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KC kick off Manning Cup title defence

JC, Wolmer's also poised for winning start

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Defending champions Kingston College (KC) will be aiming to kick off their ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup campaign in style when they take on Excelsior High in one of seven fixtures on today's opening day of competition.

The contest, which is the lone Group G fixture today, is scheduled for 5:00 pm and will form a part of a triple-header at Montego Bay Sports Complex in Catherine Hall.

Clarendon College, the reigning daCosta Cup champions, will battle Lennon High in the first contest at 2:30 pm, while last year's beaten finalist Cornwall College and Irwin High will contest the curtain call at 7:00 pm.

All other Manning Cup games are scheduled for 3:30 pm.

After ending a 32-year wait to lift the prestigious urban area crown when they defeated St George's College 3-2 in a dramatic finale, KC will be hoping to repeat the feat by securing title number 16 this season.

Though boasting a slightly younger squad, the North Street-based team is said to have some amount of quality and if they execute anything close to last year's winning outfit, then they will not be easily denied.

Still, Head Coach Ludlow Bernard is not expected to grandstand just yet as the season is expected to be fierce and competitive from start to finish.

Former champions Excelsior will get first crack at the champions and while the general tone of technical director Leebert Halliman indicates that victory is unlikely, the Mountain View Avenue-based aggregation is expected to hold its own.

“The game is going to be a very difficult one for us; we have lost 50 per cent of our players because of disciplinary and other reasons, and the remaining few will be out because of the clearing house situation. But we will have to just take it one step at a time and hope that everything will be OK by next week, and we will be up and running.

“But we are looking forward to it, it's our first game and we are hoping for a victory or a point. But, as I said, we are weakened badly for now and KC is defending champions and boast a very strong team, but we will do our little planning and see how we do,” Halliman reasoned.

Many-time champions Jamaica College (JC), who saw their five-year reign end last year, will be back with a vengeance and Jose Marti should be the first in Group E to feel their wrath to officially grace the pitch at their Old Hope Road-based Ashenheim Stadium.

While the expectations will be high for a title run, Head Coach Davion Ferguson, who took over from Andrew Peart, pointed out that his team will be focused on a game-by-game approach this season.

“Our preparation has been extensive. I believe we started at a very good time in May, so we had a very good preparation phase that included a lot of stuff, including physical, technical and tactical awareness, but more so from a mental side, as we aim to build characters out of these young men,” Ferguson told the Jamaica Observer.

“It's the first game and it's the most important one. We are not underestimating Jose Marti; we respect every single opponent that we face and we know that every team that we play against will be trying to topple a Jamaica College.

“So we are mindful that the warnings are there and we want to show our opponents respect, but we also want to focus on us and what we are trying to do,” he added.

Former champions Wolmer's Boys' are also favoured to make a winning start in Group E when they welcome Vauxhall to their Heroes Circle base, while the other group fixture between Greater Portmore High and Innswood High can go either way.

Meanwhile, Walker Cup champions Hydel High should also open on a winning note against St Mary's College in Group D, with Camperdown and Mona expected to start favourites against Tivoli Gardens and Edith Dalton, respectively, in the group games.