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Jaiye, Shoaib, Tyrese, ‘Hulk’… Wired868 highlights the 2019 SSFL All-Star players

Excitement, drama, goals… The 2019 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) was not short of memorable moments. But who were the individual success stories?

Wired868 asked its main SSFL reporters Roneil Walcott, Amiel Mohammed and Jovan Ravello to pick 11 starters, seven substitutes and one MVP apiece in any formation they wanted to make up their all-star dream team.

These are the names they came up with:

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) goalkeeper Isaiah Williams gestures to the camera during his team’s South Intercol final clash with Naparima at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 25 November 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Roneil Walcott’s SSFL All Star XI

Formation: 3-4-3

Goalkeeper: Isaiah ‘Blinky’ Williams (Presentation College San Fernando)

Presentation College (San F’do) finished as runners-up to their fierce rivals Naparima College for a second straight season Premier Division season. However, at the back, no defence was better than coach Shawn Cooper’s ‘Lions’ who conceded a miserly seven goals.

The lanky and confident Williams was integral to that mean defence and his two performances against ‘Naps’ in the 2019 season should live on in the memory of the ‘Pres’ faithful for some time.

Defender: Elisha Garcia (San Juan North Secondary)

Coach Jerry Moe’s usually stubborn San Juan outfit had an inconsistent start to the season and were leaking some goals at the back. However, once they found their straps, the towering Garcia and custodian Emmanuel John had the ‘Bourg Boys’ looking like their old selves again.

Strong in the air and in the tackle, the leggy Garcia takes some getting around, and his performances were vital in San Juan’s appearance at a fourth successive National Intercol final.

2019.10.26: San Juan’s Elisha Garcia (background) wins a headder over Naps Kodel Frontin (#8), during MD14 of the SSFL between Naparima College and San Juan North Secondary at Lewis Street, San Fernando. Photo: Allan V. Crane/CA-images

Defender: Atiba Lewis (Naparima College)

As they sauntered to a fourth Premier Division title in six years, one of Naparima’s biggest strengths proved to be their ability to adjust to the different styles of their opponents and their comfort with varying formations. In keeping with this theme, Lewis’ speed, poise in possession and sense of danger—whether operating as a conventional right back or as a right wing back—added value to Naps’ play on either side of the ball.

Defender: Tyrike Andrews (Naparima College)

Andrews made his Premier Division debut at the age of 14 and it’s safe to say that the once awkward defender has grown into an assured and commanding centre half. The former National Under-17 defender was a pillar at the back for Naps this season and his partnership with young Thaj Andrews was key to his team’s continuing unbeaten league run.

Photo: Naparima College defender Tyrike Andrews (right) pokes the ball away from St Anthony’s College attacker Haile Beckles during National Intercol semifinal action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 30 November 2018.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

Right winger: Ackeem Mason (St Benedict’s College)

If you told St Benedict’s supporters that another ‘Keon Boney’ would be drafted into their team for the 2019 Premier Division season, they would’ve scoffed at you. But that’s exactly what Mason is.

The former Holy Cross College student is powerful, direct, skilful and has a keen eye for goal too. And, much like Boney, when Mason hits them—they stay hit!

Central midfielder: Aleem Barclay (Presentation College San Fernando):

Presentation skipper Aleem Barclay sacrificed his attacking instincts for a more defensive role this season but his impact on games was not lost. Barclay’s deep-lying role offered more freedom to ‘Hulk’ in front of him while he was able to dictate the midfield with his passing range and genuine leadership qualities.

If given too much room outside the area, it should be known that Barclay possesses one of the most thunderous shots in the Premier Division. The upright at Bourg Mulatresse is still shaking from his thunderous hit on the final day of the 2018 Premier Division season.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) captain Aleem Barclay (left) tries to escape from a St Anthony’s College opponent during SSFL action in Westmoorings on 4 November 2019.
The two teams played to a goalless draw.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Central midfielder: Shoaib Khan (Naparima College)

Together with Nathaniel Perouse, Khan formed a formidable partnership in central midfield for the southern juggernauts. While Perouse provided the guile and craft, Khan brought controlled aggression to the table.

The elder brother of National Under-15 starlet Jesse Molik Khan, Shoaib is perceptive on the defensive end and has excellent positioning. The saying ‘blood thicker than water’ runs deep with Shoaib too, and his square off with Presentation’s Ackeel ‘Hulk’ Jacob during league play made for one of the iconic images of the 2019 season.

Left winger: Tyrese Spicer (St Augustine Secondary)

The dangerous Spicer swapped the stripes of St Mary’s College for those of St Augustine this season. And on a personal level, it was totally rewarding for the attacker as he hammered in 13 league goals—second only to St Anthony’s striker Kai Phillip.

Spicer is speedy, tricky, direct and it’s fair to say that his left foot scares quite a few defences. Whether he leads the attack or operates at left wing, he is a constant threat.

Photo: St Augustine Secondary attacker Tyrese Spicer (right) takes on San Juan North full back Kareem John during the East Intercol final at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 21 November 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Unfortunately, San Juan’s monopoly of the East Intercol crown robbed him of the chance to add to the North Intercol title he bagged with St Mary’s in 2017.

Spicer is my pick for the 2019 SSFL Player of the Year.

Striker: Kai Phillip (St Anthony’s College)

The ‘Westmoorings Tigers’ of St Anthony’s College scored a whopping 41 goals in the Premier Division season. Leading the potent St Anthony’s attack was one Kai Phillip, who followed up on an impressive season with Trinity College (Moka) to lead all scorers in the Premier Division with 14 goals.

One knock on St Anthony’s would be their inability to come up trumps in the big clashes this season, as they only managed five points in their matches with schools finishing in the top six. Kai did his best to aid the cause with his silky finishing and dead eye in front of goal though.

Striker: Seon Shippley Jr (Naparima College)

Shippley Jr formed a deadly combination up top for Naparima with the equally wily Isa Bramble. Shippley Jr possesses deceptive pace and strength and his hold up play isn’t too shabby either. He is tenacious, makes sharp off the ball runs into the box and finishes calmly when under pressure.

Photo: Naparima College forward Seon Shippley (centre) prepares to slot home a late winner as Malick Secondary player Shaqim Gooding (right) looks on during SSFL action in Trincity on 21 September 2019.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Striker: Jaiye Sheppard (Presentation College San Fernando)

The diminutive Sheppard also came into his own this season. The Tobago-born attacker leads Presentation’s forward line bravely and is a mixture of trickery and grit. Be mindful of that left foot too!

These guys were equally impressive; but they just couldn’t squeeze into the final XI:

Goalkeeper: Emmanuel John (San Juan North Secondary)

The former National Under-17 goalkeeper had another impressive season with the boys from Bourg Mulatresse and rarely—if ever!—lets his teammates down.

Defender: Luke Charles (Presentation College San Fernando)

Charles is a tower of strength at the back for coach Shawn Cooper’s Presentation outfit and his performance in the South Intercol Final against Naparima College reflected a player with poise way beyond his years.

There was no doubting his bravery either after his clashes with the physical San Juan North pair of Renaldo Boyce and Jerry Morris in the National Intercol final.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) defender Luke Charles (centre) beats San Juan North captain Renaldo Boyce to an aerial ball during the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Left back: Kareem John (San Juan North Secondary)

Like his teammate Garcia, John is uncompromising at the back and never backs down from a tackle. What he lacks in height, San Juan’s vice captain certainly with his grit and dogfight mentality—Moe would want nothing less really.

John often serves up some juicy set pieces for the likes of skipper Renaldo Boyce with his booming left-foot.

Midfielder: Ackeel ‘Hulk’ Jacob (Presentation College San Fernando)

As if dealing with Aleem Barclay wasn’t enough, the burly Presentation midfielder puts on his best superhero impression as he tries to bully opposing midfielders with his forceful play and powerful runs from deep.

His brilliant, first-time cross for Sheppard’s equalising goal against San Juan North in the National Intercol final will probably go down in ‘Pres Lions’ folklore.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) midfielder Ackeel ‘Hulk’ Jacob prepares to take a crack at goal while St Anthony’s College midfielder Kaihim Thomas looks on during the National Intercol semifinals at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 29 November 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midfielder: Daniel David (East Mucurapo Secondary)

Nicknamed ‘Fingers’, the Mucurapo playmaker is a joy to watch in the centre of the park as he glides around the field and tries to unlock opposing defences.

