Fri, Feb

THRILL OF VICTORY: Sport and Community Development Minister Shamfa Cudjoe lifts the trophy along with Kevin Graham, goalkeeper of the triumphant Organ Youths, while the rest of the team celebrate their victory in the inaugural 7-Ah-Side Football Tournament, at the Hasely Crawford training ground in Port of Spain, on Sunday. Photo: KL Photography

ORGAN Youths were crowned champions of the inaugural Ministry of Sport and Community Development 7-Ah-Side Football Tournament on Sunday night after they brushed aside title hopefuls El Chapo by a 2-0 margin.

The ever-threatening, ever-dangerous Che Benny of Organ Youths was the first to have a shot on target at the Hasely Crawford training ground in Port of Spain, his left side free-kick in the second minute being well held by El Chapo’s goalkeeper Kitwana Manning.

The North Zone champs would take the lead in the seventh minute though, but it was a goal that all Manning could do about was rue his ill-fortune. The ball was played out on the right to Elijah Belgrave, who struck a firm shot that Manning appeared to have covered, only for the ball to deflect off Rhondel Gibson and go past his left hand. El Chapo appealed for a handled ball during the play, but after reviewing, VAR official Richard Piper signalled the goal was valid.

El Chapo came agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser in the final minute of the first period when Sean Bonval switched the play from on the right to Nathan Lewis across on the left of the field. Lewis’ shot had goal written all over it before Kevin Graham, in goal for Organ Youths, did well to get both hands to it and push behind for a corner. On the other end of the field, Organ Youths’ female player Tamika Isaac found herself in a goalscoring position after the ball came her way following a missed bicycle kick by Benny, but the ball bounced awkwardly which allowed the defence to recover and avert danger before she could get her shot off.

Benny, however, who was tormenting El Chapo’s defenders with his speed, agility, quick-thinking and movement off the ball, would effectively seal the result in the 20th minute with his 20th goal of the tournament. El Chapo conceded possession and Gibson’s attempt at gaining control fell to Kevon Blackman, whose pass split two defenders in picking out an unmarked Benny atop the area. Benny took one touch before stabbing the ball into the top left corner of the net, giving Manning no time to react.

In the 18th minute, an errant pass by El Chapo was snapped up by Gibson. However, having spotted the danger, Manning came off his line and got down low to stifle the shot and come up with the ball. Mere seconds later, Isaac gave El Chapo a scare when she took down a lobbed pass well. However, she dragged her effort wide with only Manning standing between her and goal.

In the last of the three 10-minute periods, Benny continued to torment El Chapo’s defence. It took a good save from Manning to prevent him from scoring goal number 21. Losing possession in the 23rd minute, El Chapo were caught on the backfoot as Belgrave floated a cross to Benny just outside the area. He chested the ball down with his back to goal, turned and fired in one motion, forcing Manning to come off his line and produce a good save with his legs. When Benny was replaced by Akeem Roach in the 25th minute, he left the field to a well-deserved round of applause.

Organ Youths’ goalkeeper Kevin Graham, who was having a relatively quiet evening between the uprights due to the sterling defensive work of Belgrave, Blackman and Duran Felician, was finally tested in the 27th minute, getting both hands to a fierce shot from Jerwyn Balthazar. The rebound fell to Nathan Lewis who blasted his effort over the crossbar.

El Chapo had their final chance of pulling a goal back with just about a minute left on the clock. Jadel Carter lofted a quickly-taken free-kick to Joshua Alexander, who tried to lob Graham. The shot-blocker, however, was alert and closed the play down, forcing Alexander to put the ball behind.


Organ Youths 2 (R. Gibson - 7th, C. Benny - 20th) vs El Chapo 0.

SOURCE: T&T Express