St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) were made to work hard by Frome Technical to earn their spot in the final of the ISSA Ben Francis Cup on their home ground on Tuesday.
A Michael Jerman goal, two minutes before the half-time break, proved to be decisive for the school that has won the trophy seven times before, but they were pushed up until the last minute by a plucky Frome team that refused to go away.
Omar Wedderburn, the head coach of STETHS, was not surprised by how competitive the semi-final against Frome turned out to be.
“This is a semi-final game. You have to take a different approach... you must understand that the team is going to come with more venom at you.”
He explained that his preparation for the semi-final was focused strictly on the game at hand as he had told his boys to forget the early season result where they beat the team 6-0.
“The few days that we got to train the training was based on concentration. You cannot look at the result in 2021 to take you forward in 2022,” said Wedderburn.
He remarked that he was satisfied with what his got from his players in the semi-finals.
“Semi-final games are always competitive. There are the most competitive games of the season because you have four teams fighting for two spots, so you know everybody is going to come out with a different game plan. It's how you execute your game plan. I am satisfied with the result and how we actually played,” he noted.
STETHS will come up against an Edwin Allen High team that will be playing in their very first senior final and he has paid his respects to the team from Frankfield in Clarendon, saying that the game will have the quality of a DaCosta Cup final.
“We respect our opponents. We like the way how they play, but in a final as we normally say, 'dog nyam dog', that's just the way of a final. If you come and sit, they are going to run over you and if they come and sit, we are going to run all over them. So, we are expecting a competitive game and I think that game could actually be the D'Cup final, so to speak.”
Wedderburn expects a very exciting final that could be decided from the penalty spot.
“I'm seeing a lot of excitement in that game. If the game doesn't finish in the regular time we go to Texas because we like to shoot anyway. It's a must-win situation,” he stated.
STETHS, who are serial winners of schoolboy football titles, have not won any silverware in a few seasons and Wedderburn believes that lifting the Ben Francis Cup could be just what is required for the entire community of Santa Cruz.
“We need a title to really uplift the spirit of these players and St Elizabeth on a whole because it's been a while and we like to have the support of everyone around us.
“Normally, we like to greet new students with a trophy or two and encourage them to come and join us so this is a way we can get back and our feet,” Wedderburn ended.
Having seen Edwin Allen rip Manchester High apart before their game against Frome, Wedderburn will be well aware that lifting the title for an eighth time will take some doing against the first-time finalists.
— Dwayne Richards