By Mike T. Limpag
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
FORMER Cebu-based football guru Graeme Mackinnon is back in Philippine football but his return may result in some mixed feelings for Cebu football fans.
The already intriguing match-up between Dan Palami’s Global FC and Cebu Queen City United in the UFL Cup just got a bit more intriguing after Palami confirmed that he hired Mackinnon as his head coach.
Global FC and Cebu Queen City United is in Group C together with Pachanga and the Iloilo Stallions.
“He is just waiting for the clearance from his doctor before he can fly over and take over the team,” Palami told Sun.Star Cebu.
Mackinnon, a Cebu Sports Hall of Fame inductee, will get his doctor’s clearance on Oct. 7, and is expected to have his first game as Global FC head coach against Cebu Queen City United on Oct 16.
Mackinnon just had a knee operation last month and is undergoing rehabilitation in Australia.
The former coach of M. Lhuillier and the Carmen National School left for his home country in 2003 to take care of his ailing mother but has returned to the country twice to watch the national team play against Mongolia in Bacolod and Kuwait in the World Cup qualifiers in Manila.
“I made the offer to him when we met in Manila,” said Palami, who handled the coaching duties of Global in the recent I Can Serve Foundation friendly games.
And that prospect is already exciting coach Mario Ceniza, Mackinnon’s star player when he was head coach of M. Lhuillier Cebu, when they won the national men’s open title decades ago.
“We never expected this kind of situation,” Ceniza said yesterday. “I’m very happy for him that he’s back in football. We can be friends outside the field but not in the game.”
Like his old mentor, Ceniza will be making his UFL coaching debut this year and has been busy getting the Queen Cebu City team in shape.
“We are in complete control of the team, they are well-disciplined and there are no superstars,” he said.
Some of the players in the 25-man lineup for Queen City are former national team members Rocky Garciano and Jan Michael Flores and former Carmen boys Josaphat Sacil, Jack Reston, Junard Aguilar, Martin Bontia and Julius Acre.
Global will have goalkeeper Paolo Pascual, a former player of Ceniza, Misagh Bahadoran, Angel Aldeguer and the dangerous Izo El-Habbib.
“We are going to play another tuneup game but I’m hoping we can have more games,” Ceniza said. “Dira ra man gud nimo makit-an unsa ilang fitness level ug ilang abilidad.”
As to his former mentor and close friend, Ceniza said, “I’m very happy for him and I hope successful sad siya sa iyang bag-ong career.”
Raffy Musni, the team coordinator, also said the players will get a huge bonus if they beat Palami’s team on Oct. 16.
When he learned of the offer, Palami said, “My team will have to ensure that the Cebu players will not be disappointed. I prefer that they get their bonus from the other teams.”
Queen City will debut against Pachanga on Oct. 9 and will have its final game in the group stage against Iloilo on Oct. 22.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2011.