One of the oldest rivalries in the secondary schools game will have its latest instalment at the Ato Boldon Stadium this afternoon when Presentation College San Fernando and Naparima College clash for the season-ending Digicel Big Four Super Cup.
The match presents a last chance at major silverware for both teams, but especially for Naparima. Unlike 2015 when they swept the Premier Division and South Zone and national InterCol titles, “Naps” have so far won nothing in 2016.
That lack of success alone has been a motivator for coach Angus Eve’s boys. “We have nothing and I think the boys are hungry to win one trophy and finish the season on a high,” manager Percy Samlalsingh said yesterday.
To be able to do so at the expense of “Pres” would be sweet consolation for the “Naps” squad. “Again its who wants it more,” Samlalsingh said. “I guess everybody is eager to win this trophy. Pres reached the InterCol final so they will want to finish on a high as well.”
While their opponents have been playing continuously since beating them on kicks from the penalty mark in the South Zone InterCol semi-finals, Naparima have been inactive. Their first competitive match in over three weeks came in last Friday’s Super Cup semi-final against new InterCol champs San Juan North, which Naps won 1-0 on an Shadeon Arthur goal.
Samlalsingh admits that it took his players some time to get rolling. “The sharpness was missing,” he said. “In the second half it was much better from us. The finishing wasn’t at its best, hopefully it will be tomorrow.”
Naparima will be hoping that main striker Isaiah Lee in particular can find his range. For battle-weary South Zone InterCol champs Presentation, scoring goals has not come as easily in knockout games as they would like. Four of their last five matches have gone down to spot kicks.
Their manager Andre Benjamin said, “the penalties this season have been very nerve-wracking,” and “at all costs” his players would want to avoid having to make those long walks to the spot again this afternoon.
But the Pres outfit—edged 1-0 in the national InterCol final by San Juan North—will at least have the confidence of knowing that they won all four of those shootouts. Their nerve under pressure has not been lacking. And they are also keen to face Naparima in this final.
Benjamin said of his boys: “They all were saying after the (Shiva Boys semi-final) game that they really wanted to play Naps. The sides have met twice in Secondary Schools competition this season, with Naps winning the Premier Division game and Pres taking the InterCol semi-final. Naparima also won a pre-season charity game between the schools.
But there will be no charity extended this afternoon. There is too much unfinished business to settle on the field. Kick-off is 4,15pm and the match will be followed by a Digicel Pro League top-of-the-table clash between Central FC and Directv W Connection from 6.30.