The much-anticipated 2016 Coca-Cola National Intercol competition got underway yesterday with preliminary action in the North and South Zones. But it appeared as though everyone did not receive the memo, as the marquee North Zone fixture was shifted from its original venue and postponed for another 24 hours while media houses were forced to ground-hop in an effort to catch some knock-out football.
Recently relegated Premier Division teams Fatima College and Queen’s Royal College were carded for battle on unfamiliar territory at the Diego Martin North Secondary School ground for 3:30pm. But, 10 minutes before kickoff, neither team nor the match commissioner were in sight.
Instead, hopeful Diego Martin North students waited in vain for meaty tackles and sensational goals as the mower made its way around a spacious field.
Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Assistant Secretary Gerald Elliot later told Wired868 that the game was rescheduled for 3:30pm today—on 3 November—as QRC officials claimed to be unaware of their Intercol matchup with the boys from Mucurapo Road.
According to Elliot, who also serves as the South Zone secretary, the North Zone executives were responsible for informing teams of their various fixtures. The North Zone chairman is Anastasia Griffith while the secretary is Roger Martin.
It was not the only reason given for the no-show, though. A SSFL match official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed the two relegated teams did not want to play in Diego Martin.
They might have gotten their wish as the rescheduled fixture today is penned for the St Mary’s Ground in St Clair. Hopefully both teams will show up for action this time.
There were more parts to the SSFL mystery puzzle though, as there was also inaction at QRC Grounds, which was supposed to host a Diego derby between Diego Martin North and Diego Martin Central—according to fixtures sent to the media on Sunday.
However, the Diego duel as well as the preliminary match between Tranquility Secondary and Blanchisseuse Secondary were scrapped two days ago, after the SSFL executive discovered an error in the pairing off of the Championship teams for the Intercol tourney. Unfortunately, the media were not informed of the change.
Again, Elliot alluded to the tardiness of the North Zone execs. He claimed they were slow in updating their Championship standings, which in turn led to match-ups from the penultimate round of action.
The SSFL’s Intercol fixtures pits the top team in the North Zone Championship against the sixth place Championship team while second plays fifth and third squares off against fourth.
And, on the final day of the Championship, then fifth-placed Blanchisseuse swapped spots with then fourth-placed Diego Martin Central, which meant Blanchisseuse had earned a date with Diego Martin North while Diego Martin Central would have to face Tranquility.
Elliot said he was informed of the Championship’s updated standings only after he circulated the Intercol fixtures to schools, affiliates and the media. Three zones—North, Central and Tobago—were affected by the errors in the SSFL’s initial Intercol draw-up, which led to six fixtures being changed.
At Fatima Grounds, Tranquility were not too perturbed by the chaos, as they defeated Diego Martin Central 3-1.
Meanwhile, at St Mary’s Ground, one Zion “Bandy” Williams was the star of the show as his Diego Martin North team faced Blanchisseuse. Bandy, a slender but tricky attacker, scored a second half double as Diego romped past Blanchisseuse by a 4-1 margin.
The boys from Trinidad’s north coast took a first half lead through Ronaldo Felician but a Stephon Alleyne item and a Kyle Jack own goal saw their advantage overturned by halftime.
Then, in the second half, it was time for Bandy and his Diego North crew to take over.
Diego asserted themselves early in the second half, as they seized control of possession and appeared hell-bent on running up a tennis score. In the end, they added two more goals as Bandy scored with a speculative long range effort in the 69th minute before adding a silkier item, 20 minutes later.
After receiving a through pass on goal, the speedy attacker left opposing defender Jabari Williams on his backside before neatly tucking past the giant Blanchisseuse goalkeeper Kifah Hernandez.
The burly Hernandez, who could pass as a heavyweight boxer, saved his team’s blushes on a few occasions in the second half, as he twice stuck out a powerful paw to stop shots that looked destined for the top corner.
But the day belonged to the jubilant Diego North team who also had commendable performances from winger Marcus Pivitt and defender and skipper Rueben Rouse. Their reward is a meeting with 2014 Intercol champions East Mucurapo Secondary at St Anthony’s College Ground on Monday 7 November.
Shurland Hartley, coach of Diego North, just wants his boys to relax and play the game they know.
“We are gonna look at this game and try to improve on some of the mistakes that the guys were making,” Hartley said. “We did pretty well in this game so I will tell them to go and do the same things they did and obviously enjoy the game as much as possible.
