SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — Defending champions Edwin Allen High are eagerly looking forward to returning to the final of the ISSA/Digicel Ben Francis KO when they take on former champions Rusea's High in the second game of a semi-final double-header at the St Elizabeth Technical Sports Complex in Santa Cruz today.
Edwin Allen, who became the 15th team to win the title last season and the six-straight first-timer to lift the trophy, are coming off a good win over Garvey Maceo last weekend.
In the first game, first-time semi-finalists York Castle High face Glenmuir High in the other game, set to kick off at 1:15 pm.
Tafari Burton, the coach of Edwin Allen, admitted that while he was disappointed to have dropped out of the daCosta Cup at the quarter-final stages, beaten by eventual finalists Central High, they were intent on defending the Ben Francis KO.
"It is always good when the defending champions are in this position, it shows class," Burton told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.
Edwin Allen face a Rusea's High team that has dragged themselves out of a slumber where they failed to get past the second round for three seasons, but Coach Dwayne Ambusley said "the mood among the boys is positive."
After beating Christiana High 5-1 in the first round, Rusea's High could only get by William Knibb Memorial on penalty kicks but Ambusley said he was not concerned about that.
"We are going to be facing better teams as we go deeper into the competition and we knew this William Knibb team was going to be tough," he said. "They did not give up a lot of goals through the season and so we knew they would be hard to break down."
York Castle who have beaten two former champions in St Elizabeth Technical and Dinthill Technical to get to the last four and will be hoping that the trend of newcomers winning the Ben Francis and coach continues.
Coach Vannie Clarke said: "This would be our first senior football cup and for us winning any championships would mean a lot. We are treating this competition with respect as we are aware of the historical significance of winning a title."
Glenmuir High have not conceded a goal in two games in the competition, so far, beating Paul Bogle High 2-0 and Frome Technical 4-0 last weekend and they will be hoping to win their first Ben Francis KO title since 2009 and sixth overall.
Glenmuir High vs York Castle @ 1:15 pm
Edwin Allen vs Rusea's High @ 3:45 pm
*Both games at STETHS
— Paul Reid