Pride and Stars in action
Higher learning and Bajan Pride!
That’s what in store for spectators when the final two teams make their first appearance in the crowd-pulling LIME Pelican Football Challenge with a record $100 000 first prize at the National Stadium tonight.
Pine-based Higher Learning will oppose Scotty’s Combined Stars in the first match at 6 p.m., followed by the feature encounter between José & José Bajan Pride Ballers and T.S. Strikers at 8:15 p.m.
The nucleus of Higher Learning’s side comes from the Sportingbet Pinelands outfit.
Inspirational captain Lionel Paul will pull the strings from an attacking midfield position, linking up with former national players Randy Burrowes and Peter Stoute, who had lengthy stints at Paradise, as well as gifted midfielder Neal “Szilla” Shepherd.
Goalkeeper Romayne Primus can be counted on to make some crucial saves anytime his defence is beaten.
Depending on where Burrowes is employed by coach Colin “Heavy Foot” Harewood, the defence is expected to be marshalled by his brother Omar Primus and Prince Cooke with support from Rommel Severin, Shane Hinkson and Chavez Lloyd. Tito Jones, Omar Thorne, Kemal Thompson and Tito Barrow could also feature in the line-up.
It will be a battle of two coaches from the Dayrells Road camp as Combined Stars is coached by Anthony “Zebulon” Prescott.
The Stars shone brightly in an impressive 1-1 draw with Conquerers in the first match and will be hoping to repeat that performance.
Striker Tristan Parris looked sharp up front as he teamed up with his Dayrells Road colleagues John Stoute and the left-sided Jamar “Bob” Parris.
But the man who could make all the difference is playmaking midfielder Malcolm “Buju” Marshall.
Marshall and national Under-17 player Romario Harewood will again team up in midfield but the White brothers, Jefferson and Sheldon, as well as Stefan Bowen can also make an impact.
Alvin “Gate Man” Holder could have a busy night manning the defence against Paul, Stoute, Damien Welch and Dario Wilson while the Stars’ goalkeeper Kareem Farrell will be out to redeem himself.
In the second game, Bajan Pride Ballers, featuring the nucleus of ICE Wales’ footballers such as defenders Julian Mottley, Shawn Clarke and Richard Maynard, midfielder Jabar Greene and striker Dwayne McClean could have their hands full against the Christ Church-based T. S. Strikers, who held the star-studded Broad Street Men and Women Red Tridents to a 1-1 draw.
The Stephen Griffith-owned Bajan Pride Ballers, coached by Eric Alleyne and managed by Mark Armstrong, played commendably in a 1-0 loss to the Barbados national team in a recent practice match.
They also include former Barbados goalkeeper Morrison Taylor, who will vie with Greg Jones to stand between the uprights and Youth Milan’s speedy striker Angus Doyle.
McClean will no doubt be partnered by either Paradise’s striker Jamel Pinder or Carlo Perry from the St Philip Division 2 side, L & R United with Doyle on the flank.
But the man who swings the pendulum for the Ballers is Bagatelle’s powerfully built attacking midfielder Zachaeus Polius, alongside the talented Jabar Greene.
The Ballers have also drafted the Road View trio of defender Jason Mounter, striker Norris Broomes and midfielder Damian Williams.
T. S. Strikers have two very solid central defenders in former Barbados sweeper Rommell Brathwaite and Andre Daniel, while it won’t be easy to get past goalkeeper Omari Eastmond.
Six-footer Ryan “Sas” Baptiste may get a starting role alongside the diminutive Renaldo Marques to nullify the threat of Polius and McClean.
A problem for T.S. Strikers’ coach Jerry Skeete is that at least nine of his players may be jaded after playing in the Silver Sands’ out-of-season final, which was scheduled for last night.
The first match featured the dread locked duo of Jason “Foulie” Blackman and Cleve Boyce while Jamal Chandler was a live wire up front before he picked up an injury.
But it will be interesting to see whether Skeete keeps faith with former Barbados striker Dwayne Gale as Chandler’s striking partner or opt for either Empire’s Damien Seales or Sherwin Success.