Selecting Ricardo Fuller's Digicel XI won't be easy

...But the Observer has its own ideas who are the Manning Cup's best

Observer senior reporters

Thursday, November 08, 2018

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Following outstanding displays in the first round of games in the Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) Digicel Manning Cup, football ambassador Ricardo Fuller will have his hands full in selecting the Digicel All-Star team.

Fuller, who was named Digicel Schoolboy football ambassador at the start of the season, also conducts leadership and mentorship clinics for the players. The Digicel clinic is part ISSA's RealGoal campaign.

At the end of the season, the players selected by Fuller will receive special recognition for their outstanding performances from sponsor Digicel.

An early look at some players would suggest that Jeadine White of St Andrew Technical High School is a safe bet for the goalkeeping position, although Tajay Griffiths of Wolmer's Boys' may have something to say about that.

Kingston College's (KC) Chadeen Rodriquez was in the running after going nine games with a clean sheet, but he flopped two easy free kicks in the following two games and effectively ruled himself out. Kingston Technical goalkeeper Roje Williams, who spectacularly netted a winning free kick against Jamaica Colleg (JC) made the shortlist. Hydel's Shaquan Davis has looked good between the sticks also.

Many defenders stood out in the first round and St George's College's diminutive sweeper Leacroft Lettman Jr stands out if a sweeper is being deployed. If not, Hesron Barry of JC has been solid at the back all season and, along with the tall but assured Clayon Haynes of Wolmer's, would be at the heart of the defence.

The experienced Nickache Murray of Wolmer's Boys' looks good at left back, although KC captain Casseam Priestly, who has been deployed at midfield this season, could be utilised there also. In fact, Priestly started at left back for Jamaica's Under-20 team against Grenada last Friday. However, that starting role should go to Emelio Rousseau of St George's College with Jenuin Pinnock STATHS, who has been outstanding all season, deserves a worthy mention.

Not many marauding but solid right backs have emerged of the quality of Malique Howell of JC and Trey Bennett of KC last season, but Jamal Pusey of KC and Richard Thompson of JC are actually attacking players that have been converted to great effect. Either one could start with the edge going to Pusey.

The midfield combination is the most difficult to select as a host of players are playing well and will give Ricardo Fuller a selection headache.

If there is one man you want to shield your backline, then it must be the captain from St George's College, Cheva Denton. He is stocky, quick, strong, skilful, and very intelligent. National Under-20 player Kimani Gibbons of Wolmer's is also a good bet, along with KC's Nathon “Kante” Thomas. All excellent ball winners. KC's Priestly has brought a calming influence to that role and must be considered.

In terms of attacking playmaking midfielders, then Camperdown's Shaqueil Bradford, Rohan Beadle of Excelsior, JC's Javain Thompson and Javaughn Cole of St Catherine High must be mentioned. However, Thompson of JC has been injured with a broken wrist but should be back in action soon.

The front line will be the hardest to pick as at least six players have legitimate right to be selected. Marcovich Brown of St Catherine with 18 goals, St George's College's Chanthomoi Taylor on 13, and KC's Oneeko Allen with 10 goals are the top scorers and must be considered for the number nine role.

The wide attacking players are Holy Trinity's Phillon Lawrence, Norman Campbell (JC), Charlie Smith's Renardo Cephas, and KC's talented playmaker Trayvone Reid must be in the reckoning.

Headache for Ricardo Fuller, but a good one to have as several players have stepped up to the plate and put their names in the reckoning for selection at the end of the season.

The Digicel XI could look something like this — Goalkeeper: Jeadine White (STATHS), Defenders: Hesron Barry (JC), Clayon Haynes (Wolmer's), Emelio Rousseau (STGC), Jamal Pusey (KC). Midfielders: Cheva Denton (STGC), Phillon Lawrence (Holy Trinity), Rohan Beadle (Excelsior). Forwards: Norman Campbell (JC), Marcovich Brown (St Catherine), Trayvone Reid (KC).

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