Manning Cup: JC, Tivoli in clash of champions
Many-time champions Jamaica College (JC) will start the defence of their ISSA Manning Cup title against last season’s Walker Cup champions Tivoli High at 6 p.m. today at the National Stadium.
Coach Davion Ferguson has a new-look team but he is confident they will still be strong this season. He expects a competitive opener against the Walker Cup winners.
“It is about putting our best foot forward and taking it a game at a time. Our focus is not on any other game than the one that is in front of us, which is tomorrow (today) against Tivoli,” Ferguson said. “Whatever team JC put out there, we are going to be competitive and we are going to be strong. We know how to make deep runs into the competition and I do not expect anything different this time.”
He commended the Christopher Nicholas-coached Tivoli for their progress over the last few seasons.
“Tivoli have been doing well. They have strengthened over the last few years and it bore fruit because they won the Walker Cup. Another programme on the up is Haile Selassie. These programmes are really coming back on stream. So I think we will see a good Tivoli team. I haven’t seen them but I know they have quality and always try to impose their style.
“They are fearless and a very tenacious and dynamic team, so we are looking for a very good game.”
Like all coaches, Ferguson wants to start the season on a winning note.
“I am always positive and confident of anything that I am in charge of. We have a changed squad, new-look squad, with not many players returning and even less so to the starting team. But we know exactly how to prepare a group. They are improving every day and it augurs well for the future.
“Every game we play, the intention is always to play for three points. We respect our opponents and we expect them to put up a real good challenge but we expect to put on a very good performance.”
Meanwhile, Nicholas disclosed that his team has retained more than 50 per cent of last season’s squad, with the majority being starting players, and he is expecting a good display from his troops.
“Our team is pretty good but it’s going to be a challenge. It’s JC we are up against but it won’t be a one-way street. JC are the favourites but what I know for sure is it won’t be a walkover,” Nicholas said.
The former national Under-20 forward is pleased with what he has seen from his team in the pre-season and he aims to start the season with three points.
“I am looking for a victory but, if it does not come, I won’t be too hard on the players. Once they do their best, the positive results will come,” Nicholas said.
He added that the aim is to go a step further than last season and put up a serious challenge for the Manning Cup.
“We are looking to go further than where we went last year. So the big one, Manning Cup, is what we are aiming at. If we get another silverware, we will be satisfied, but this season we want to challenge for the Manning Cup,” he stated.