Out of a still- ball play, came the great goal with which Yosniel “Skipper” Mesa sentenced the 1- 0 favorable to national champion Cienfuegos to outdo in the opening game of the National Soccer Championship on its 95th edition. The official opening ceremony was held at the Mariners headquarters, Luis Pérez Lozano stadium.
While pressing a foul near the big area, the lethal southern number 10 did not throw away the chance given by Pinar del Rio rear defense line for repeating the 9, 15 meter barrier- breaking shot before main referee David Rubalcaba´s whistle. It did not matter that the visitors´ goalkeeper managed to clear out the ball over a nullified first shot for “Skipper” left no chances on the second, nailing it on the angle of the second pole while the crowded arena frenzied.
Minutes later, another chance involving beginner Ever Soriano almost deified this youngster in his debut as first class player, who was included in the roster meeting the regulation that states the participation, at least during one game period, of a player born in 1992. Such regulation seeks to prepare the sources for the Cuban national team, entitled to disputing the Olympics´ elimination round and which next summer will face the first version of the Youth Olympic Games, an initiative form the International Olympic Committee.
On debutant head coach Waldo Espinosa´s “Green legs” the clearest opportunity ran on defense player Raisel Mezquía, who was sent to take a shot on a still ball 25 meters from the champions´ goalkeeper. However, despite the distance, the western number 4 sent a poisonous shot rebounded by Arael Arguélles to the feet of a caught- by- surprise opposite front man who was called offside by liner Roger Abreu annulling the draw goal.
The rest of the game went by on both sides’ actions, gray, boring, showing excessive long shots, ineffective on the side of the champions who made fast Yosniel “Africa” Benítez run a lot, always well served but ineffective.
Two interesting details: first, central player Duniel Calderón´s knee surgery at Complex out of a sever injury that could compromise his future in soccer if unattended; second, the muscle contraction suffered by rear defense Didier Castillo who had to abandon the court almost at the very beginning of the match which made the coaching staff rearrange the forecast formation. He was substituted by Yasmany “The Chicken“ Bernal, sent as central hook role while “El Coco” Cerdeira was sent back for defense.
Before the opening the audience enjoyed a well organized choreographical parade with elementary school children which served as both: tournament preamble and backdrop for honoring a Cienfuegos soccer glory, known as Master of Goalkeepers Máximo Iznaga Delgado, inactive for several years but was never offered such tribute for his performance as an athlete.
Next week the debutant head coach and ex- player Juan Carlos Llorente´s Mariners will travel to fulfill two matches within this tournament opening, Wednesday at El Rodeo, Nueva Gerona versus Isla de la Juventud and on Saturday October 10th versus Industriales in the court next to ancient La Polar Beer Factory.