Reynolds: It's now a level playing field
Three-time winners Rusea's High are tasked with the job of breaking the 12-year winning streak by the urban area schools and the four-year run of Jamaica College (JC) this evening when they go head to head for the Olivier Shield inside the National Stadium.
Coach Vassell Reynolds, while not denying the quality being displayed in the Manning Cup, said there are some fundamental factors that would have contributed to their dominance. He believes these can be nullified this time around.
He pointed out that it's the first time in a long while that both finals were played a day apart as in the past, the daCosta Cup teams were at a disadvantage. He pointed out as well that he thinks the rural teams were under the illusion that they have achieved it all after winning the daCosta Cup.
"In the past, the Manning Cup final would have been played over a week before the daCosta Cup final, which would put the rural teams at a disadvantage," said Reynolds.
Coach Reynolds noted they have taken note of all the above factors, but feels they have a team that can take the trophy back to Hanover.
"We are really confident in our ability, and we will be giving a big effort to end the drought of a daCosta Cup teams not winning the Olivier Shield for over a decade," Reynolds said.
Reynolds added that he has made an effort to ensure that the psychological strain that he mentioned earlier does not overcome his players.
He noted that despite celebrations on Monday, they started the mental preparation the same day telling the players that winning the daCosta Cup only proves that they are the best in the rural area, but the Olivier Shield would make them the best schoolboy football team in the island.
"One of the things we did from the outset is to regroup as early as possible ... we have been working all week at what we want to do come tomorrow and also getting the mental preparation up, letting the players understand the importance of the game," Reynolds said yesterday.
Rusea's, who have triumphed in several big games this season getting by teams like Cornwall College, St Elizabeth Technical and Clarendon College to make it this far, will be looking to pull off another giant-killing performance this evening. JC will have to look out for players like Leonardo Fogarty, Daniel Reid, both on 13 goals, Shawn Bradford (five), and Nazime Matalie, also on five.