Retribution? Justice? Call it what you like but embattled 2016 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier Division champions Shiva Boys’ Hindu College are the 2017 Coca Cola South Zone Intercol kings.
Before a crowd of just over 3,000 persons at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, Shiva Boys were almost at their irresistible best, defeating Naparima College 2-0 on the day.
Sweetly taken second-half items by skipper Judah Garcia and utility player Yohannes Richardson did the trick for Shiva Boys who were able to get the sweet taste of victory back in their mouths. They had endured a tumultuous Premier Division season, which saw them relegated as a direct consequence of registration issues with midfielder Kierron Mason and left-back Matthew Beal.
Naparima finished second in the 2017 Premier Division league season after memorably grabbing three points from Shiva Boys in the SSFL boardroom—they had protested the latter school’s use of Mason, a former Naparima student, in the season’s curtain raiser.
Assistant coach Corey Browne said last week that the “Penal Princes” had a score to settle with “Naps” although Shiva Boys’ head coach Hayden Ryan tried to play down the revenge theme.
“We came prepared to play this game today and it had nothing to do with the past,” Ryan told Wired868. “We [defeated] this team three times straight now. But having beaten them two times straight did not guarantee that we would win today…”
The tone was set at the back for Shiva Boys, where Richardson and Jabari Graham dominated nearly everything in the air. Meanwhile, on the left flank, Beal was rattling up the mileage, consistently presenting Shiva with an extra option in attack.
Beal’s enthusiasm going forward seemed to free up speedy winger Quinn Rodney, who terrorised Naparima right-back Jeron Pantor. He rarely seemed to know whether to shunt Rodney towards the inside or to allow him space down the wing.
Despite Rodney’s early menace, Shiva Boys’ first real chance came almost out of nothing in the 27th minute when, with the aid of a deflection, Garcia left Naparima goalkeeper Levi Fernandez flat-footed and without a prayer but his left-footed shot cannoned safely off the base of the post.
It was not be the last Fernandez would see of Garcia.
At the other end, just two minutes later, Shiva Boys custodian Denzil Smith had to be alert to fend away a low shot from Naparima’s Judah St Louis who pounced on a poor clearance from opposing defender Rodney Charles.
It was a rare sight at goal for St Louis, though, as he and Naps’ midfield workhorse Rushawn Murphy saw little of the ball and spent most of their time trying to harass Shiva Boys’ midfield trio of Garcia, Mason and Tyrel “Pappy” Emmanuel.
Naparima coach Angus Eve knew that his charges were up against it and must have ground his teeth when lanky attacker Ronaldo McIntosh headed straight at Smith in the 41st minute after meeting a Mark Ramdeen cross. It was probably the only time that McIntosh escaped the attentions of Graham and Richardson.
“The two [Shiva Boys] stoppers were just too strong for our striker,” Eve said. “We are lacking a bit of pace up front and every time the ball went up to him [and] there were good opportunities to attack, we didn’t make the most of it.
“Ramdeen was kinda cutting in a lil bit too much so we basically didn’t take advantage of the counter-attacks.”
In the 65th minute, Ramdeen was played in behind Charles and had the chance to run at Richardson. However, he opted to try a pass instead and Graham intercepted.
The Princes sprang into action and, in two blinks of an eye, Garcia found himself in space and in possession atop the Naparima box. This time he arrowed his left-footed shot beyond a hapless Fernandez and the post did not come to his rescue.
A few Naparima players buried their faces in their tee-shirts.
“We were coming up against a team who had a little more experience than us and had a little more in the tank quality-wise,” said Eve. “I thought it was a good game and a good final. It was a good spectacle for the fans and it was a clean game, unlike what [some commenters] tried to promote on Wired868 [by saying] it was going to be a war.”
Shiva Boys fans would have no complaints about the spectacle. Midway through the second half, they cheered raucously when Asson nutmegged St Louis near the sidelines.
There was another interesting sight as rugged utility player Simeon De Bough prepared to enter the field as a replacement for the injured Charles in the 73rd minute.
“Pappy” and Richardson rushed over to Ryan and appeared to disagree. So the coach introduced attacker Tyrell “Sexyman” Baptiste instead.
