Jamaica Premier League

Jamaica Premier League (95)

Vere United and Molynes United played to a gloomy 0-0 stalemate in their Jamaica Premier League (JPL) game at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence, the University of the West Indies on Monday.

Defending Jamaica Premier League champions Portmore United kick-started their campaign with a comprehensive 2-0 win over Dunbeholden FC at the Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence at the University of the West Indies.

A deflected free-kick by Ricardo Morris in the 37th and a wonder strike by Emelio Rousseau in the 78th minute gave Portmore United a comfortable win in their St Catherine derby, over the upcoming Dunbeholden.

With a number of transfers between both clubs, with players going either way, this match-up was always expected to be an intriguing one and it did not disappoint.

Dunbeholden, clad in blue tops and white shorts, came out flying as Kimoni Bailey latched onto a raking diagonal pass but his rasping shot flew just high.

Portmore responded immediately. Left-back Omar Reid unleashed a menacing shot that goalkeeper Damian Hyatt managed to punch away. As the play swung from end-to-end, Dunbeholden’s new signing Mark Miller, formerly of Waterhouse FC, saw his free-kick turned around the post by Portmore’s custodian Kemar Foster for a corner.

It came to national player Ricardo Morris to find the breakthrough in the 37th minute after he was fouled just outside the box. He picked himself up, brushed himself off and fired a left-footed free-kick that took a wicked deflection off the back of defender Shaquille Dyer and wrong-footing Damion Hyatt in goal.

Dunbeholden never wilted and got a look in as former Portmore United player Rondee Smith teed up the energetic Bailey who shot wide. Smith also got a chance but his weak shot was easily saved.

With Dunbeholden searching for that equalizing goal, Portmore struck again in the 78th minute courtesy of a wonder strike by left-back Emelio Rousseau.

A free-kick was rolled into his path and from 35 metres, the former St George’s College player unleashed a powerful shot that comprehensively beat Hyatt.

 To their credit, Dunbeholden continued to fight. They fought hard to the end with substitute Johann Weatherley getting two half chances to reduce the deficit.

With the win, Portmore United are now joint top of the league, which pleased Head Coach Ricardo Gardner.

“We wanted to function on what we did in training and we saw some of that today. It’s nice to get three points in tough conditions and they went out there and put their best foot forward,” said Gardner.

Dunbeholden’s assistant coach Ricardo Smith said his team may have blundered tactically.

“Tactically, we got it wrong and we are not blaming the players but tactically that’s the main part of it. So we just have to go back to the drawing board and come again,” he said.

The long-awaited much-anticipated Jamaica Premier League kicked off Saturday with Mount Pleasant Football Academy and Tivoli Gardens battling to a 0-0 draw in the opening match at the Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence.

Just over 14 months since the JPL was cancelled because of the outbreak of the Covi-19 across the globe, football action returned to Jamaica but there were no goals to celebrate the occasion.

Each team had to be satisfied with a point but the Paul “Tegat” Davis-coached Mount Pleasant got the better chances and would have been the more disappointing of the two, having 10 shots on target compared to just two by their opponent.

Playing on the artificial turf on grounds of the University of the West Indies (UWI), the St Ann-based Mount Pleasant, sporting blue tops and white shorts, were quick out of the blocks and applied early pressure on the orange and black-clad Tivoli Gardens outfit from West Kingston.

Playing at left-back, Sue-Lae McCalla created the first chance for Mount Pleasant but his powerful header was tipped over by goalkeeper Kewong Watkins in the sixth minute. Two minutes later, McCalla stung the hands of Watkins with a dipping swerving shot from 25m but Cardel Benbow failed to tuck away the rebound.

Tivoli Gardens got their first shot on target courtesy of the 41-year-old veteran Jermaine “Teddy” Johnson, who saw his free-kick blocked by goalkeeper David Swaby.

Minutes later, Mount Pleasant’s Kemar Beckford cut inside his marker but fired high from just outside the box.

