Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan

Sherdon Cowan is a five-time award-winning journalist with 10 years' experience covering sports.

McGrath High became the fourth school to win the ISSA/Wata Ben Francis knockout title since the change in format, as they edged Frome Technical 1-0 in a lively final at the National Stadium on Saturday.

Dante Anderson's 32nd-minute strike was enough to get the Linstead-based team over the line, and saw them join Charlemont, BB Coke and Edwin Allen as first-time champions.

Winning coach Jermaine Thomas was over the moon about his team’s accomplishment.

"I am happy and elated because we worked really hard for this. I also want to take time out to say rest in peace to Gibbs “Gibbo” Williams, he was an important part of my life and the reason why I went to college, so I wish he was here to witness this moment,” Thomas said.

“But congrats to the boys, they played well, we have been playing well all season, the last game we lost was to Christiana in the Round of 16, and we haven’t lost since then. So, I must commend the boys and the entire school community for the support,” he added.

It was a closely contested affair in which both teams threatened in open play and had their fair share of opportunities to break the deadlock.

McGrath went closest in the 32nd when a well-taken David Hutchinson freekick, was equally well-saved by Oral Davis diving full stretch to his right, in Frome Technical’s goal.

Frome responded soon after but Dwayne Watt’s shot from close range, was parried by Joel Davis, in goal for McGrath, as they remained scoreless at the break.

However, McGrath eventually found what turned out to be the match-winning goal five minutes into the resumption when Devone Davis picked up possession and played a pass off to Anderson, who applied a tidy finish, beating Oral Davis at his near post.

It was end-to-end action from there with McGrath looking to add to their tally, while Frome Technical pressed for the elusive equaliser. In fact, the Westmoreland-based team showed more in the attacking third in the latter stages, as they used the wide channels to good effect to provide services inside the danger area.

The tactic almost bore fruit in 74th when Akeem Kongal’s weighted cross was met by Jamaro Grant, who rose above defenders, but the effort was brilliantly cleared off the line by defender Isaac Mason to keep his team’s lead intact, and they saw off Frome from there.

Frome Technical’s Head coach Cleighton Stevens was gracious in defeat.

"First I have to say congratulations to McGrath on their victory, my boys put up a good fight, but it just wasn't our day. It was still a successful season and we just have to build on it going forward,” he said. 

Craig Butler stressed the term unification of purpose, and also spoke highly of Mona High’s pride throughout the season. To some, it may have even seemed arrogant when he declared that there was no school in the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup to beat his team this year, and on Friday, Butler not only proved the doubters wrong, but more importantly, backed up the talk.

In only his third season in charge, Butler guided Mona High to its maiden schoolboy football title, as they edged Hydel High 1-0 in an entertaining final at the National Stadium.

Demarion Harris got the all-important goal that ensured Mona High became the 15th school to hold the emblem of urban area schoolboy football supremacy. They now join Jamaica College, St George’s College, Kingston College, Wolmer’s Boys, Excelsior High, Tivoli High, Calabar High, Charlie Smith, Camperdown High, Norman Manley High, Bridgeport High, Dunoon Technical, Ardenne High and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS), in achieving the feat.

It is also the first time in 22 years that a new team’s name is etched on the title, as for the last 17 years, in particular, the Manning Cup has resided on North Street and Old Hope Road.

An emotionally Butler attributed the team’s success to the bond that they share.

“This is what love does, love conquers all things. Look at what they gave us on the field today, all heart fight for the entire game, they wanted this, and they got it, so we are very proud…Mona pride. This is about believing in youth and having faith in yourselves, believing in your system and playing to your strengths.

“That’s what these boys did, none of these boys were ever called for Jamaica’s Under-15, Under-17 and under-20, nobody wanted them and look how good they are.  Look how Mona played, systematic right through,” Butler said in a post-game interview.

After a fairly cagey start, Mona injected some tempo into the contest with a tidy build-up which started with a long pass out by goalkeeper Akeem Bernard and ended with Kshaine Gordon playing a pass inside for Harris to fire home from deep inside the 18-yard box, for his fifth of the season.

Mona should have doubled the lead in the 16th, as Carlton Brown was left unmarked deep inside the area but steered his header, from Romarion Thomas’s cross, wide of the left upright.

Hydel belatedly came to life in attack and were enterprising in their build-up play in patches but couldn’t produce anything meaningful to beat Bernard in goal for Mona High.

Mona looked more threatening in open play after the interval, and bossed possession for the most parts, but found Hydel’s defence in a defiant mode.

It wasn’t until the backend of the contest that they got efforts on target, the first of which was in the 86th when Thomas produced a delightful first touch to get around defender and unleash a stinging right-footed effort that rattled the crossbar.

The second came seconds later through Gordon’s follow-up effort that was parried by Tajarie Lee.

For the fifth time in recent years, Jamaica College and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) had to be separated by penalties, and for the fifth time, Jamaica College toppled their perennial rivals.

The Old Hope Road-based team registered a 7-6 sudden death shootout win over their Bumper Hall-based opponents, after both played out a 1-1 stalemate in a keenly contested ISSA/Digicel Walker Cup final at the National Stadium on Friday.

Leon Brown gave STATHS a fifth-minute lead, but that was cancelled out by Jamaica College’s captain Renson Sayers Jr (59th), and from there the Davion Ferguson-coached “Dark Blues” maintained their composure best to register a fourth hold on the knockout title.

Both teams converted the first four of their five initial penalty kicks, and a further three in sudden death with things locked at 6-6 when controversy struck.

