By Jamaal Shabazz,
Pele has emerged as the runaway horse in the Stag Elite League and with the return of experienced
midfielder Konata Manning they are definitely the team to beat in this competition. Gregory “Jackie Chan” Richardson’s effort on the field has been tireless and his attitude reflects a player hungry for success. Thus far he has been a huge inspiration to his teammates, Pele fans and the league.
On the field, Richardson receives good service from Travis Zorro Grant but we have also seen flashes from Omalo Williams and Darren Harris which means Pele is not a one man band. Their attack has been supported by some capable defending especially in their twin U23 centre backs Jermane Somerset and Mark McClean.
While young goalkeeper Bevon Charles has really pulled off some big saves for Pele. If he can improve his handling of crosses and general command of the 18 yards box, Pele will be an even more potent force.
Slingerz however is showing an air of professionalism in their play and the signature of veteran coach Joseph Wilson is scribbled all over his team’s attacking and defensive patterns.
With national defenders in Colin Nelson, King Solomon Austin and Joshua Brown, Slingerz have been able to build up from the back, stretch the opponents and create scoring opportunities on a consistent basis.
Their finishing lacks the potency of Pele but as they have shown against GFC, Vurlon Mills, Dominican Julian Wade and the elder Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams can click and when they do… it rains goals.
Alpha continue to be in the top three despite rebuilding without half of the dream squad that made them the dominant force over the years. Coach Dover put together a well organized team in defence but very tentative and at times unsure in attack.
Lack of mobility at the heart of his midfield has not helped, as both Philbert Moffat and Anthony Benfield needs to work on their agility and the quality of their service.
And speaking of service, the poor crosses by William Europe and inconsistency of Daniel Wilson has not helped Alpha’s cause at a time when these youngsters need to step up and establish themselves at club and international level.
Grenadian Kitson Bain is getting some rough treatment from defenders and it is the goal scoring feats of Dellon Lanferman that creates the balancing act for Alpha.
While Lanferman is no Jackie Chan in terms of intelligent movement off the ball, he certainly has a knack for scoring goals and something that I have underlined as National Coach.
Buxton, GFC and Monedderlust have been typical amateur teams showing glimpses of good play but lacking consistency and organization to really be a title threat.
GFC impresses me with a squad that is mainly U20 and they had an impressive draw against Slingerz and wins against Buxton and GDF.
Yet while, Faizal Khan and his staff has done a good job getting GFC to the level to participate in the Stag Elite League…….it will take more than promise to keep them there.
Buxton shows good fighting spirit but their play is based on a lot of good individual efforts rather than coordinated patterns in attack and defence.
Naive defensive tactics is robbing Monedderlust of being the Cinderella team of the Stag sponsored league. Monedderlust have two solid centre backs in Kevin Layne Jnr and Travis Henry but their ploy of playing a high line with no pressure on the ball continues to cost them goals and valuable points. At home in Berbice they are quick and deadly in attack with the diminutive attacker Kevin Cottoy always posing a danger to opposing defenders.
Yet if they continue to be so square at the back, they will give up more goals than one of the mining companies in the interior.
With Pele, Slingerz and Alpha opening up a gap the battle is now between Guyana Defence Force (GDF) and Conquerors for the 4th playoff spot.
Both teams are having a roller coaster season…….playing well against the top teams but faltering against the seemingly lesser ones. In the case of Conquerors Eon Alleyne and Jermain ‘Panky’ Junior is showing the quality to unlock defences but needs more coordinated efforts when they reach the attacking third.
However, their defenders insistence on following the man with disregard for the position of the ball has made them vulnerable at the back.
The heroics of goalkeeper Alex Martin have kept Conquerors in many games and if they are to grab the 4th spot they must improve their individual and collective defending.
So the coming weekend should bring us closer to deciding the four playoff spots but the league has been a great learning experience for me.
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