MONTEGO BAY, St James — There is a possibility that the final of the ISSA/Lime Ben Francis Knockout could be played away from Montego Bay for the first time in several years due to the staging of the CONCACAF Girls Under-17 Championships scheduled here later this month.
The Montego Bay Sports Complex that hosted the final last year will be the main venue for the nine-day tournament, while Jarrett Park, that hosted the ISSA final for several years, is one of the four practice fields. Both have been closed down by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) to get them up to the required standard for the World Cup-qualifying tournament that starts
on October 30, just over a week away.
George Forbes, compe-tition Secretary for ISSA, told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that the semi-finals set for Wednesday, will be played either at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz or one of the venues in Clarendon, but "we are still working
at playing the final in Montego Bay".
Forbes said ISSA officials were in talks with "virtually everyone involved", to get the go ahead for Saturday's game to be played in Montego Bay.
Because of the availability of proper seating at both Montego Bay venues, ample parking as well as the proximity to a major medical facility, the venues have been the choice for major rural area football finals, despite howls of protest over the years from schools who complained about having to travel to Montego Bay to play schools from the area that were more familiar with the surface.
The decision would mean that first-time qualifiers Green Pond High and their fans would have to travel outside of Montego Bay for the first time when they line up against Manchester High in one semi-final on Wednesday.
Green Pond on Saturday qualified for the semi-finals after beating Godfrey Stewart High 2-0 at Jarrett Park and will face Manchester High who beat Clarendon College 1-0 to advance to their
fourth straight Ben Francis KO semi-finals.
The Gregory Daley-coached Green Pond have raised eyebrows this season after knocking off two former champions — Cornwall College and St James High — in a run that has stretched to eight games, four of which they kept clean sheets.
In the other semi-final set for Wednesday, three-time defending champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and Paul Bogle High, who have made it to the last five semi-finals, will meet.
STETHS blanked Kemps Hill High 3-0 with Khesanio Hall scoring all three goals, while Paul Bogle beat St Mary Technical 5-3 on penalty after they had played out a 3-3 regulation and extra time draw.