Friday, September 23, 2011

Fair Play: Cebu Queen City United updates

This is my Fair Play column for Sun.Star Cebu on Sept. 24. 
ONE guy commented on my blog that Cebu Queen City United should get Roy Jonsson once the Cebuano’s contract in his Iceland team expires.

However, I don’t think the Liloan born player would be suiting up for a Cebu team in the UFL as I learned that though he’s still playing in Iceland, he has verbally committed with Global FC.

But, who knows? Cebu could manage to convince him otherwise if it managed to snag a spot in the first division a year or two from now?

Santi Araneta, of the UFL and Kaya FC, also referred a fan’s question to me. The fan was asking if former national team strikers Chad Gould and Leigh Gunn, whose mothers are both from Cebu, will be seeing action for the club. Gould is involved with England’s national beach soccer team, while Gunn, who is from Liloan, is also playing for a club in Australia.

Though both have said they’d want to play for Cebu, in order for them leave their lucrative stints in Australia and England, the compensation has to be great, or, they’d just have to sacrifice and get the same pay as the other Cebu Queen City United players are getting.

But the current team is not bereft of experienced former national squad members. Coach Mario Ceniza told me the other day that among those who showed up for the trials are Jan Michael Flores and Rocky Graciano. (For the full lineup, I’ll just wait when the club releases it next week.)

However, coach Mario said, like most of the Cebu-based players, the two are far from their ideal shape.

After conducting trials the other week, the team has been doing daily morning practice since Monday, and added an evening session yesterday.

“The morning practice is really not enough,” Coach Mario said. “The transition from playing Sunday club football to this level is really difficult.”

The club recently won a friendly, 4-2, against the Joshua Fegidero-coached University of San Carlos, which is undefeated so far in the collegiate tournament but coach Mario said that isn’t a real gauge.

In the first half, when the starters of both squads were fielded, Queen City lost, and only recovered in the second half, when the second stringers were fielded.

“The team doesn’t really represent the true picture of Cebu football,” Mario admitted, saying the time they had to prepare for the UFL was less than ideal.

The unavailability of the college players too, is a factor. And in Cebu, the players who are in the best shape are the college players because of their regular tournaments.

However, that is something coach Mario wants the club to change.

“If the club becomes a regular team in the UFL, I hope someday, the club will be able to pay for the scholarship of these players so their first priority will be the club, not the school,” he said.

So, for now, the club will be represented by part-time footballers who have to sacrifice time from work for practice and to play in the UFL.

But if the club gets big, Coach Mario said it won’t have to rely on part-time players and today’s part-time players could also be Cebu’s first home-based professional footballers.

Of course, even if they will be facing players who get paid just to play, that doesn’t mean Cebu Queen City United will just let Global, Pachanga and the Stallions stamp their class on them.

“I want them to reach the level of fitness that we can possibly reach,” he said. “Maayo na kay dili gyud ta nila ma-disregard. Naa gyud tay laban.”

As first timers in the UFL, the pressure, he said, will be on the other teams.

“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The other teams have already established their names in football, kita, wala pa,” he said.

The UFL Cup set-up too, gives Cebu, which joined the UFL just over two weeks ago, the advantage.

“Unlike in national tournaments, where we play every day, we have a week in between matches. So we can hold practice or we can adjust,” said Mario.

Cebu will debut against Pachanga on Oct. 9, and will face Global FC on Oct. 16. It will have its final group match against the Iloilo Stallions on Oct. 22, a match that Araneta said will be televised.


cjeagle said...

Cebu United needs to gets more sponsors for next year so they can add Gould and Gunn to the lineup. Jonsson will probably cost a lot more. Jonsson was not aware that a team in Cebu existed before he verbally committed to Global, so it is possible he can still change his mind. The important thing is that the team shows that it will do what it takes, both financially and on the pitch, to field a competitive team in the UFL, in order to entice Ray to join the team.

Mike said...

Hi, even Kaya couldn't afford Gunn. But I do agree, the team has to show it's serious, off and on the pitch, with its UFL stint, not just to entice Ray, but to entice the Cebu football community.

and I think they really are.

cjeagle said...

Anyways, it is good to hear that our European based professional players are coming home to play in the UFL. Their experience will help improve the standard of football in the domestic scene. Hopefully they can transfer to our local players the things they have learned in their stints abroad.

In the future, I see more and more of them extending their careers by playing in our domestic league, and possibly even rising up the ranks to become coaches and managers in various clubs.

Anonymous said...

Gunn isnt that good to begin with, and he isnt worth shelling out big bucks for. Is he even playing professional football down under? I guess he is on semi-pro/amateur level, and has a job besides playing to make a living, and thats what a UFL club would have to replace, his income from his normal day job. Besides that, there are only 2-3 clubs that can pay good money for the European based players as theyre making good money on playing football in Europe. Take for instance Jerry Lucena. Average income in the Danish top league is between 7-8 million pesos per year. Jonsson would be cheaper than that, but it still would be at least a couple of millions of pesos per year if someone would sign him, and i dont see many UFL clubs paying that kind of amount. I think not only filipinos based abroad will be interested to play in the UFL in the future. Other players from other continents will find it interesting. Since this is the first year of becoming a "professional" league, they should be careful with high wages. Cebu should take this year as a learning year and get more sponsors and get more experienced players from their region, and maybe they shouldnt look out of the country just yet.