This, as Jamaica College’s Zinodean McLean, who had his attempt saved by STATHS’ goalkeeper Jaheem Williams, was allowed a retake as it is understood that the ball wasn’t stationery at the time of the kick, which goes against the laws of the game. McLean converted on the second occasion, after which, Kevin Hall of STATHS hit his kick over the crossbar, gifting Jamaica College the win.

While it wasn’t the way Ferguson wanted the outcome to be decided Ferguson welcomed the win which adds to the titles won in 2009, 2010 and 2017, especially after they failed to defend their more prestigious ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup.

“I think the incident at the end really marred the game, but kudos to our boys. We came out here today (Friday) and we started a little bit shaky but on the flow of the game we had the better of STATHS, still commiserations to STATHS, I think they played well. They are always a difficult opponent, but I think today we wanted it more, and our boys showed that,” Ferguson said in a post-game interview.

STATHS Head coach Phillip Williams was unavailable for a comment as the coaching staff and players were distraught and irritated that the retake was allowed.

And their disappointment is very much understandable as they would have wanted to add this Walker Cup to their solitary Manning Cup title won in 1987, and their wait to break that lengthy drought continued.

Both Jamaica College and STATHS have met in three finals last five to six years and given their rivalry, the contest, despite not being for Manning Cup honours, was always expected to be a lively one and it didn’t disappoint.

Jamaica College looked a bit more purposeful at the start, but it was STATHS that struck first in the fifth minute when Rashaun Frankson’s weighted cross inside the 18-yard box fell to an unmarked Brown, who finished a free header for his 17th goal of the season.

In the 25th, STATHS thought they had a penalty when Brown sidewined his way through two defenders and was felled inside the danger area, but referee Tyrone Robinson waved off the appeal.

Jamaica College again went on the charge in the 34th and it took a timely save by Williams, who got down well to his left, to keep out substitute Thierry Garrick’s left-footed effort.

STATHS should have doubled their advantage four minutes later, as Andre Salmon broke behind defenders and into one-on-one with Jamaica College’s custodian Raul Renton, who left his line, but tried to be fancy and the effort went well wide of the target.

Jamaica College intensified their press for the equaliser on the resumption and eventually and got it, when Sayers Jr converted from the 12-yard spot, after Malachi Sterling was felled inside the area by Alexavier Gooden.

Both teams nullified each other thereafter, but STATHS gradually regained the ascendancy and enjoyed a decent passage of play in the 70th. At that point, they found a number of openings from which they could have gone ahead, but Jamaica College stood firm and repelled everything thrown at them.

Jamaica College responded and went close four minutes later, as Sayers Jr’s well-taken freekick from just about 25 yards out, was tipped unto the crossbar by Williams.

And the “Dark Blues” almost won it late when Sterling’s weighted cross was headed down by Sayers Jr, but not properly cleared by STATHS and that allowed the powerfully built captain another opportunity, which he struck acrobatically only found the upright it in time added.

It was then down to the dreaded penalties to decide the outcome, and much like it was in 2017, 2019, as well as in the last season’s Manning Cup final and Champions Cup semi-final, Jamaica College proved the better of the two from the spot.

Jamaica’s senior Reggae Boyz Head coach Heimir Hallgrimsson knows his team is in for a tough time given their draw for next year’s CONMEBOL Copa America but fancies their chances of beating the odds.

This, as their Group B opponents –Mexico, Venezuela and Ecuador –are all familiar foes to some extent, and given the significant improvements in terms of the quality of players his Reggae Boyz squad now boats, Hallgrimsson believes the group is going to produce some very interesting matches.

Though this will be his first time leading the Reggae Boyz in the prestigious Copa America, the occasion marks the third time Jamaica will grace South American tournament, after appearances in 2015 when they faced Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina, and 2016 when they opposed Venezuela, Mexico, and Uruguay.

“I didn't know much about Venezuela, but after thinking, it's tough teams really, all the three teams. If I can say something similar about them all, is that they are competitive, really hard working, and all of these nations play enthusiastic and tough tackling football. So, it's all tough, tough opponents, but I think it's quite an equal group,” Hallgrimsson said.

“So that means, I don't think any team will be a runaway winner with nine points in this group. I think all teams will have a chance against each other, so it is quite an equal group. There is not a team that anybody can take for granted, and I don’t think there is a team that will be a runaway winner,” he added.

While Jamaica has squared off against Mexico and Venezuela a number of times over the years, they have only faced Ecuador three times in 2009, 2011 and 2018, losing two of those games 2-5 and 0-2, while the other ended in a goalless stalemate.

“So, in that sense if we prepare well and get our points, we will always have a chance to progress from this group, but I think all the teams will think the same. So, that is my feeling and after looking at the opponents I feel a little bit better,” Hallgrimsson declared.

“I didn't know much about Venezuela, I knew a little bit about Ecuador, and of course, we know a lot about Mexico, but I think that everyone has a chance in these games. So, all teams can pick points from each other,” he noted.

Having produced a stunning comeback to better Canada in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal recently, Hallgrimsson pointed out that their preparations will be focused on maintaining that momentum in the semi-final against United States, before turning their focus to the Copa America in June.

“We had already made a plan what was going to happen. So, the early months of the year, in January, maybe half of February, we'll go in Jamaica for domestic players. Hopefully we will get a friendly against a Caribbean nation or maybe in United States. So, in January US-based players can also play these matches.

