HOMEGROUND squad CMOFA (Cagayan de Oro-Misamis Oriental Football Association) made a gracious exit in the PFF-Suzuki U23 Cluster Qualifying football tourney, barely hanging over Surigao FC, 1-0, in their "non-bearing" match Sunday at Don Gregorio Pelaez Sports Center in Cagayan de Oro City.
The Congressman Bambi Emano-backed CMOFA's solitary goal was a result of a direct kick awarded to them 20 minutes into the final half. And Leonel Ritchie Lascay took the shot from 35 meters away, a curve blast to the upper right corner of the goalpost's mouth that had CMOFA's top trainer Percy Guarin exclaiming "fantastic!" from a distance.
"Sayang lang kay dili na nato ma-apas ang Iligan. At least, daug ta sa last game," Guarin told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
With its 3-win, 1-draw record off the Mindanao Civic Center's soccer field in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, Iligan booters eventually secured a berth in the Mindanao Finals set to be slated in Davao City.
CMOFA of coach Estong Ybanez and team manager Ted Raypon waxed hot early with back-to-back wins, including a convincing 4-1 conquest of Bukidnon FC, only to lose steam in its succeeding games to finish with 4-3-1 win-loss-draw ledger in the five-team field.
"We started well but encountered some misfortunes in the latter part of our campaign like injury to our forward Jerny Miaco," one CMOFA player said.
Last year, CMOFA won the Suzuki U23's qualifier which saw the "no-show" of Surigao FC in its scheduled games here then at Xavier University's football pitch.
Iligan-Lanao Norte FC also made a "gracious exit" that year winning over Butuan-Agusan Sur, 7-3 in the final day of one of Suzuki Cup's four cluster eliminations in Mindanao.
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 14, 2012.