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Three to savour

Renaldo Gilkes

Three to savour

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Some interesting results?on the opening day should make it a mouth-watering day of football in the second round of Group A of the LIME Pelican Challenge at the National Stadium today.
In the opening game, champions Akademiks will be looking to rebound from their 0-2 loss to 2011 winners Bajan Pride, when they come up against TS Strikers, who also lost their first game 0-1 to LG Kick Strike Force.
Akademiks will need last year’s dynamic duo of Arantees Lawrence and Mario Harte to get clicking if they are to reap any rewards from this encounter. Lionel Paul, Neil Shepherd and Randy Burrowes need to bring their A game if Lawrence or Harte is to display their goal scoring art.
TS Strikers boast a competent and well-balanced midfield with seasoned play-maker John Hawkesworth as orchestrator and the steady Renaldo Marquez anchoring. Under-17 midfielder Rosean Brathwaite of Ellerton, who was notably absent from TS Strikers’ 18-man squad, may possibly take the place of teammate T’Shane Lorde, who looked out of sorts in his debut.
If those three can get it right, one can expect the Chandler brothers, Jamal and Jabarry, along with striking partner Armando Lashley to have a flurry of opportunities and make life hard for an Akademiks backline marshalled by Jermaine Caesar and also comprising Omar Archer and Omar Primus. A worthy replacement could be Under-20 centre back Akeem Maloney.
Barbados Steel Works Esso Oistins Top Bay Settlers were deemed the laughing stock of the first round, due to their sacrifice of a 2-0 lead and an extra player for more than three-quarters of the game, to go down to a less-favoured DirecTV Red Snappers 2-3. Player/coach Kent Hall will need to be spot on in his selections.
Strike Force will be looking to be the first team to go to six points, following their gritty last-gasp win over TS Strikers.
Kimoi Seale, Aaron Leacock, Tramaine Cobham and Leon Todd can expect a busy night in the defence, because Top Bay possess speed to burn in their frontline with Mustafa Haqq, Ryan “Shaky” Griffith and new acquisition Brett Carrington.
Those fleet-footed forwards will rely heavily on midfield service from Hall, who was the only creative option Top Bay used in the first game as the defensive-minded Bryan Gay and Gregg Mandeville were employed as his partners in the middle.
Top Bay’s midfield will duel with Strike Force’s skipper Elsid Miggins, Hadon “Fatty” Holligan, Giancarlo Cobham and veteran Rudy Grosvenor.
Hall may have to revisit his decision to leave former professional footballer Gregory “Lalu” Goodridge on the bench. Capable of playing anywhere, Goodridge’s position on the field will be critical to the Top Bay unit as they were some areas of concern which he can address.
One obvious weakness is the defence and the return of Tito Beckles could prove to be timely to perhaps complement skipper Ricardio Morris.
The Bajan Pride versus Red Snappers night-capper should be an attacking affair with plenty of opportunities for either team. Both teams are buoyed by opening wins, with Bajan Pride triumphing over Akademiks and Red Snappers defying the odds to prevail over Top Bay.
Bajan Pride’s Jomo Harewood will be seeking to add to his opening brace against a rather unpredictable Red Snappers defence, who will be missing their best defender in Stephen Griffith, who got the tournament’s first red card.
Harewood will rely heavily on striking partner Imron Ponteen and attacking players Jabar “Buggy” Greene and the promising Zinho Harris.
Snappers also have some attacking firepower in the season’s first Player Of The Week Decarlo Jemmott, Rashad Jules, Enrico Cave and Armande Griffith.