The 2023 Coca Cola National Intercol competition had its first major upset yesterday evening, as Queen’s Royal College sent defending champions and Premier Division winners, Fatima College, crashing out of the competition with a 2-1 triumph at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
QRC will now meet St Anthony’s College in the North Zone Intercol final on Thursday 23 November at the same venue.
St Anthony’s saw off East Mucurapo 3-0 in the first game of a Hasely Crawford double header. The “Westmoorings Tigers” were relentless, although they had to wait until late in the first half to break Mucurapo’s resistance.
An Andell Fraser rocket in the 43rd minute and a Joshua Miller penalty, just seconds later, paved the way for a comfortable result for the Tigers with substitute Mordecai Ford grabbing a late insurance item for good measure.
Fatima might have expected a similarly straightforward result, after trouncing the “Royalians” 7-1 on Mucurapo Road last month. But coach Kenwyne Jones’ troops timed their revenge to perfection.
It did not always appear that an upset was on the cards though. Free-scoring midfielder Aidan De Gannes put Fatima ahead with a deflected shot in the 36th minute, after a Kade Collier pass.
And God alone knows how the defending champs did not extend their advantage before the break. Referee Nikolai Nyron had something to do with that, though.
First, in the 38th minute, Nyron—on the advice of his assistant referee—mysteriously overruled a predatory finish by Fatima forward Michael Chaves.
Irrepressible flanker Joshua Mason dribbled past two QRC opponents before sending a speculative, angled effort towards the opposing goal. Inexplicably, QRC goalkeeper Jaheim Affan failed to hold on and Chaves pounced to finish under Affan’s body.
But he was thwarted by the assistant referee’s flag.
Replays showed that Chaves was certainly not offside while there was no contact with the QRC custodian before his astute finish. So why was his item disallowed?
To add insult to injury, Nyron waved play on as Chaves was tripped in the opposing box, just four minutes later, by QRC defender Zakari King. Replays again confirmed that the match officials got it wrong.
Fatima were leading at the time and the decisions did not immediately appear costly. But that changed in the 52 minute, when QRC attacker Stephon James showed more desire for the ball than opposing defender Yohance Atherton before pulling his side level with another deflected effort.
And, in the 80th minute, the Royalians struck again as their own talented winger, Micah Nelson, troubled the opposing defence with another mazy run and the ball broke for substitute Musaddiq Mohammed, who expertly steered the rebound into the far corner.
Fatima had no response. And the reigning champions were out.
The 2023 Intercol competition will crown a new king then. Jones’ Royalians might have their own ideas about who that should be.
2023 Intercol results
(Thursday 16 November)
St Anthony’s College 3 (Andell Fraser 43, Joshua Miller 44 pen, Mordecai Ford 79), East Mucurapo Sec 0 at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Fatima College 1 (Aidan De Gannes 36), QRC 2 (Stephon James 52, Musaddiq Mohammed 80) Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Friday 17 November)
St Benedict’s College v Pleasantville Secondary, South Semis, 3.30pm, Mahaica Oval;
Presentation (San F’do) v Naparima College, South Semis, 5.30pm, Mahaica Oval.
Zonal Intercol finals
(Monday 20 November)
Chaguanas North Sec v Miracle Ministries PHS, Central finals, 3.30pm, TBA;
(Tuesday 21 November)
San Juan North v Arima North Sec, East finals, 3.30pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Wednesday 22 November)
Speyside High v Bishop’s High/ Signal Hill, Tobago finals, 5.15pm, Dwight Yorke Stadium;
(Thursday 23 November)
QRC v St Anthony’s College, North finals, 3.30pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;
(Friday 24 November)
St Benedict’s/ Pleasantville Sec v Naparima/ Presentation (San F’do), 3.30pm, Mahaica Oval.