Mar 19, 2016 Sports
By Rawle Welch
Today’s final of the Milo Under-20 Schools Football Competition between defending champs Chase Academic Foundation and former title holders Lodge provides a fitting climax to almost two months of entertaining football at the junior level.
The venue is the Ministry of Education ground on Carifesta Avenue and another massive outpouring of fans is anticipated as the two experienced teams aim at each other to see which one of them will be the first to claim two titles in the tournament’s short history.
Lodge who won the title in the second year of the tournament’s existence will no doubt want to prevent the reigning champions from making it back to back wins so right away fans could expect a riveting showdown for the championship trophy and first prize.
However, judging from Chase Academic Foundation’s emphatic display in their semi-final clash against South Ruimveldt who they clobbered 6-0 it would take a fantastic effort from Lodge to deny them a second lien on the trophy.
The school has put together a star-studded unit laden with some of the best young ball-weavers in Georgetown and perhaps the country and no one has been capable of providing them with a stern test over the duration of a game to date.
This is an observation that Lodge will be cognizant of and while this is true if there is one team that is capable of creating an upset it is them because of their experience of playing for the title and their discipline as a team.
Chase Academic Foundation has looked even more imperious as the tournament progressed and their irrepressible form at this juncture of the competition must be a worry to the Lodge coaching staff.
The crafty Ryan Hackett, who for a few seasons donned the colours of Lodge, is in scorching form, hitting the scoresheet in their last two matches, netting some spectacular goals, while talisman Kelsey Benjamin, though, not lighting up the pitch in dominant fashion of late has been scoring as well and is expected to lead their charge for victory and a second title.
Three is also the speedy Keith Caines and recent hero Ralph Parris, who lashed in a brace in the semi-final, all seemingly in rich form so Lodge is faced with an arduous task keeping so many natural goal-scorers in check.
On the other hand, Lodge’s strength lies in their steely temperament; a feature that has taken them this far and obviously this kind of nature is what will be on show again today.
However, it is not to say that they do not possess firepower to stand toe to toe with their opponents if need be, but it will be interesting to see which strategy the Coach employs to give them the best chance of success.
Shamar Smith whose solitary strike took them to the final will be their main attacking option, but solid support could come from players such as Frank King, Simeon Hackett and Leon Blake.
They have not shown a proclivity to be explosive goal-scorers, but utilize a strategy to wear the opposition down mentally.
How well it works against a team packed with lethal strikers will be known today.
What is almost certain is that Lodge will want to grind out the regulation period and send it into overtime and possibly a penalty shootout, a familiar scenario for them, especially with a very good goalkeeper between the uprights.
In the third place playoff between South Ruimveldt and Queen’s College the latter should be favoured to come out victorious.
They played consistently before a defensive blunder cost them the spot in the final and to make up for that a third place finish should be the appropriate compensation.
The skilful Michael Hunter, Stephen King and Kevin Wills should prove to be more than a handful for the opposition.
South Ruimveldt on the other hand might struggle to recover from the onslaught they faced in their semi-final matchup.
However, they have been a good team throughout the tournament and they too will obviously be aiming to finish on a high note.
Cecil Jackman and Leon Charles will be the players leading their quest for a positive result.
Kick off time is 16:00 hrs.
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