Mega showdowns

JC vs STGC, KC vs STATHS in massive Manning Cup semi-final clashes

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

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Jamaica College have a lot of respect for St George's College, and so too do Kingston College for St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) – and all for good reasons.

But none is expected to be intimidated by the other when they lock horns in the Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Digicel Manning Cup semi-finals.

All four teams have experienced being at this stage of the competition before, some in more recent times than others, but that will by no means make their task of securing the two coveted spots in the showpiece event any easier.

As such, schoolboy football enthusiasts are expected to be treated to two enthralling semi-final clashes between the finest teams in this year's urban area competition inside the National Stadium today.

In the much-anticipated curtain-raiser at 4:00 pm, Kingston College will renew their rivalry against STATHS in a repeat of last year's semi-final clash, while champions Jamaica College oppose St George's College in the feature game set for 6:00 pm.

Should a game end in a draw at the end of regulation time, the teams will go straight to penalties to decide a winner as there will be no extra time.

Even though today's contest will be the first meeting between Kingston College and STATHS this season, the two would have very fond memories of each other, particularly the latter, who came away 2-1 winners in their semi-final meeting last year.

That victory enabled Bumper Hall-based STATHS to make their first appearance in the final since they won their only Manning Cup title in 1987.

With the exploit still fresh on the mind of the Phillip Williams-coached team, as they seek to replicate the feat and possibly go one step further this season after losing out to Jamaica College in last year's final.

The return of influential goalkeeper Jeadine White should have a positive impact on STATHS's defensive line with Marvin Emmanuel, Jevoney Johnson, Anthony Nelson and Shamir Gibbs expected to carry the brunt of their attacking weight.

Kingston College will by now know very well that STATHS is not to be underestimated, and as such, should be coming to fight tooth and nail to turn the tables on their opponents.

Having been dethroned from their All-Island Champions Cup knockout title when they lost on penalties to St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS), the North Street-based team will be looking to roar back at this stage of the Corporate Area competition, which is viewed as their main objective.

The Ludlow Bernard-conditioned KC will again fancy their chances against STATHS, but will have to put every foot right if they are to move one step closer to breaking a lengthy title drought having last held the title back in 1986.

Much will be expected of captain Casseam Priestly, Dwayne Atkinson, Oneeko Allen, Jahmar Pusey, Trayvone Reid and possibly Aryamanya Rodgers for Kingston College to find a place in the Corporate Area championship final next Friday.

The feature contest will attract a similar interest, as Champions Cup finalists Jamaica College will be confident of making a second final to remain on course to make it another triple-crown season.

JC, the most successful team in the competition with 29 titles, should be fully recovered physically and mentally from Friday's 4-0 thumping of STETHS in the Champions Cup and will be unrelenting in a bid to also make the Manning Cup final, and by extension secure a 30th lien on the prestigious title.

The “Dark Blues”, who have held the title since 2013, are once again chasing a piece of history as the first school in recent times to retain the Manning Cup title for six years consecutively and should again prove a handful for their opponents.

The talismanic Norman Campbell, Shaneil Thomas, Shadane Lopez and Tajay Grant are expected to carry the Andrew Peart-coached team's attacking line.

Meanwhile, St George's College have looked the part for most of the competition and recently added impetus to their form with a 5-0 beating of STATHS in the quarter-final round of the Champions Cup.

Despite going down 0-2 to Cornwall College in the semi-final, STGC should report in good knick to pose a real threat to Jamaica College, as they seek to resume their claim on the title which they last won in 2012.

The North Street-based team and their coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell, who is famous for his slang “to be the best you have to beat the best”, will be confident, but not overconfident that they can repeat their recent five-star performance against the champions.

The 'Light Blues' chances of victory will rest on the likes of the prolific Damani Harris, super-sub Chantomoi Taylor, Nathaniel Campbell, Emelio Rousseau and captain Cheva Denton.

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