Classic KO clashes!
Wolmer's v KC, JC v XLCR in KO semis
WEATHER permitting, Wolmer's Boys' will battle an improved Kingston College (KC), while Jamaica College (JC) face Excelsior in rescheduled ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel Walker Cup Knockout semi-final clashes this afternoon at the Constant Spring Complex.
Both encounters were originally slated to be played on Tuesday, but were postponed due to the forecast of rain associated with the arrival of hurricane Sandy. Excelsior and JC meet in the opener at 12:45 pm, while Wolmer's and KC take the field in the feature at 3:00.
The Excelsior versus JC opener should be an exciting contest. The Leebert Halliman-coached Excelsior suffered an exodus of players during the summer break, with at least six of their best players moving on to other institutions.
However Halliman, the veteran coach who previously had successes at St Andrew Technical as well as at Excelsior, has gradually shaped his youngsters into a gutsy and skillful outfit ready to challenge the best in the competition.
The Mountain View Avenue boys will rely on the experience of tall midfielder Ojay Bedward, who was exemplary in the quarter-final at the weekend, along with Delante Pottinger and Brian Richards. Young Samuel Halliman and Romaine Hoosang could be formidable foes in attack, meanwhile.
On the other hand, the Old Hope Road-based 'Dark Blues' will start slight favourites on the back of their superior organisation as a team, despite not boasting many attacking options. They possess a strong defence and excellent teamwork as well.
With the prolific Junior Flemming leading the front-line, along with young Rafiek Bryan, they have the capacity to split defences, with midfielders Kevin Blackwood and Akeeno Bailey expected to provide offensive support.
The Ludlow Bernard-coached Wolmer's have been one of the form teams this season. They proved their credentials in the KO semi-finals in a come-from-behind triumph over defending champions St George's College in last Friday's quarter-final.
The highly-rated Bernard said the victory over the 'Light Blues' was a great morale-booster and he is now looking to build on that success.
He reasoned that KC may have one of the best defences in the Manning Cup this season, but argued that Wolmer's have one of the best attacking line-ups and they intend to challenge KC for a win.
"It doesn't matter what kind of team KC has, they always play with a lot of fight and effort. Defensively, they appear to be good and we respect that, but they are also cognisant of the attacking prowess of our team so we'll be looking to attack them, the same way we attacked St George's," he said.
Wolmer's hopes rest with the attacking trio of Jason Wright, Kaheel Hyde and Jorginho James, along with midfielder Jason Greenland.
KC, under the astute stewardship of Donovan 'DV' Hayles, look a solid and well organised unit and will look to Shamala Ashman, Jevaughn Samuels, Allan Morgan and Hakeem to lead them to their second straight KO final.
The North Street boys played second-fiddle to eventual group winners Charlie Smith High, who beat and drew with them in their two preliminary meetings.
However, the famed 'Purples' defeated their group rivals when it mattered most, eliminating their Trench Town opponents in the KO format — a 1-0 quarter-final victory a week ago.
After falling at the final hurdle to St George's in the KO contest last season, Hayles strongly believes in his players and their ability to go one step further this year.
"I must praise the players because they've shown that they can match up with any team.. I believe they have what it takes to win the title," he said following their quarter-final triumph.