“But the plan was always to focus on the domestic based players in January and maybe beginning of February. Then from maybe mid-February, we have to think about the Nation's League semifinal against US. So, we turn our focus to that project and then of course after that we will have the draw for the World Cup (qualifying) games,” the Icelandic coach shared.

“So that will be complete focus on those games. So, we are kind of forced to turn our focus to the next project all the time and then after the World Cup (qualifying) games we we've turned our focus to the Copa America. So that is our plan, it's a full schedule and we have to be really focused on every project, because all of these matches are important,” he ended.

Jamaica will open their campaign against Mexico on June 22, Ecuador on June 26, before completing their Group Stage matches against Venezuela on June 30.

In other group pairings, the United States finds itself in Group C alongside Uruguay, Panama, and Bolivia. Group D is set to witness a showdown between Costa Rica or Honduras against heavyweights Brazil, Colombia, and Paraguay. Group A promises a tough challenge for Trinidad and Tobago or Canada, who will face off against World Cup champions Argentina, Peru, and Chile.

Newly elected Aquatic Sports Association of Jamaica (ASAJ) president Lance Rochester says his administration intends to hit the ground running to execute on their vision to achieve growth, and, by extension, move aquatic sports forward.

Rochester, who is the former vice-president in charge of water polo, takes the reins from Martin Lyn, as he found overwhelming favour with delegates, during the ASAJ’s Annual General Meeting at the National Aquatic Centre on Tuesday.

He tallied 46 votes to Georgia Sinclair’s seven in the election process, which was managed by Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) president Christopher Samuda.

Along with Sinclair, the former vice-president in charge of swimming, incumbent Shauna Jackson, was also ousted from the Secretary position by former Treasurer Florence Grizzle-Williams.

Grizzle-Williams earned 40 votes to Jackson’s 12, while Robyn-Ann Chin Sang was unopposed for her post of vice-president in charge of artistic swimming, and Marlon McIntyre has taken over as vice-president in charge of water polo. Richard Hopkins and Michelle Parker, who will serve as treasurer and assistant treasurer respectively, complete the administration.

Rochester pointed out that his first order of business for his administration is to restore accountability and integrity to the association by demonstrating good governance skills.

“It is a very humbling experience to have received the support of a majority of delegates, it is clear that the vision which was outlined connected with members and I am very excited about the opportunities to come, and also to execute what has been outlined,” Rochester told SportsMax.TV.

“I must say I am grateful for the support which the outgoing members provided to this association over the past few years. Sports administration is very challenging and demanding, and so we have to be grateful to those who choose to serve, and of course if they are able to lend support in some other capacity going forward, I am keen to receive that support,” he added.

While admitting that he feels some pressure to deliver accordingly, Rochester explained that he is mentally and strategically prepared to ensure his administration’s two-year term will be a fruitful one.

“Of course, there is pressure to deliver because the vision that was outlined was a bold vision, but the good thing is that I am not alone in this because we have a very strong team that is keen on working to execute,” he declared.

“One of the central objectives is not only to develop an all-island and grassroots programme to ensure that we are identifying talent early, and developing that talent appropriately, but also to ensure that Jamaican boys and girls right across the country are learning how to swim because swimming is an essential life skill.

“We are also moving to develop a high-performance programme to ensure that we are providing the most value and support to our club and national level athletes,” Rochester shared.

Newly elected administration

President – Lance Rochester

1st Vice President – Dr Hilary Nixon in charge of Swimming

2nd Vice President – Robyn-Ann Chin Sang in charge of Artist Swimming

3rd Vice President – Marlon McIntyre in charge of Water Polo 

General Secretary – Florence Grizzle-Williams

Treasurer – Richard Hopkins

Assistant Secretary/Treasurer – Michelle Parker

Arnett Gardens Head coach Xavier Gilbert expressed delight about his team’s dominant showing against Vere United, as they gave football enthusiasts a glimpse of the depth of their squad with a 2-0 win in Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League action on Monday night.

Rushane Thompson (32nd) and Jaheim Thomas (72nd) were on target for the “Junglists”, who despite being without a few of their regular starters due to red card suspensions, extended their unbeaten run across three games.

The win moved Arnett Gardens up to 14 points in second position, five behind reigning champions and leaders Mount Pleasant, and one ahead of third-placed Tivoli Gardens, who registered a 3-2 win over Treasure Beach in the feature game of the double-header at Stadium East.

This is much to the delight of Gilbert, who was hoping to keep their chasing rivals at bay.

"I am very happy with the way we executed, the table is really tight between second and sixth, so it was important for us to get the three points and inch up the table a little bit. So, it's a welcome one, especially knowing that Tivoli Gardens is also playing and if they win, they are right behind us," Gilbert said in a post-match interview. 

"Another important component was the fact that players stepped up, we try to ensure that we have a balanced squad so when persons miss out, others can bridge the gap, so I am really pleased with the guys that came in and got the job done. That's the mentality that we want, it is something we have been trying to do to ensure everybody is competing for their spot and that is exactly what they are doing," he added.

Arnett dominated from the start, as they were showed more enterprise in their build ups, and also produced some colorful plays in patches. But it wasn’t until two minutes after the half-hour mark that the inevitably found the go-ahead goal when Thompson arrived to finish off Shai Smith’s pass across the face of goal.

Warner Brown almost added a second in the latter stages of the first half, but his right-footed effort on the break, was kept out by the outstretched leg of Roje Williams, in goal for Vere United.

Though they continued to boss possession and created numerous half chances, Arnett Gardens had to wait until late in the second half to extend their lead, when poor defending followed by an error by Williams who left his line, allowed Thomas to finish into an empty net from close range, after Warner Brown's effort came back off the crossbar.

