By Michael Benjamin
Over the past few weeks, football buffs have witnessed several exciting matches when the nation’s top teams engaged in several action packed affairs, each nurturing ambitions of clinching the ‘Holy Grail’ in the 4th Annual GFA/Banks Cup Round Robin Knockout tournament.
Now, the weeds have been separated from the crops, football lovers are licking their lips in anticipation of a potential thriller as Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United prepares to throw down the gauntlet on the Guyana Defense Force and even before that, Pele and Western Tigers will set the pace in the third place playoff at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence tomorrow evening.
Alpha United’s domination of the tournament has propelled it to the top of Group ‘A’ after crushing victories over Blackwater (17-0), Northern Rangers (16-0), the Guyana Police Force (2-0), GFC (3-0) and eventually Western Tigers, 3-1; the lone goal they had conceded in the tournament. Fans had already visualized Alpha eventually progressing to the finals but they had predicted a showdown with Pele in the New Years Day clash.
This was not to be as the soldiers fought like tigers to end regulation time at a 3-3 stalemate before pulling the rug from under Pele’s foot with a 3-2 win from the penalty spot.
Obviously, the two most deserving teams will face off for top honours and one should not rule out any of those teams simply by their earlier performances. The soldiers will obviously bank on their most experienced quartet in Selwyn Isaacs, Delroy Fraser, Eusi Phillips and William Europe.
They will also feel that they may have a psychological advantage after defeating ‘The Hammers’ 2-1 in the quarter finals (of this very tournament) last year. We tried to contact the GDF coach, Denzil Thompson for his thoughts but his phone repeatedly went to voice mail.
Coach of the Alpha unit Wayne Dover, remains unperturbed and though exuding confidence of winning the game, shied away from a prediction.
“The game of football is won on the field and I am confident that the guys will implement and execute the game plan,” he said.
Dover reminded of his team’s ability and said that they had won the inaugural tournament after defeating Fruta Conquerors 1-0 to take the honours in the inaugural championships. The ‘Hammers’ had then forfeited their chances at replicating the first year’s feat after pulling out of the 2nd edition of the championship due to a controversial scenario.
Nevertheless, those players will certainly remember the 2-1 loss at the hands of the soldiers in the quarter finals last year.
The fact that the soldiers are on top of their game coupled with this psychological factor may inspire their confidence to a victory. This is a clash between two strong teams and one thing is for sure, the winner will have to dig pretty deep to clinch the accolade.
The Western Tigers and Pele shindig should provide the palate pleaser for the main course and the former team will bank on the skills of Phillip Rowley, Joshua Britton, Marvin Joseph and Randolph Wagner; all have been consistent performers during the tournament and much is expected of them. Konata Manning is back on the Pele team after playing club football in the USA.
He will receive support from two other front men in Calvin Shepherd and Deon Alfred in their quest to topple the Tigers.
The stage has been set; the players are ready to deliver the goods. It’s now lights on and camera running and tomorrow night at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence it will be action as four teams take to the field, all with ambitions of winning.
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