There wasn’t much goal-mouth action in the second half but substitute Francois Swaby latched onto a through ball in the 76th minute only to be blocked by goalkeeper Watkins who stood tall and blocked well with his feet.

Daniel Green also fired straight at Watkins from an angle but Tivoli Gardens held on for a point.

The Man-of-the-match was Trevaune McKain of Tivoli Gardens, who was lively throughout and showed good skill on the ball.

Phillip Williams, head coach of Tivoli Gardens in his second season, was satisfied with a share of the points.

“The youngsters really stepped up and played a decent game for us today (Saturday). Mount Pleasant is a good running team and the boys passed with flying colours,” said Williams.

Mount Pleasant’s head coach Davis was visibly disappointed with the result.

“This is football and when you get some simple chances like that, maybe six, seven chances against this Tivoli Gardens team…the guys were flat, flat, flat,” Davis pointed out. “This is football and we would have loved the three points but it’s the start of the tournament so one point is good.”

A stunning goal and a beautiful assist by 19-year-old Dwayne “Busy” Atkinson gave a youthful Cavalier FC a deserved  2-0 win over an ageing Humble Lion team in the feature encounter at the UWI-JFF Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Saturday.

The lively Atkinson, who came on as a 46th-minute substitute, fired a dipping shot from 25 metres that whistled past a bewildered Dennis Taylor in goal for Humble Lion in the 77th minute.

It was a beautiful goal deserving to be the first of this new season from a  player, who Head Coach Rudolph Speid said was arguably the best player in the country when he was just 15-years-old.

Then in time added on in the 90+2, Atkinson latched onto a ball at the halfway line and in one motion with the outside of his right foot, curled a beautiful through ball into the path of fellow substitute Courtney Allen, who rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home.

It was three very good points for a spritely and youthful Cavalier team with an average age of 20 years and they have thrown down the gauntlet that they will be contenders.

The Clarendon-based Humble Lion unbelievably averaging 32 years, was left stunned by the young guns with some early soul searching needed as to the make-up of their ageing squad.

Man-of-the-Match Atkinson, formerly of Kingston College, said he will be hoping to keep the legacy going set by the former young guns of Cavalier who are now playing overseas.

Meanwhile winning coach Everdean Scarlett, was not surprised by Cavalier’s energy.

“My team gave a good performance of themselves and in the end, it was youthful exuberance that prevailed,” noted Scarlett.

Losing coach Andrew Price said his ageing men could not respond to the more energetic younger Cavalier boys. “We had about 14 training sessions and definitely this Cavalier team has been training long before us and they are a much fitter and younger bunch,” Price pointed out.

“Fatigue set in and we had to make some substitutions but it’s a learning curve. The mind is saying they can do thing but their body won’t allow  them,” said Price

“In the second half Cavalier really turn on the burners on us. But it’s the first game so I won’t mark them too hard,” he added.

 Ludlow Bernard has managed to keep the Stars of the East mentally focused ahead of the long-awaited start of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL).

Bernard will be keeping the same squad from last season. The Stars of the East last met and trained as a team in February.  As a result, the coach is concerned that the inactivity of the league and inconsistent training sessions might see a decline in his players' fitness levels.

The management team of the club admits they are cautious and concerned about possible injuries that may be sustained given the brief period allotted to prepare for the start of the league.

What seems to be the general modus operandi for all clubs, during the wake of the pandemic, Bernard's men were given training drills to complete independently.

The four-time champions are, however, currently facing financial hiccups.

"This is our primary line of activity, in the event that you are not being competitive, then your ability to earn, the ability for the players to be compensated on a monthly basis has certainly been hindered," Bernard said.

Even though the players have been badly impacted psychologically and physiologically have been hampered by over a year of inactivity, once news broke that the league would officially begin in June, Bernard is happy to report his players were delighted.

 

Head coach of Arnett Gardens, Alex Thomas, is looking forward to a productive season when the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) kicks off this weekend.