Vere United tried to play and created a few half chances of their own but couldn't make them count, and succumbed to their third defeat of the season, which left them eighth in the standing on eight points.

Vere United's assistant coach Jermaine Douglas was left disappointed.

"We never got off the mark in terms of attack and the second goal that we conceded, we were just getting into the game, we lapsed and got caught on the transition and it was really unfortunate that we conceded at that time. But we weren't productive in the final third and at the end of the day if you're not scoring goals or not being dangerous in front of goal, we can't win games, so we have some mental work to do," Douglas noted.

Matchweek Eight results

Molynes United 0, Lime Hall 0

Montego Bay United 3, Portmore United 2

Mount Pleasant 0, Waterhouse 0

Arnett Gardens 2, Vere United 0

Tivoli Gardens 3, Treasure Beach 2

Harbour View vs Dunbeholden (postponed)

Humble Lion vs Cavalier (postponed)

If ever there was a fitting way for a team to win the first title of the ISSA Schoolboy football season, it is to cop their first ever hold on that title, and Glenmuir High did just that when they snared the Champions Cup all-island knockout crown on Saturday.

The fact that Glenmuir achieved the feat by coming from behind to condemn their highly thought of neighbours Clarendon College to a first defeat of the season in an enthralling contest that ended 3-2, sweetened the deal, and the celebrations by the team and its fans which formed a sea of red in the Grandstand at the National Stadium, declared that much.

Ja-Son Whyte (27th), captain Kyle Gordon (53rd) and the menacing Orane Watson (82nd), etched Glenmuir's name in the annals of the competition's history, as they became the third rural area team to win the title and, more importantly, remain on course to secure the coveted treble.

They now join Jamaica College (2014 and 2022), St George’s College (2015), Wolmer's Boys (2016), Kingston College (2017 and 2019), Cornwall College (2018) and Clarendon College (2021) in the champions column.

Keheim Dixon (18th) and captain Malachi Douglas (90+5) got the goals for Clarendon College, who played most of the second half with 10 players after Nashon Bolt was red carded in the 51st minute.

Though elated, winning coach Andrew Peart cut a subdued figure, as he is aware that another tough battle against the same opposition for the more prestigious daCosta Cup title awaits.

 "To God be the glory, as I said at the start of the season, it is a three-year journey and so we are happy to be here as champions. The boys did well to come from behind and we couldn'task for a better fight," said Peart, who alps guided Glenmuir to Ben Francis triumph last season.

"We now have a one week break ahead of the next game. We know it's going to be tough, so we have to be better than we were today (Saturday), but this is one accomplishment achieved and so we prepare to fight for another, " he added.

It was always expected to be an entertaining encounter, and it didn't disappoint as both teams gave as good as they got from the start when they got off some early warning shots in their press for the early ascendancy.

Clarendon College eventually broke the deadlock when a decent team buildup sent Atibo Green down the right channel to play a perfect pass across the face of goal for Dixon to finish from close range.

They almost found a second in the 26th through Douglas, who found space inside the 18-yard box for a left-footed drive along the pitch, but Antwone Gooden got down well to his left to parry.

Glenmuir responded a minute later and were back on level terms courtesy of Whyte, who tucked away a firm right-footed effort from just about 20-yards out that left Roshae Burrell, in goal for Clarendon College, flat-footed and as a mere spectator.

Though they engaged in end-to-end action from there and created a few half chances, neither team was able to add to their tally as the score remained unchanged at the break.

Clarendon College was more purposeful at the top of the resumption, but their progress was thwarted six minutes in as Bolt was shown a straight red card by referee Steffon Dewar after he took out Orane Watson just inside the arc.

And if that wasn't bad enough, Gordon threw salt in Clarendon College's wounds with a firmly struck right-footer from the resulting freekick that gave Burrell no chance at a save.

With the numerical advantage and scoreline in their favour, Glenmuir enjoyed a decent passage of play, but failed to add to their tally at that point. 

Clarendon College were brave and instead of going defensive, Head coach Lenworth "Teacha" Hyde threw some fresh legs in attack, and the move almost proved fruitful as they went close on a few occasions through Douglas and Dixon.

In fact, they had two opportunities in quick succession in the 71st through Dixon, whose first effort from just inside the 18-yard box came off the left upright, and seconds later Douglas hit the right upright as the Chapleton-based team cursed their luck. To make matters worse, Glenmuir found a third when Burrell left his lines and made a big blunder which allowed Orane Watson to steal possession and calmly fire into an empty net from a distance.

Though down, Clarendon College fought on and pulled one back in time added, when Douglas converted from the 12-yard spot, after Dixon was brought down by Gooden inside the danger area. They went close to pulling level term on the final play of the game as Dixon rifled and effort from just inside the 18-yard box, but Gooden stood firm to deny the talismanic striker and sent the May Pen fans into frenzy.

Hyde, as always, lauded his team for their grit and determination despite the disadvantage.

"Even when we down to 10 players, we still created numerous chances and we could have won. So, hats off to my team, they fought hard, and it just wasn't to be, but we will get them replenished and motivated again for the daCosta Cup final," Hyde noted.

Jamaica's senior Reggae Girlz remain in a tough position to make next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, despite coming from behind to secure a 1-1 stalemate with Panama in their penultimate qualifying fixture at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Marta Cox gave Panama a 31st-minute lead from the penalty spot, but that was cancelled out by Shaneil Buckley's 45th minute strike, which ensured the Jamaicans a share of the spoils.

