Sports

Enthralling Manning Cup quarter-finals kick off today

BY DWAYNE RICHARDS
Observer writer

Saturday, October 21, 2017

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The ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup quarter-finals which feature two very interesting groups, one made up of 'Saints' and the other made up of former champions, will kick off today across two venues.

The 'saintly' Group G will see many-time champions St George's College, St Catherine High, St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and the Holy Trinity battle for the two coveted semi-final spots, while in the proverbial Group H of death, defending champions Jamaica College, Kingston College, Calabar High and Bridgeport High will scrap for semi-final places.

Both groups will provide a lot of intrigue as St George's College's only loss so far this season came against St Catherine in the preliminary rounds, which saw both schools winning their respective home games. The next time they meet it will come down to the tactical nous of Neville “Bertis” Bell and Anthony Patrick and both teams would be confident that a semi-final spot is theirs for the taking.

However, today's contest will see St Catherine squaring off against STATHS at 1:00 pm, with St George's College opposing Holy Trinity in the 3:00 pm feature of the double-header at Constant Spring field.

STATHS have proven that they are no pushovers, having come from behind twice to draw with Jamaica College in the group stages and despite being the only team not to secure a win in the second round, did enough to get by Camperdown on last.

With the Spanish Town Road-based team's defensive line seeming very compact as was displayed against Camperdown on last, and St Catherine having immense ability in attack, it is anybody's guess which way the points will go.

Holy Trinity were the number one seed going into the second round knockout fixtures and proved exactly why when they fought back on Thursday against Haile Selassie. Despite that, they would have learnt not to take any opponent lightly and by virtue of their fighting prowess, their opponents should also be wary and one can expect a humdinger of a feature contest.

Meanwhile, in Group H, Bridgeport will tackle Jamaica College in the 3:00 pm opener at Stadium East, with perennial track and field rivals Calabar and Kingston College locking horns in the feature at 5:00 pm.

JC were less than impressive in the group stages and it spilled over into the knockout round where they had to come from behind against Charlie Smith in a 2-2 stalemate in their first-leg contest. But they returned at their ruthless best in the decisive leg, carving out a 3-0 win.

Bridgeport are next in their firing line, or should it be the other way around as Bridgeport, having proven a handful for JC in the first round and despite advancing as one of the best third-placed teams, they did make light work of last year's beaten finalist Wolmer's Boys'.

While the Garnet Lawrence-coached team enter the contest with little fanfare, JC will know all too well what they are capable of and will have to keep their doors shut tightly as Bridgeport will come aknocking.

Kingston College have won 11 of their 12 games played, their only blemish, a first-round draw against Excelsior High. They were imperious in blowing away Tivoli Gardens High in the knockout round, with a 10-1 aggregate win. The boys from 2A North Street are determined to make a real statement this year and this is as good a time as any to do so.

Calabar High are experiencing a football renaissance. After winning Group A, and seeing off the challenge of Excelsior High to advance here for the first time in a long while, they will be anxious to show that it was no fluke. But their mettle will be sternly tested against battle-hardened campaigners.

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