Lions look to ambush Arnett
For many, Red Stripe Premier league club Humble Lion have overachieved by advancing to the semi-final round of the island's top football competition. Remaining in the league was where they had their hearts set, especially after former coach Craig Butler brought them to the door of relegation. New coach Donovan Duckie had other ideas.
'Jungle', as the community where the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex is located is called, is the natural habitat for lions, and if they are to be kings, then the jungle is where they must show their class. Duckie, a man never short on confidence, is convinced that his lions will be kings. This, he believes, will start with a victory in the first leg of their two-way play-off.
"The first game is always important in a two-way tie. Arnett are the best team in terms of talent and depth, but we are the form team. We understand how dangerous they are, especially at home, (but) are aiming to impose our style," said Duckie, who wants to lead the team to the title for club chairman Mike Henry.
Numbered among his talent-rich bunch of players are former national representatives Devon Hodges, Wolry Wolfe, Ricardo Cousins, and Andrew Vanzie, who still harbours dreams of getting back there. Add to that number the on-form FranÁois Swaby, and you would see why Duckie, the former Jamaica Under-20 coach, is confident that his players can deliver and put him back on the level where he is convinced he belongs.
If Humble Lion are to get the better of home team Arnett Gardens, they will have to get the better of former national representatives Dicoy Williams and O'Neil Thompson, who, along with Jabeur Johnson, have formed a near-impregnable force in the centre of Arnett Gardens' backline. They are a combination of brain and brawn, and have bettered all opposition that they have faced. They are primarily responsible for Arnett Gardens' ending the points leaders in the competition.
Arnett Gardens coach, Jerome Waite, will tell you that he has been there and done that, but that has been some time ago. Then he had players like Walter Boyd, Onandi Lowe, Fabian Davis, Eugene Barnes, Cornell Chin-Sue, Everton Bunsie, and Kevin Wilson. Kevin Wilson is still there and contributing, but he is closer to 40 than 30.
"We have rested nine players now, and they are ready to continue the journey to lift the Premier League trophy. Arnett have not lost a game at home in the Premier League this season, so we will be defending home turf," said Waite, who led them to back-to-back titles between 2000 and 2002.
In addition to Wilson, Waite will be counting on the offensive talents of Leon Strickland, Renae Lloyd, and Marvin Morgan.