VIEUX Fort South emerged champions of the Saint Lucia Football Associations National Under- 23 football tournament, played on Saturday evening at the Anse la Raye playing field with a 1-0 win over Canaries.
The score line remained Nil-All at the halftime whistle of Referee Garner Felicien, despite two outstanding saves midway into the half by Vieux Fort South goalkeeper Leon Alexander. But despite not going ahead at that point, the boys from the western village was still able to enjoy at least 65% of first half.
On the resumption, it was all to play as the crowd doubled in numbers — and while all this was happening, on the outside the fans from both teams was not allowed to enter the playing area.
The deadlock was finally broken when Gregson President put VFS ahead in the 55th minute of play — and despite four attempts to goal by Canaries to equalised, the VFS defence held their nerves up until the final whistle to win 1-0.
Immediately after the encounter, the following awards were presented:
Best Goalkeeper-Leon Alexander; Best Mid-fielder- Gregson President; Best Defender- SarnSavery; Championship trophy/goal medals — Vieux Fort South; 2nd place trophy and silver medals — Canaries.
The VOICE spoke to Emmanuel Belasse, Head Coach for VFS about his team performance on the night.
Q: How do you feel about the team’s performance?
A: “I am feeling happy and ecstatic at the same time. That one was for them, because what they indicated coming into the final was that they wanted to do a three-peat. I think they have done it — and I am happy for them.”
Q: There has been a rivalry between VFS and Canaries for some time now, your take on that…
A: “Last year, when we played them in the semis, to some extent that game was tougher. We had better conditions of the ground. But the condition of the ground this year is not going to be blamed for the final results.”
“What has happened for the last four years is that we have found ourselves playing Canaries in the knockout stages, the quarterfinals, the semifinals and the finals — and if anyone were to checks the statistics, VFS would have had the better of Canaries on a number of occasions.”
Q: And what about the playing surface?
A: “I believe the match could have been played on a better surface. What I know is that Anse la Raye was selected because of the availability of grounds. The condition of the ground is not going to be blamed for the result or performance of the team. I know my team did not perform as I expected them too, but a win is a win — and if a better ground was available, the match would have taken place at that venue.”
Q: What next for VFS?
A: “We now have to get ourselves prepared for the Blackheart Tournament. They did indicated last year that they want to be the first team to go through a three-peat. Now that we have done that in the Under-23 — and at that age-group level — the aim now is to get prepared and win Blackheart for the third consecutive year.”
The Blackheart tournament kicks off in September, while the final will be staged sometime in mid-October.