Arnett plan to send strong message - Former champions clash as RSPL kicks off
Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
With last season's finalists, champions Montego Bay United and runners-up Waterhouse, inactive on the first day of the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), Harbour View, who were contenders for the title, will take centre stage.
'The Stars of the East', as Harbour View are dubbed, will host former champions Arnett Gardens, and if club president Patrick Roberts is to be believed, it could be explosive.
"Not all the players are available, but we should give a good show. We intend to send a strong message - not only to Harbour View but all other teams in the league - that we are gunning for the title and it begins today," a confident Roberts declared.
According to Roberts, a number of the players reported to preseason training late and are now going through their preseason work, so they are not ready for action. The available players, he said, will be good enough to get the job done.
"Based on our training and what we picked up from the team talk, they are ready to deliver and we expect a positive result. Defensively, we are stronger with Dicoy Williams and Anthowe Dawkins returning, as well as Fabian Campbell and Jameel Thompson coming in. Kirk Ramsay is still there, Vishinul Harris should be available, as well as others who delivered for us last season," Roberts stated.
Like Roberts, Harbour View's Andrew Hines is expecting a good result but was more measured in his pronouncements.
"You can expect a performance. We will be coming out to give our best. The result should be favourable.
"What we have is a squad in transition, but we are expecting a good result," Hines said pointing out that Harbour View will be without a number of players who performed well in the last season, including Dicoy Williams, who will be turning out for Arnett Gardens today.
Other players who will be missing are Xavian Virgo, who returned to Boys' Town; the competition's leading scorer Brian Brown, who is on loan to the MLS; Jermaine Hue; and Joel Senior.
"If you have a team that has been gelling and you lose some of those pieces, then there is bound to be some impact on the group. The pieces that we have lost are key pieces, but we have also added new pieces, but we are not in a position now to say that we are stronger or weaker as we have not had a real test as yet. The game will be our measuring stick," Hines said.
With a number of the experienced players out of the set-up, Hines will be looking to Nicholas Beckett and John-Ross Edwards, both of whom have been part of the national squad but did not travel with the national team this morning. These players, Hines said, will be surrounded by some quality youngsters and some players who are not widely known but will raise a few eyebrows soon.
"Rennico Clarke (central defender), formerly of Wolmer's, is one of the youngsters who will be spoken about soon, but we are not looking at individuals; we are looking at the unit, how the team performs," Hines continued.
At Effortville, the reinforced Humble Lion, with prolific scorer Devon Hodges in their ranks, will host Tivoli Gardens, while the weakened Rivoli will host Cavalier at the Bramwell Clarke Complex.
Sporting Central will battle Boys' Town at Juici Park, while Reno are scheduled to mark their return to the league against Montego Bay United in the only game listed to be played on Monday. With Montego Bay United declaring that they will not be playing, the Westmoreland-based team could collect their easiest three points for the season.
- 3:30 p.m.: Harbour View vs Arnett Gardens - Harbour View
- 6:30 p.m.: Humble Lion vs Tivoli Gardens - Effortville Community Centre
- 4 p.m.: Rivoli vs Cavalier - Bramwell Clarke Complex
- 3:30 p.m.: Sporting Central vs Boys' Town - Juici Park
- 9 p.m.: Montego Bay United vs Reno - Harbour View Stadium