“They must play relaxed. Don’t go out there with any sort of tension because you are playing a team from the Premier Division. Go and play your football.”
Bandy, who received a Coca-Cola hamper for his “Man of the Match” display, was as sharp as ever after the final whistle. He will hope that the kisses he landed on the sponsor’s female representatives don’t reach his girlfriend’s inbox.
Diego Martin North: 25.Christian Boodoo (GK) (1.Josiah Cooke 59), 4.Rueben Rouse (captain), 7.Stephon Alleyne, 8.Christian Hernandez, 9.Enrique Auguste, 10.Zion Williams, 11.Jelani Moore, 14.Teon Pierre, 17.Marcus Pivitt, 18.Malix Ottey, 19.Sean Albert (6.Joshua Mark 59).
Unused Substitutes: 2.Anthony Beddoe, 15.Jardell Aguillera, Malik Lincoln.
Coach: Shurland Hartley
Blanchisseuse Secondary: 1.Kifah Hernandez (GK), 4.Trilon Kirk (captain), 6.Alex Paul, 7.Kyle Jack, 8.Anil Katwaroo, 9.Jonathan Clement, 10.Jojo Burnley, 11.Brent Cupid, 12.Ronaldo Felician (13.Ezekuiel Kirk 74), 14.Joel Glaude, 16.Jabari Williams.
Unused Substitutes: 3.Donnell Elie, 17.Romeo Sampson.
Coach: Sean Best
Referee: Kevon Nancoo
Man of the Match: Zion Williams (Diego Martin North)
Coca-Cola National Intercol Results
Wednesday 2 November
(North Zone Preliminary round)
Tranquility Secondary 3, Diego Martin Central 1 at Fatima Grd;
Diego Martin North 4 (Stephon Alleyne 31, Kyle Jack own goal 43, Zion Williams 69, 89), Blanchisseuse Secondary 1 (Ronaldo Felician 7) at St Mary’s Grd;
(South Zone Preliminary round)
Moruga Secondary 1, Siparia West Secondary 0 at Princes Town West;
Pleasantville Secondary 1, Point Fortin East 0 at Mahaica Oval;
Upcoming Coca-Cola Intercol Fixtures
Thursday 3 November
(North Zone Preliminary round)
QRC vs Fatima College, 3:30pm, St Mary’s Ground;
(East Zone Quarterfinals)
San Juan North vs Barataria South, 3:30pm, Barataria Oval;
Holy Cross College vs Valencia Secondary, 3:30pm, El Dorado East;
Mason Hall Secondary vs Scarborough Secondary, 3pm, Mt Pleasant;
Goodwood Secondary vs Bishop’s HS, 5pm, Mt Pleasant;
Friday 4 November
Presentation College (Chaguanas) vs Couva East Secondary, 3:30pm, Carapichaima East;
Gasparillo Secondary vs Tabaquite Secondary, 3:30pm, Edinburgh 500;
Chaguanas North vs Miracle Ministries, 3:30pm, Couva East;
Monday 7 November
Princes Town West vs Vessigny Secondary, 3pm, Mahaica Oval;
Shiva Boys HC vs St Benedict’s College, 5pm, Mahaica Oval;
Trinity College (Moka) vs Tranquility Secondary, 3:30pm, Fatima Ground;
East Mucurapo Secondary vs Diego Martin North, 3:30pm, St Anthony’s Ground, Westmoorings;
Tuesday 8 November
Trinity College East vs Five Rivers Secondary, 3:30pm, El Dorado East;
St Augustine Secondary vs Toco Secondary, 3:30pm, Trinity East;
Speyside High vs Pentecostal Light and Life, 3pm, Mt Pleasant;
Signal Hill Secondary vs Roxborough Secondary, 5pm, Mt Pleasant;
Malick Secondary vs Maple Leaf International, 3:30pm, QRC Ground;
Wednesday 9 November
Fyzabad Secondary vs Pleasantville Secondary, 3pm, Mahaica Oval;
Naparima College vs Moruga Secondary, 5pm, Mahaica Oval;
St Anthony’s College vs QRC/Fatima College, 3:30pm, St Mary’s Ground;
Thursday 10 November
Presentation College (San F’do) vs Princes Town West/Vessigny, 3:30pm, Lewis St, San F’do;
Saturday 12 November
St Mary’s College vs Malick Secondary/Maple Leaf International, 3:30pm, at Fatima Ground.