CLARENDON, Jamaica — Coach Merron Gordon believes the recent international break was a blessing in disguise for his Sporting Central Academy team.
Prior to the two-week lay-off, used to facilitate World Cup qualifiers all over the globe, Sporting were on a four-game losing skid in all competitions, including a 4-1 hammering at Arnett Gardens, which left them sitting in the Red Stripe Premier League's relegation places.
Instead of using the free time to play practice games, Gordon said they decided to do some soul-searching.
"I think the two weeks that we got was very helpful," he said. "We started the season positively against Harbour View, but somewhere along the line we lost our way."
"(During the break) some people thought we should have played practice games, but I thought we needed to do some real soul-searching and hard training. That's exactly what the guys really did, so this win today was extremely important for us."
He thinks this period of introspection contributed greatly to Sunday's dogged performance which earned them a 3-1 victory over Portmore United at the Juici Patties Park in south-west Clarendon.
Sporting actually went behind in this fifth round fixture when their former ace striker Levaughn Williams gave the visitors a 12th-minute lead with a toe-poked effort. However, a pair of well-taken Francois Swaby penalties, either side of half-time, and a sublime Andre Morrison free-kick, in time added, turned the game in Sporting's favour.
"If you noticed, even when we went down 1-0 the entire team was clapping and saying, 'Come on; let's get back in the game.' In previous games, they would have dropped their shoulders."
"But", he added, "we spoke about the importance of tactical awareness; not playing an open game against quality teams. We did that well in our first game against Harbour View and got three points. Today we did the same thing."
Gordon now hopes this victory, their first over Portmore at home, will have a domino effect.
He said: "Even though Portmore is at the bottom of the league, they are still one of the best teams in the country. So, to beat them 3-1 should be a big boost for the guys. Portmore is a team that is always beating us."
- Oshane Tobias