Fair Play: Mindanao teams do well in Suzuki U23

I CAN still fondly remember the last time I played against a team from North Cotabato.  It was against Notre Dame of Cotabato in the All Cotabato eliminations of the Coke Go For Goal.  Down 2-0 against the visiting team, I avoided a yellow card after the family jewels of the keeper by clutching my knee and remembering all I learned in drama class.

I also scored two goals (Yep, there was a time I was better at playing than writing about football) to send the match to overtime.  We got the win on golden goal after I got a penalty, which, as they would say now, we earned after making most out of a minimal contact.  In the finals, we also lost through a penalty in extra time.
Our school had a few stints in the Mindanao finals of the Coke-Go-For goal a few years after that, but since the tournament died, so too did football in the province.  It has been revived in the past few years by folks who used to hate each other's guts in high school.

But for our former rivals, it seems they've never left and just recently, North Cotabato achieved a rare milestone, finishing third place in the Suzuki U23 tournament by beating powerhouse Iloilo, 3-0, in Dumaguete.  I can't remember the last time a Mindanao team beat Iloilo by that many goals in a national tournament.

Aside from North Cotabato, Davao also fared well, making it all the way to the finals before losing to defending champion Bacolod, 1-0, on a penalty.  Davao's stint is not surprising as it has always been one of the strongest teams from Mindanao, and even beat Cebu in the 2004 U19 championships in Cebu. 

In contrast, Cebu failed to make the knockout stage after a great start in the U23 national finals.
Davao and North Cotabato's success bode well for Mindanao football and I hope the FAs there consider reviving the Mindanao Liga, a Mindanao-wide league that was quite a hit a few years back.  Financial constraints, I heard, hampered the league but I think the present football atmosphere means now is the perfect time for its revival.

Who knows? Visayas might follow suit and come up with a league of its own.

CHEATING ALLEGATIONS IN INTERCLUB.  It's bad that the recent Cebu Interclub Football Cup has been hit by cheating allegations.  I'm going to wait until I get more info on this but there's only one thing that I'd like to see changed when it comes to cheating allegations.  I think the CAFC should revise its rules on protests. Anyone--not just the opposing coach, should have the right to file a protest when it comes to player eligibility.

And of course, to avoid needless protests, it should be written and the coach in question be given the chance to reply.  

Cheating allegations shouldn't be taken lightly, and those who have the courage to file their protest must be given their chance, and not just the opposing coach.

Cebu football has been spared by incidents like these in the past, and I hope that clean slate continues.

It’s usually Department of Education meets that get hounded by cheating allegations and I hope, this would be the last time we will hear of such incident in local football.

The Milo Little Olympics used to be hounded by cheating allegations but after organizers got strict with their requirements and handed out hefty suspensions, none has been heard of again.

So coaches better think twice about flouting the rules on player eligibility.  It’s a testy issue.


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