'Junglists' storm 'Firehouse' in RSPL semis
The Red Stripe Premier League's (RSPL) two best goalscoring teams will match wits and brawn in today's first leg semi-final at the Drewsland Mini-Stadium.
Waterhouse FC, the preliminary stage winners, and their St Andrew rivals Arnett Gardens FC, will begin battle at 7:00 pm and given both teams' prowess in front of goal, the latter's head coach is predicting an "all out attacking" encounter.
"The two best attacking teams will be competing, so it is pretty much going to be an all out attacking game," the Arnett Gardens boss Jerome Waite told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.
Arnett Gardens ended the 33-round preliminary phase in fourth place on 52 points, scoring a league high 47 goals, while conceding 34. Waterhouse, in scorching form over the last few months, have scored one less goal, but have been miserly at the back, giving up only 24 goals on their way to a table-topping 65 points.
Waite alluded to his opponents' outstanding record, but argued that his team has defied the odds and pulled off a few surprises this season.
"Their consistency throughout the season, we cannot take anything away from them. Arnett Gardens on the other hand, based on reaching the last four, that's an achievement for the team. Not many people expected the team to reach so far. We are looking forward to this encounter," he said.
Arnett Gardens have also been in decent form, winning three of their last five encounters, with the noticeable blemish coming in a 1-2 loss to neighbours Boys' Town in the final preliminary match.
Waite is not worried that the defeat may affect the team's rhythm and instead claimed that resting some key players will keep them sharp for today's battle.
"Pretty much the last few games we rested some players, and players on the injured list got a chance to recover fully. The momentum looks good and the team is in good stead. We are pretty much injury-free and up and running," he said.
Waterhouse hold the advantage in their three meetings this season, winning 1-0 and 3-1, while Arnett Gardens were successful once in a 3-0 result.
The Waterhouse head coach Anthony Patrick said his team will want to make the home advantage count in the first leg.
"This is a semi-final and the whole community, management staff and everybody is behind the team. Come Thursday we just have to fulfil that promise.
"Definitely, we will try to make the home advantage count. We have been scoring a lot of goals, so I'm very pleased and when you look at the attitude of the players [in training] it goes to show we are ready and raring to go," he told the media after a session in wet conditions at the Drewsland venue on Tuesday.
An 18-match unbeaten league run and strong showings in the Caribbean Football Union Club Championships have made the well-conditioned Waterhouse outfit the most feared in the country. While Patrick wants the positive streak to continue, he recognises the threat posed by fierce rivals Arnett Gardens.
"We just have to continue in this trend and continue to win the games that we play.
"It's going to be very tough, but we are ready and prepared for the challenge. We have been unbeaten and players are really giving their all. If you see how we are finishing games we are finishing them strongly," Patrick said.
The return leg is set to be played next Monday at the Anthony Spaulding Complex.