Tight race for DaCosta Cup semi-final spots
Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
The four semi-finalists in the 2012 ISSA/Gatorade/Digicel daCosta Cup will be known this afternoon, as the final matches among the quarter-finalists take place across the two groups, with all eight schools in with a chance of advancing.
Of the eight teams left in the competition, it seems a safe bet that with six points, Group A leaders and three-time champions St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) will advance, as they need only a draw against The Manning's School to make the round for a third straight year, and in the process keep alive the prospects of winning all three schoolboy football trophies on offer.
Ben Francis Cup KO Champs
STETHS already won the 2012 Ben Francis Cup KO, turning back Grange Hill 4-2 on penalties in the final.
Their coach, Omar Wedderburn, has been urging his players to focus on the daCosta Cup, which they last won in 2009. They also lost in the final twice in two years - 2010 and 2011 - to dethroned champions Rusea's High.
Meanwhile, Manning's, with three points after their surprise 1-2 loss to Cedric Titus last Saturday, must win in order to advance, while Trelawny school Cedric Titus must win against Garvey Maceo and hope for a Manning's loss to cement a historic first-time semi-final berth.
"We are upbeat and ready for this assignment; we always strive to beat the big teams and STETHS is one of them, so we know what we will have to do," said Aaron Lawrence, Manning's coach.
"I don't think this game will be too difficult. Last week we had our bad game, this week could be theirs, but we will not depend on that happening, plus I don't think we will have back-to-back bad games," the former national goalkeeper added.
"Our qualification is in our own hands. Once we play hard and win, then it won't matter what happens in the other game. We are going to Santa Cruz to defeat STETHS," insists Lawrence.
The other team in the group, Garvey Maceo, after promising much in the early stages of the competition, have one point and must win to advance, and hope for a STETHS win.
"There are a number of pathways to the semi-finals still existing for us, but the best bet is for us to defeat Cedric Titus and hope that STETHS win big over Manning's," said Owen Mullings, Garvey Maceo's coach.
"We are behind at this point, but if we win by at least three clear goals and Manning's lose by two or more we could qualify. The players are fully aware of these things, but we are prepared to give it our all on the day."
Over in Group B, Glenmuir High (4 points) is still the form team in spite of their 1-1 draw with Manchester on Saturday and could secure their place in the last four with a win over Frome Technical (on three points).
Tackling Frome at Frome is no easy task as the Marvin Quarry-coached unit will want to secure a semi-final spot on home turf.
A further permutation is that Bog Walk High, who also have three points, after stunning Frome 2-0 last time out, could end up in their first-ever semi-final with a win over Manchester and a Frome loss, which would see them and Glenmuir advancing from the group.