KO rumble! Urban 4 hunt berth in Walker Cup final
RED-HOT Wolmer's Boys' will tackle the improving Kingston College (KC), while Jamaica College (JC) take on Excelsior High as the tussle for spots in the ISSA Digicel/Gatorade Walker Cup KO final intensifies this afternoon with the semi-finals at Constant Spring Complex.
In the opening match of the double-header at 12:45 pm, Excelsior come face-to-face with JC, while Wolmer's administer a massive test on KC in the feature at 3:00.
Wolmer's have been the team on the lips of many pundits in this year's Manning Cup competition. And though the Ludlow Bernard-coached team was largely untested throughout the group stage, they rose to the occasion in a come-from-behind victory over defending champions and one of the favourites, St George's College, in their quarter-final game.
The highly-rated Bernard said Friday's 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 on Friday.
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.
Today's opener between Excelsior and JC should be a keenly-contested affair. The Leebert Halliman-coached Excelsior suffered an exodus of players during the summer break, with at least six top players moving to other schools.
But the veteran coach has molded a crop of young players who have shown they can compete with any of the 'big boys' in the competition.
The Mountain View school will rely on seasoned campaigners such as the towering Ojay Bedward, who was colossal in midfield in their quarter-final win, Delante Pottinger and Brian Richards, while young Samuel Halliman and Romaine Hoosang will be expected to get the goals.
However, JC, another well organised team, will start slight favourites for this game. The Old Hope Road boys don't have a host of attacking talent, but have a sturdy defence and work well as a team.
With the prolific Junior Flemming leading the front-line, along with young Rafiek Bryan, they can crack open any defense, with support expected from midfielders Kevin Blackwood and Akeeno Bailey.