Caribbean Strikers, Claremont hunt big prize
Ryon Jones, Gleaner Writer
The champions of the inaugural Institute of Sports (Insports) All-Island Community Football Championship will be decided today, when Kingston's Caribbean Strikers do battle with Claremont of Hanover, at the National Stadium, starting at 3 p.m.
The 1 p.m. curtain raiser will see the champions of St Thomas, Winchester, do battle with New Green of Manchester for third place.
The search for the kings of community football, and the battle for one of the largest football prize monies, commenced on the 28th of October last year, and visited close to 500 communities across the island.
The winner of the game between Caribbean Strikers and Claremont will receive $500, 000, while the runners-up will pocket $150, 000. The third place team will walk away with $100, 000, with the fourth place team pocketing $50, 000.
Caribbean Strikers emerged as champions of Kingston after beating Romantic 2-1 in their parish final. They then progressed to the Round of 16 where they blanked Silver Stock of Portland 2-0, before clipping Azteca United of St Mary1-0 in the quarter-finals, courtesy of a 66th minute strike from Raymond Tulloch.
Caribbean Strikers were not finished there, and saved their best performance for the semi-finals, where they easily got by Winchester of St Thomas 3-0 on the back of goals from Dwayne Gordon (22nd), Raymond Tulloch (71st) and Tyson Tulloch (90th).
However, their top striker is Peter Hall, who has found the back of the net on five occasions.
Caribbean Strikers' player/coach Dwayne Gordon expects his side to give their all in the final.
"We are coming into the match to give 150 percent. The aim is just to keep our shape and go out there and play how we know to play the game," said Gordon. "We haven't seen the side that we are going to play, so we are not going into the match underestimating them. We are going to play to win; no loss, no draw and no penalty shoot out."
He added: "Some of the players can't even explain how they feel, they are so joyful to know that it is in the National Stadium they are going to be playing."
Claremont also secured a 2-1 victory in their parish final over rivals Orange Bay. They then registered a 2-0 victory over Trelawny-based Flamingo, thanks to goals from Denroy Forrester (55th) and their leading goal scorer, Paulton Green (70th), who has netted five times.
However, it took penalties for them to get by Albion of St James in their quarter-final match-up, after the two teams had played to a nil-all scoreline after full and extra time. Claremont emerged 4-2 winners in the shoot out.
A 28th minute strike from Rohan Wallace was, however, enough to take them past New Green of Manchester in the semi-finals.
Claremont's coach, Leroy Spence is promising spectators a display of quality football.
"Persons can expect quality football because we always play good football anywhere we go," said Spence. "From day one the team believed in themselves that they can do it and we have a good record in finals. It is an all-round team. We have very good defence, good strikers and the midfielders are good passers of the ball.
"It is the first all of the players will be playing at the National Stadium so they are looking forward to it," he added.