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The ultimate prize!

JC, Rusea's battle for all-island supremacy in Olivier Shield

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Having conquered their respective regions, Manning Cup champions Jamaica College (JC) and their daCosta Cup counterparts Rusea's High will now be seeking to close the schoolboy football season on a high when they go head-to-head for all-island supremacy and the ISSA/FLOW Olivier Shield, at the National Stadium today.

The contest, which is a repeat of the 2010 duel, is set to kick off at 6:00 pm.

Both teams will be riding high on their recent successes in the rural and urban area competitions coming into what should be a pulsating 'east' versus 'west' showdown.

But the Hanover-based Rusea's team will be cognisant of that 1-0 aggregate defeat in 2010 and will be aiming to once again deny the Old Hope Road-based JC another triple crown feat.

With history in their favour JC could be given a slight edge to repeat the 2010 sweep of the Manning Cup, Walker Cup and Olivier Shield and, by extension, the 2014 triple titles (Manning Cup, Super Cup and Olivier Shield) run when they notched three of the four titles on offer.

Even though it is still yet to be confirmed whether Head Coach Miguel Coley will be taking up former Reggae Boyz Head Coach Winfried Schafer's offer to join him at Iranian club Esteghlal, the “Dark Blues'”could possibly be playing their final game under his guidance.

Coley, who took over the reins in 2013, led JC to a fifth-consecutive and 29th overall Manning Cup title and will now be seeking to add a fifth-consecutive Olivier Shield to his one Walker Cup and Super Cup triumphs, to cap off a successful run with the school.

This unit could be viewed as lightweight when compared to Coley's other teams over the years, but they have shown guts, determination and the true JC never-say-die mentality, which was evident in their 5-3 win on penalties over St Andrew Technical High School in the urban area final. That game ended 1-1 in full and extra time.

Manager Ian Forbes is anticipating another top performance from the Maleik Howell-captained squad, with the likes of Tyreek Magee, Norman Campbell, Shaneil Thomas and Tevin Rochester.

“We are looking forward to a good game. We are fully focused on this one ahead of us, we are not looking at past results or anything. So we are expecting a tough game against Rusea's who has done well this season, and we are hoping to go out there and execute as best as possible to get a positive result,” Forbes told the Jamaica Observer.

However, Rusea's are no fluke and should not for a second be taken lightly despite going down 1-4 to Kingston College in their only clash with an urban area team this season.

They will be bubbling with confidence at the possibility of copping the double, which would be their first since 2002.

Conditioned by Vassel Reynolds, Rusea's have shown their class in the rural competition when they took apart St Elizabeth Technical High School 5-2 in the semi-final and then came from behind to edge a formidable Clarendon College unit 2-1 in the showpiece event.

Their three-pronged attack to be led by Leonardo Fogarthy, Daniel Reid and Nazime Matalie will cause some problems for JC's defensive line, and Reynolds is optimistic that they will be the better on the day.

“It is a very difficult game ahead of us and we are cognisant of that fact. History is on the JC side and they will be at home as they seek to conclude what has been a magnificent season for themselves, so it is going to be tough.

“But one of the things with my team is that we believe in our abilities and we believe we have the capabilities to perform well and compete against this JC team, so I am very optimistic that we can get the desired result come tomorrow (today),” Reynolds noted.

“It would be great to cop the double; it is something that we are looking forward to and it has been a very good season for both the coaching staff and myself, so this would be a great way to top it off,” he added.