Prison Oval showdown - Portmore, Cavalier hunt berth in RSPL final
Title favourites for the 2017-2018 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) Portmore United have already put the disappointment of a last week's first-leg semi-final 0-0 draw with Cavalier behind them and are looking forward to setting things straight today.
According to coach Shavar Thomas, the only thing that will be on the minds of his players when the two teams meet today at the Spanish Prison Oval is taking care of business. He is not even contemplating the thought of Cavalier escaping with a victory.
"We are going to win," Thomas said bluntly when quizzed about the possible outcomes of the game.
"First of all, they have never played us at our field, so it will be new for them, and we are coming all out because we need to handle business in the semi-final and get to the final and then deal with things there as well," continued Thomas, a man who has represented and captained Jamaica at every level.
For Thomas, the confidence with which he spoke about his team's chances was not only based on the fact that they won the league on a canter and that they scored the most goals and had the best goal average, but what he got from his players over the past week.
"We are confident, not just in the work we have put in all season, but the work we have put in this past week and what the players have shown in training.
"They are showing that they want it and that they are ready to do it," Thomas declared.
Cavalier's Rudolph Speid can never be accused of lacking belief in self and his players, and today will be no different.
"There is nothing else that we can consider. We have to do it (win) away from home," Speid said of his team's focus and intention's for today's crucial encounter.
"That is how it is set up. I don't know that it is much of a home advantage for Portmore United playing at Prison Oval. For one, Spanish Town is not that far from Kingston and the environment is not really foreign to us either," explained Speid.
In saying what he said above, Speid was clear to point out that he was not taking anything away from the twice-beaten finalists over the last two years as he willingly gave them their due.
"Portmore are a good and tough team. They led everything offensively in the league, and for quite a while they were unbeaten at home. I note, however, that in the last five home games, they lost two, so maybe they are cooling off, and that is something that we intend to capitalise on," Speid stated.
What Speid also pointed out was the fact that while on points the teams appeared worlds apart, in the head-to-head matchups, they were pretty even. In the three matches between the teams, the first of which was a double header at Arnett Gardens, the teams have split two victories while the third ended in a draw.
Coming out of last week's game, Portmore United will be missing the suspended Andre Dyce and the injured Maalique Foster, the team's live wire, but should have at their disposal free scorers Jovan East and Ricardo Morris, as well as defensive anchor Damono Solomon. First-string goalkeeper Shaven-Sean Paul should also return.
Cavalier United should field the dangerous Alex Marshall, the skilful Chevone Marsh, Nicholas Hamilton, Jamoi Topey, Clifton Woodbine, and goalkeeper David Mitchell.