Semi-finalists battle for D'Cup final berths

Semi-finalists battle for D'Cup final berths

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

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CATHERINE HALL, St James — After almost a month's break, the ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup football competition resumes today with semi-final action at Montego Bay Sports Complex and four former champions seeking spots in the December 1 final.

Clarendon College, who are perfect through 13 games played, will face unbeaten Dinthill Technical in the first game set for 4:00 pm, while Cornwall College will seek to stay on course for at least two titles when they take on Frome Technical in the second game set for 6:00 pm.

Three of the teams, with the exception of Cornwall College who will face Jamaica College in the final of the ISSA Champions Cup, have been inactive as far as competitive football is concerned since they were knocked out in the first round of the Champions Cup on the weekend of November 2 and 3.

Clarendon College, title favourites for many, as they were last year before losing to Rusea's High in the final, and Dinthill Technical have been among the most consistent teams in the competition in the last few years.

This will be Dinthill Technical's fourth appearance in the semi-finals since 2014, Clarendon College's third in that same period, while Cornwall College are in their second since 2016 when they extended their record hold on the title to 12.

Frome Technical, the “dark horses” are returning to the top-four for the first time since back-to-back appearances in the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

The game between Clarendon College and Dinthill Technical is a repeat of last year's semi-final which Clarendon won 5-2 after beating them in the Ben Francis KO final a few days earlier.

Both teams are well rested and would have had a lot of time to prepare for today's game which both coaches said they expected to be tough.

Xavier Gilbert, the Dinthill Technical coach, told the Jamaica Observer that the main work with the team now was on the “mental and psychological aspects”.

Gilbert said they had trained well in the time off and were making sure the players “were in the right frame of mind, as we expect a tough game against Clarendon College”.

After going up against the Lenworth Hyde-coached Clarendon College without much success over the past few years, Gilbert said the difference today could be “us taking our opportunities and exploiting their weakness as this game can go any which way”.

He admitted they had some injury concerns and some of the players were exhibiting “flu-like symptoms but we are trying to manage as best as we can to get them ready”.

Dinthill Technical drew twice in the first round, both against Charlemont High but won their next five games, two in the second round then all three in the quarter-finals before their upset loss to Holy Trinity High in the first round of the Champions Cup where they were held goal-less for the first time since the 2015 season.

It could be a worrying trend for the Dinthill Technical coaching staff as their scoring fluency has slowed somewhat after scoring 63 goals in 15 games in the daCosta Cup.

They scored 47 goals in the first round — the most in the first round — then 11 in their second-round series against Herbert Morrison but only five in three quarter-final games before drawing a blank in the first round of the Champions Cup.

Clarendon College, who were also upset in the first round of the Champions Cup by Charlie Smith High on penalty kicks, will be back to full strength with the return of striker Nicque Daley and Ricardo McIntosh who were part of the National Under-20 team that took part in the Concacaf Championships in Florida.

After a somewhat slow start, Daley has picked up his scoring and leads the team with 16 goals, eight coming in the team's last five games.

Coach Hyde thinks the long lay-off will be more beneficial than a hindrance and said they used the time to rest some players and also to fine-tune their preparation.

“It's what you do on the day that will matter, but we have been preparing and have put in the work.”

The seven-time champions lost just one game last year, in the final, and are once again perfect, scoring 59 goals and conceding just four all season; on paper the best defence.

Cornwall College are on the course for more than one title but coach Dr Dean Weatherly is guarded against complacency and said Frome Technical did not get to the semis “by accident but earned their place and must be respected”.

While Cornwall have dropped points just once all year, Frome lost once and drew twice in the first round, then lost in the second round and are coming off back-to-back losses in the daCosta Cup quarter-final to Mile Gully and to Camperdown High in the Champions Cup.

To Dr Weatherly, this is a sign of a team that knows how to win and will not back down from a fight to the end.

Asked whether Cornwall College could be looking ahead to Saturday's mega-clash against Jamaica College and overlooking Frome, he said: “No way we can do that, they can't be taken lightly, they are into the semi-final where anything can happen and they have a proven scorer and is a quality team.

“We see them as one of the hurdles in our way to what we want to achieve, which is to win the daCosta Cup and we will turn up with the right frame of mind.”

He added: “There are no so-called stars on this team, but they play with guts and heart and the desire and will to produce results.”

Aaron Lawrence, Frome Technical's coach, had earlier cautioned that his team was not to be overlooked or underrated and yesterday said the break had allowed them to focus singularly on one opponent rather than several in the lead-up to the school's biggest game in five years.

“We were born ready,” he said, before adding that he had not seen the players as focused as they are now. “The break helped us to prepare for whatever Cornwall has to throw at us. We know what they have and we will be prepared for everything and we also know how to attack them.”

Sixteen-year-old Giovauni Mittoo is the team's top marksman with 14 goals, but 12 came in the first round and nine in the first three games.

Alwayne Hill and Granville Ricketts have picked up the slack and will hope to lead the charge and book their place in the final.

Where Frome Technical could have some worries is keeping Cornwall College from scoring, having conceded six goals in their last six games.

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