Nodley Wright, Sunday Gleaner Writer
Jamaica's third goal which confirmed their 3-2 win over New Zealand - their first win away from home in many moons - could also play a major role in influencing the Red Stripe Premier League (RPSL).
That goal scored by Tivoli Gardens forward Navion Boyd - his first in 14 games for Jamaica - seems to have transformed the player who looked a shadow of himself all season, and could have considered himself lucky to have been involved in the national set-up after his meagre pickings so far. With just five goals to his name in the league season, half the tally of club and national teammate Romeo Parkes, Village United's Dino Williams and the perhaps unfortunate Jermaine Anderson, Boyd was in danger of falling further had he not responded positively.
That goal saw a return of the smile to Boyd's face and the hunger in his eyes.
"I cannot explain it. Trust me, it's hard to explain, it's the first goal and it was just awesome," Boyd said upon his return to the island with the national team on Friday.
"This will definitely push me to go on and do better for my club and country," a pumped-up Boyd added.
That confidence should be a major boost for the defending champions and could spell trouble for leaders Portmore United, who travel to the Edward Seaga Stadium today to meet Tivoli Gardens. Alongside Boyd should be Parkes and fellow national representative Mitchily Waul with former Portmore star, the impressive Mario Swaby, pulling the strings as he sends another message about a national recall.
For Tivoli Gardens' assistant coach Alvin Shaw, retaining the title is still a reality.
"There are 11 games to go, which means 33 points, and we are just 11 points behind so there are a lot of points to play for," said Shaw whose team won the first of the three meetings between the two teams before losing the others.
"We are going for the win, but even if we don't get the win on Sunday we are still not out of it, because if you look at who we have to play after Sunday compared to who the leaders have to play, it shows that we still stand a chance; we are far from out of it," he added.
Portmore's Calvin Lewis is not getting carried away with the fact that his team's 54 points gives them a 10-point lead over their nearest rivals and 11 over Tivoli Gardens, even though a win could kill off Tivoli's title aspirations.
"Right now, we are pretty much humble; yes, we are 10 points ahead but we know that in Jamaica 10 points is no lead with 11 games to go.
"We are on our way but we are not there yet. We have to work twice as hard if we want to win the Premier League. We are playing against one of the teams that want to win the league so first we will have to consolidate," explained Lewis, who has been around long enough to see teams squander healthy leads and lose titles.
What makes Lewis so cautious is not only today's game but the schedule ahead.
"This is the most crucial time of our Premier League campaign, as we have the KSAFA teams to play and we are a St Catherine team," said the man whose team has the best record for the season.
The return of the exciting Tramaine Stewart, who scored the second goal in Jamaica's win over New Zealand and whose confidence prior to this goal was just a shade below arrogance, should be a major boost for Lewis, along with that of the calm and experienced Adrian Reid. Alanzo Adlam looks to be getting back to his best and could be a handful for the Tivoli defenders, while Damian Williams should continue to show his class in midfield.
At Collie Smith Drive, the Andrew Price-coached Boys' Town, on 43 points, host sixth-place Harbour View, on 37 points, eyeing a win that could confirm them as serious challengers for the title if Portmore drop points.
Harbour View's best bet for the season appears to be a top-six finish but in contention with them are Montego Bay (35), Sporting Central Academy (34) and Arnett Gardens (32).
Montego Bay United, the best-placed team in western Jamaica, could heap further misery on one of their neighbours, the relegation zone-rooted Village United, when the two meet at the Catherine Hall Sports Complex. Last week, Montego Bay United lost their 17-game unbeaten streak and should return to winning ways while Village could have another nail hammered into their relegation coffin.
Fifth-place Humble Lion (37 points) should be fancied to get the better of 10th-place Highgate United (25), even though the St Mary-based outfit could spring a surprise with the likes of Steve Green and Roberto Fletcher showing a lot of desire.
The Reno-Sporting Central match could go either way, with Sporting Central looking the safer of the two, enjoying a 10-point advantage and a two-game winning streak.
Monday night football will feature second-place Waterhouse (44) playing away to the unpredictable Arnett Gardens (32 points) at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.
3:30 p.m: Boys Town vs Harbour View - Boys' Town
3:30 p.m: Highgate United vs Humble Lion - Lynch Park
3:30 p.m: Reno vs Sporting Central - Frome Sports Complex
5 p.m: Tivoli Gardens vs Portmore - Edward Seaga Complex
6 p.m: Montego Bay United vs Village United - Catherine Hall Complex
9 p.m: Arnett Gardens FC vs Waterhouse FC - Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex