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Semis with a difference

Ezra Stuart

Semis with a difference

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This?Sunday’s?semi-finals in the LIME Pelican Football Challenge will have a different look without three teams which made it to the same stage last year.
Nu Look 360 Connection and Broad Street Men’s and Women’s Red Tridents were ousted at the quarter-final stage last Sunday to join inaugural winners Tiger Malt Bajan Pride who went out earlier.
Last year’s losing finalists, 360 Connection, were beaten 1-0 by Indar Weir Travel Centre Barbados Steel Works Top Bay Settlers while favourites Phoenix UFO Toyota Fire House burnt Red Tridents 4-1.
Sunday’s semi-finals will see the Pinelands-based Akademiks battling T.S. Strikers from Christ Church at 6 p.m. while another Christ Church-owned franchise Fire House will square off against the St Philip-based Top Bay Settlers at 9 p.m.
The organizers say that the later start to matches is in response to requests from fans. But extra-time or a penalty shoot-out in the final game will push the finish time beyond 11 p.m.
The line-up means that there are three new semi-finalists with Fire House the only side to secure a berth in the two years of the tournament.
What is also noteworthy is that either Akademiks, who were known as Higher Learning last year, or T. S. Strikers, who didn’t even get past the group stage, will now be playing for the first prize of $100 000.
The teams will be using the next couple of days to work on noticeable weaknesses.
For example, Top Bay Settlers would be hoping their striking trio of Rayn “Shaky” Griffith, Hendy Richards and Mustafa Haqq are a lot more clinical in front of goal against a Fire House defence, marshalled by St Vincent’s national player Oscar Nero and the dreadlocked Llewellyn Broomes.
On the flip side, Fire House will be delighted that attacking midfielder Paul “Soup” Lovell, who had his first game in a month after recuperating from a hamstring strain, was able to last the full 90 minutes. More importantly, he scored two goals, including a penalty.
The T.S. Strikers’ fans will also be hoping that the internal problems in the camp, which led to star player Jamal Chandler missing the quarter-final, will be sorted out.
Meanwhile, Akademiks supporters would feel their No.1 draft pick, Mario Harte, is due a few goals as he hasn’t found the nets since the opening game against Kick L.G. Strike Force.