Sat | Dec 14, 2019

Tanya Lee | A true test of ‘fortitude’ - Clarendon ready and waiting but KC need immediate rebound for Champions Cup final

Published:Friday | November 22, 2019 | 12:35 AM
Tahjay Williams (right) of Clarendon College celebrates with teammates after scoring his school’s third against Cornwall College in their ISSA Champions Cup semi-final matchup at the Narional Stadium on Saturday.
Kingston College’s Atkinson
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Another schoolboy football season is nearing its last hoorah and it has been epic.

Although someone has to go home, Wolmer’s Boys and Kingston College (KC) have nothing to be ashamed of, as not much separated the semi-finalists on Wednesday, with both St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Jamaica College advancing on penalties.

Wolmer’s must be crushed to end their campaign trophy-less. Their 25-year wait for another taste of Manning Cup glory will now extend to 26.

For Kingston College, the sting of defeat will need to be short-lived as they face their toughest battle yet when they march down the tunnel beside a hungry, confident, rested and undefeated Clarendon College tomorrow. The rural heavyweights have undeniable pedigree, and are chasing history in their first-ever ISSA Champions Cup final. Of note, is that this silverware has never made its way to Clarendon. That’s enough motivation for Lenworth Hyde and his boys, whose campaign for the treble is still in high gear.

Clarendon College the favourite

Most pundits will go with Clarendon College. They maintain ball possession, defend well, and score goals aplenty. They haven’t been beaten in any competition since 2017 and have looked superior to every single opponent this year. The KC team we saw in the last two games looks tired, and they may find it difficult to match up to Clarendon’s passing style of football. KC played two games in the rain, both going to penalties, in a matter of four days. Not ideal by any stretch.

But KC is the only other team this season, besides Clarendon College, that has not lost a match over 90 minutes. They see last year’s Manning Cup victory as the extension of their dynasty and the dawn of a new, more successful era for the brave men of North Street. KC can go all the way on Saturday, but it will require a yeoman’s effort from the players on the pitch and the fans in the stand.

KC’s talented outfit has fortitude in abundance, but that crushing penalty shoot-out that denied them a place in the Manning Cup final may still be weighing heavily on their subconscious. Whether they can find the motivation for this less shiny silverware is left to be seen. Truth is, KC will do one of two things on Saturday. They will either crumble under the weight of the crushing defeat and tired legs from earlier this week, or they will dig deep and make amends, while showing everyone why ‘The Home of the Brave’ is emblazoned across their classrooms on North Street.

To deny Clarendon College, Kingston College will depend on their solid defensive unit that has only conceded six goals all season. Upfront, their hopes lie with their front three of Renaldo Robinson, Tyrese Williams, and experienced marksmen Dwayne Atkinson. Seventeen-year-old Atkinson has 18 goals this season and the ability to change the course of any match. He has already won at all levels, with Pepsi Under-14 victory in 2015, Champions Cup victory in 2017, and Manning Cup glory in 2018.

This KC-Clarendon matchup is identical to last year’s season-closer, the Olivier Shield, which Clarendon won in the dying minutes. Clarendon travel well and brought a sea of supporters to the National Stadium, easily outcheering KC. This Saturday, Kingston College will need a sea of purple in the stands to take the wind out of their opponents. Let’s see what happens then.

Tanya Lee has over 10 years’ expertise as a Caribbean sports marketer and is also an athlete manager and publicist.