In just under 48 hours either Rendezvous or Weymouth Wales will be chanting the words “champions, champions” when they meet in the 2016 Barbados Football Association’s Banks Beer Champions Cup Knockout final on Sunday.
It should be a classic encounter at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf when the former kings Wales come up against Rendezvous Football Club for a trophy and $20 000 cash prize.
Rendezvous have had a good recent track record in the Champions Cup which they won in 2013 and also made it to the finals last year where they lost to Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme. Now they are back again this year with a good chance of lifting the 2016 title.
Wales on the other hand will seek to add yet another cup to their burgeoning trophy cabinet, should they get past perennial favourites Rendezvous who definitely have some psychological advantage over the men from Carrington Village. The last time these two teams met was last Sunday in the local Barbados Football Association’s Digicel-sponsored Premier League when Rendezvous edged Wales 2-1 to give spectators a preview of what could occur in this Sunday’s big clash.
The stakes are high and it will boil down to who wants it more between the two finalists. But when one looks at the two teams they have similar styles of play and favour the four-three-three formation. Wales, however, are a more attacking side who on their way to reaching the final won 2-1 over Division One side Pride of Gall Hill, then they took care of Division Two team L&R United 3-0 in the round of 16. But they had to work hard for a 6-4 win against Premier League side Pinelands during the quarterfinal and went on to defeat University of the West Indies Blackbirds 2-0 to reach the final.
Meanwhile, Rendezvous’ journey to the final began against Division One team St Andrew Lions with a 7-1 result. Following that they were victorious 6-0 over another Division One side in Bagatelle in the round of sixteen before coming up against 2015 champions BDFSP in the quarterfinals where they won 1-0. They then disposed of Mackeson Brittons Hill in their semifinal match-up by the comfortable margin of 4-1.
Wales have been without the services of coach Eric Alleyne and seem to be holding their own pretty well. They will most likely have utility player Kemar Headley, Jomo Harewood, Tristan Parris and Jadai Clarke all running at the top with captain Jabar Greene commanding the midfield along with the skillful Hadan Holligan, Dwayne Peters and Malcolm Marshall. Central defender Jamar Walters, Shawn Clarke and Corey McCollin will take care of business in defence.
Goalkeeper Omari Eastmond has done a good job for Wales in front the goal bars for the most part of the league season but one would think that they would prefer to have Bentley Springer in the nets for this all important match-up.
Unlike Wales, Rendezvous, coached by Adrian Lashley, have not had a reliable goalkeeper throughout the season and things got so bad that they put 17-year-old Justin Sandiford to face the music during their last three to four Premier League games. But it is left to see whether the young man can handle the big stage and deliver when it matters most.
They too have a good line-up of players that include strikers Shandel Samuel who took home Most Valuable player in 2013, captain Rashida Williams, Dwayne Stanford and former national player Paul Lovell. They also have a strong midfield led by an inform Romano Snagg, Carl Joseph and Emerald George who picked up an injury very recently and might not play. If that definitely becomes the case then Keon Atkins will take his place while Roy Richards, Oscar Nero and Jomo Beathwaite will man the defence.
The Champions Cup final commences at 8p.m. with a masters’ final slated for 6 p.m.