Speaking with a bravado not before heard in his three previous years in charge of the Kingston College football programme, Head Coach Ludlow Bernard sent a strong warning to the other three contenders for the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup title.
This came after his team saw off perennial rivals Camperdown High in the quarter-finals at the Stadium East field on Tuesday.
A come-from-behind 2-1 win over Camperdown earned KC seven points in the round and safe passage to the semi-finals as they look to defend their Manning Cup title.
Bernard was in no mood to mince words, shortly after the victory in trying circumstances.
“We are not going to relent on this one, not for a minute. We think that Manning Cup 2019 belongs to us and you saw that in the resilience that you saw here today [Tuesday] from the boys,” he said.
His team was really properly tested on Tuesday and they passed the examination, showing true grit in doing so. Bernard said there was never any loss of confidence at any stage of the game.
“Although going behind, although not scoring a penalty that was given to us, we were always confident of our chances in the game because we kept creating and we figured that it was just a matter of time. We just needed to be stronger defensively and unfortunately we gave up our first goal in the run of play for the season and I guess it had to happen. So let's hope that this is the only time that it will happen.”
He commended the goal scorers for the part they played in the win.
“It is good to see young [Dwayne] Atkinson and young [Michael] Allen coming to the fore and really delivering for us. It's really, really good.”
Bernard also believes that the entire team has earned their just reward and vows to remain focused on the job at hand.
“I think the boys deserve it. They train hard, they sacrifice quite a bit and now we are in the semi-finals for the fourth consecutive year, but the work is not over as yet because we have a title to defend and we are not giving up.”
With the scores tied at half-time, the coach disclosed that emotions ran wild in the dressing room, and he had to keep his cool and steady the ship.
“I was probably the calmest person in the room. I probably had the reason to be the most annoyed person, but I had to keep calm. I had to calm down [Ronaldo] Robinson; I had to calm down [Sajar] Blair; I had to calm down [Demario] McCarthy, because I realised that we didn't want our emotions to have a negative influence on the game.”
He maintained that KC's dominance of Camperdown, even in the pouring rain helped keep the faith as the minutes ticked away.
“We were on top of the game, [it's] just unfortunate we went behind, just unfortunate that we didn't score the penalty, but we were always in the game. We were always dominating this team [Camperdown], we were always creating chances and we figured it was just a matter of time before we got it and Michael Allen came forward and delivered the winner.”
Kingston College will face St Andrew Technical for the third time in three years at the semi-final stage of the Manning Cup.
KC's next assignment will be a semi-final clash with rivals Jamaica College in the ISSA Champions Cup at the National Stadium today.