After the match, Ryan told Wired868, that he had had a change of heart after consulting with his technical staff.
Sexyman nearly rewarded his teammates for their faith when, within seconds of his entrance, he eluded two Naparima players with lovely skill and slipped in Asson. However, Naparima left-back Andre Raymond put in a magnificent goal-saving block.
There was no stopping Richardson’s 83rd minute blast, though.
It was as close a replica as you are likely to find of the thunderbolt from Soca Warriors right-back Alvin Jones that flattened the USA in the final Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier last month. Richardson took aim from some 35 metres out and his wicked right-footed shot left Fernandez flapping at air.
Although Ryan was unhappy that Richardson whipped off his tee-shirt and picked up a booking for his celebration, the coach was pleased with everything else his reliable utility player did today.
“[Yohannes] scored an excellent goal [and] he played strong and played with character,” Ryan said. “He is a leader of this team and I hope that God blesses him and he does something good for his life.”
Richardson was not the only one to receive plaudits, Ryan commending his entire team on a professional display.
“I am glad they played with that [style] because that’s how we play right through,” said Ryan. “To come here and do something else I would have been very much disappointed. They played strong, they showed character.
“And even when the game was a bit balanced and it looked like it could go anywhere, they stood up and every man was counted.”
Eve conceded that his charges lost to the better team.
“Credit to Shiva. They played a great game but I commend my guys because they stuck to it even when we went down to 2-0,” Eve said. “They were still pushing and trying to make opportunities so I’m very proud of the guys.”
After some regrettable mistakes off the football pitch, Shiva Boys can take some consolation from possession of the South Intercol trophy. For now, Ryan is not looking at their National Intercol semi-final battle with Carapichaima East Secondary on 30 November.
“We are humbly going forward one game at a time and one foot at a time,” said Ryan, “trusting in the Almighty to bless this team.”
If next week Shiva Boys’ Hindu College play like they did today, Theophilus Bourne and the “Caps” crew had better watch out.
Naparima College (4-2-3-1): 1.Levi Fernandez (GK); 13.Jeron Pantor, 5.Rondell Payne (captain), 2.Tyrike Andrews, 19.Andre Raymond; 9.Rushawn Murphy, 8.Kodel Frontin; 10.Mark Ramdeen (7.Isa Bramble 78), 6.Judah St Louis (17.Shoaib Khan 85), 16.Decklan Marcelle (15.Shadeon Arthur 78); 18.Ronaldo McIntosh.
Unused Substitutes: 30.Enrique Changiah (GK), 3.Akil Johnson, 14.Ezekiel Kesar, 27.Chakim Guy.
Coach: Angus Eve
Shiva Boys’ Hindu College (4-2-3-1) : 22.Denzil Smith (GK); 32.Ronald Charles (9.Tyrell Baptiste 73), 19.Yohannes Richardson, 3.Jabari Graham, 14.Matthew Beal; 6.Tyrel Emmanuel (8.Jude Phillip 86), 15.Kierron Mason; 17.Ronaldo Edwards (5.Anderson Peters 78), 10.Judah Garcia (captain), 7.Quinn Rodney; 11.Junior Asson.
Unused Substitutes: 24.Dejon Blondell (GK), 16.Simeon De Bourgh, 21.Aaron Rodney, 23.Jeremy Williams.
Coach: Hayden Ryan
Referee: Joel Cox
Wired868 Man-of-the-Match: Yohannes Richardson
Coca Cola South Zone Intercol final
(Thursday 23 November)
Naparima College 0, Shiva Boys HC 2 (Judah Garcia 65, Yohannes Richardson 83) at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Upcoming Intercol fixtures
(Monday 27 November)
Signal Hill v St Mary’s College, National quarterfinals, TBA;
(Thursday 30 November)
San Juan North v Signal Hill/St Mary’s College, 3.30pm, National semifinals, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Shiva Boys HC v Carapichaima East, 5.30pm, National semifinals, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Monday 4 December)
National Girls Intercol finals, 3pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
National Boys Intercol Finals, 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.