Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
JC, Excelsior meet in curtain-raiser
The much-anticipated ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel Walker Cup knockout semi-final clash between Wolmer's Boys and Kingston College (KC), postponed on Tuesday due to the passage of Hurricane Sandy, will be played today, weather permitting.
The showdown, which will follow the playing of the first semi-final between Jamaica College and Excelsior High at 12:45 p.m., is slated to kick off at 2:45 p.m.
Hot favourites to cop the coveted urban area Manning Cup and knockout double, and the national Olivier Shield, Wolmer's will enter the contest with an unbeaten record.
Coached by Ludlow Bernard, the team will also have in their line-up national senior team representative Jorginho James who, along two others - defender Tazio Gilpin and midfielder Jason Greenland - moved from KC to Wolmer's sixth form in September.
National youth players Jason Wright and Jaheel Hyde, as well as outstanding goalkeeper Amal Knight, are also in the line-up of the maroon and gold outfit from Heroes Circle.
"The storm and hurricane delay would have affected both of us. However, we viewed it in a positive light - an opportunity to better prepare ourselves, especially mentally, for the game. We are, therefore, still confident and optimistic of going out there and coming away victorious, and will be doing all that we can to achieve this," Bernard said.
Wolmer's defeated dethroned champions St George's College 2-1 in quarter-final action last Friday.
KC, who got the better of Charlie Smith 1-0 in their quarter-final, will be seeking to pull off yet another upset and are expected to look to goalkeeper Duncan Obrian, midfielder and captain Allan Morgan, and forward Jahvaughn Samuels to lead their charge.
"Despite the weather delay, we are still looking forward to the challenge," said KC coach Donovan Hayles.
"We have done well to reach here and no delay is going to stop us from achieving our objectives.
"The team is mentally prepared for anything and we will be going there to give of our best."
The other semi-final will see Jamaica College, the only team remaining with a 100 per cent win record, looking to get the better of Excelsior who, while not spectacular, have been getting results.
"There isn't any added pressure on us because at this stage, we're taking it one game at a time," JC assistant coach, Delroy Brown, told The Gleaner earlier this week.
National youth goalkeeper Odean Clarke, who transferred from Muschett High to JC's sixth form this term, and national Under-17 captain, forward Junior Flemmings, are expected to play lead roles for JC, who defeated Spanish Town 1-0 in their quarter-final.
Excelsior's bid for a final berth will rest on the shoulders of midfielders Brian Richards, Colorado Murray and Romaine Hosang.
"We are the underdogs in the competition as nobody expected us to reach this far," said Excelsior coach Leebert Halliman, who saw his team blanked Bridgeport 2-0 in their quarter-final.
"However, regardless of this, and injuries which came about as a result of the game against Bridgeport, these boys are going to give it their best shot," Halliman added.
Elsewhere, the rural area Ben Francis Cup semi-finals, which were postponed yesterday due to Hurricane Sandy, will now be played tomorrow.
In one semi-final, Grange Hill will play Manchester at Jarrett Park, while in the other St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) will go up against Paul Bogle High in Santa Cruz.
Both matches will begin at 3 p.m.
There are some concerns about two of the match venues, but ISSA competitions director, George Forbes, expects the games today and tomorrow to be played.
"The field at Constant Spring is a bit damp at the moment, but the sun seems to be coming out, and we expect the condition to improve," Forbes said yesterday.
"At STETHS, the field is OK, while the only problem we have with Jarrett Park is the cricket pitch in the middle, which will take some drying," he added.