THE quarterfinal round of the 2019 – 2020 Veterans in Sports (VISI) Inc. Football Tournament was concluded on Sunday evening at the La Ressource Playing Field and the final semifinalists were decided.
The matches for the day were first between Vieux Fort North (VFN) and Choiseul; VFN nosed ahead with 1-0 victory; a goal scored by Wayne Theodore in the 86th minute.
In the second encounter, Congorians and Caricom Masters played to a 1 – 1 draw after regulation time. In the penalty shootout, Congorians won 4 – 2.
On Saturday 18th, at the same venue, Labowi Connextions came from a 1 – 0 deficit to beat Canaries 2 -1. The match which was scheduled for 6.00 p.m. eventually kicked off at 6.30 p.m. due to the late arrival of the Canaries team, following transportation issues and other delays.
On the pitch, No. 13 Steven Octave put Canaries ahead in the 8th to start a mini celebration on and off the field; that celebration was short lived when Labowi Connexions No. 8 Emmanuel Octave equalized in the 13th minute of play and despite numerous scoring opportunities at either end of the pitch the scoreline remained 1 – 1 at the halftime whistle of Referee Timothy Joseph.
On the resumption, both teams upped the tempo, but it would be Labowi Connexions that nosed ahead in the 79th minute when No. 6 Nathan James’ right foot shot eluded the Canaries goalkeeper to his left to make it 2 – 1. There was no further goal up until the final whistle.
Head Coach for the Canaries team Eric Longville told the VOICE after the encounter that his team had squandered a lot of their chances in the first half.
“In the second half, the fitness level of our players was not up to par as required for a game of that magnitude,” he added.
In terms of arriving late at the venue he noted, “It had an impact on us, three of our key players are Seventh Day Adventists and this held us back a little”.
Going forward in the 2020-2021 season he expressed, “Preparation is key. I don’t think we were prepared the way we should have been especially for the quarterfinal. I am hoping come November when the tournament kicks off we can come together and organize ourselves; hard luck for our players they fought hard, they did a very good job, hats off to them”.
Head Coach for the Labowi Connexions team Tracy Henry said, “In the first half the players did not stick to the plan and that’s the reason we had a lot of problems. At the break we went back to the drawing board and I saw some improvement.”
How important it is for Labowi Connexions to win the Plate Championship?
“It is very important,” Henry said. “We have more senior players on the team and we are doing pretty well at the moment for which I am very proud. Heading to the semifinal round against Vieux Fort North at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds (PMG), once the players stick to the plan I don’t see a problem going all the way to the Plate Final.”
In the second match of the evening dubbed an ‘East Coast Derby’, home team Valley Ledgens defeated Mon Repos Sharks (MRS) 2 – 1. No. 24 Spencer Smith put Valley Ledgens ahead in the 1st minute of play despite MRS’ attempts to equalize. Valley Ledgens ended the first half with a slim 1 – 0 advantage.
When play resumed in the second half, MRS showed some urgency; No. 69 Alan Moncherry (captain) leading from the front found the much deserved equaliser for his team in the 56th minute; while the experienced No.10 Anthony Matthew sealed the deal in the 75th minute for Valley Ledgens.
Captain for the victorious Valley Legends team Errol Henry said, “Coming into the Plate Quarterfinals we had a few practice matches so the players were fresh coming out of their encounters; we just executed what we planned”.
“Mon Repos over the years we have realised the improvement they have made with their team and certainly we did not expect them to come easy at us, they came with everything in the second half, we composed ourselves and won the final quarter of the second half”.
He added, “If we capitalize on our opportunities, we stand a very good chance going all the way. We need to get back to the drawing board, ensure that the strikers do their job and that we play holistically as a team.”
Alam Moncherry, captain for the Mon Repos Sharks team told the VOICE, “We started on the wrong foot. We made a few mistakes in the defense which cost us very early, but we were able to come back in the game and play our usual style. Fortunately for us we scored early in the second half to level things off, but unfortunately, we were on the wrong side.
“We started a bit poor in our first game but were able to come back pretty well in our remaining matches. We took a break for the festive season but we were still training very hard working on our weak areas. In this encounter we had a few injuries including me with a hip and waist injury. I am hoping we can regroup and continue working hard for the upcoming season and we will be able to do a lot better”.
For the semifinal Labowi Connexions will take on Vieux Fort North and Valley Ledgens goes up against Congorians.
Veterans in Sports Inc CEO, Alvin Malaykhan spoke to the VOICE about the weekend showdown.
“Great matches and fantastic turnout by the patrons in the valley,” he said. “The Plate Championship quarterfinal lived up to the hype. I won’t say there were disappointments but some surprises especially in the Caricom Masters versus Congorians game where Caricom Masters controlled most of the game and was not able to convert at least 11 scoring opportunities; the Congorians goalkeeper was exceptional”.
“In a nut shell, great opening weekend for the knockout stage; it has paved the way for this coming weekend’s big boy’s battle, the Caribbean Alliance Gold Cup Quarterfinal at the Phillip Marcellin Grounds”.