Sport

Battle on for Walker Cup final berths

Saturday, November 04, 2017

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Defending Walker Cup champions Kingston College (KC) and Manning Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) are on course to meet in the final of the ISSA/FLOW Walker Cup for a second year running.

But for that to happen, they must first get by St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Calabar High, respectively.

The mouth-watering semi-finals of the Walker Cup take place today at the Stadium East, with JC taking on Calabar High at 3:00 pm before KC tackle STATHS at 5:00 pm.

In the curtain-raiser, JC and Calabar are meeting for the second time having clashed on October 24 in the quarter-final round of the Manning Cup, with JC edging the contest 1-0 courtesy of a late goal from Tyreke Magee.

The Walker Cup was made more important this season when title sponsors FLOW made it the pathway to the lucrative Super Cup for urban area teams, and with additional interest now in the competition this game is expected to draw a massive crowd.

It has been a while since the “Lions” from Red Hills Road advanced this far in the competition, and they will certainly be up for the contest. With the narrow loss still fresh in their minds Calabar are expected to come full force. However, with just one day to rest between the quarter-finals and semi-finals, Calabar will have to dig deep against last year's losing finalists.

On Thursday they came out victors over Bridgeport High, who had ended their chances of advancing in the Manning Cup by defeating them 3-1 in a penalty shoot-out at Constant Spring.

Having overcome one nemesis, Calabar will be looking to make it two from two when they take on JC with whom they went toe-to-toe for 87 minutes recently.

Weary legs will be a concern for Calabar's coach Lij Simms, but he will be asking his boys to play with 'lion pride' once more, as they look to upset the odds and advance to the final set for Tuesday.

With legs one day fresher than their opponents, JC will be looking to jump all over their opponents and gain the psychological advantage. It took the Miguel Coley-coached team more than 40 minutes to break down a stubborn St Catherine on Wednesday, but the “True Blue” will be hoping for an early breakthrough this time around.

Calabar are solidly built at the back and they have looked better with each match played. Magee has been the inspiration for JC, but the likes of Tevin Rochester and Norman Campbell must now hold their hands up and play a bigger role if their team is to progress to the final.

In the day's feature encounter, it will be a case of attack vs defence as the most prolific team in the urban area goes up against the best defence in the urban area. Kingston College have scored over 70 goals in the Manning Cup and scored two against their near neighbours and main rivals St George's College in advancing to the Walker Cup semi-finals. STATHS, on the other hand, advanced by way of a penalty shoot-out after holding the Manning Cup's number one seed, Holy Trinity High to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

The purple juggernaut has been held goalless only once this season, whilst their defence has been breached by more than one goal just once in a game. A threat up front and solid at the back, the Ludlow Bernard-coached team is showing signs that they are the real deal.

For their part however, STATHS have shown that they are as tough as they get and have the capacity to hang with and outlast most. Their two come-from-behind draws with JC in the Manning Cup group stages truly show how tough they are this year.

But STATHS will be weary of the threat that KC, and especially their leading scorer Rashawn Mackison, poses. KC have scored early against Calabar, JC and St George's College, with Mackison being responsible for two of those goals. The STATHS defence will have to start the game fully focused to prevent being unlocked early.

Two excellent games are on the cards for both sets of fans and the neutrals who venture to Stadium East or watch on television.

— Dwayne Richards

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