With the point, Panama inched up to seven points and booked their spot in the inaugural women's Gold Cup, while the Jamaicans, who were earning their second point, must beat second-placed Guatemala (four points) on Sunday to get into the Gold Cup prelims.

Though disappointed that they didn't secure all three points on this occasion, interim Head coach Xavier Gilbert is backing his team to get by Guatemala on Sunday.

"It was a competitive game, unfortunately things didn't go entirely according to plan, of course we wanted to win, but we also wanted to ensure that we didn't lose tonight, that was our first objective.  We are still in with a shot with just have to get the job done against Guatemala, in terms of speed and depth, we have a better unit and so I fancy our chances more against Guatemala," Gilbert said in a post-match interview.

The contest started at a decent tempo with the Jamaicans using their pace and athleticism to exploit the wide channels, as they were more threatening in open play, but were unable to make the most of their half chances.

In the ninth Melissa Johnson broke down the right channel and should have at least tested Yenith Bailey in goal for Panama, but the build-up was undone by indecision.

Nine minutes later, Buckely broke down the right and played a pass inside, and Davia Richards couldn't connect at close range.

Panama patiently played their game and went close in the 28th minute when Cox played a through pass in for Natalia Mills, but Serena Mensah, in goal for Jamaica, left her line well to avert the danger.

However, the visitors were given the opportunity to break the deadlock when Lauren Reid seemingly got ball in a challenge on Mills, but Honduran referee Melissa Borjas Pastrana awarded the penalty, which Cox converted.

The Reggae Girlz probe for the equalizer came on the stroke of half-time when a weighted cross from the left by Malikae Dayes was well finished by Buckley from close range.

Gilbert's side again started purposeful and applied consistent pressure throughout but didn't really put anything meaningful on goal.

In fact, there best effort of the stanza came in the 68th when Njeri Butts cross inside was skipped by captain Chinyelu Asher for Marlo Sweatman, whose shot lacked the power to beat Bailey.

From there, but teams nullified each other, as their search for the winner proved fruitless.

"I don't think we did anything wrong; we just didn't score. We have to score goals to win games and we just didn't get on the scoresheet when we got our chances," Gilbert said, as he also fielded questions about the substitutions.

"We are in a different dynamic from the other teams. They are playing one game and they are finished, while we are playing two games in five days. I know what I am working with, we had to be smart in terms of our approach to each game, so we couldn't be erratic and make a number of substitutions here, I also understand the situation that we are in and we are just going to give it our all on Sunday," he declared.  

Interim Reggae Girlz Head Coach Xavier Gilbert is well aware of the need for his players not only maintain their focus, but also to execute efficiently and consistently for the next over 180-plus minutes, if they are to achieve the desired results in two must-win Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup qualifying fixtures.

The first will be against a gritty Panama outfit that will be riding high on the fact that they defeated the Jamaicans 2-1 in their first meeting and, more importantly, hold pole position in Group B on six points, which means they only need a point at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

Kickoff is at 7:00pm.

For Gilbert and his Girlz, who sit at the foot of the three-team table on a point, the objective is pretty straightforward –win and they are into the group stages of next year’s Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.

But the tactician is well aware that it is much easier said than done and, as such, is cautiously optimistic about his team’s chances of taking three points at home, before visiting second-placed Guatemala (four points) away, on Sunday.

“We had three good sessions, and things went well, one player joined us let, but apart from that, all the players have settled in well. They know what is at stake, and you can tell by the mood in the camp that they are ready to give it their best shot,” Gilbert told SportsMax.TV.

“They have responded well to our request in terms of adjustment to the system of play, which is good, so what we did, was use the final session (on Tuesday) to tighten up on a few things and areas in which believe we need to strengthen. So, I am optimistic that once they execute how we want them to, we will come out with a positive result,” he added.

Should the Reggae Girlz defeat Panama, it would mean all three teams in the group, could take the top spot, and the outcome would rely on Sunday’s clash between Guatemala and the Jamaicans.

While finishing tops is the priority, the second-placed team would also have a second shot at Gold Cup qualification, as they would enter the preliminary phase of the tournament to oppose to group winners from League’s B and C.

That means, the Girlz could draw with Panama and then beat Guatemala to book the runner-up spot. But, that is no comfort to Gilbert, who is hoping to get the job done the right way.

“The game was a couple of weeks ago. This is a different situation and different circumstances. There is some unrest in their country, I am not sure if that has affected them mentally on this occasion, but we just have to be on our A game,” Gilbert said as he reflected on their away loss to Panama.

“We have to be better than what we were in the last game, and I am sure Panama is also looking to do better, so it's going to be extremely tough for us. Obviously, we've looked at a few things that we're looking to implement as we look to impose more of our will on the game,” he noted.

Gilbert, who is still without his World Cup players due to a prolonged standoff with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), is making do with a squad that boasts more youth than experience –2019 World Cup veterans Chinyelu Asher and Marlo Sweatman being the experience.

Still, the likes of Ricshya Walker, Melissa Johnson and Zoe Vidaurre, who all scored in the last window, are very much capable of doing more damage.

Panama will turn to their core group of playmakers in Riley Tanner, Marta Cox and Lineth Cedeno to get the job done, and Gilbert is very much wary of that and is aiming to nullify the trio.

“We are still working to finalize the best 11, so far, we are close to it, but there are still some other pieces to put in place. But the overall expectation heading into the game is to make sure that we get something out of it, which is our objective, and then we will see how it goes,” Gilbert ended.

