Garden party! — Tivoli v Arnett to ignite new RSPL season
THE sponsors promised 'beer niceness', the clubs hunt glory and the fans crave for quality football as another highly anticipated Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) season kicks-off with an enticing day's action.
With promoted teams Cavalier and Savannah FC traveling to Boys' Town and champions Portmore United in two late games, the pick of the clashes should be between rivals Tivoli Gardens and Arnett Gardens, set to start at 5:00 pm at the Edward Seaga Stadium.
In the other matches, former champion Harbour View host Montego Bay United; Highgate play Waterhouse at Drax Hall and Humble Lion and Sporting Central clash in the Clarendon 'derby'.
Portmore will welcome new boys Savannah to Ferdie Neita Park, but will be without keys players as Eric Vernan, Ricardo Cousins and goalkeeper Gariece McPherson have moved on, as has coach Calvin Lewis.
But Portmore are known to blood talented youngsters over the years and this season will be no different. Although their philosophy is exposing young talent for the overseas market, Portmore will be hunting back-to-back titles and their sixth overall.
Midfield general Damian Williams is expected to lead from the front, along with national players Ewan Grandison, Adrian Reid, Andrew Vanzie, while signee Mauricio Gordon should partner Alonzo Adlam up front.
Savannah of Westmoreland have brought in 26 players to make their mark in the league but should have a tough opener against the champions.
Most notable are Davion Thorpe, Fabian Blake, Linval Wilson Jnr, Omar Johnson, Gavine Barrett — all from relegated Reno FC.
Whether this squad is strong enough to survive only time will tell, but as for now, all teams start equal and Savannah could fancy a massive upset on opening day.
Cavalier, who last played top-flight football in the 1995 and were Premier League champions in 1981, resume their longstanding rivalry with Boys' Town, which was formed in 1940. Cavalier was founded in 1962.
Last season's runners-up Boys' Town will welcome the loan signing of the deadly Romeo Parkes to solve last season's goal scoring problem, which should make them a formidable unit.
However, Cavalier, as they showed in the Super League, are no pushover and with the return of national striker Mitchily Waul from Tivoli Gardens, goalkeeper Gariece McPherson, veteran Kevin Lamey, Ajuran Brown, Girvon Brown to add to the current crop, could upset the applecart.
The Edward Seaga Stadium will be abuzz with excitement when old rivals Tivoli Gardens and Arnett Gardens meet in what should be a keen contest.
Based on the transfer activities, with Tivoli Gardens losing some key players, most notably, strikers Roland Dean, Romero Parkes and Mitchily Waul; Navion Boyd (overseas), plus the underrated Jameel Thompson to Waterhouse, Arnett could start favourites.
The 'Junglist' have two of the most talented attacking playmakers in Reggae Boy Errol Stevens and the promising Lamar Nelson and should cause headaches to defenders this season.
Early favourites Harbour View and St James outfit Montego Bay clash in another intriguing match-up.
Harbour View did some shrewd business in the summer with the acquisition of three out-of-favour national players in striker Dean, midfielder Evan Taylor of Reno and the versatile Eric Vernan of Portmore to strengthen an already powerful unit headed by the talismanic Jermaine Hue.
Western franchise Montego Bay United also shopped well, with two players traveling in from Guyana — Dwight Peters and Richard Reynolds — to join the proven Leslie St Fleur of the Bahamas in a powerful squad.
The 'derby' clash between at Effortville between Humble Lion and Sporting should be interesting. Neither team has brought in any 'name' players as such, but possess deep squads to challenge for the title.
Former champion Waterhouse travel to Drax Hall to play Highgate and are expected to secure three points, but it won't be easy. Highgate survived the rigours of top-flight football last season and will be better for that experience.
Calvin Lewis' aggregation has brought in veteran goal-poacher Roen Nelson and Carlos Barrett from Portmore United, Dwayne Holmes on loan from St Georges SC, and the much-traveled Loxley Thomas.
Waterhouse will be without head coach Donovan Duckie until he meets with the Disciplinary and/or PFAJ Operations Committee, but that shouldn't hamper the Drewsland outfit.
Meanwhile, the following players and officials are not permitted to participate in any (official) football-related activity for disciplinary reasons until they face the Disciplinary and/or PFAJ Operations Committee:
Donovan Duckie (Waterhouse); Desmond Smith (Portmore United; Official)
Delroy Phillips (Reno); Rohan Richards (Sporting); Oshane Ross (Waterhouse); Deaundre Alvaranga (Village); Norman Woolery (Reno); Ronaldo Rodney (Village); Orpheous McPherson (Reno).
Red Card Received in KSAFA Champions Cup
Graeme Green (Montego Bay United FC)
Jacomeno Barrett (Montego Bay United FC)
Ladale Ritchie (Montego Bay United FC).
3:30pm Boys' Town vs Cavalier @ Collie Smith
3:30pm Highgate vs Waterhouse @ Drax Hall
3:30pm Humble Lion vs Sporting @ Effortville
5:00pm Tivoli vs Arnett @ Seaga Complex
6:30pm Harbour View vs Montego Bay @ Harbour View KLAS SPORT FM 89 RADIO GAME
7:00pm Portmore vs Savannah @ Ferdie Neita