Left winger: Zion McLeod (East Mucurapo Secondary)

After teasing in the Premier Division for a couple seasons, the lanky McLeod sprung to life this season and his enterprising displays on the wing made Mucurapo a constant threat throughout the 2019 campaign.

Right winger: Kaihim Thomas (St Anthony’s College)

Che Benny. Check. Matthew Woo Ling. Check. Figure it out yet?

Kaihim Thomas is a dead ball specialist who can get some wicked bend and dip from 25 to 30 yards out.

Photo: St Anthony’s College deadball specialist Kaihim Thomas goes for goal during SSFL action against Presentation (San F’do) at Westmoorings on 4 November 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-images/Wired868)

Amiel Mohammed’s SSFL All Star XI

Formation: 3-4-3

Goalkeeper: Isaiah ‘Blinky’ Williams (Presentation College San Fernando)
Having to replace departed captain Jabari Grey was no mean feat but Williams did not miss a beat. Time and again, he pulled off big saves in the big moments—none more memorable than his penalty kick stop from Naparima College attacker Ezekiel Kesar in the South Zone Intercol final.

Defender: Justin Cornwall (Presentation San F’do)

The ‘Pres Lions’ conceded only seven goals in a 14 game season and Cornwall was a big reason for that. A good reader of the game, he struck up an excellent partnership with Williams in goal and fellow central defender Luke Charles to create the meanest defence in the league.

Photo: Naparima College forward Seon Shippley (right) and Presentation College defender Justin Cornwall tussle for the ball during the South Zone Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 26 November 2018.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

Defender: Tyrike Andrews (Naparima College)

The ‘Colossus of Lewis Street’, Andrews has been a stalwart of the Naparima rearguard for a few seasons now and continues to perform at high levels. Built like a tank, this imposing figure is an obstacle for any attacker.

Defender: Elisha Garcia (San Juan North Secondary)

After a shaky start to the season, the ‘Boys from Bourg Mulatresse’ found their form at the right time to reach their fourth National Intercol final in a row. Presentation (San F’do) were the eventual winners but Garcia showed his class throughout their run and has been the stabilising force at the back for San Juan as they rebuilt their season.

Midfielder: Shoaib Khan (Naparima College)

Khan has come into his own this season and asserted his midfield dominance on all and sundry. Generally playing as the holding midfielder, his positioning and tackling ability in the middle of park allows him to snuff out danger in an instant before pinging passes to the potent Naparima attack. He has been a model of consistency and is my pick for MVP.

Photo: Naparima College midfielder Shoaib Khan (left) tries to squeeze a shot past San Juan North defender Emmanuel Thomas during SSFL action at Lewis Street on 26 October 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midfielder: Aleem Barclay (Presentation College San Fernando)

He is the glue that keeps the ‘Pres Lions’ together. Captain Barclay knits the notoriously stingy Presentation Defence with their live-wire attackers in the front. He covers every blade of grass, wills his team on in the trying times and isn’t afraid to let the opponents know that he can tackle too.

Attacking midfielder: Zion McLeod (East Mucurapo Secondary)

Dale Saunders has coached East Mucurapo from strength to strength and many would not have expected them to finish in the top four after a see-saw spell of promotion and relegation over the last few seasons. McLeod was a big part of East Mucurapo punching above what many perceived as their weight class.

The busy attacking midfielder has a knack for finding pockets of space and exploiting them to great effect.

Photo: Mucurapo East attacker Zion McLeod (left) fires to goal from the penalty spot during SSFL action in Marabella on 25 September 2019.
Presentation goalkeeper Isiah Williams saved the effort as ‘Pres’ ran out 3-0 winners.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Attacking midfielder: Tyrese Spicer (St Augustine Secondary)

Spicer has been consistently mentioned as a difference maker in the SSFL over the years and this season was no different, even after his switch from St Mary’s College.

Quick feet and quick fire goals are what he is about. Once he has a clear sight of goal from any angle, it’s all over for the opposing goalkeeper.

Forward: Isa Bramble (Naparima College)

From young upstart to now bonafide star, Bramble’s running power and lethal shot from any distance are unmistakable. He is an attacker who can win you a game at any moment.

Photo: Naparima College forward Isa Bramble (left) runs at the St Anthony’s College defence during SSFL action at Westmoorings on 9 October 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Forward: Jaiye Sheppard (Presentation College San Fernando)

Need a player to nip past three challenges and create something out of nothing? Well then, Sheppard is your man.