Glenmuir High will contest their first ever ISSA Champions Cup final against neighbours Clarendon College, following a 5-3 penalty shootout win over Kingston College, after they played out a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time in a keenly contested semi-finals encounter at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Tuesday.

Interestingly, both Glenmuir and Clarendon College will also contest the daCosta Cup final, as both remain on course to secure the coveted triple crown feat.

Brandon Wallace gave Glenmuir High a 14th-minute lead, but that was cancelled out by Darnel Edwards’s 16th-minute effort, which set up the dreaded penalty kicks.

The May Pen-based Glenmuir was perfect from the 12-yard spot converting all five kicks, while goalkeeper Antwone Gooden came up big to deny Jaheim McLean and ensure the Andrew Peart-coached side a spot in another final.

Pert was delighted by the accomplishment but is well aware that the job is not yet finished with the final to be contested on Saturday at the National Stadium.

“I am very pleased; it was progressing from a semi-final to a final so for us now the focus is strictly on the game for Saturday. Well done to the boys and everyone involved, this is five finals in three years…Under-14, Under-16, Ben Francis Cup, daCosta Cup and Champions Cup, so that is commendable for the school and the objective is now to go and win it,” Peart declared.

It was a lively start by both teams, particularly Glenmuir, who gradually gained the ascendancy in the early exchanges. Kyle Gordon went on one of those early breaks, but the quality of the finish lacked the build-up, as the chance went begging.

However, Wallace spared his blushes eight minutes later with an exquisite right-footed finish from well over 20 yards out, and from an angle, that left Kingston College’s goalkeeper Malique Williams beaten all ends up.

Kingston College replied shortly after with two efforts coming in quick succession, the second proving fruitful, as Edwards’s left-footed shot from top of 18-yard box took wicked deflection and slipped past Gooden at near post.

From there, both teams canceled out each other, as they gave as good as they got in the attacking third, but faulty shooting proved their undoing and so it was left for the dreaded penalties to decide a winner.

Though disappointed about losing a second semi-final via the shootout route, Vassell Reynolds of Kingston College found solace in his team’s improvement throughout the season.

“I thought we played well enough (to win). It was a good game on both ends, both teams created a number of chances, but we knew from the beginning that it was going to be a chess game because both teams would have employed a similar system, so it was just who executed more today,” Reynolds said.

“I thought it was a good run we saw a lot of improvements from where we started in July and the boys continued to grow, we are disappointed that we are not playing in one of the finals, but I thought it was a good run for us,” he added.

Clarendon College continued their impressive vein of form, as they booked a spot in a second final for the season with a 2-0 win over Hydel High in the ISSA Champions Cup all-island knockout tournament semi-finals at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on Tuesday.

The reigning daCosta Cup champions, who will defend their rural area crown against Clarendon neighbours Glenmuir High, are well and truly on course to secure the coveted triple crown, as they now wait their opponents for the Champions Cup showpiece.

Clarendon College’s ever-reliable and prolific front man Keheim Dixon, again did the damage for Chapelton-based team with a brace in the 19th and 87th minutes.

Though in the perfect position to achieve the triple feat, Clarendon College’s Head coach Lenworth “Teacha” Hyde downplayed their ambitions.

“The boys definitely went out and had fun, especially the first half, we had an excellent first half, but I didn’t like the second half because they brought back Hydel in the game. However, even when Hydel had their moments, we defended well, and our goalkeeper came up big today also. So, it was a nice performance, I wanted more but what they give me at this stage of the season, I’ll take it,” Hyde said in a post-game interview.

“We are working, so when the next match come, we will deal with it. I don’t talk about triple crown I am just playing the games as they come along,” he added.

With both teams coming of penalty shootout victories in their respective daCosta Cup and Manning Cup semi-finals encounters, the physical and mental toughness of both teams were expected to be tested, and so it was.

Both teams were spirited at the start, but it was Hydel finding that signalled intentions first when Dontae Brooks broke into a one-on-one situation with Roshae Burrell in goal for Clarendon College, but the goaltender came up trumps with a big save to deny the attacker.

Clarendon College took heed and replied with a flurry of attacks of their own, the best of which came in the 19th when Dixon slotted home from just inside the 18-yard box, after Deandre Gallimore’s initial effort came back off the crossbar.

They almost doubled the lead four minutes later as Dixon’s shot from deep inside the box, was charged down and Jahmelle Ashley’s attempt from the resulting corner was cleared off the line.

Hydel enjoyed a decent passage of play in the latter stages of the half, but their hunt for the elusive equalizer proved fruitless at that point, as Clarendon College went to the break 1-0 up.

With their backs against the wall, Hydel came out pressing on the resumption and had a few opportunities to claw their way back into the contest, the best of which came in the 65th. This, when Omario Henry rounded Burrell, but failed to make it count.

From there, Clarendon College once again took charge of proceedings and inevitably found a second when Christopher Hull played provider for Dixon, who rifled right-footer past Kingston College’s goalkeeper Tajarie Lee for his 27th goal of the season.

Hydel’s Head coach Devon Anderson rued defensive errors which proved their undoing.

“The team that made the least mistake came out the winner. We made two critical mistakes in front of goal, and we paid, so credit to Clarendon, it was a hard-fought battle, we threw some punches, and we gave our best. So, we will lick our wound and then get ready for the Manning Cup (final),” Anderson said.

Both Jerome Waite of Tivoli Gardens and Portmore United’s Head coach Phillip Williams took heart from their team’s performance and remain optimistic about returning to winning ways, following a lukewarm goalless Wray and Nephew Jamaica Premier League encounter at Stadium East on Monday.

