United.

We’re here to stay and as the fans who watched your game, we’d still be watching.

Against Pachanga on Saturday, we’d still be watching.

So, chin up, guys.

(www.cebufootball.blogspot.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2011.

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