The big showdown
Local football fans will get the final they need this evening when the top-ranked Arnett Gardens go up against the defending champions Montego Bay United (MBU) in a battle for the 2014-2015 Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) trophy at the National Stadium tonight.
Game time is 9 p.m.
It is almost like a classic boxing match pitting the puncher Arnett Gardens, the best offensive team in the League against the boxer, Montego Bay United, the team that has conceded the fewest, 28.
"This can be classified as a dream final meaning that the number-one team will play the defending champions. This is a matchup that a lot of people were looking forward to seeing based on the semi-final draw," was how Arnett Gardens coach Jerome Waite saw the matchup.
"Montego Bay United are very fast, very strong very tactical. We are a very potent force. All of 19 players have scored for us. Even our defenders are goal scorers. On any given day, any player can score for us, it would be very difficult for them to nullify us," Waite explained, sounding like an analyst weighing the pros and cons before placing the favourites tag firmly on his team's back as he looked ahead to the game.
Montego Bay United's Dr Dean Weatherly, the man who guided them to the title last season, their first under their new name, said things are aligned for his team to repeat.
"Tomorrow should be very interesting based on where we are poised right now, qualifying for CONCACAF, putting in some serious work. Having not had this for a long time in terms of the response that we are getting and even in their attitude behaving like professionals on and off the field," said Weatherly who returned to the team just ahead of the semi-final round last season and led them to the title.
Seeking to enhance his reputation as a finisher, Weatherly returned to the team about the same time this year following the dismissal of the Spaniard, Carlos Garcia.
"They (the players) really believe in themselves and in what we are doing. It is coming together where management staff and players are concerned. We are in a good place. Their self-worth is coming out in their play so half the battle has already been won," added Weatherly who won the title as a player with Violet Kickers in 1992-1993 and as a coach in 1885-1996.
The last time Arnett Gardens claimed this trophy was in 2001-2002 and Waite was the man in charge. He also led them to the title the year before and to the final, where they lost, in 2002-2003. Since that time a number of coaches have been at the helm such as Geoffrey Maxwell, Michael Tulloch, Paul 'Tegat' Davis, Glendon 'Admiral' Bailey, Calvin Lewis and Waite himself for a brief spell but none was able to end the over a decade of national title drought.
Interestingly, Montego Bay United are the only team that have not lost to Arnett Gardens this season. The pride of Western Jamaica routed Arnett Gardens 5-0 in Montego Bay while drawing the other which was played in Kingston.
Also of importance is the fact that Dicoy Williams, the man who was largely responsible for Arnett Gardens' defensive stability, in partnership with Oneil Thompson and Jabeur Johnson, is still injured and will be absent according to coach Waite. Dicoy Williams' absence could provide the edge to the Montego Bay United offensive pair of Dino Williams and Allan Ottey who between them have scored five of the eight semi-final goals Montego Bay United blasted past Waterhouse against the two they conceded.
Just as Dicoy Williams is important to Arnett Gardens, goalkeeper Jacomeno Barrett is important to Montego United's stability. On his good day he is unbeatable but on his bad day he is horrible as evidenced by his performance against Humble Lion recently. Others who should figure prominently are AndrÈ Clennon, the veteran Kevin Wilson, Rennae Lloyd, Marvin Morgan, the rejuvenated Vishinul Harris and Leon Strickland for Arnett Gardens.
For Montego Bay United the midfield anchor Dwayne Ambusley, Leslie St. Fleur, Jermaine Wozencroft, Ronaldo Rodney, Orlando McBayne, Owayne Gordon and Keneil Kirlew if he is fit, should be their stars.