daCosta Cup final beckons!

CC face Dinthill, STETHS oppose Rusea's in semi-final action today

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Tuesday, November 21, 2017



CATHERINE HALL, St James — A place in the final of the ISSA/FLOW daCosta Cup schoolboy football competition will be on the line today with the semi-finals set for the Montego Bay Sports Complex, starting at 4:00 pm.

The two big games will feature the most consistent teams so far this season. six-time champions Clarendon College take on two-time winners Dinthill Technical in the first game, followed by a renewal of rivalries between St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Rusea's High — two teams that have combined for 16 holds on the trophy and a replay of the 2011 final when Rusea's won their 10th hold.

STETHS were beaten finalists last year and are in the semi-finals for the eighth- straight year; Dinthill Technical lost in the final to STETHS two years ago and Clarendon College last won in 2014, while Rusea's High are in the last four for the first time since 2011.

Three of four teams will be seeking to salvage their seasons, however, coming off losses and seeking to rebound, while STETHS will still be basking in their come-from-behind win over Calabar High on penalty kicks in Saturday's FLOW Super Cup semi-final at Sabina Park.

Rusea's High and Dinthill Technical are coming off back-to-back losses. Rusea's High lost in the semi-finals of the Ben Francis KO and the first round of the FLOW Super Cup, while Dinthill Technical were beaten in the Ben Francis KO final by Clarendon College, and they also lost in the FLOW Super Cup first round, despite coming from behind twice against Jamaica College.

Clarendon College, who were seen as a team that could win all four trophies at stake, were shocked by Calabar High in the first round of the FLOW Super Cup, beaten 4-2, and will seek to pick up the pieces today.

The first game will be a repeat of the Ben Francis KO in which Clarendon College came back from an early goal to swamp Dinthill Technical 4-1 in extra time two weeks ago, but neither camp thinks that game will have any effect on today's face-off.

Clarendon College's Technical Director Lenworth Hyde told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that, while the almost week-and-a-half-long break since they lost to Calabar was a welcome break, they were focused on getting a good result today.

“There will be no complacency in our team,” he said. “The Ben Francis final was a different game; everything is different, it is what you do on the day that will make the difference,” he said.

Hyde said defensive mistakes and fatigue cost them the game against Calabar High, “but we did the work necessary and we are ready to go now. The players have recovered nicely and they will be eager to go.”

Curtis Hamilton, who save for a mistake by his goalkeeper could have pushed Jamaica College all the way, said that game and the two games lost were behind them.

“We needed the break; it was well deserved, and we have been preparing well for the semi-finals,” he told the Observer yesterday.

“We know where we went wrong, and we also know the team we will be going up against, and we know the areas we need to exploit if we are to get a (positive) result,” he said. “The physical part of the job is done and it is now for us to work on the mental part.”

Hamilton said they would be making some changes to the team. “We will be tweaking the system a bit, and the players all know their roles, and they are positive as we have always made winning the daCosta Cup the main objective.”

Kaheem Parris, their top scorer all year, has been kept off the score sheet in their last two games, but as he showed against Jamaica College setting up the first goal and was a distraction, his presence on the field cannot be ignored.

Dinthill Technical do not lack for offensive firepower and Shamari Davis, Clive Freckleton, Andre Fletcher, and Antonio Roberts are all serious attacking threats for Dinthill and Clarendon College cannot afford the defensive lapses that cost them the game against Calabar High.

Not many teams have been able to contain the irrepressible Nique Daley since the end of the first round of the daCosta Cup, and he will be the key to their success today along with the wily Lemar Walker, Ricardo McIntosh and Demario Phillips.

Despite coming from behind twice to win both games on penalty kicks, STETHS's coach Omar Wedderburn, who described the game as like a clash of gladiators, says the players have put those FLOW Super Cup games “behind them and it is all about the daCosta Cup now”.

On Saturday STETHS came from behind after 75 minutes to earn a 2-2 draw, then beat Calabar 6-5 in sudden death penalties and will have momentum on their side today.

Despite all that, Wedderburn, who saw his team beaten in the Ben Francis KO semi-finals in extra time by Clarendon College, is not taking anything for granted.

“The semi-finals is the biggest game of the season, tougher than the final itself, and we have to win this game before we get to the final, so we are not looking too far ahead, nothing that happened before this means anything,” Wedderburn told the Observer.

“We are not ruling out Rusea's at all; they are a good team and this clash will be like Spartacus and two gladiators meeting, only one will walk away.”

He said that having played in both the Super Cup and the daCosta Cup last year, the players knew how to balance both competitions, and that will be a plus for his team.

Vassell Reynolds, the Rusea's High coach, says he is still not sure if such a long break will benefit his team, but said he would have preferred to still be playing rather than sitting and watching.

Rusea's were hammered 4-1 by a flying Kingston College team in the first round of the FLOW Super Cup at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, prompting a walkout of the fans, and Reynolds said while he did not think the scoreline was a true indication of the game, they had not done enough over 90 minutes to win.

“We have used the time off to do some soul-searching,” he said., “We recognise the difficult task we face given the consistency of STETHS over the last eight or nine years, and we are in for a tough fight, but we know we have the quality in our team to compete with them.”

While conceding that STETHS, because of their results this season, might start “slight favourites”, Reynolds said he would not think a win for Rusea's would be an upset — “we are not underdogs.”

The confidence of the STETHS team will be high coming into the game, but there must be some concerns over the lack of goals from their attacking players.

Of the three goals they have scored in regulation in their last two games, two were penalties, with Demar James getting the tying goal against Calabar High on Saturday.

Damani Henderson, Shemar Murray and Taejay Green have not been scoring as they did earlier in the season, and they must lead the team forward today if STETHS are to avoid a third close game.

Rusea's High were pedestrian for large parts of the second half in their loss to Kingston College, but when they attacked it was with lightning speed and the finishing was clinical.

Today, Daniel Reid, Leonardo Fogarthy and Nazime Matalie must put the team on their backs and drag them forward if they are to advance to the final.

They must also improve on the defensive end as two big mistakes by goalkeeper St Michael Edwards also played a big part in their loss to Kingston College.

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