Four the hard way!

FLOW Super Cup semis on at Sabina Park today

Senior staff reporter

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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Sabina Park is expected to be buzzing with excitement as the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/FLOW Super Cup comes to the Corporate Area with two enthralling games. In the opening game, St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) play Calabar High at 5:00 pm before Jamaica College (JC) tackle Kingston College (KC) at 7:00 pm.

The cash-rich Super Cup, now in its fourth year, has taken schoolboy football excitement to another level, and with last season's winners Wolmer's Boys' out of the picture, new champions will be crowned.

Of the four teams in contention, JC are the only ones to have tasted victory in the Super Cup. They won the first edition when they defeated Holy Trinity High 2-0. KC, Calabar and STETHS are hunting their first lien on the trophy which also comes with a whopping winning prize of $1 million.

All four schools have pocketed $150,000 already just for being in the semi-finals, and today's winners will get an additional $200,000 to reaching the final stage. The winner of the final will get $650,000, taking the overall total to $1m. With that in mind, these should be two intriguing games.

In the three years of the competition the urban schools have dominated, with JC capturing the first edition in 2014 followed by St George's College in 2015 and Wolmer's Boys' in 2016.

Last year, it seemed as if the rural teams would have broken that streak as there were three daCosta Cup teams — Clarendon College, Cornwall College and STETHS — in the semi-finals. But Wolmer's spoiled the party by firstly defeating STETHS 6-5 on penalties before clipping the high-riding Cornwall College 1-0 in the final.

This year, there are three Manning Cup teams in the semi-final, so can STETHS upset the apple cart and put a daCosta Cup team's name on the Super Cup?

That quest for STETHS begins in the curtain-raiser against Calabar High — the least-fancied of the Manning Cup teams but one that they cannot, for one minute, take lightly. The green and black-clad boys from Red Hills Road turned back the fancied Clarendon College 4-3.

STETHS' coach Omar Wedderburn said there is no place for complacency.

“We are confident, but not overconfident. It would be wrong for me and unfair to say Calabar is not a good team, and they are saying the same about us too. It's foolish to attack your opponent and don't know your opponent's strength. I know they are a good team and I am expecting a good match,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“I think it's going be a physical game and I don't mean they are going out there to hurt each other. You are going to have a game that plays to the end, playing with purpose and pride,” he noted.

“Calabar is representing town (urban areas) and STETHS representing country (rural areas). It's like a Spartacus battle. Put two teams in the arena and only one can win. It's a battle in the arena,” Wedderburn added.

Just like his counterpart, Calabar's coach Lijayasu Simms is also expecting a close match but is ready to grind out another win, as this is the last chance for his school to grab silverware this season.

“It's a tough game, like any other game. But we are going out there to play Calabar's best football and represent the school to the fullest, so we going out there to give it our all,” said Simms.

He continued: “We tell the boys, from now on this is our last chance to win a championship and we are here to give it our all, our everything. I want the players to just go out there and enjoy themselves, have fun in the same breath.”

Having topped a Manning Cup first-round group involving Charlie Smith High, they then knocked off the highly touted Excelsior High in the second round and even held KC to a 1-1 draw. Calabar are showing that they must be taken seriously and Simms concurred.

“I should think so. But we are well prepared and taking every game serious and perform to the fullest,” he reiterated.

In the feature encounter, JC and KC, arguably the two best teams in the country, clash for a third time this season having shared a victory each.

KC nicked first blood, defeating JC 2-0 in their Manning Cup quarter-final game. JC turned the tables to dethrone their long-time rivals 2-1 in the urban area Walker Cup knockout final.

Both teams hunt a spot in the final, and what a game it promises to be since the winner of the clash will be installed favourites to win the competition.

JC Head Coach Miguel Coley, who led the school to the title in 2014 and second in 2015, enters his third Super Cup semi-finals, in four years, and he knows the mammoth task at hand.

“I think tomorrow's game will be a very tough game with a lot of energy as both teams are going out there to book their place in the final — so it will be a really tough game,” he explained.

“It will definitely be a mental game. Both teams are physically fit, both teams have good technical ability, and it will be who wants it more at the end of the day,” Coley noted.

KC coach Ludlow Bernard also expects a battle royal between two very good teams loaded with talent.

“I expect another classic, I expect another entertaining game for the fans. And Kingston College will be doing their part, playing some good football and countering whatever it is that Jamaica College have to offer,” said Bernard.

“I think it is going to come down to what takes place on the day because with us seeing each other before, we will be nullifying each other. So it all comes down to what strategies are applied on the particular day and how quickly each can respond to each other's tactics,” he pointed out.

Entry to Sabina Park will be $1000 to both the North Stand and George Headley areas. There will also be added entertainment by special guest artistes along with half-time games and giveaways.




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