Arnett resorted to training in small groups when Covid-19 unexpectedly abrupted the sporting arena after Minister of Sports Olivia Grange had barred the Premier league teams from training as a unit.

Thomas revealed the club has since taken a different approach to their squad line-up, shedding some weight, and adding younger players to the team.

The club has released Ricardo Holder and Jamar Martin among a few veteran players that were with the team last season.

Thomas believes that the changes will bring positive results and is pleased with what he has seen so far.  Despite having had a short period to prepare for the season, he is not concerned about it impacting the quality of the team’s performance. 

"We have a nice squad put together and they have come a long way and we are shaping up well for it. We are ready for the 26th," Thomas said.

According to Thomas, the young players are keen to prove their abilities and will be guided by more experienced players in the team.

He and the rest of the management team are happy that there are no injuries within the squad for far and hope it will remain that way.

Thomas has lauded the club's involvement and interaction with the players during the pandemic and the uncertainty that came with it.

Social media engagement and zoom meetings were some of the club's avenues to communicate with the players.

"It worked quite well for us, we couldn't come together most of the time, but we kept the squad upbeat within the group, we have a WhatsApp group that we keep in touch with," said Thomas.

The five-time champions are confident in their chances of winning the league and will be pushing themselves to reign as titleholders once again.

"Our chance of winning this competition out of ten, I would say eight, but we are going to push them as far as possible. Our objective is to reach the top six and from the top six we take it from there. We will do very well for ourselves," Thomas ended.

The league format has been altered from the usual three rounds to just one. Instead, teams will play each other in a round-robin. Therefore, the top six teams will have a chance to book a spot in the finals, and the bottom six will battle each other in another round-robin format; this will determine their respective placings on the league table.

Team Manager of Dunbeholden FC Paul Christie has no time for excuses, despite the pandemic affecting their usual way of getting business done.

Dunbeholden FC has been adapting to the circumstances and creating a pathway to a successful campaign for the upcoming season.  Christie reports that the club's coaching staff are effectively getting the players ready for competition and the title is theirs to take.

"At Dunbeholden FC, right now we are in it to win it. We are trying our best to prepare like any other team, and we give ourselves a chance against any opponent,” Christie said.

The Spanish Town-based club is looking to secure their first-ever league title and wants to do so in style.

Christie admitted to SportsMax.tv that his players had some psychological impact due to the pandemic. However, he said the management team addressed those issues with professional intervention because the team needs to be focused mentally on winning the title.

"We have persons who we had to engage for psychological evaluation, based on the severity of what was happening to them.  However, I know that our opponents will not empathize with that, on the game day they will still have to show and give the best account of themselves and that is what we are assiduously working on at this time,” he added.

In a bid to strengthen their overall depth, Dunbeholden FC has added several quality players to their armoury. Among the new signings are former Portmore United striker Rondee Smith, defender Roberto Johnson, Damion Hyatt from Arnett Gardens, Diego Gordon, Kiethy Simpson, and Mark Miller from Waterhouse FC.

Christie believes Smith will be lethal up front and is expected to be a nightmare for their rivals.  Johnson should be sturdy in defence, organising and commanding their backline. Miller and Simpson will be mobilising the midfield, threading, and splitting defences with creative passes, putting their strikers on the end of open goal-scoring opportunities.

The new signings expect to give Dunbeholden FC a competitive edge with a degree of experience and talent, says Christie.

Dunbeholden FC had also signed the late Tremaine Stewart in September of last year. However, the 33-year-old forward did not feature for the club because of the cancelled season due to the pandemic.

Dunbeholden FC had felt Stewart's presence instantly when he joined, and Christie was confident that with Stewart’s talent and energy, Dunbeholden would be sure winners of the competition.

According to the manager, the team was in a sombre mood but has since redirected their emotions towards winning the league title in honour of Stewart.

