Big four in semi-final showdown
Marc Stamp, Sunday Gleaner Writer
FORMER national football kingpins, Portmore United, will be looking to cut down another giant when they tackle highly fancied Montego Bay United in the feature game of a semi-final double-header at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex this evening, in the Flow Champions Cup knockout competition. Match time is 7 p.m.
In the opening matchup at 5 p.m., national league champions, Westmore-land's Reno, will challenge Harbour View for a spot in the November 17 final.
The competition started a month ago with 26 teams - comprising 12 premier league outfits and 14 parish knockout champions. Now it is down to the last four competing for the Flow Champions Cup and winning cash incentives worth $1.5 million.
Additionally, this year's runners-up will receive $440,000, while each beaten semi-finalist will pocket $200,000.
With so much at stake, two highly competitive games are anticipated.
Portmore United is the only remaining team not participating in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) after being demoted last season to the St Catherine Major League. They have done well to reach this stage of the island's premier knockout competition, but are ready for another test from a RSPL team after knocking out Boys' Town in the quarter-finals.
"Naturally, we are going to be the underdogs, but we are still going to compete," said Clive Marshall, the long time manager of Portmore United.
"We are preparing for the major league and expecting a tough challenge from Montego Bay United. They are defending champions of the premier league and have pedigree," he said.
"We are happy to be in the semi-finals and the bunch of players at the club are ready for the challenge," Marshall added.
Portmore will look to their experienced captain and central midfielder, Damian Williams, a former national player who played professionally in Europe, the powerful Ewan Grandison, Stephen Williams, veteran striker Kevin Deerr, Iishmale Currie, Najja Biggs, and Roberto Johnson.
Meanwhile, Montego Bay's Spanish coach, Carlos Garcia, says his team will be taking the game seriously.
"It is really an important game for us. We've been taking the Flow Cup seriously. Having the chance to win a title is something we are really looking forward to do," Garcia said.
"They (Portmore) are a strong team, so we are taking them seriously," he added.
Montego Bay's hopes rest on national goalie Jacomena Barrett, Bahamian Lesly St Fleur, Fabian McCarthy, Allan Ottey, Cordel Simpson, and captain John Barrett.
In the first game, an interesting contest is expected. The last time both teams met - a Red Stripe Premier League match last month - it finished in an exciting 3-3 draw.
Now, with a spot in the Flow Champions Cup final at stake, the teams will be coming all out.
Harbour View's victory bid will be led by Ranique Muir, Jermie Lynch, McKaully Tulloch, captain Nicholas Beckett, Christopher Harvey, John-Ross Edwards and Kemar Lawrence.
Reno will counter with the premier league's leading marksman, Craig Foster, along with Afiba Chambers, Junior Neil, Alburn Facey, Codean Smikle and Xavion Anderson.