Consistency versus audacity; structure against creativity; accomplishment meeting ambition. Any of those descriptions would fit today’s BG T&T/First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) “Big Five” semi-final match-up that will see St Augustine Secondary’s “Green Machine” taking on the “Saints” of St Mary’s College.
“Gustine” roll out today at Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, the only unbeaten team in the 2013 season, after Speyside Secondary were humbled 5-0 by Presentation College San Fernando at Skinner Park, San Fernando on Monday.
Only El Dorado West Secondary, known as “El Do Brown”, have been able to keep out the rampant St Augustine strikers this season, and take points off the East Zone champions with a 0-0 result. For St Mary’s, their hopes of winning their first national league title in 22 years hinge upon stopping St Augustine’s super streak.
St Mary’s have had a more challenging season, with one loss and two draws en route to the title. But the North Zone has been the most competitive of the 2013 SSFL, and so, could quite likely have made it the perfect preparation for what seems an uphill battle.
The other ingredient that makes this encounter an exciting prospect is the fact that the last time St Mary’s progressed from the North in 2009, they faced the same opponents at the same venue, and put up a fierce, but ultimately futile battle in the first half before the “Green Machine” sped away with it 2-0.
It is a memory that motivates St Mary’s coach Jason Edwards all the more. His more seasoned opposite number Michael Grayson will be more focused on ensuring a talented squad lives up to its full potential against a team they met in the pre-season and drew with 3-3.
Edwards is proud of his team’s achievements since it returned to the Championship Division, having been relegated at the end of 2006. Since then, the school has taken strides in the North, culminating in two zonal titles. His team, he believes, can compete with any of the other Big Five contenders. He is expecting regulation time goals from an offence-minded St Augustine and his strong defensive team.
“(We will have to rely on) our ability to contain their attack and take advantage of any opportunities that come our way. We’re not too shabby in attack [ourselves], and we’ve been scoring quite regularly. Once we create enough opportunities I think we can win.”
Andre Moses, manager of St Augustine, said his team is “quietly confident”. This year, a team with its core from last year is neatly interspersed with formerly under-16 talent. This has paid dividends, he explained, adding that the team and the entire technical staff have worked very hard to achieve what they have so far.
“All the teams in the competition are championship teams,” Moses said, “so we won’t be taking anybody for granted.”
In the last nine years, St Augustine have secured four Big Five titles, and numerous zonal League and InterCol wins. Still missing is a national InterCol crown in that period, which they hope to change this year. Only one match is on their minds at the moment, though.
“Right now we have to focus on this semi-final,” Moses stated.