"We are trying to flip it around…although we are having a sad and a mournful time, we are trying to use it as motivation and try to just do this one for our fallen brother."

Mount Pleasant manager David Galloway has picked the trio of Prince Christie, Ricardo Gaynor, and Kevin Wilson to stun the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) this season.

In an interview with SportsMax.tv, Galloway lauded the talent that has progressed from the academy and believes the young players are going to be brilliant and surprise many in our local sporting arena.

Galloway insists Mount Pleasant is currently enjoying their football in training, and the passion and quality of play he is seeing should put his team in the top two come the end of the season.

The Saint Ann-based will not be threatened or intimidated by any opponent in the league. However, Galloway also said that his players and technical team are not complacent and are taking every opponent seriously.

"Football is a highly competitive sport, doesn't matter who you play against it's the day that counts, and at the end of the day it is the score that counts. You can go out there with your best team and still not come out on top. We try our best to just stay focused, maintain that discipline and we try to prepare players mentally and physically to get them out there and do the job and finish according to our dream plan."

He admitted that the ending prematurely last season was a disappointment.  The team was fourth and he believes their in-form squad would have been serious title contenders.

Since Mount Pleasant has resumed training, players are showing signs of 'top form' once again and Gallaway says he is thankful and elated for the team's consistency. 

Mount Pleasant's first bridge to cross is against five-time champions Tivoli Gardens FC on Sunday, at 8:30 am at the University of the West Indies Bowl, Mona campus.

UWI FC has opted out of the Jamaica Premier League (JPL) ahead of the new season, Dean of the Faculty of Sports, Dr Akshai Mansingh, confirmed earlier this week.

With the competition scheduled to get underway this weekend, Mansingh pointed to a number of issues relating to the timing of the league and the availability of members of the UWI team.  The players are scholarship athletes and are currently on summer holidays.

 Mansingh also pointed out that the extended delay to the start of the league had severely impacted the university financially.  As part of its preparation, the team housed athletes on campus, allowing for small group training in order to build team chemistry and strengthen relationships with the coaches.

However, the administrator went on to explain that the university follows strict guidelines regarding the semester system, and unfortunately, they have now come to the end of the academic year.

Mansingh further clarified that the university’s objectives were different from the remaining teams in the Premier League.  He said that the priority of the University is to offer students the best opportunity to excel at sports and in so doing represent the UWI.  Members of the team must be university students.

Mansingh insisted that the university would prefer to play in the JPL but would not sacrifice the principles of being a university team in order to be one with just its name.  The UWI FC were promoted to the league in 2015 and have since done well for themselves.

Chairman of the Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), Chris Williams, said that sincere efforts were made to ensure that UWI had remained a part of the JPL.

 


 

 

Jamaica Premier League (JPL) clubs Portmore United and Waterhouse have opted to withdraw from the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships, scheduled for Santa Domingo, Dominica Republic, next month, citing a lack of preparation due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The group stage of the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship kicked off on January 29 in Kingston, Jamaica last year.  However, the island's top league has not been played on the island since last May as the country struggles to get COVID-19 cases under control.

According to the release issued by Professional Football Jamaica Limited (PFJL), the clubs have also been unable to train consistently in recent months, due to changes in the country’s Disaster Risk Management Act.  Despite ongoing talks with the government regarding the staging of a league that could take place in a controlled environment, the PFJL admitted it was unlikely to take place before the start of the Caribbean Club Championships. 

Chairman of the PFJL Chris Williams, expressed sympathy with the clubs but believed it could be a sign of things to come.

“...this decision by two of our clubs saddens the PFJL but we remain 100% in support of their decision given the circumstances that have occasioned their pulling out of the most important regional tournament that has realised much success for many of our clubs in years past,” Williams noted in the release.

“It is also inescapable for me not to point to the fact that this is the first of many dominoes that will befall the sport and our players locally, if we not able to restart the Jamaica Premier League before the end of the 2021 season.”

 

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