Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Game on as 'Pres' agree to replay


All in vain: Presentation College San Fernando footballer Civaughn Dimsoy, left, and Shiva Boys Hindu College skipper Dwight Pope tussle for the ball during the Coca Cola Secondary Schools Football League South Zone InterCol final at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella last Monday. Pres were leading 2-1 after 80 minutes when the match was abandoned after a spectator attacked an assistant referee. —Photo: DAVE PERSAD

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After all the controversy, protests and uncertainty surrounding the Coca Cola InterCol South Zone final between Shiva Boys Hindu School and Presentation College San Fernando, the match finally looks set to deliver a winner today.

The teams will replay the tie from 4 p.m. at Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella behind closed doors, with the winners getting that national InterCol semi-final berth opposite St Anthony's College, set for Monday.

St Augustine Secondary have already book their spot in the InterCol final, and will have some wait before they know who they will face.

The decision made by Presentation principal Errol Jaikaransingh yesterday brings to an end a contentious saga ignited by a spectator's attack on assistant referee Kevin Charles at the Marabella stadium during Monday's re-scheduled South final, which caused the match to be abandoned with ten minutes remaining and Presentation leading 2-1.

The matter has also negatively impacted both teams. Presentation will feel aggrieved at having to replay a final they were close to winning, particularly as the offending spectator seemed to be a Shiva Boys fan. That information was the reasons for Presentation's protest that almost saw the contest awarded to their Penal-based opponents.

It also means that by Monday, Shiva Boys would have replayed both their South Zone semi-final and final in the space of little over a week.

Presentation manager Michael Toney yesterday told the Express his school had reversed their stance based on the issues discussed during Thursday's meeting with the Ministry of Sport and other football stakeholders, and also considering the players' desire to play football, rather than forfeit the match.

"At first it was mixed. We had different opinions among staff and the guys," Toney explained. "How can you tell young 15 and 16-year-olds not to play football? So it was easier for (the boys) to decide to play. The principal had the final decision, he made his call and we have to stand by it."

On the other hand, Shiva Boys manager Sheldon Maharaj said his team had no reservations about a replay.

"At the end of the day this is what we wanted," Maharaj stated. "We were ready to go and play on Wednesday. We're happy the game (is being) played, because this is the way Shiva Boys want to win a South title."

Maharaj added that his team was always confident of equalising before the disruption to Monday's encounter, and is keen to play today despite it being another extra match. They have no doubt they can stop Presentation on the fourth try, after twice losing narrowly to their rivals in the South Zone League.

"We are 100 per cent certain that we will win the game," Maharaj insisted. "We know we could have won (on Monday) and we just have to execute (our game plan)."

Presentation, though, are aware it will be a difficult prospect to lose the match, having the previous encounter abandoned while they were in the ascendency. But Toney insisted his team would prefer to have a chance in the match than just to hand it over.

"We were actually training yesterday because we weren't sure what the outcome (would be). This evening (Friday) we will chat with (the players) to try and help them refocus, throw that in the back (of their minds) and take it one game at a time… "If we lose it's a hard pill to swallow," he added, "but I think (Presentation) have been there before this season, when Caps denied them (in the "Big Five" final) some weeks ago."