NYFL 2023: Jaguars and AIA U20s made to wait as rains temporarily halt Ginga showdown

The owner of the last quarterfinal spot in the Under-20 division of the 2023 Republic Cup National Youth Football League (NYFL) will now be decided on Wednesday, as yesterday’s crucial East Zone fixture between FC Ginga and knockout hopefuls Eastern Jaguars was abandoned just before halftime—after a heavy early morning downpour affected playing conditions at the Eddie Hart Grounds in Tacarigua.

The game was evenly poised at 1-1 after 34 minutes when a sudden shower altered the Eddie Hart playing surface, and referee Joel Davidson suspended the fixture after consultation with both coaches and the Republic Cup officials present.

Eastern Jaguars attacker Jordan Ferdinand (second from right) tries to elude FC Ginga player Malachi Hazel during Republic Cup NYFL U-20 action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

With the Jaguars needing to win by at least two clear goals to advance to the NYFL quarterfinals, the NYFL’s East Zone coordinator and Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president Merere Gonzales informed Wired868 that the game will resume from the 34th minute mark at the same venue from 4:15 pm on Wednesday 24 May.

And if the first 34 minutes were anything to go by, the remaining hour of this NYFL East Zone Under-20 matchup should be a real treat.


“For whatever decision is made in terms of how they’re going to treat with the rest of the game, we are going to accept it,” said Jaguars coach Jason Spence. “The boys are still looked in and switched on to do the best they can do, depending on the outcome from the League and the administration [who have] to decide how we move forward.”

The first of four East Under-20 matches carded for Sunday, Ginga and Jaguars kicked off at 8am and the latter team enjoyed the perfect start. Barely 60 seconds passed from referee Joel Davidson’s opening whistle when attacker Daniel Rose put the Jaguars ahead.

And Rose had the chance to double their lead from the penalty spot in the third minute, only for his powerful spot kick to be kept out by Ginga goalkeeper Jayheim Blake.

FC Ginga goalkeeper Jayheim Blake in action against Eastern Jaguars during NYFL action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Ginga, incidentally, kicked off with just 10 players. But midfielder Anthony Samuel turned up 10 minutes into the contest and, with their full complement of 11 players, the game became an open contest.

With their front four staying high up the field, the Jaguars’ setup resembled a 4-2-4 and they created chances at will. The penalty save apart, Blake was having a tough time holding on to the slippery ball and another Jaguars goal looked imminent.

Yet, at the same, Jaguars lacked numbers behind the ball to defy Ginga when possession changed hands and their mid-table opponents (sixth from nine teams) began to stroke the sphere around in midfield.

It made for an entertaining contest for neutrals.

Eastern Jaguars forward Jeremiah Wells (centre) tries to find a way past two FC Ginga defenders during NYFL action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

In the 13th minute, the Jaguars wasted another chance to open up a 2-0 lead. This time, the lanky Jeremiah Wells sprayed a pass aimlessly across the face of goal with the outside of his boot after isolating a defender down the left and with a teammate unmarked in the area.

Jaguars came close again in the 18th minute, as Syon Prospere’s right-footed free kick was tipped wide of the post by Blake.

Spence, sporting his wide-brimmed hat, charged along the sidelines urging his players to get that all-important second goal that would take Jaguars into the quarterfinals.

But, at the other end, Drakes caught them cold with a bit of set piece magic in the 33rd minute. He has a history with the dead ball.

Two months ago, Drakes caught Wired868’s lenses with a peach of a free kick in Ginga’s 2-1 loss to Malabar Young Stars—on the opening weekend of the season. Yesterday, he showed it was no fluke.

The slender winger took aim from way out on the left flank and arrowed his free kick over a crowded penalty area and into the far corner, past the bewildered Jaguars goalkeeper Tor Fletcher.

FC Ginga attacker Jervaughn Drakes (centre) tries to keep the ball from a quartet of Eastern Jaguars defenders during NYFL action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Just minutes earlier, Fletcher kept out a dipping long range effort from the tidy Drakes that seemed to come out of nowhere. But the Ginga player got the last laugh.

The last word went to Mother Nature though. By then, large puddles were being formed all over the Eddie Hart facility and the players were struggling to move the ball freely on the now-sluggish surface.

Davidson called Spence and Ginga coach Dike Wilson for a brief hearing.

“It’s your call to make,” one Republic Cup official told Davidson, as he looked towards the officials’ tent for some guidance.

Referee Joel Davidson (left) has a word with Eastern Jaguars coach Jason Spence (centre) and FC Ginga coach Dike Wilson during NYFL East Zone U-20 action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

After brief deliberation, Davidson ordered both teams back to their respective tents and suspended the game pending an improvement in the weather or playing conditions. The skies did not relent though and the game was subsequently called off, until further notice.

