Barbados’ biggest day will provide either L.G. Kick Strike Force or T.S. Strikers with their biggest ever payday.
Both teams will be hoping to make this island’s 47th Independence Day an especially rewarding one as they bring pride and industry to battle for the top prize of $100 000 when they meet in tonight’s final of the LIME Pelican Football Challenge at the National Stadium at 8.
One thing which is for certain is that new champions will be crowned, with both sides making their first finals appearances in the competition’s three-year history.
For Strike Force’s head coach, Randolph Cox, tonight’s game will hold a special meaning.
Last year, Cox guided T.S. Strikers to fourth place in the tournament.
And this year, he coached Pride of Gall Hill, which comprises mainly of players from T.S. Strikers, to fourth-place finishes in both the Digicel Premier League as well as the KFC Champions Cup.
“Having coached T.S. Strikers last year and Gall Hill this year, I know their players very well. They are a young team with skilled players and I expect that this game is going to be highly competitive,” he told the SATURDAY SUN in a telephone interview yesterday.
“I’m expecting a tough game, but once my guys go out there and execute what we have been training at practice, and stick to the game plan, they will come out on top.”
However, Cox emphasized that “football is played on the day” and “it all boils down to which team is more focused”.
In acknowledging that Strike Force were not one of the pre-tournament favourites, he said that a strong belief within the team, coupled with a sterling work ethic, had propelled them to the finals.
“I would really like to win this final and dedicate the victory to Sherlock Yarde.
“He was a man that really believed in me and the players and honouring Sherlock would be a fitting way to end the tournament,” Cox added.
First-time coach of T.S. Strikers, Thomas Jordan, also believes that his side has what it takes to walk away with the top prize in Barbados’ most lucrative football tournament.
He too knows it won’t be an easy job to get over Strike Force, but he is hoping to reward the team’s loyal fan base with victory in tonight’s final.
“We are looking to go out there and give a good performance for our franchise owner, and for our fans who have been behind us from the start of the tournament,” he said.
“Our team is a very young one, and we will be going into this match as the underdogs against a Strike Force team that is very well organized.
“But I think that our chances are just as good as Strike Force’s, and I’m sure the guys will put their best feet forward in the final.”
He will have up front the livewire Jabarry “Papi” Chandler, who has been a nightmare for opposing defences in his last two outings.
Despite this, Jordan has insisted that an entire team effort will be needed if they are to emerge victorious.
“Jabarry is a good player, but we can’t rely just on him. It will take a good performance from every player if T.S Strikers are to win the LIME Pelican Challenge.”
In the third-place match at 5 p.m. Bajan Pride will take on Barbados Steelworks Esso Oistins Top Bay Settlers, while there will also be a match between the LIME Ambassadors and an all-female team at 7 p.m.