Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Pachanga blanks Queen City United to top Group C

Pachanga blanks Queen City United to top Group C
by rick olivares

October 29, 2011
University of Makati

Norman Fegidero Jr. unflappable in his trademark sunglasses that will not betray the look in his eyes, wiped the sweat from his brow and asked Pachanga team manager Jojo Rodriguez, “Ito lang? Wala nang iba?

Rodriguez nodded.

Fegidero went into calculation mode. After all there was work to be done. The Red Phoenix was closing out their group play by facing the winless Queen City United.

The former national player and head coach of the Azkals knew his side could win the match and top Group C but it might not be easy as he did not have a full crew available for the match.

Defender Neckson Leonora was with the national team in Japan. Midfielder Boyet CaƱedo was suspended on account of two yellow cards. Team captain and central back Yves Ashime and striker Chris Ojamire were both out with groin injuries. Central back Camelo Tacusalme could not make it as he had an exam the following day. Striker Alex Obiang asked to be released. Goalkeeper Kenneth Dolloso was still out with a hand injury. And Derek Ramsey was down with a fever.

“As long as we play our style,” Fegidero would later say during the final team briefing. “Then we can win this game.”

With several starters unavailable, he had to make some adjustments. However in the first half of play, those adjustments in the Red Phoenix’ 442 attack was stymied by the Cebuanos’ 451 play.

With attacking mid Alu Kigbu moved up the forward line alongside Jovin Bedic, Oussey Diop was the team’s central playmaker. Cebu smothered Diop and constantly tested Pachanga’s defense. With Ronald Batisla-Ong getting his first taste of action in the UFL Cup and Aldwyn Riedler taking Ashime’s spot in the middle, the defense was rather shaky. “Our best opportunity is to strike early,” said Queen City head coach Mario Ceniza. “Alam namin na hindi sila kumpleto.”

Cebu’s Junard Aguilar was giving Pachanga left back Jalsor Soriano all sorts of fits while Ariel Cahilig was making frightening runs up the middle keeping Pachanga keeper Mark Sorongon quite busy.

With Shirmar Felongco hobbled by an injury, Fegidero replaced the youngster with veteran midfielder Ronnel Lagrimas in the 11th minute. Lagrimas, Felongco’s teammate in UST, immediately made his presence felt by scoring Pachanga’s first goal two minutes from entry.

After a failed sortie, Kigbu kept the pressure on Cebu defender Laurence Gerali who coughed up the ball. The Pachanga forward was on target with his cross and Lagrimas could only oblige.

Queen City, lit up for 11 goals heading into this match had begun to play better. Formed a mere eight days before the kick off of the UFL Cup, the team culled players from different clubs and had to look for a head coach. The club thought that after their 8-0 demolition by Stallion FC the previous week would put off their fellow Cebuanos but instead it did not. The support did not waver and they knew that this could lead to a renaissance of Cebuano football that had long taken a backseat to regional powers Iloilo and Bacolod.

In the match versus Stallion, Queen City was able to go on the attack and have several decent chances to score early against the Iloilo-based club. Had they found the back of the net in one or even a couple of those chances that might have completely changed the complexion of the match.

With Queen City stepping up on the pressure, the pressure was greatly eased on Pachanga when midfielder Gino Palomo beat the hapless Gerali and tacked on another goal in the 42nd minute. With Ceniza’s squad in shock from conceding a second goal, Kigbu made them pay for their tentativeness as he made it 3-0.

Cebu was deflated. With the halftime coming, Fegidero’s team had scored three goals and that was with a lineup that did not look solid. For sure Pachanga would make their adjustments.

True enough, the Red Phoenix solidified their defense and their midfield. And in the 64th minute, Diop sent a long ball right over the defense to Bedic whose one-touch volley sent Queen City goalkeeper Alex Buanghog flailing away helplessly.

Pachanga finished the match 4-0 and topped the Group of Death for a total of seven points. With all their players (save for Leonora) returning the following week, the team would be back to nearly full strength. “It’s always good to qualify on your own accomplishments kesyo naghihintay ka sa resulta ng ibang laban. Cebu was in fine form but we did not want to concede a goal. This was an important win for Pachanga because we are trying our best to get to Division One football.”

Notes: Jovin Bedic has now score in all three matches for Pachanga. Pachanga finished with seven points, Stallion FC with six, and Global FC with four yet all three will advance to the knockout stages. The television panel chose Mark Sorongon as the Man of the Match for his stellar play at goal that denied Cebu several decent chances.

People are wondering why I call Pachanga "the Red Phoenix". The team's logo is "the Red Phoenix". Pachanga is team owner Freddie Gonzalez' old club back in the day and they are bent on making a smashing return like a phoenix from the ashes." Check out my earlier stories on them and click the logo. When it was sent to me by team manager Jojo Rodriguez, the logo was labeled "Red Phoenix" logo.

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