Wed | Oct 4, 2023

Arnett ready for the challenge of defending champions

Cavalier expect even better season than title-winning run

Published:Sunday | January 16, 2022 | 12:11 AMLivingston Scott - Sunday Gleaner Writer

Cavalier attacker Shaniel Thomas (left) celebrates a goal with teammates during action from last season’s Jamaica Premier League.
Cavalier attacker Shaniel Thomas (left) celebrates a goal with teammates during action from last season’s Jamaica Premier League.
Arnett Gardens coach Paul 'Tegat' Davis
Arnett Gardens coach Paul 'Tegat' Davis

WITH ADDITIONS such as Chevaney Willis, Shandee Thomas and Ajuma Johnson and the return of Fabian Reid, Arnett Gardens coach Paul ‘Tegat’ Davis is expecting a positive start to the 2021-22 Jamaica Premier League (JPL) against defending champions Cavalier in the first of two games on the opening day of the season at the UWI-Captain Horace Burrell Centre of Excellence on Sunday at 1 p.m.

In the second game at 3:15 p.m., last season’s beaten finalists Waterhouse take on the returning Montego Bay United.

Last season, Arnett finished ninth in the 11-team standings with a mere eight points from 10 matches.

However, Tegat is promising fans a much better season and he is looking for at least a point against the champions on Sunday.

“We expect a better season than last year, we have try to improve on what we did last year and last year we did very badly.

“So we want to give the fans a treat by trying to win this league and a win (Sunday) will be good, but once we do not lose our first game it will be fine,” he insisted.

Last season, Ronaldo Cephas and Jonoy Cunnigham with two goals apiece, accounted for half of Arnett’s eight goals.

However, Davis believes with the return of Reid, he has a leader in the team who can make a difference. Reid missed last season after growing frustrated with the delays to the league’s start.

“Last year they weren’t scoring much, so we try to fix that and now we are an all-round team with defenders and midfielders scoring.

“Fabian Reid, if fit he can carry this team. He is not a hundred per cent fit but if a hundred, he can help this team along with Cephas and the other guys,” Davis said.

Good start

But Davis, who understands the importance of a good start, does not anticipate having an easy time against the champions today.

“Cavalier is no joke team, so we cannot take them lightly. They are defending champions and they have a solid team but Arnett Gardens will not come and lie down,” said Davis.

Cavalier beat Arnett 3-0 last term, but Sporting director Rudolph Speid is quite wary of his opponent’s new recruits.

“They have made improvements and brought in players and they have brought back a more experienced coach, so I expect them to be motivated,” said Speid.

Cavalier have lost key figures in Melvin Doxilly and Kamoy Simpson this season, but have retained the services of Shaneil Thomas and Ronaldo Webster. Dwayne Atkinson will be missing for today’s game on account of international duty, but still the Cavalier coach is aiming for a winning start.

“I expect them to be better than last year, so we think we have our work cut out, but we will turn up expecting to start on a positive note,” said Speid.

Speid also says he is well aware and has prepared his team for the fact that there is now a target on his team’s back.

“We are the champions, everybody will be coming at us. We are no more a secret, everybody knows what we can do.

“We understand that we will be the hunted team, everybody will be trying to beat us, but we are prepared for that,” he said.

According to Speid, his charges are anxious to get the season started, believing there will be better performances than they had, even in a winning season.

“We cannot wait to play our first game. This season we will be better than last season but we need to start properly.”