XLCR's Gilbert confident against Yallahs
Bridgeport's Janique Kirkland (right) fends off a challenge from Excelsior's Destiny Powell during the Zone A encounter of the 2023 ISSA/Tip Friendly Society Schoolgirls' football competition at Stadium East on Wednesday February 15, 2023. (Photo: Joseph Wellington)

Head Coach of the Excelsior High girls' football team Xavier Gilbert says while he is expecting a competitive showing from Yallahs High, he is confident his players will get by their opponents in the first leg of the round-of-16 Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association/TIP Friendly Society match on Monday.

Excelsior, the defending champions, topped Zone A with a maximum of 18 points from six matches, scoring an impressive 98 goals and conceding just two to advance as the top team heading into the round of 16.

Yallahs, on the other hand, advanced as the second-best third-place team after finishing third in Zone B with 11 points, winning three games, drawing two, and losing one. They scored eight goals and conceded three and progressed ranked at number 16.

"I mean, it is the second round and things get tougher as we move on. I think we have the personnel to get by them, however we still have to go out there and play and give of our best," Gilbert told the Jamaica Observer.

"We anticipate stiffer competition as we go down the stretch. And so it is the second round, and all the teams who had advanced would have done something to be here and we have to go out there and play and play well but I am anticipating that we should be victorious," he added.

Gilbert said that with most of his players participating in the Women's Premier League (WPL) there is little or no time to get in some training in-between matches.

"I mean, with the games coming quick and fast and most of them [the girls] playing in the WPL, it is really difficult for training. It is more about rest and recovery and doing a lot of mental preparation than active training.

"Most certainly, playing in the WPL has helped the players progress. I mean, Yallahs High has a lot of players who are also playing in the league, which in itself says that they are doing well, and so that's why we anticipate a tough encounter," he explained.

Commenting on his team's performances so far in the competition, Gilbert said he expects his players to continue to show growth.

"They did well. I mean, they managed themselves well right throughout the group stage. I was a bit disappointed to be conceding goals — especially when you defeat teams by large margins as it suggests some level of complacency — but it is part of their learning curve and they will only get better from here," he said.

The game is to be played at Yallahs at 3:00 pm.

BY RUDDY ALLEN Staff reporter ruddya@jamaicaobserver.com

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