Monday, December 8, 2008

Countdown Initiated

Only ten games are left to determine the final league standings for TM Season 13. In Divison 3 Group 2, Marikina United FC struggle to maintain their hold on the top spot. Challenges from the top contenders Iligan Templars and Greenland Ville FC repeatedly forced the Sublime Supremo to push his squad over and above any limits they had, or thought they had. This overdrive of sorts has resulted in both injuries and burnouts, ace forward Fidel Lopez being one and star right back Emilio Lavandera another. The two have been sidelined for a majority of the remaining matches but will hopefully spell the difference in the final stretch. We have been granted an exclusive interview with Mar Queno just before the National Cup match tonight.

Surprisingly, I was brought to The Spa, along E.Rodriguez Jr Ave. (aka Libis or C5 extension) where the ShoeMakers were apparently getting one or five knots rubbed out. MQ was having some coffee by the pool, fully dressed and grittily un-spa like in a somber gray Marc Jacobs. 'Board meeting', he half explained, half joked. Irony, it seems, is just another old friend for him.

'I couldn't let Pido and Ems have all the fun, the others worked just as hard. That and I felt kinda bad for getting in their face about the last week's performance. I know that 2 draws and 2 losses would get any manager worked up but, they did their best and this is my conciliatory gesture. Besides, last night's match alone more than made up for any shortcomings, as I'm sure you agree!' He was right. If the squad had only won one game the entire season, last night's game, the Cobbler Confederate would still be proud. Come to think of it, the team hadn't played like that since the end of last season! 'If we keep that pace, like the whole world hung in the balance, win or lose, I'd be satisfied. Of course, I wouldn't mind lifting the cup at season's end, seeing that it's becoming more of a likelihood.' Flashing a grin that reminds you of the noonday sun dancing on the edge of a wakizashi, he sipped his espresso.

5-nil. At home. Against the second seeded team in the league. The Sublime Supremo had reason to be proud. After the less than stellar showing of the past odd week, naysayers were doubtful whether the ShoeMakers could pull out of skid row long enough to stay in contention for the cup. Last night's result was redemption, retribution, and restitution rolled into a ni bin tsutsumi furoshiki of blue silk, with Johnny Blue inside. 'I still get excited about it, you know?' MQ quietly said, 'Especially that last goal from Delgado, that was the tabasco in the bloody mary (but Mama Sita's Pure Labuyo Sauce is tons hotter)! The match was put to bed much earlier but the cheeky old fart just had to get one off in stoppage! However, the real star was Cobo, in my eyes. Keeping a clean sheet for the nth time and against such a strong side, I have to give the guy a raise or something. Believe me, catching one of Lira's strikes is a feat of marvel in itself!' Biting into an ube muffin, his humility got the better of him and he kept whatever praise he had left to say about his players to himself.

When I asked him about the large number of new youths he recruited, mostly foreigners, he seemed almost embarrassed. 'I thought I'd hold tryouts. Trying my hand out at scouting and developing a better understanding of youth talent. Come on, you hafta cut me some slack, it's not really my thing. Don't worry, I'll get the hang of it. Those boys aren't really so bad. They may not be a perfect fit for the team I envision Marikina United FC becoming but they'll definitely learn a thing or two with our training system and become productive members of successful sides elsewhere. At the very least, they'll learn how to make adobo.' Ah! That's certainly not a bad skill to learn! Not bad at all!

The interview had to be cut short because of the board meeting MQ was requested to attend but, a continuation will be forthcoming. At The Spa, it seems like chances are good that we're going to get a happy ending.

Gabriel Isagani, Philippine Daily Star

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