REJUVENATED TEAMS SEEK SILVERWARE IN LEAGUE LEADERS TOURNAMENT
22nd February, 2017; Georgetown: Elite League football resumes this weekend with the launch of the inaugural “League Leaders Tournament” on Sunday, 26th February at Tucville Ground, featuring the Clubs who finished in the top four (4) positions during the first half of the 2016/17 Elite League: Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Fruta Conquerors, Victoria Kings and Buxton United. The tournament has no bearing on the Elite League standings, but will offer teams their first chance of silverware this season and also give the winners a priceless psychological advantage for the rest of the season.
For GDF FC, they enter the tournament with momentum on their side, having stormed to first place in the first half of the season with an attacking style of football being played under new head coach Bilaal Nantambo.
“We have signed junior players as part of our long-term project, in regards to our preparation, we have had less resources this season, four players went on courses as part of their GDF duty as soldiers, but we are happy with our overall preparations,” Nantambo says of his team’s preparation for this half of the season.
One notable difference to GDF this season was their increased eye for goal and attacking flair, and the coach explains what he has done to create this new confidence in the side: “The two basic changes I made were change the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3; I also moved around some players to different positions. Captain Delwyn Fraser used to play as a right-winger but I converted him to a central midfielder. The other major change is that the team feel more comfortable with the ball, I have concentrated on technical aspects more, we can hold the ball for longer periods, and we are tactically efficient.”
Despite not strengthening as much as other sides in the Elite League, there is still a belief in the camp that they will win the title this season: Absolutely, we still think we are playing the level of football that can give us the results we are looking for, it is not always the best team on paper who wins, it is the team who plays the better football and I think we were doing that in the first half of the season, I would hope that we can continue in the same vein for the second half.”
GDF FC’s Captain Delwyn Fraser summarized his team’s hopes by saying, “we want to play the same brand of football that we were playing last year and continue our winning ways.”
GDF’s main rivals for the title will be Fruta Conquerors FC, who massively strengthened over the January transfer window by bringing in 14 players, many of whom have experience of playing top level football in the Caribbean. The likes of Anthony Abrams and Pernell Schultz will no doubt add fire power to a team that finished second in the first half of the Elite League season.
Speaking at a pre-game press conference hosted by the Guyana Football Federation Inc. (GFF) on Tuesday, 21st February, Fruta Conquerors FC’s captain Derrick Carter spoke on his team’s preparations: “We think our preparation going into the second half is stronger than the first half, our team is more experienced, in the first half our team was more youthful, also our training sessions now are a lot more intense’’.
Fellow Fruta player Delon Williams said: “We have had the most transfers coming in, and with that a lot of experience gained, at this point in time the team is going well and there is a togetherness. First half of the season we only had five or six senior players, although even now we still have a good set of youths we are keeping in the senior team, the coaches are doing their part and we are putting in the work. We go in to give our all and are looking for nothing else but success in the tournament’’
David Headley, a coach attached to Fruta Conquerors FC’s setup elaborated on why the team has such togetherness: “Most of the players coming in have played some part before with Fruta Conquerors over the years so it is a coming home for most of them. We are expecting to do well and you can see the hunger in the player’s eyes.”
Victoria Kings FC, representing East Demerara, will also looking to make a mark on the tournament, having strengthened with the signing of talented defenders Sherwin Skeete and Tichard Joseph from Alpha United FC and Slingerz FC respectively, both players will compliment veteran defender Sherlock Dowden, who was a key player for Victoria Kings in the first half of the season. Coach Rawle Huntley was proud of his team’s debut performances in the league last year, and the team will be looking to build on it this year, with no better place to start than this tournament.
Fellow East Demerara side Buxton United are the final team in the League Leader’s tournament and will be the least fancied side to win the tournament, having under-performed in the first half of the Elite League by finishing fourth and not substantially adding to the squad during the transfer window. Coach Herbert McPherson had called on his senior players to improve their attitudes to the game at the end of the first half of the season, so it will be interesting to see if the players enter the tournament more motivated to succeed. McPherson also suggested lack of finishing was the team’s weakness and so all the focus will be on striker William Europe, signed from Alpha United FC last month, to provide the goals the team so desperately crave.
The League Leaders Tournament will provide an opportunity for the four teams to see how their new signings have settled in to their teams and also give fans an indication of who will be favourites to triumph once the league resumes after the tournament conclude. One thing is for sure, with teams now strengthened and revitalized, competition for the prize is stronger amongst the teams, and that can only be good for the development of domestic club football in Guyana.
As part of the fan interaction, lucky patrons will win a Gillette hamper and STAG Beer at matches.
For more information, please contact:
Debra Francis (Ms.)
Communications and Public Relations Officer
Tel: 592 227 8758 ext. 105 (o)