An excellent dribbler with a cultured left foot, the ‘Pres Lions’ talisman took on more responsibility this season after some key departures and was a vital attacking cog in Presentation’s momentous season.

Forward: Kai Phillip (St Anthony’s College)

The promising frontman at Trinity Moka took to his new school like a duck to water, as he blossomed with the ‘Westmoorings Tigers’ to finish as the SSFL’s top scorer with 14 league goals and three more in the Intercol competition.

Tall, quick on the turn and a predatory finisher, Phillip is certainly one to keep an eye on.

Photo: St Anthony’s College forward Kai Phillips (left) controls the ball during SSFL action against Trinity East at Westmoorings on 25 September 2019.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

And for some quality back-up, my substitutes are:

Goalkeeper: Emmanuel John (San Juan North Secondary)

John hardly ever makes a mistake and even with his team in poor form at the start of the season, his standards never dropped—allowing him to continue to rack up clean sheets.

Defender: Ian Cowie (St Anthony’s College)

When the going gets tough, Cowie gets going. Assured at the back with a hammer of a right boot.

Defender: Brandon St Clair (Carapichaima East Secondary)

St Clair puts the ‘cap’ in ‘Caps’ captain for the Central Zone juggernauts. An assured and promising central defender.

Photo: San Juan North captain Renaldo Boyce (left) tries to get around Carapichaima East skipper Brandon St Clair during SSFL action in Carapichaima on 12 October 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midfielder: Dantaye Gilbert (Presentation College San Fernando)

Another member of a crop of very exciting young players. Gilbert grew in stature as the season progressed earning him a regular starting berth and starring role for Cooper’s team

Midfielder: Ackeel ‘Hulk’ Jacob (Presentation College San Fernando)

‘Hulk’ continued to smash past his opponents in the SSFL this term and came to form at the back-end of the season as he rallied the ‘Pres Lions’ to a long awaited National Intercol title.

Attacking midfielder: Nathaniel James (QRC)

‘Natty’ is class. His awareness and ability to beat his man easily sets him apart. This National U-15 midfielder is definitely one to watch.

Photo: QRC attacker Nathaniel James (right) tries to escape from St Anthony’s College defender Shurland Augustine during SSFL action at QRC grounds, St Clair on 21 September 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Attacking midfielder: Kaihim Thomas (St Anthony’s College)

The league’s undisputed free kick specialist at the moment. Power, dip and accuracy, Thomas has it all.

Jovan Ravello’s SSFL All-Star XI

Formation: 3-4-3

Goalkeeper: Levi Fernandez (Naparima College)

The Naparima goalkeeper/captain was not one of the more overworked custodians in this year’s league but he was solid when called upon and a commanding presence in a team full of leaders.

Photo: Naparima College goalkeeper Levi Fernandez saves a penalty from San Juan North Secondary forward Jerry Morris during the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2018.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

Defender: Tyrike Andrews (Naparima College)

Andrews wins half the battle with his imposing presence alone but his reading of the game and all-round strength, made him the rock on which ‘Naps’ unbeaten run was built.

Defender: Trent Weekes (St Anthony’s College)

At ease at wingback or in the centre of the park, St Anthony’s composed, efficient pass master raised many an eyebrow with his clinical orchestration under pressure to release the ‘Westmoorings Tigers’ counter-attack.

Defender: Zion Carpette (Malick Secondary)

Carpette gives you a second winger as a full back. He’s always full of running in both directions and a constant concern for opposing defenders.

Photo: Malick Secondary flanker Zion Carpette (left) tries to get a grip of East Mucurapo Secondary attacker Malachi Celestine during North Zone Intercol action on 14 November 2018.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midfielder: Nathaniel James (QRC)

A midfielder by trade, National Under-15 and QRC captain ‘Natty’ proved his worth to the Royalians in front of goal this season as he top scored with nine goals.

Midfielder: Shoaib Khan (Naparima College)

Khan’s another imposing presence down the middle of the Naps spine and has established himself as both an immovable object in front the Naps defence and and as a late arriving option in attack.

Midfielder: Dantaye Gilbert (Presentation College San Fernando)

Gilbert has quietly built his reputation as a true box-to-box midfielder with a cool head under pressure, movement beyond his years and an eye for goal. The National Intercol Final’s Most Valuable Player is definitely one for the future.

