Wed | Sep 19, 2018

Manning Cup: Who will progress?

Published:Saturday | September 8, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Head coach at St Andrew Technical High school Phillip Williams (back turned) speaks to his Manning Cup players during a recent training session ahead of the new season.

The highly anticipated 2018 Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Digicel Manning Cup gets under way today, and it is expected to be three months of gruelling competition, starting from the preliminary stage.

After that first stage, where the teams are divided into seven groups, the winner and runners-up in each group will automatically advance to the second round, while the two best third-place finishers will join them.

In Group A, last year's beaten finalists, St Andrew Technical High (STATHS), are tipped to finish ahead of many-time champions St George's College. Although STATHS is not as strong as the team that made the final last year, they should be good enough to qualify from the group.

St George's College last won the title in 2012, and veteran coach Neville 'Bertis' Bell is an experienced tactician who will plot his way to the next stage.

Other teams in the group such as Cumberland, Papine, Tarrant and The Cedar Grove Academy are not expected to offer stiff challenges in the group.

Group B should be very interesting, with schoolboy rivals Kingston College and Calabar the favoured two for the automatic spots, while Ardenne, Clan Carthy, Dunoon Technical and Mona could have eyes on one of the third-place spots.

Former champions Charlie Smith High are seen as a perennial qualifier and that should not change. That means, Camperdown, Eltham, Jonathan Grant, Meadowbrook, and Norman Manley will fight for the other sure spot.

Looking at Group D, it should be highly competitive. However, Bridgeport, Denham Town, and Tivoli Gardens should be the main contenders. Also in the group are Greater Portmore, Innswood, and Tivoli Gardens.

St Catherine High have been consistent second-round qualifiers since coach Anthony Patrick took charge in 2016, and much is expected from them this season. Excelsior High, based on tradition, should follow them from the group, which also includes Haile Selassie, Oberlin, Penwood, and St Mary's College.

In Group F, Jamaica College, who have won the last five titles, seem a sure shot to advance to the last-16 stage. Hydel, Campion College, Kingston High, Kingston Technical, and Vauxhall will fight for the other automatic spot.

In Group G, Wolmer's are highly fancied ahead of Holy Trinity. The group also includes Edith Dalton James, JosÈ MartÌ, Pembroke Hall, and Waterford.

marc.stamp@gleanerjm.com