SO Ceres-Negros FC bowed out of the inaugural Copa Paulino Alcantara after losing its last match against Davao Aguilas 1-2 last Sept. 22.
If you found that surprising, don’t be.
During the entire competition, many of Ceres’s key players were on the injured list. And even before the inaugural cup began, head coach Risto Vidakovic was quoted as saying in an interview right after crashing out of the Asian Cup in Singapore that the cup is “not the most important thing for us now.”
Whether that was a slip of the tongue or not, it’s for the Ceres fans to decide whether the coach’s move is justified. Vidakovic explained, though, that he wanted many of his players to rest and recover from injuries after fruitful campaigns that saw the club winning back-to-back Philippine Football League titles and qualifying for the AFC Champions League.
Ceres going slow in the Copa meant good news to the other clubs, which now have a chance to shine and win the inaugural cup that carries the name of a historic figure in world football.
As it stands, four teams have advanced to the semifinals: Davao Aguilas and Stallion Laguna from Group A (where Ceres played), and Kaya-Iloilo and JPV Marikina from Group B. The teams will slug it out in the semifinals that will be held simultaneously on Oct. 21. So which club joined Ceres out of the cup? Global Cebu, who else?
Perhaps many of Global fans would feel bad about this latest development. But if one looks at the match results, Global’s performance isn’t exactly dismal. Seriously. The team is in the middle of a serious regrouping and recovery phase, and new management should welcome any improvement, no matter how small. At first glance, Global’s record looks bad: zero wins, one draw and three losses. But apart from the 0-4 thrashing from Kaya, the rest of Global’s three other matches have been extremely close: 3-4 vs. JPV, 3-3 in the return match against Kaya, and 1-2 again vs. JPV. What these numbers suggest is that Global is regaining its competitive form, and it’s just a matter of time before the club returns to its winning ways. More importantly, Global is scoring goals – seven, in fact, in the entire competition – and that in my book is something to cheer about.
New club owner Mark Jarvis must be pleased to see that head coach Dragutin Stevic-Rankovic is doing something right. If Global can now score goals, imagine what it can do once the team’s defensive weaknesses get sorted out (the club conceded 13 goals in four matches in the cup). After all that Global went through, seeing this once great team not giving up a fight is encouraging, not just for Global fans but to the entire PFL family as well.
We’re happy to see that a club not named Ceres would be lifting a domestic trophy next month, but we’d even be more excited to watch Global return to its old form in the next season of the PFL.
Not so long ago, many of us had given up Global for dead. To see them back on their feet and gradually regaining strength is enough source of relief for anyone who cares about the sport in this country.
For now, let us celebrate domestic football’s small victories. Bigger ones might just be waiting around the corner.