Fri, Sep

Fatima College defender Jaden Williams, right, closes down St Benedict’s College attacker Derrel Garcia during the Secondary School Football League Super Cup match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain on Saturday, September 9th 2023. St Benedict’s won 4-3. PHOTO: Daniel Prentice

Boosted by their 4-3 win over Fatima College in the 2023 Secondary Schools Football League 16-team Premier Division NGC Super Cup clash between the Premier Division ‘Big-Four’ champions and the National Inter-Col winners, St Benedict’s College will aim to kick start their title defence with a win away to another key rival, San Juan North Secondary from 3.30 pm on Wednesday.

In Saturday’s win over Fatima, Derrel Garcia scored a hat-trick for St Benedict’s who lifted their first National League crown last year since 1967 via a 3-1 win over Fatima led by a treble from former team captain Tarik Lee.

Last year in the league competition, which was contested via two groups, the Randolph Boyce-coached St Benedict’s College topped the eight-team Group A standings ahead of Fatima on goal difference after both teams finished with 19 points before they defeated Presentation College of San Fernando 5-3 in their ‘Big-Four’ semifinal. San Juan North Secondary, meanwhile, led by former striker Larry Noel emerged as Group B winners with six wins from seven matches for 19 points as well, before they narrowly lost out to Fatima College 1-0, the Group A runner-up in the semifinals, and will be keen to star the campaign on a positive note as well.

The Hutson “Barber” Charles-coached Fatima College who ended their 17-year-old National Inter-Col drought last year with a 1-0 win over St Benedict’s in the final and also won the North Zone Inter-Col will also face a stern test to kick off the season as they welcome zonal rivals St Anthony’s College for what is expected to be an equally as entertaining encounter at Fatima College Ground, Mucurapo Road.

In other eye-catching matches, perennial champions and four-time winners Naparima College begins their quest to reclaim their title at home to Chaguanas North Secondary at Lewis Street, San Fernando while East Inter-Col champions Trinity East College entertains promoted former national champions East Mucurapo Secondary at Trinity, and another former national champion Arima North Secondary ‘Dial Dynamos’ welcome Presentation College of San Fernando to the Arima Municipal Stadium while Malick Secondary and Queen’s Royal College square off in a battle of former powerhouses at St Mary’s College (CIC) Ground, Serpentine Road.

Elsewhere, Pleasantville Secondary hosts St Mary’s College at Yolande Pompey Recreational Ground, Naparima Mayaro Road, and Speyside High and Bishop’s High meet in an all-Tobago match-up at Speyside Recreation Ground.

Wednesday (September 13) matches:

Fatima College vs St Anthony’s College, Fatima Ground, 3.30pm

Malick Secondary vs QRC, CI Ground, Serpentine Road, 3.30pm;

Arima North vs Presentation College (San F’do), Arima Municipal Stadium, 3.30pm;

Naparima College vs Chaguanas North, Lewis Street, 3.30pm;

Pleasantville vs St Mary’s College, Yolande Pompey Rec. Ground, Naparima Mayaro Road 3.30pm;

San Juan North vs St Benedict’s College, Bourg Mulatresse, 3.30pm;

Speyside High vs Bishop’s High, Speyside Rec. Ground, 3.30pm;

Trinity College East vs East Mucurapo Secondary, Trincity, 3.30pm.


SSFL champs Benedict’s wary of San Juan threat
By Ronel Walcott (T&T Newsday).

REIGNING Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) premier division champions St Benedict’s College will begin their title defence today, when they travel to San Juan North Secondary in Bourg Mulatresse, Santa Cruz, to kickstart the 2023 SSFL campaign.

On Saturday, Benedict’s started the season on a triumphant note as they defeated last season’s national intercol winners, Fatima College, in a 4-3 thriller at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, to lift the NGC Cup.

Looking towards the league season, Benedict’s coach Randolph Boyce says “nothing is guaranteed,” and he is expecting a tough matchup from San Juan, who won four straight east zone intercol titles from 2016 to 2019.

“You have to go and take whatever you want from this league,” Boyce told Newsday. “Any time you have to depend on another team for a result, you will go back home empty-handed.

“We want to win, of course. We hope that the football gods will be with us and we’ll have a nice run and be successful and try to win, if God sees it fit that way. Everything is in His hands.”

All 16 teams in the league will be in action today, with eight games scheduled for a 3.30 pm kick-off time in varying venues across T&T.

San Juan’s clash with Benedict’s is arguably the most interesting game on paper, and San Juan coach Jerry Moe is expecting a stern test.

“It’s a tall order for the first game of the season to be against St Benedict’s, but we have to be up for it,” Moe said.

“We know St Benedict’s is a good team. We saw a bit of the game against Fatima on the weekend.

“We know they’re very dynamic and explosive going forward. They are a well-coached team so we expect a very tough game from them.”

In 2022, San Juan saw their winning streak (minus two years lost to covid19) in the east intercol come to an end, as Trinity College East (TCE) got a 1-0 win in their zonal final. On his goals for this campaign, Moe says he is looking to stay clear of the relegation zone after enduring a rough pre-season.

“Our objective this season, like most teams, will be to stay up in the premier division. And then whatever we get after, we will take it from there.”

Moe will be without his 2022 top-scorer Larry Noel, who has taken up a scholarship abroad.

However, T&T under-17 attacker Lindell Sween has just entered form five at San Juan North, and his powerful left foot could be his school’s most dangerous weapon this season.

“We have a few new players who will be playing in front of that (Bourg Mulatresse) crowd for the first time,” Moe said. “I don’t know what to expect from them.”

Boyce also remains uncertain about the capabilities of his team’s first opponents this season.

“To me, that game is like a blind game because we haven’t seen San Juan for the season,” Boyce said.

“(San Juan) have got a glimpse of us and it will be a cagey affair because we have to go in and kinda feel them out.

“They have a history of being a team which always contests and reaches a final or wins a final. They are a team we cannot take lightly.”

At Fatima Grounds in Mucurapo, Fatima will be aiming to bounce back from their NGC Cup loss when they entertain fellow north powerhouse St Anthony’s College.

In addition to last year’s national intercol win, Fatima also copped the national under-14 and under-16 crowns and will fancy themselves as one of the title contenders.

In another north zone tussle, Malick Secondary will host Queen’s Royal College at St Mary’s Grounds in St Clair, with Malick seeking to avenge last season’s 2-1 north zone semi-final loss to the “Royalians.”

Four-time premier division champions Naparima College will try to get back to winning ways after going without a title last season, and they will begin their 2023 campaign by hosting reigning central zone intercol winners, Chaguanas North Secondary, at their Lewis Street, San Fernando home.

TCE copped their first east intercol title in 2022, and they will start their new season by hosting East Mucurapo Secondary at the school grounds in Trincity.

The trio of Arima North Secondary, St Mary’s College and Bishop’s High School (Tobago) have all returned to the premier division this season and will want to make their own impact.

Arima host Presentation College (San Fernando), St Mary’s travel to Pleasantville Secondary and Bishop’s meet Speyside Secondary in an all-Tobago affair.

Speyside football director Kerry Lynch has sounded a warning to Bishop’s ahead of their clash in Speyside, and he says his team will be working towards a top-five finish this season.

“I believe that we should have a very good showing (today) and for the season ahead,” Lynch said.

“I believe that we can make a top-five finish in the league this year. This year could be our best showing ever. I honestly believe so.

“We have the experience because this is our sixth year. This is just Bishop’s second season after five years out of the league. We have been in the league constantly so we have the experience. I believe we can put down a marker.”