By Rawle Welch
Reigning champions Lodge will have to improve immensely to stand a chance
of defending their title when they face Dolphin in semi-final action of the Nestle Milo Under-20 Schools Football Competition today, at the Ministry of Education ground, Carifesta Avenue.
In the other semi-final, Morgan Learning Centre tackle Chase Academy and this encounter too has all the trappings of a riveting contest with a winner proving difficult to pick.
Champs Lodge have shown some inconsistency on occasions in the tournament, but they are known to be a resilient unit, a characteristic they demonstrated in their quarter-final matchup against a disciplined St. Mary’s side that forced overtime, before the mercurial Ryan Hackett put some space between himself and two defenders to hit a cracking left-footer into the far corner.
He was a model of consistency and bother to the opposition throughout the afternoon, but was not afforded the room to be a real threat in the penalty area, before a lapse in concentration allowed him to deliver the dagger and send his team into today’s last four engagement.
However, Dolphin is a big step up in class and they will have to create opportunities very early to wrest the ascendancy.
Apart from Hackett, Jarel Grannum, Shemar Dover and Keoma Crawford will have to regain the kind of form that typified their play throughout the competition, but which eluded them against a much disciplined St. Mary’s unit if they stand a chance of making it to the championship game.
On the other hand, Dolphin has looked to be amongst the most consistent team in this year’s tournament and will definitely be no pushovers.
They cruised past a good North Ruimveldt side, displaying admirable pace and skill and they seemed disciplined as well so getting past them could be an arduous task for the champs.
Leon Richardson and Joshua Brown were the marksmen on target in their previous victory and obviously they will be tasked with the responsibility of leading their side to the final.
Kester Grant is another player who will have to bear some of the duty in ensuring that they get over the line.
If you think that the first game was enough for one afternoon then your guess was wrong since the Morgan Learning Centre versus Chase Academy has the potential to upstage that one.
Both teams have begun to peak at the right time and are expected to treat a turnout that is anticipated to be a large one to a fantastic feast of skills.
Chase Academy over the past year have benefitted from the acquisition of a few top players in Marlon Nedd and Shemar Barrow and they’ve now linked up with the likes of Isaiah Reddy, Jeremy Garrett, Kareem Knights and Simeon Moore, making them the most potent strike force in the tournament.
On the other hand, Morgan Learning Centre have gone through the competition without much fanfare, but has been dispatching teams with consummate ease.
Ronaldo Dover, a former national youth player has been the mainstay of the team so far and once again he is expected to play a leading role if they are to advance, while support should come from Wayne Murray, Travis Biardis and Toquan Clarke, all formidable players.
Scouts and fans are being reminded not to miss today’s action which commences at 14:00 hrs.