“We have no control over the weather—the only thing we have control over is the way we play,” Spence told Wired868. “I thought we would have started brightly. Unfortunately, a penalty is always one of those scenarios where the goalkeeper could make a good save.

“I felt as though we should have been a little more advanced in the game.”

Yesterday’s early morning clash wasn’t the only casualty of the weather, as the second scheduled fixture between Trincity Nationals and Malabar Young Stars never even got underway.

FC Ginga players shelter during the rain at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

A handful of Malabar players arrived at the venue before the proposed 10am start, but only one Trincity player showed up. By 10.15am, after a 15 minute grace period, Malabar, whose coach was a no-show, did not have the minimum number of players to claim the game, while the Trincity contingent was absent—barring that one player who seemed to miss the team memo.

Malabar were fifth on the standings with 10 points, while Trincity were seventh with seven points. With neither team having the chance to progress to the knockout round, maybe they opted to stay indoors and keep dry on a wet Sunday morning.

Defence Force’s game did go ahead as scheduled though. And the team which lifted the 2022-23 NLCL U-19 Community Cup trophy under the Soccer Made Simple (SMS) banner, registered their seventh win in eight NYFL games with a 4-1 whipping of Maracas United.

Defence Force Under-20 players pose for the camera during their opening match day of the 2023 NYFL competition.
(Copyright NYFL)

San Juan North Secondary student and 2022 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) standout Larry Noel was two hours early for the outing and the 17-year-old striker’s patience was duly rewarded with the final goal in the rout.

The day’s final fixture also went ahead as planned, with Cooper’s Coaching Academy and San Juan Jabloteh battling to a 2-2 draw—after the “San Juan Kings” scored twice in the last 20 minutes to move to 14 points and consolidate fourth spot on the table.

With Defence Force (21 points) already qualified for the NYFL quarterfinals, the second-placed Athletic International Academy (AIA) (17 points) and third-placed Jaguars (14 points) are the teams vying for the last quarterfinal spot and a meeting with a star-studded QPCC team that finished as North Zone champs.

FC Ginga midfielder Kyle Dwarika (centre) advances with the ball while Eastern Jaguars attacker Jeremiah Wells tries to keep up during NYFL East Zone U-20 action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

AIA have already completed their fixtures and lead Jaguars by three points and a goal difference of two. However, Jaguars have scored more goals in the NYFL campaign.

Come Wednesday evening, the Jaguars need to score more than Ginga to pip AIA to second place—although Spence, a former Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Under-20 and Under-17 Team coach, said he already had plenty to be pleased about with his troops.

“The result is the result of the game, but from what I’ve seen and the way they have grown—knowing we’re now getting back into youth football after the downtime—I’m really proud of them,” said Spence. “Once we stick together, I’m seeing that we will be a force to be reckoned with soon enough.”

Eastern Jaguars coach Jason Spence (right) waves his team on while captain Theron O’ Brien (left) looks for the ball during NYFL East Zone U-20 action against FC Ginga at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Weather permitting, Jaguars will hope the force is with them on Wednesday as they try to extend their 2023 NYFL campaign into the knockout stages.

(Teams)

FC Ginga (4-3-3): 3.Jayheim Blake (GK); 21.Jonathon Pascall, 5. Zakari King, 4.Mikai Rochard (captain), 27.Isaiah Ramnarine; 14.Jervaughn Drakes, 17.Anthony Samuel, 6.Kyle Dwarika; 11.Reshaun Gulston, 9.Malachi Hazel, 23.Jahleel Barbour.

Substitute: 7.Ronaldo Rogers.

Coach: Dike Wilson

Eastern Jaguars (4-2-4): 1.Tor Fletcher (GK); 17.Yohance Nurse, 5.Shermaki Wills, 13.Theron O’Brien (captain), 18.Ronaldo Rigaud; 6.Jordan Ferdinand, 8.Syon Prospere; 19.Daniel Rose, 9.Jamell Cooper, 14.Jeremiah Wells, 10.Kadeem Mendoza.

Substitutes: 21.Jehron Ignatius (GK), 3.Jamal Diaz, 4.Emmanuel Hunt, 7.Josiah Joseph, 11.Teshawn Castillo, 12.Jeremiah Jagroop, 15.Kaviel Bennett.

