By Rawle Welch
In a repeat of last year’s final, four-time and defending champion Christianburg / Wismar will face nemesis Chase Academic Foundation for this year’s Digicel Schools Football Championship title today, at the National Stadium, Providence.
The two teams have once again proven that they are the best in junior football in the country and they will square off at 18:00 hrs in front of what is anticipated to be an even larger crowd than last year.
In the third place playoff, Sir Leon Lessons will look to gain some consolation following their disappointing loss to the defending champion in the semi finals when they face Berbice’s Bush Lot Secondary from 16:00hrs.
The feature encounter is nicely poised to showcase some of the best players on the junior circuit in Guyana and the battle comes down to Christianburg / Wismar preserving its long legacy as worthy champion as against Chase Academic Foundation’s hunger for revenge following their 2-1 defeat in the final last year.
The reigning title holders, who’re currently in the rebuilding phase due to the exodus of several of their leading players owing to age ineligibility, have not looked at their imperious best throughout the championship, but have demonstrated their trademark characteristics of determination and resilience.
It is hard to believe that today’s final will be a repeat of their semi-final showing when they were kept on the defensive for a large portion of the game against Sir Leon and had it not been for a brilliant performance from goalkeeper Nicholas Gentle, who made crucial stops in numerous one on one situations the result might have been different.
They will need to create more goal-scoring opportunities against a team that is stacked with players of immense talent and one that has proven that they can score many goals against any opposition.
However, the flipside to that is that Christianburg / Wismar are not any opposition with four titles in consecutive years to prove it along with a runner-up finish in the inaugural year of the championship.
Omar Brewley, who along with Amar Jones were the players on target in last year’s final are once again in the conflict and they have shown rich form with the former the more productive of the two.
A player who has come on as substitute and made an impact is the nippy Shaquille Campbell and the ploy has worked perfectly for them since he brings both pace and skill against tiring defenders.
Other players expected to play important roles are Captain Kishawn Dey, Antwaine Gill and Jumane Kingston and they will have to increase their work rate to cancel out the ambitions of Chase Academic Foundation.
On the other hand, what more could be said of Chase Academic Foundation that have shown a vicious tendency to score many goals.
They are the strongest team on paper, having as much as 6-7 players who’ve donned national colours in their line-up and who are very effective on the field.
Captain Jeremy Garrett has been a tower of strength in central defence, but the combination of players in the mid-field and up front is where they really flex their muscles.
They usually have a blend of scorers with Kelsey Benjamin, Ryan Hackett, Job Caesar, Nicholas McArthur and Shomol Smith, all capable of exploding at any time.
Caesar and Hackett are the designers in the mid-field who’ve created most of their opportunities, while McArthur and Benjamin are quite as efficient closing the deal.
There is no doubt that the prediction of an enthralling battle for the championship trophy is not far-fetched and those vested with the scouting and preservation of the nation’s future football stars, along with the pure lovers of the sport, must make it a date to be there.
The two best teams have made it to the final and this must be a dream come through for the Organisers.
The third place seems to be easier to call with Sir Leon highly favoured to pour more misery on Bush Lot.
David George, O’Neil Sharpe, Adrian Aaron and Sylvester Richardson are no scrubs and they should prove too skilful for Bush Lot to handle.
Bush Lot for their part must feel satisfied with their performance in this year’s edition, having reached as far as the last four and this must be an encouraging sign for them to aim for a better result come next year.
The in-form Titus Chester was effectively marked out by Chase Academic Foundation, but hopefully he would have learnt a few tit bits to be more of a factor come today.
However, the early prediction is that it may very well be a case of a ‘bridge too far’ for them.
The winner is set to receive $1million, runner-up $700,000, 3rd place $450,000 and 4th place $300,000, all geared at projects identified by the respective institutions.
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