Photo: Presentation College (San F’do) midfielder Dantaye Gilbert (centre) shows off his Man of the Match award after helping his team past San Juan North in the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December.
Gilbert turned 15 on 4 December.
(Copyright Kerlon Orr/CA-Images/Wired868)

Attacking midfielder: Seon Shippley (Naparima College)

In a team bursting with talent, nine goal midfielder Seon Shippley top-scored for the unbeaten champions—a testament to his ability to almost float between lines of defence to get to the target.

Forward: Kai Phillip (St Anthony’s College)

The SSFL top-scorer distinguished himself by almost always finding just enough space in and around opposing areas to wreak havoc.

Forward: Jaiye Sheppard (Presentation College San Fernando)

‘Let Sheppy do his thing’ is probably the only instruction the Presentation forward needs. He is always on and full of tricks and truly a FIFA generation attacker. He scores important goals and always a threat even when he wasn’t burying it.

Sheppard is my pick for the 2019 SSFL Player of the Year.

Photo: Presentation College forward Jaiye Sheppard (right) celebrates his strike against Mucurapo East during SSFL action in Marabella on 25 September 2019.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/CA-Images/Wired868)

Forward: Isa Bramble (Naparima College)

Bramble’s tireless application to his task, superior physical strength and guile made him a nightmare for left side defenders all season.

And just in case of emergency, here are my substitutes:

Goalkeeper: Jaydon Taylor (Malick Secondary)

Taylor surely had his work cut out for him this season and could have had more clean sheets with a stronger defence in front of him. But if there’s any player that loves his position, it’s the mercurial Malick custodian.

Defender: Nathaniel Barbour (Malick Secondary)

The Malick captain may not be the biggest player on the list but he sure carried himself like a man twice his size for the Lady Young Road.

Midfielder: Mark Ramdeen (Naparima College)

Ramdeen is a tidy midfielder whose greatest strength is his decision-making, injury kept him out of the starting line-up but he shone when he was fit.

Photo: Naparima College attacker Mark Ramdeen (left) lines up a volley while QRC defender Ezekiel Armstrong looks on during SSFL action at St Mary’s College grounds, St Clair.
Naparima won 4-0 to be crowned 2019 Premier Division champions.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Midfielder: Zion McLeod (East Mucurapo Secondary)

That he’s joint third on the scorers’ list with 10 goals shows McLeod’s immense importance to the East Mucurapo cause this season.

Forward: Tyrese Spicer (St Augustine Secondary)

A definite goal-threat, Spicer had a solid season finishing second in the golden boot race despite not being at his clinical best at times.

Forward: Renaldo Boyce (San Juan North Secondary)

The San Juan North leader led from the front this season with seven goals.

Forward: Jardel Sinclair (Presentation College San Fernando)

Dubbed the ‘Super-Sub’ for good reason, Intercol winner Sinclair earned his spot with less time to show his goods than most of the others in the team. He is the Ole Gunnar Solskjær of this SSFL season.

Photo: Presentation (San F’do) attacker Jardel Sinclair (bottom) is congratulated by teammates after his match winning goal against San Juan North in the National Intercol final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 4 December 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

So we tallied the picks from all three reporters and came up with the definitive Wired868 All Star XI for 2019:

Wired868 All Star XI (3-4-3): Isaiah Williams (Presentation San F’do); Atiba Lewis (Naparima), Tyrike Andrews (Naparima), Elisha Garcia (San Juan North); Zion McLeod (East Mucurapo), Shoaib Khan (Naparima College), Aleem Barclay (Presentation San F’do), Tyrese Spicer (St Augustine Secondary); Isa Bramble (Naparima College), Kai Phillip (St Anthony’s College), Jaiye Sheppard (Presentation San F’do).

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3 comments

  1. Are you telling me that not a single Tobago player made any of the lists?

    • Lasana Liburd

      Tobago had just one school in the Premier Division. And Speyside were one of six schools that didn’t get anyone in the All Star team. Nothing personal on any of those schools I am sure. They have had All Star selectees in the past.

  2. I’m happy and proud that my son Atiba Lewis has been selected in the all Star competition thk to who selected him ad I know he would do gd .