It was a contest in which Waite and his Tivoli Gardens unit would have felt more hard done, as they dominated proceedings to an extent and created the best of chances. They were particularly good in the first half, as lead striker Justin Dunn and a few others got some decent attempts on target but were denied by some high-quality saves by Tyrone Williams, in goal for Portmore United.

There was very little to write home about at the top of the resumption, as tempers flared more often than shots on goal, with the best effort of that stanza coming in the 79th minute. That was when Portmore United’s Akeem Mullings drove a left-footer from a distance, but the effort was kept out by Tivoli’s custodian Nicholas Clarke.

With the point, Tivoli Gardens recovered somewhat from their recent 0-1 loss to Mount Pleasant, and inched up to 10 points in fifth position, while third-placed Portmore United, on 11 points, extended their unbeaten run across five games.

Both coaches felt their respective teams entertained spectators, but in the same breath, alluded to the need for improvements, if they are to challenge for the title at the backend of the season.

"Congrats to both teams, it was really an entertaining game, and we have to give credit to the Portmore United goalkeeper. He just reminded me some years ago we called him into the national Under-20 setup but due to his agent, he didn't turn up. What he did today (Monday) made the difference but all being well, we are happy with the point," Waite said in a post-match interview.

"We also have a lot of positives to take from the game, the high-level concentration, defensive organization and we continue to create opportunities offensively, but I think we need to click a little more in the midfield to strike a real balance, but we continue to work," he added.

Meanwhile, Williams felt his team displayed their usual heart and passion. 

"It was a game that was lacking goals but in terms of entertainment it was there, the commitment was also there for goals, and it is just unfortunate that we didn’t get one.

“This is the Premier League so it's important that we always assess our opponents and make the necessary adjustments to give ourselves a chance. It's still a work in progress with this squad and it is going to take some amount of luck, consistency and quality to really challenge for the title and we just have to put it all together,” Williams reasoned.

Matchweek Seven Results

Lime Hall 1, Vere United 4

Dunbeholden FC 2, Molynes United 1

Montego Bay United 1, Mount Pleasant FA 2

Waterhouse FC 0, Humble Lion 1

Tivoli Gardens 0, Portmore United 0

Cavalier vs Arnett Gardens (Postponed due to Caribbean Cup)

Treasure Beach vs Harbour View (Postponed due to Caribbean Cup)

It will be an all-Clarendon showdown to decide this year’s ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup champions, as reigning champions Clarendon College and Glenmuir High booked their spot in the final with penalty shootout victories over Garvey Maceo and Dinthill Technical in their respective semi-finals encounter on Saturday.

Clarendon College stopped Garvey Maceo 4-3 on penalties, after they played out a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time at Glenmuir High, to not only extended their unbeaten run, but also remain on course to secure the coveted triple.

Captain Malachi Douglas gave Clarendon College a 45+7-minute lead from the penalty spot, but Cleo Clarke (75th) responded for Garvey Maceo with a penalty conversion of his own to send the game to the dreaded shootout.

There, Douglas, Keheim Dixon, Theon Cupee and Christopher Hull, all converted for Clarendon College, while the Chapelton-based substitute goalkeeper Lydel Rodney, denied Clarke and Omarion O’Brian hit his effort wide.

Meanwhile, Glenmuir defeated Dinthill Technical 4-2 on penalties after they played out a goalless stalemate in their contest at Manchester High.

Glenmuir, like Clarendon College is also on course of the treble, and both will be looking to go a step further when they contest their respective semi-finals of the ISSA Champions Cup all-island knockout tournament against Hydel and Kingston College, on Tuesday.

With that in mind, Clarendon College’s Head coach Lenworth “Teacha” Hyde is not only excited about the prospects, but also focused on keeping his players fit and healthy.

“We have been kicking penalties from about three or four months ago and this goalkeeper [Rodney] saved a lot in training and so we decided to put him in and it paid off,” Hyde said in a post-game interview.

“It will be a good matchup against Glenmuir, they are a ball playing team so I love playing against them, so we just have to go and prepare for that. But Tuesday is another crucial game against Hydel, so we are looking forward to getting the players rested, replenished and ready for Tuesday’s game,” he added.

It was a cagey start to the contest by Clarendon College’s standard, but they gradually came into their own after a brief break to facilitate a kit change.

They went close to break the deal in the 18th when Deandre Gallimore’s header came off the upright, and Christopher Maxwell, in goal for Garvey Maceo, denied Hull on the rebound.

Two minute later Dixon’s shot from close range was kept out by Maxwell’s reflex save diving to his right.

Clarendon College eventually broke the deadlock through Douglas, who picked himself up and converted a penalty for his 16th goal of the season, after he was felled inside the area.

Garvey Maceo came out probing on the resumption and almost pulled level six minutes in when Clarke’s well-struck left-footed freekick had Roshae Burrell, who started in goal for Clarendon College, beaten but the effort came back off the crossbar.

Clarke was at it again four minutes later, as he charged into the box and drove a right-footer that was kept out by Burrell, who got down well in time at his near post.

Garvey Maceo’s press inevitably saw them back on level terms when Clarke converted from the 12-yard spot, after O’Brian was felled inside the red zone.

Clarke’s 23rd goal of the season injected some tempo in Garvey Maceo’s charge, as they pushed for the winner, while Clarendon College replaced Burrell with Rodney in anticipation of penalties, and they moved proved fruitful.

Garvey Maceo’s Head coach took heart from his team’s campaign.

