Lifestyle May, 12th 2010 by

FC Estepona ends challenging season happy

Now, here is a happy ending. Estepona ended its début season in Group IV of Second Division B this weekend with the satisfaction of having achieved its objective: a permanent place in the league. Everyone in the club agrees that it has not been an easy goal to achieve, but thanks to its efforts in the second round, Estepona will represent the entire province of Málaga at the national level next season.

FC Estepona: A small club with high hopes

The club’s trajectory, with president Eugenio Muñoz at the helm, has been marked by two completely distinct parts. They debuted in the Second Division last year after a stint in the Third Division, having qualified as champions in Group IX with a first-round tie against the Murcian club Caravaca de la Cruz. The press and fans had high hopes for Estepona as the season began, but the first round of competition was full of setbacks, followed by a second round in which the team more than demonstrated its professionalism, with of a squad and coaching staff that had to overcome the poor performance of the first 19 matches.

That first round was discouraging indeed. They were only able to gain 19 points, and then only by winning at home. Yet they were not always safe on their home turf, either. Most disappointing, perhaps, was their defeat under the talons of the Murcia Eagles, 0-1, right in the Estepona stadium.

Indeed, only after a painful defeat on their own ground to Granada, 0-4, did things take a turn for the better. The coaching staff virtually reconstituted the squad, forcing the early departure of many players and bringing in winter reinforcements. The gambit worked, and they added important victories both at home and away. They soundly defeated Polideportivo Ejido (0-2), Murcia Imperial (0-2), Jerez Industrial and Ecija (1-2), not to mention the outstanding draws in Melilla (0-0), Ceuta (1-1) and Caravaca (0-0).

And then there was Marbella, the club’s closest neighbour, a tragedy by comparison. Yes, Estepona beat them, as well, 1-0, with a dramatic goal by Angel Guirado in the second half.

Now, having achieved so much with such drama, the club will take some time to assess the season and to plot a course toward gaining an even stronger foothold in their category, Second Division B. Muñoz has already announced that after a short break the club will begin planning the next season.

Raúl Procopio is the first candidate to continue as coach, although everything will depend on negotiations and the conditions of both the club and the coach, according to sources within the club. If agreement is reached and Procopio is renewed, it would be his fourth season directing Estepona. He came when the team was active in the Andalusian League, sharing that first season with José María Pajares, Jesus Calzado and Pepe Fernandez. Since then, he has been honoured with two consecutive promotions.

Procopio said he is very proud of the staff and the group of assistants he has. ‘Although we had to overcome many difficulties, we have now reaped the rewards for work well done during a season that, although it has been tough, we can all look back on with satisfaction and pride’.

The coach continued: ‘In football, when you achieve something with so much effort, you certainly become smarter. We overcame so much only through determination, and we did not want to get to the last day in Seville doing everything the way we had done it before. I also think that our permanent position in the league has been historic in that we earned more than 50 points, meaning we could achieve permanence with no one challenging us’.

Procopio would not comment on his future with the club, but only said: ‘Now we need a few days off to rest, and there will be time to discuss a possible renewal in Estepona’. 

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