Adrian Frater, News Editor
Champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and reigning daCosta Cup champions Rusea's High will meet in one of the most anticipated clashes of the 2011-12 ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel schoolboy season, when they square off in one of today's two Ben Francis KO semi-final games at Jarrett Park in Montego Bay.
In the other game, Manchester High and Paul Bogle Highl, both seeking their first major schoolboy title, will clash at the Juici Patties Complex in Clarendon. Both games are slated to start at 3 p.m.
Based on the impressive form both teams have shown, the match-up between Rusea's and STETHS should be a sizzling affair as in addition to being unbeaten teams with a penchant for free-flowing football, both have high-profile coaches, who have made no secret of the fact that they want to win the daCosta Cup, Ben Francis Cup and Olivier Shield this season.
"We pride ourselves in being a tactically shrewd team and I believe that we're physically, tactically and psychologically ready for this game," said STETHS's coach, Andrew Edwards. "These are two talented teams and I believe the team that makes the least mistakes will win ... we are confident that we will be that team."
With 11 wins and a draw in 12 daCosta Cup games, alongside their lone 3-0 Ben Francis KO win against Cedric Titus, the enterprising STETHS - with a 69 goals for and one against record - look awesome. It should be noted that the team's star striker, Kevon Farquharson, who has tallied 22 goals to date, has scored in every game this season.
However, the Rusea's team looks equally imposing as in addition to winning all 12 games in their campaign in Zone B of the daCosta Cup, they kept their unbeaten record intact with 1-0 and 3-0 Ben Francis KO wins against Grange Hill and St James High, respectively.
"We know STETHS is a good team and their style of play is similar to ours, so the fans can expect an attractive game," said Anthony 'Follies' Williams, one of Rusea's co-coaches. "We will be aiming to be at our best for this game, and once we are at our best we are confident that we will be victorious."
With 72 goals for and just two against, alongside their 100 per cent win record in all competitions, Rusea's think they have the quality to stop STETHS in their tracks.
Having not scored in the first two Ben Francis Cup games, Rusea's top marksman, Brian 'Rambo' Brown, should be anxious to add to his season tally of 24 goals.
Record to protect
In the second of the two semi-final games, Manchester High, which topped Zone G of the daCosta Cup, will be gunning to protect their 12-game unbeaten record against a Paul Bogle team which eliminated them 1-0 at the same stage of the competition last year.
"We will not be taking them lightly because they surprised us last year," said Sheldon Davis, the coach of Manchester. "We having been taking it one game at a time this season and that approach has been working well for us ... we are ready."
Manchester High, which had nine wins and three draws in their 12 daCosta Cup games, alongside their 1-0 Ben Francis Cup win against Glenmuir High, will be banking heavily on top goalscorers Vincent Mitchell (12), Ashani Lawson (11) and Samuda Johnson (6).
The Paul Bogle team, which had four wins, three draws and one defeat in winning Zone L of the daCosta Cup, should be on a high after surprising Old Harbour 2-0 in their first round Ben Francis game. It will be interesting if they are to repeat last year's heroics.