“We planned for them, and I think we did really well tactically. The team stuck to the task right through and I think this game was fitting of a final. But hats off to coach Lenny and Clarendon College, and congratulations to my boys because when we started the season no one expected us to do so well,” Gordon said.

Hydel High will meet Mona High in the final of the ISS/Digicel Manning Cup following a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Kingston College (KC), after both teams played out a 1-1 stalemate in regulation time at Sabina Park on Friday.

Hydel found themselves 2-0 up at halftime, thanks to goals from Keyanni Jackson (3rd) and Omario Henry (23rd), but Kingston College fought back in the second half and managed to force the game into penalties, thanks to strikes from Damaine Smith (51st) and Alex Hislop (70th).

However, Hydel maintained their composure best during the shootout and converted all five 12-yard kicks, while Kingston College’s Kimani Reece had his effort saved by custodian Tajarie Lee, who was a member of the North Street-based team last season.

This will be Hydel’s second ever time contesting the urban area showpiece, following their feat in 2012, while Mona is making their first ever final. It is also the first time since 2016, a school apart from Kingston College, Jamaica College and St George’s College, will be crowned.

The final is set for Saturday December 8 at the National Stadium.

Winning coach Devon Anderson was over the moon about the accomplishment, having previously tried and failed with Holy Trinity.

“Words cannot express my feeling, as one spectator said, ‘coach you have been knocking at the door over the years.’ It is now cracked, and we intend to open it, so this is a joyous day for the Hydel family.

“Not a lot of people gave us a chance, but I believed in the boys, and they believed in what we are trying to do, and it paid off. We know Mona is a very good team, but hydel will come and do what Hydel does, grind very hard,” Anderson said in a post-game interview.

It was a frantic start by Hydel, who made their intentions clear with a few quick warning shots, before they eventually found the target in the third minute.  Jackson was allowed too much space to dribble, and he duly obliged by driving home a right-footer from about 20 yards out.

With that being Jackson’s eighth goal of the season, Henry went on the hunt for his and should have had it in the sixth minute when he executed a delightful first touch to a long pass from the back, but the finish lacked the same quality, as it sailed over the crossbar.

But Henry made amends in the 23rd, when he rounded a defender and rifled a right-footer from an angle Malique Williams, in goal for Kingston College.

Sitting pretty on a two-goal lead, Hydel got somewhat complacent on the resumption, and paid for the drop in tempo when a poor clearance found Smith, who drove home a left-footed effort.

And Kingston College pulled level 19 minutes later through Hislop, who picked up a pass and slotted home and it took the dreaded penalty shootout to decide a winner.

Kingston College’s Head coach Vassell Reynolds was pleased with his team’s effort despite the outcome.

“We started a little too slow, which is something we spoke about before and it happened again here and we never recovered quite well, but I am proud of the boys and the way they fought to come back from two goals down and lose on penalty. We still have the semi-finals of Champions Cup, so let us hope we do better there,” Reynolds said.

Mona High School will contest their first ever ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup final after they downed their more fancied rivals St George’s College 2-1 in a keenly contested semi-final encounter at Sabina Park on Friday.

The dynamic duo of Romarion Thomas (39th) and Denzel McKenzie (56th), got the job done for the Craig Butler-coached team, which had over the past two seasons placed the competition on notice in terms of their improved quality and, by extension, ambitions to stop all that came before them.

In fact, it was an 42nd-minute own-goal by Mona High’s goalkeeper Ackeem Bernard that placed St George’s College on the scoresheet, and that Butler said spoke to their defensive fortitude, particularly in the second half.

Mona will meet the winner of the second semi-final between Kingston College and Hydel High.

“It should be a staple for any intelligent team, you have to have that component in your artillery, and we used it well. The boys played out their hearts and we are totally elated, the boys put in a lot of hard work and to get there (in the final), I am really happy for them,” an emotional Butler said in a post-game interview.

Following a stellar performance against Clarendon College in the Champions Cup quarterfinals on Tuesday, expectations would have been high that a repeat of that effort, would be good enough to put St George’s College into a long overdue final.

However, Mona with the fresher legs, used it to good effect, as they started brightest and caused a few early problems for St George’s defence, but failed to capitalise on the half chances.

It was not until the backend of the half that the deadlock was eventually broken when a long diagonal ball found Thomas, who made no mistakes from close range for his ninth goal of the season.

St George’s College pulled level three minutes later when Zabir Taylor was allowed time and space at the top of the 18-yard box to pick a spot and curl a right-footed effort that came off the crossbar and then off Bernard on its way in, to keep the game evenly poised 1-1 at the break.

Much like they did at the start, Mona were again more spirited at the top of the resumption, and regained the lead 11 minutes in, when McKenzie drove home a thumping right-footed freekick from inside the arc, and D’Jone Davis in goal for St George’s College, had no chance.

With that, his 11th goal of the season, McKenzie and company seemed content with the lead and dropped deep into their quarters where they were defiant in keeping their North Street-based opponents at bay and seal the historic feat.

For Neville “Bertis” Bell, his team was somewhat a shadow of itself when compared to their Champions Cup showing. Still, he took heart from their accomplishments this season when compared to last season, which ironically also ended with quarterfinal defeat to Mona High.

“It is always tough to lose any game, whether it is a semi-final or not, but we just didn’t do enough. But I am very proud of these kids, we did one better than last year, last year we ended fifth…never made the semi-final or the Champions Cup, so hopefully next year we will do even better. But congrats to Mona, they worked hard, and I wish them and the other finalist good luck,” Bell said.

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