Mona search for first trophy as they begin hunt in Champions Cup
Mona High's tactical coach Kyle Butler (left) being interviewed by event host Jhared Morris-Sealy at the draw for the ISSA/Digicel Champions Cup at ROC hotel in Kingston, on Thursday. (Photo: Naphtali Junior)

Mona High School continue their hunt for their first-ever schoolboy football trophy in the ISSA/Digicel Champions Cup today. However, the debutants in the competition have to first get through defending champions Clarendon College (CC) first.

Tactical Coach Kyle Butler says they are excited to be in the tournament as it is a historic berth for the school. For that reason, he says they won't be awed by CC and they will put up a fight.

"We know that CC is a great team," Butler said at the opening round draw on Wednesday night. "I admire their programme very much. We played them in the pre-season and it was a nil-all draw. It's open to everything. I know that they know as well that Mona will compete as well. We're not just gonna go and sit back, we're gonna fight them and we're gonna play them with everything."

Butler describes his team as having done an "excellent" job this season.

"We've put Mona on the map and we've definitely driven fear into many teams, household names as well," he said. "We just want to continue with that and also enhance the players and give them a chance after the Manning Cup, that is the goal."

CC Team Manager Richard Palmer is wary of the threat Mona poses and says his side will not underestimate them. But he says that he was not concerned about who they would have been drawn against.

"We were focused on being good," he said. "We were prepared to play anybody. Mona is a great team, not only good, dem bad. We've reached this far and what it takes brought us here, so let's see."

But Palmer says the prime focus this season is not the Champions Cup, but the Olivier Shield. To take that title, they will have to win the DaCosta Cup, then beat whoever takes the Manning Cup.

"I'd love for us to take all the trophies we can get but I don't know if we have what it takes because you have some bad teams," he said. "KC [Kingston College], dem bad yuh nuh."

CC and Mona clash at 6 pm in the second game at Sabina Park.

The opening game sees two-time champions Kingston College facing the tournament's other debutants, Central High School, who secured their spot with a win over Edwin Allen in the DaCosta Cup quarter-finals earlier this week.

Central Head Coach Jermaine Douglas says they have to give their best for the "Central family", which he says is proud of their accomplishments so far this season.

Although KC are seen as arguably the best in schoolboy football at the moment, Douglas is not fazed.

"We're happy to be here," he said. "Once you're at this stage of the competition, you can expect to play against the best teams. Whatever the draw would've been, it would've been against a good team, and we're up against a good team and we'll give the best.

"But we're not here just to participate. We're here to compete and to win. So whoever we're up against, that's the attitude we're going to take into all our games."

KC and Central kick off at 4:00 pm.

The other games on the day take place at the St Elizabeth Technical High School Sports Complex.

Jamaica College face Manning's School at 4 pm, then Manchester High School play St Andrew Technical High School at 6 pm.

BY RACHID PARCHMENT Digital sports coordinator parchmentr@jamaicaobserver.com

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