Real Mallorca, with 14 games left to play in Group III of Segunda B, face 14th placed Llagostera in their 4,000 capacity municipal stadium at 12 midday on Sunday. On Thursday afternoon the plastic pitch had a thick covering of the white stuff, although there seemed no doubt the game would go ahead. Once again we have to play on a substandard pitch, typical of the league we find ourselves in, not made any better by the inclement weather. Two of our best players, Lago Junior and Ferran Giner, have succumbed to serious long-term knee injuries caused in no uncertain part by these artificial surfaces. Coach Vicente Moreno said in his Friday pre-game press meeting that he was worried about the state of the pitch but stated it was the same for both teams. One local journalist reckons we need eight more wins (24 points from 42 available) to win the group. We're nine points clear at the moment and the fact we've strengthened the squad in the January transfer window means we're heading in the right direction.
Good news is that Lago Junior is back in light training and hopes to make an appearance in our home game against Ebro on 3 March. Ferran, however, had a much worse cruciate injury and isn't expected back this season. Another player arrived last week for a trial period. Twenty-two-year-old Cameroon international Daniel Ndi came as a free agent after having been released by his parent club Sporting Gijon. He's described as being a left-footed attacking midfielder, who has been capped five times for his country. Ndi hasn't kicked a ball in earnest since last April after falling down the pecking order at El Molinon and since then has been on the dole. It's now up to the coach to decide whether Ndi will be our sixth signing.
As I reported a few weeks ago, 18-year-old Colombian youngster Anderson Arroyo has joined Real Mallorca on an 18-month loan deal from some English Premier League team called Liverpool. He underwent a trial here in December and now makes the switch to allow the Anfield outfit to get him a work permit. By playing regularly here, the youngster will eventually qualify for a European visa. This will be granted after two years of regular football or potentially less if he plays enough games regularly, which would qualify him as part of something called “exceptional talent” exemption. Moving and playing here will help his adaptation into European football with a more forgiving climate (normally) and especially the shared language. There are at least two Colombian restaurants I know of in Palma where he can get a nice steaming bowl of ajiaco (chicken soup) should he feel homesick for his mum's cooking.
Liverpool fans on the island needn't get too excited. Although Arroyo will train with the senior squad, he'll initially see out this season with the B team. Next term will probably see him step up a level when we're back playing in the second division (?).
It was also reported that Mallorca's American owners are in the process of presenting plans to the Son Moix owners, Palma town hall, to drastically change the playing and seating areas of the Son Moix, something that's been on the back burner for quite some time now, like since 1999. But Mallorquinistas don't hold your breath. We only got the official seal of approval to use the improvised Luis Sitjar stand behind the north goal last week – almost two years to the day after the first fans sat in it.
A few months ago the Balearic football association decided to introduce a 'white card' system which was an initiative for young players to play the game as it should be played. As you'd expect, not many have been dished out, that is until last weekend when the award was given to 14-year-old Logan Smith. This young man is captain of Recreativo San Francisco's youth team in Segunda Regional Group A. They were playing on the synthetic pitch beside the Cafeteria Son Moix, behind the main stand, in a game against San Cayetano, who won the game 1-0. The referee in this game was a young lady called Maria del Mar Sampol, who was receiving constant abuse and comments from the home team players (and their parents, no doubt).
Logan said: “During the game the referee was given a hard time with comments which weren't very nice. I'm captain of the San Francisco side and I told the other captain what was going on was a bad example and wasn't good for the game.” Eventually after his complaint things died down a bit. In these games referees have to act as linesmen as well and their jobs are not made any easier by off-the-ball activities. Player and parents tend to forget that, good or bad, there wouldn't be a game going on at all if there wasn't a referee in charge. Young Logan deserves his white card for saying what he said - after all it is only a game.
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