Coach: Jason Spence

Referee: Joel Davidson

Eastern Jaguars flanker Kadeem Mendoza (top) tries to evade a tackle from FC Ginga midfielder Kyle Dwarika during NYFL East Zone U-20 action at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Republic Cup National Youth Football League

East Zone

Under-13

(Sunday 21 May)

FC Santa Rosa 4 (Aidan Inniss, Christian Thomas, Jeremiah Neptune, Xylon Benjamin), Hillview College FC 1 (Luke Bahadhoorsingh)

FC Ginga 2 (Jiair Nanton [2]), San Juan Jabloteh 0

Hillview College FC players smile for the camera before their opening fixture in the 2023 Republic Cup NYFL competition.
(Copyright NYFL)

Under-15

(Sunday 21 May)

FC Ginga 1 (Tyrique Robe), Eastern Jaguars 0

Under-17

(Saturday 20 May)

Athletic International Academy 0, Arima Semi-Pro Blasters 4

Hayden Tinto FA 14 (Tyrell Stapleton [7], Keisean Spence, Emmanuel Williams, Jadon Clarke, Javion Jordan, Jermelle McSween, Jamarlie Clarke, Shanon Metivier), Ultimate Unisons FC 1

Hillview College FC 3 (Ky’mani Garcia, Christian Aaron, Joshua Green), Elton John Academy 4

FC Santa Rosa 0, Beatnix SC 5 (Deisean Plaza [2], Daniel Votor [2], Tyrese Andrews)

Trincity Nationals 1 (Khaleem Prince), San Juan Jabloteh 1

Arima Semi-Pro Blasters YA goalkeeper John-Paul Aaron prepares to gather the ball during Republic Cup NYFL U-17 action against Beatnix SC in St Augustine on 6 May 2023.
(Copyright Jo Dasent/ Wired868)

Under-20

(Sunday 21 May)

FC Ginga 1 (Jervaughn Drakes 33), Eastern Jaguars 1 (Daniel Rose 1)

*—Game stopped in the 34th minute due to a waterlogged surface

Malabar Young Stars v Trincity Nationals

*—Match did not play;

Maracas United FC 1 (Justin Modeste), Defence Force 4 (Larry Noel, Riley Hill, Liam Dayal, Jaheem Jacob)

Cooper’s Coaching Academy 2 (Jordan Roberts, Christopher Syms), San Juan Jabloteh 2

Eastern Jaguars forward Jeremiah Wells (right) tries to elude a FC Ginga defender rounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Eastern County

Under-13

Duranta FC 7, Matura United 1

North Zone

Under-13

(Saturday 20 May)

Academia De Futbol Excelencia 0, Cardinals FA 3 (Deron Blackman [2], Kayden Moraldo)

Pro Series 0, Santa Cruz United 2

Trendsetter Hawks 3, IATF Academy 0

*—Hawks awarded win by default

Cardinals FA captain Deron Blackman (right) heads the ball during Republic Cup NYFL U-13 action against Santa Cruz Utd at Serpentine Road on 13 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Under-15

(Sunday 21 May)

Pro Series 2 (Jake Barclay, Alejandro Harper), Trendsetter Hawks 1 (Maalik Jarvis)

Under-17

(Saturday 20 May)

QPCC 22 (Michael Chaves [10], Micah Nelson [4], Luke Corriea [3], Josiah Connell [2], Jadiel Joseph [2], Jake da Costa), Laventille United 0

AC Port of Spain 1, Santa Cruz United 0

Police FC 1 (Stephan James), Pro Series 0

Boyce Sport 0, Trendsetter Hawks 0

QPCC forward Michael Chaves (centre) controls the ball during Republic Cup NYFL U-17 action against Trendsetter Hawks at Serpentine Road on 13 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

South Zone

Under-15

(Sunday 21 May)

Ste Madeleine Strikers 1 (Josiah Williams), Union Hall FC 2

Under-17

(Saturday 20 May)

Point Fortin YA 2, Premier SC 1 (Raheem Nelson)

Cox Coaching School 1, Union Hall FC 3

(Sunday 21 May)

San Fernando Academy 0, Cox Coaching School 3

Premier SC 2 (Malachi Webb [2]), Club Sando FC 2

Eastern Jaguars forward Jeremiah Wells tries to initiate an attack during NYFL action against FC Ginga at the Eddie Hart Grounds on 21 May 2023.
(Copyright Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868)

Tobago

(Under-13)

Ball Blasters YA 3, Georgia 0

*—Blasters awarded win by default

Brother Ry’s FA 2, TJ Soccer School 4

St Clair coaching School 0, Lambeau 2

Lambeau 5, TJ Soccer School 2

(Under-17)

Bethel United 2, Eagles FC 3

An Eagles FC attacker (top) tries to avoid a tackle from a Cantaro United defender during NLCL U19 Community Cup semifinal action on 20 June 2022.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

Girls

(Under-16)

Curtis Orr FA 1, Cox Coaching School 4

San Juan Jabloteh 2, South Stars P/Town 0

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