MBU not yet ready to 'throw in the towel'

By Paul A Reid
Observer writer

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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TUCKER, St James — Struggling Red Stripe Premier League club Montego Bay United (MBU), sitting at the foot of the points table, are not throwing in the towel yet and giving up on salvaging their place for next season.

The two-time champions, who played three straight finals between the 2014-15 and 206-17 seasons, are dead last in the standings on 21 points, and are winless in their last six games, and won once in their last 12 — drifting further away from safety with every game they fail to win.

Despite a feel-good come- from-behind 3-3 draw against Harbour View, scoring two goals in nine minutes after trailing 1-3, there are just six games to go and MBU are staring demotion square in the face.

After adding players in the January window, MBU have brought in Brazilian coach Luciano Gama and added even more players, including four players from Ghana who founding president Orville Powell hopes will help their cause of survival.

While avoiding saying they were 'in desperate times', Powell told the Jamaica Observer before the Harbour View game, “We are in a position where we have to start winning games. I would not call it desperation, but we have to get it together. it's more of urgency in what we need to get to.”

Last Sunday they travelled to play Humble Lion — a team they have had difficulties beating and Powell, who was very vocal in his encouragement of the players during the training sessions leading to that game, said: “The players are well aware of the urgency and importance of the task at hand and my presence here for the past week or so with the team has helped just a little with the organisation, discipline and leadership.”

They ended that contest 1-1.

Powell stepped down from running the team at the end of last season when they just managed to stay in the league after flirting with disaster, but returned to games for the first time this season and was at the last two home fixtures.

The Ghanasoccernet website reported last week that goalkeeper Ricard Addo had signed a two-year contract with MBU, with three others — central defender Eric Acquah, midfieder Albert Asare and forward Francis Oduro — set to join him on the MBU books.

Only Acquah played against Harbour View as the others await international clearance; and they would become the latest players from the West African county to represent MBU after Nicholas Amponsah.

The 20-year-old Amponsah left the club early in the season to join Chattanooga Red Wolves SC's USL League One team in their inaugural season, pending league and federation approval after catching the eye of Tim Hankinson who had two stints with MBU.

As they awaited clearance for the African players, Powell admitted that while they were not as good as Amponsah who scored three goals while shoring up the central defensive area, they could be valuable additions to the club.

“They are not at the level of a Nicholas Amponsah,” he said. “But they have some talent and we hope game by game they can help us.” He singled out Addo as the player with the most to start contributing right away.

“The goalkeeper is the best of the lot, and we think he can add something to the team. He is better than what we have right now and the central defender (Acqua) could also start for us.”

In the training session watched by the Observer, Addo saved a penalty kick in the intra-squad match.

Gama is no stranger to Jamaican football and will be the third Brazilian to take charge of MBU after Neider dos Santos and Leonardo Neiva, and said that survival will not be easy but it will not be impossible either.

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