Sport

The hunt is on!

Dinthill Tech, Clarendon College vie for Ben Francis Cup

BY PAUL A REID
Observer writer

Wednesday, November 08, 2017



SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Fans of free-flowing, attacking football could be in for a treat today when three-time champions Clarendon College and Dinthill Technical, who are seeking their first hold, meet in the ISSA/FLOW Ben Francis knockout final at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz, starting at 3:00 pm.

Two of the most attractive and free-scoring teams in the daCosta Cup competition will meet in the first final in the rural area — a day after the Corporate Area Walker Cup title saw Jamaica College defeating defending champions Kingston College 2-1 — and if they play up to their lofty standards, fireworks will be expected.

Clarendon College will take an unblemished 15-win record across both the daCosta Cup and Ben Francis KO competitions, while Dinthill Technical have failed to win just once in 17 games, a draw against nine-man Bellefield High in the first leg of their second-round home and away tie.

Despite what is at stake, both camps said yesterday they were treating today's game “as just another game”, but were confident they will be the ones left standing after the final whistle, whether it would be decided in regulation time, extra time or from the penalty spot in the play-to-finish encounter.

Dinthill Technical are seeking their first hold on the trophy after losing to St James High in the 2008 final, while Clarendon College are going after their fourth hold, but the first in 19 years since they last won it in 1998.

If Dinthill Technical prevail, they would be the 13th school to lift the title, joining the previous 12 since the competition was first played in 1982, with Cornwall College leading the way with seven liens and St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) winning six, all between 2010 and 2015.

Today's protagonists advanced to the final after wins in Saturday's semi-finals — Clarendon College coming from behind twice to beat STETHS 4-2 in extra time at Manchester High, while Dinthill Technical edged Rusea's High 1-0 at STETHS.

Clarendon College will be without two influential starters today, co-captain and central midfielder Ricardo McIntosh and central defender Sanjay Williams, but both sides curiously said they did not think it would make any difference to the outcome of the game.

Clarendon College's coach Dyjeon Thomas told the Jamaica Observer yesterday, they had “adequate people to replace them in the line-up”, while Dinthill Technical's Manager Everton Burke said he knew the depth of the Clarendon team and they would not be relaxing in their approach or think their absence would mean there were any weaknesses in the team.

What both teams will have, however, are their attractive, attacking players who all sparkled on Saturday and who are expected to make today's game a spectacle.

Both teams also said they were preparing for today's game “just like any other game”, with nothing special being put in despite the fact they would be playing the biggest game of the season with a trophy involved, and could be facing their toughest foes since they started playing in early September.

Despite his team going into battle against a potent, attacking Dinthill Technical team without two regular starters, Thomas told the Jamaica Observer, “it will be business as usual, but we are not taking anything for granted”.

He said the only real effect of not having McIntosh, who scored his team's fourth goal on Saturday to kill off the contest, and Williams was “we will have two less players to choose from”, but also said they would be selecting their best 11 players to try and match up against Dinthill Technical.

Burke said his players were “pumped up and ready to go” after the “only title that has eluded us so far”.

He said they are taking the same mentality into the game that they do all the others — “play our best football, attack and try to prevent the other team from scoring,” — but admitted that Clarendon College will be the best team they will face this season.

“We know the team and we know some of the players, and we are well aware of what they have to offer,” he told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Dinthill Technical's defence has been playing up to championships levels and have not allowed a goal in their last five games, three in the daCosta Cup quarter-finals and both games in the Ben Francis KO, and this could make the difference today.

Over the same period, however, Clarendon College have outscored teams 16-4, with former National Under-17 striker Nique Daley leading the way, popping up to score two big goals on Saturday and putting the team on his broad back and dragging them to wins.

With the absence of Williams, Clarendon College will have to find another player to do the defensive work if they are to allow the mercurial Lemar Walker to join the attack in support of Daley.

There are no secrets to who Dinthill Technical will be relying on with Kaheem Parris scoring 29 goals; he will be the danger man for the Clarendon College defence to key in on.

The Dinthill Technical coaching staff will be quick to point out that while Parris' output has been great, they have produced 39 other goals and Andre Fletcher, Shamari Davis and Clive Freckleton can also be relied on to produce when it matters.

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