It will be a case of master versus apprentice or experience against youth, whichever way you want to put it, as Direct TV Paradise seek to dethrone reigning premier league champions and defending knockout kings Pharmaceutical Plus Weymouth Wales in the final of the Stag Beer Champions Cup on Sunday night.
Before the highly anticipated final gets underway at 8:30 p.m., the third place match will feature Barbados Soccer Academy taking on Clayton’s Kola Tonic Notre Dame, who both lost their respective semifinal matches 1-0 and 3-1 last Sunday evening.
The Dames would have been kicking themselves all week, after missing out on a golden spot in the final, and it looked on course after Antone Greaves gave them a precious first-half goal versus Paradise, only to be cancelled out by a Shai Lloyd goal.
Dames, coached by Renaldo Gilkes, had a penalty saved by Corey Bridgeman which came back to haunt them. The game went into extra time and strikes from Demar Linton and Ackeel Applewhaite ended the Dames’ Cup run.
Meanwhile, Barbados Soccer Academy is probably feeling the same way after a 19-minute strike from Riverre Williams proved to be enough to send them packing and ensure Wales’ entrance into the final.
So with two teams standing, defending champions Weymouth Wales have not conceded a single goal for the knockout competition and will be looking to do the domestic double after cruising their way through the tournament.
Entering at the round of 32 stage, Wales first defeated Pride of Gall Hill by three goals to nil and then scored a combination of 16 goals in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals thrashing lower league opponents Wotton FC and L&R United 6-0 and 10-0 and then edging out Soccer Academy 1-0.
On paper Wales will definitely be the favourites, they will depend on the likes of top goal-scorer and national strikers Arantees Lawrence and Riverre Williams up front.
Captain and national winger Hadan Holligan is expected to play a pivotal role and be the man to watch along with Romario Harewood, Renaldo Marques and Jabar Greene in the midfield.
On the defence Akeem Maloney has been solid all season and he should be assisted by Stefan Cumberbatch tasked to keep the young tricky paradise attack at bay but they will have to get past Omari Eastmond between the Wales’ sticks.
In a post match interview Wales’ manager Alphonso Lewis said how his team had been preparing for Sunday. “The guys are in good mood, we generally play one game at a time Paradise is just another game. We more worked on our fitness, Paradise is going to be our toughest challenge, our strategy won’t change. We are going to try to keep the ball moving and play our brand of football. Once our midfield performs then we generally come out on top,” he said.
Admitting that as champions there would be pressure on his team to win, Lewis said the lads were trying to keep cool and collective ahead of the match.
“We put the pressure on ourselves, so we don’t worry about everything else that’s happening we try to motivate ourselves and keep our own standard, win or lose that’s how football is played. But we are going out there with the expectation to come out on top,” he said.
Paradise on the other hand who finished fourth in the league had a tougher route to the final and will be highly motivated after coming from behind in both their quarterfinal and semifinal meetings beating UWI Blackbirds 3-2 and Notre Dame 3-1.
The Dover, Christ Church-based side will look towards young national players such as Ackeel Applewhaite and Elijah Downey with pace and tricky skills to provide skipper Armando “Suga” Lashley with opportunities to put the play in the back of the net.
On the defensive end, the Paradise back four is expected to be led by former senior national captain and Centre Defender Barry Skeete with Zico Philips , Najee Holder and Tyrell Bancroft also on defensive duties with Corey Bridgeman in goal.
After a training session, and not wanting to let anything out of the bag, Paradise coach Kenville Layne told Barbados TODAY: “We are confident the game will play on the day. We are fine-tuning things we have been doing throughout the whole season and hope that the fellas get it right on Sunday. We want to win just as bad as them, nobody wants to lose, it will be a good game. It is up to the players on the day, as long as my players turn up we can beat any team. Scoring goals is most important, we have to put away our chances, we must put the ball in the back of the net,” he stressed.