Cavalier throw down challenge to Waterhouse 'galacticos'
Nodley Wright, Gleaner Writer
After a 10-day break to facilitate the country's hosting of the CFU Men's Caribbean Cup, the Red Stripe Premier League will kick off this evening with a clash between leaders Waterhouse and former leaders Cavalier at Stadium East.
The 8:30 p.m. game should be of great interest to true football fans who wish to measure the standard of local football.
Waterhouse can be seen as the country's current standard bearer, having distinguished themselves in their representation of the country in the region and have no less than five players in the national squad. Cavalier have been viewed as the team of the future as coach Rudolph Speid has invested in youth, who are now showing their class.
According to Speid, his team are the underdogs.
"Waterhouse are the galacticos of local football with currently about seven national players, other former national players and some future national players. But we are undaunted," said Speid, putting the strength of the teams in context.
Speid's view of the situation is an accurate one as Nicoli Finlayson, Hughan Gray, Romario Campbell and Upstan Edwards were members of Jamaica's victorious Caribbean Cup squad, with Gray playing the greatest role among them. Jermain "Tuffy" Anderson, Tramaine Stewart, Evan Taylor and Richard McCallum are all former national representatives and there are more.
CONFIDENT OF WIN
A spontaneous laugh was coach Anthony Patrick's response to Speid's description of his team. When he composed himself, he did not disagree with Speid and expressed confidence that they would win.
"We are pretty confident," said the man who has had great success at the schoolboy level.
"When you look at our sessions, they have been special and we are pretty pleased and ready for the game tomorrow," Patrick said.
So pleased was Patrick with the sessions that he indicated that he will install Kelso Cousins in goal to give him a chance and Richard McCallum a break.
"Both goalkeepers have been impressive, but we have to rotate them," he explained.
While he is happy with his team's readiness, he expressed disappointment with the fact that young attacker Kenroy Howell will miss the game through injury. He was also unsure if Cardell Benbow, who was representing the country at the CAC Games in Mexico, will return in time to be a part of the squad.
PREPARED TO FIGHT
While it may appear that things are stacked against Cavalier, Speid said his group is prepared to fight for the victory.
"We are determined to regain the lead after slipping up twice in the last two games. Two key players are away at the CAC Games in Mexico in Chevonne Marsh and Oshane Jenkins, but we have worked hard for the last two weeks and will put up an improved performance," stated Speid, whose team led the league until they suffered their first loss of the season, to Tivoli Gardens, and followed that up with another loss.
Both Jenkins and Marsh have been crucial to Cavalier's record so far with both providing crucial goals and assists. In their absence, Girvon Brown and Claudious Blackburn will have to carry the attack for Cavalier.
Recent history could be kind to Cavalier as despite not being one of the strongest teams on paper last season, they shared the points equally with Waterhouse as both teams won one game each and drew the other.