Revamp the new-look second round d'Cup format

The Sporting EDGE

With Paul Reid

Thursday, October 12, 2017

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The new-look second round of the ISSA/ Flow daCosta Cup schoolboy football competition got underway yesterday with 10 of the scheduled 16 games being played.

The other six games had to be postponed as one regular-season game, a top-of-the-table clash between Central High and Garvey Maceo, had to be played yesterday as well, and the result of that game will affect the rankings of no fewer than 10 other schools.

For those who might not have been following schoolboy football, or for the majority (including coaches) who are simply confused, the daCosta Cup committee of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) decided not to leave well enough alone, and made significant changes to the second round, dropping the long established inter-zone format.

Starting this year, the top two teams in each of the 15 zones, as well as the two best third-placed teams, will earn additional 'ranking points' and will be seeded from one to 32.

The top ranked team will then play the 32nd-ranked team, number two will face number 31, and so on, in a home- and-away series, with the winners on goal aggregate advancing to the quarterfinals.

Sounds simple so far, but here is where it gets complicated. Teams will carry over points from last year; the top four teams, as well as the quarterfinalists, are awarded ranking points, but these points are only awarded once they get to the second round.

One ISSA official sought to liken their system to the UEFA Champions League. And while we must ignore the inane comparison between the world's richest club competition, where teams have budgets of hundreds of millions of pound sterling/euro to schoolboy teams where some can hardly afford a full kit, the major fly in that ointment is that the UEFA seedings are only used for the first round.

Anyway, back to the daCosta Cup. Points are also awarded for wins in the regular season, but once again, while most zones have six teams and each team will play 10 games, there are some zones with only five teams and each would play eight games.

To make up for this, ISSA then “prorates” them and gives additional points, but if a team in larger zones only win, for example, seven of their games, there are no extra points for them.

One of the issues with schoolboy football is that it is played in the hurricane season and there will be many games being postponed and, in some cases, abandoned altogether.

But what if a team has qualified with two games still to be played with time running out? What if the two additional points will make a big difference in their final rankings? Will they be allowed to play for the points or will ISSA 'grant' them the points?

This system opens itself to too many manipulations, as there is also the curious system where some zones are given additional points based on their history of excellence.

Zone F, has had one team to go as far as the finals and lost and has been designated a 'seeded zone'; Zone B, which has produced 11 daCosta Cup champions, won or shared the Olivier Shield on six occasions and won five Ben Francis KO titles, was not afforded that designation.

Who makes these decisions?

Hopefully this experiment will be ditched come next year and a more equitable system will be put in its place, or simply go back to the inter-zone format that served the competition very well.




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