Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Smart hopes for bigger club championships

CAGAYAN DE ORO – Pleased by the outcome thus far of the inaugural PFF-Smart Club Championships, Smart Sports executive Epok Quimpo announced Tuesday that they intend to have “a bigger and better” competition next year.
 
“We aim to institutionalize the PFF-Smart Club Championships to promote the development of football clubs all over the country,” said Quimpo on the day that the tournament’s  group eliminations kicked off simultaneously here and in Iloilo.
 
“By next year we hope that the clubs will be able to bolster their rosters and have more of them  competing in this annual event,” Quimpo said. “Definitely, this tournament will be even bigger and better in 2011.”
 
Quimpo joined Philippine Football Federation Mariano Araneta Jr. to kick off the Group B eliminations in his hometown of Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo yesterday with opening matches pitting Goshenland Baguio United FC against Columbia FC-Davao and Smart Stallions FC versus Pachanga FC-NCR.
 
PFF executive vice president and Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association president Mike Batiles and Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno formally opened the Group A elims supported by Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano at the Don Gregorio Pelaez Memorial Stadium here.
 
Smart San Beda FC-Rizal, featuring the popular Younghusband brothers, Phil and James, took on the Bao Breakers of Iligan in the first match while Teknika FC-NCR and Laos FC-Leyte collided in the second game witnessed by a sellout crowd at the stadium.
 
Between the two matches in Iloilo, the Stallions-Pachanga tussle promises to be action-packed with the football-crazy Ilonggos expected to cheer on the home side.
 
But Stallions coach Ernie Nierras said that beating Pachanga, which boasts of four players from Cameroon, will be a tough squad, especially considering that he will only have 15 players to field.
 
“I lost my best midfielder,  South Korean Lee Joo Young, who was recruited by a Second Division club in the K-League and we have only 15 players so I am very careful how to protect my players from injuries,” Nierras, who is also the mentor of the national women’s squad, said.
 
“We expect to play a tactical game against Pachangca but I believe it will be a good match,” he said.
Pachanga coach Norman Fegidero, who once handled the men’s team in 2008, is also facing manpower problems and only has 13 players to rely on.
 
The 13th player in fact is his own brother, striker Joshua Fegidero, who was coming over from Cebu early yesterday.
 “I’m more worried about our substitutions because we only have 13 players to count on,” Fegidero said. “I also believe it is going to be a good match and the first squad to score a goal will likely be the winner.”
 
While the crowd’s focus here was likely to  bethe first game between San Beda and the Bao Breakers because of the presence of the Younghusband siblings, intriguing was the match of Laos and Teknika since they are closely identified with national team manager Dan Palami, who is also the president of the Leyte Football Association.
 
But Laos coach Jogie Ronda and Teknika mentor Francis Muescan vowed that both of their sides would go all out for a win since a spot in the semifinal round is at stake.
 
“This is going to be a no-holds-barred contest because both of us want  to make it to the semifinals,” Ronda said. “We want to one of the teams to make it to the next round in our group.”
 
To give relief and recovery to both the pitch and  the competing teams, organizers have decided to play the match every other day with the last day of the matches in both groups to be held on Saturday. (PFF Media Bureau)

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