Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
Spotlight on national players Lewis and James
TWO National senior players, St George's College's André Lewis and Jorginho James of Wolmer's Boys, will face off this afternoon when the quarter-finals of the ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel Walker Cup Knockout kicks off at the Constant Spring Sports Complex in St Andrew.
St George's, the defending champions, and Wolmer's will square off in the feature match at 3 o'clock. In the opening encounter at 1:00, last year's beaten finalists Kingston College (KC) will face Charlie Smith High.
The speedy and skilful Lewis earned his first senior call-up to the Reggae Boyz team for their crucial World Cup Qualifiers matches against Guatemala and Antigua and Barbuda.
James, who made the switch from KC to Wolmer's at the start of the season, made his senior international debut for Jamaica earlier this year when he came on as an 82nd-minute substitute in the friendly match against Cuba, scoring five minutes later.
Fireworks are expected when the two unbeaten teams, St George's and Wolmer's, clash in the feature match.
The Neville 'Bertis' Bell-coached St George's booked their spot in the Walker Cup after finishing atop Group C with 24 points. The 'Light Blues' have been the most the prolific scoring team in the Manning Cup, netting 50 goals while conceding a mere three.
Their team will be boosted with the return of last season's leading goalscorer Kendon Anderson, who notched a four-timer against Clan Carthy last Saturday.
"We are confident," said Bell. "We are the defending champions and we want to defend our title successfully," he said. "We expect a tough game, but we have always had it tough against Wolmer's," he said.
Lewis is ball artist in midfield for St George's and is their third best goalscorer with seven. Their leading scorer is national Under-17 player Cardel Benbow, with 10 goals, while Romario Jones is next with nine.
Wolmer's coach, Ludlow Bernard, is also very confident ahead of today's match. His team won Group F with 26 points.
"It is game that the players are looking forward to and I believe that it is going to be a very exciting encounter," said Bernard.
"We are expecting to score some goals and see if we can score a goal or two and try to hold off what we expect to be a very good St George's attack," said Bernard.
"I think we have the personnel to do it and it is just for then to turn up on the day and execute," he added.
National Under-20 representatives Jason Wright, who netted 11 goals this season, along with James (seven), Jaheel Hydel and Kemo Wallace will lead the charge for the Heroes Circle-based Wolmer's.
The Jerome Waite-coached Charlie Smith have been banging in the goals all season - with 50 for and three against - and will go into the curtain-raiser against KC with a psychological advantage. Their top marksmen are forward Lennox Russell and Bebeto McDonald.
Both teams met twice in preliminary-round Group G of the Manning Cup. Charlie Smith recorded 1-0 victory over their opponents at home while the return game, at KC, ended in a 0-0 draw.
On the other hand, KC secured their place in the Walker Cup as the best second-place team in the competition. The Donovan Hayles-coached school have netted 24 goals while conceding a mere two. Kyle Smith and Shamala Ashman are top goalgetters for KC.
The last two quarter-finals will be played tomorrow at the same venue, with Excelsior High facing Bridgeport High and Jamaica College opposing Spanish Town High.