Rawle Toney reports…
FROM the time the fixtures were released, football-loving fanatics have been dreaming of a Bakewell Slingerz FC versus Alpha United final in the Kashif and Shanghai football tournament and this Sunday at the Guyana National Stadium, their dreams will come true.
When the semi-finals of the 25th edition of the tournament were held at the Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) ground, Bakewell Slingerz dismantled Riddim Squad 4-0 while Alpha United had to work hard for their 1-0 win over Pele.
A double by Devon Millington (36th and 64th) and a goal each from Julian Wade (65th) and Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams (89th) ensured that the Vergenoegen-based club will meet their rivals for the fourth time in two years. Alpha had got their winning goal from ace striker Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson in the first half.
It’s fair to say that the Slingerz/Riddim Squad was a one-sided contest with the Mocha Arcadia club finding it hard to keep up with the star-studded cast of the ‘West Side’ champs.
A line-up featuring most of the players from the ‘Golden Jaguars’ – Guyana’s senior National Football – proved to be a mismatch and produced a brand of football that was above Riddim Squad.
Boosted by the return of their Dominican International striker Julian Wade who was on duty for his country in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers and the inclusion of Suriname’s top forward Wensley Christoph, Bakewell Slingerz looked different from against Victoria Kings and Fruta Conquerors.
Having had several chances to score in the initial stage of the game, Millington teamed up with Christoph, playing on the wing to score the game’s opening goal in the 36th minute.
The ‘Dutchman’ playing down the left wing, getting around two Riddim Squad defenders, slipped the ball through to a lurking Millington who had made the right run on goal and gave Slingerz a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Twenty minutes into the second half, after failing to connect on goal on at least five occasions, Christoph again picked out Millington, this time scoring the ‘goal of the game’ when he volleyed a one-time pass from the Surinamese International that left the crowd at the DCC ground in ‘awe’, including the Riddim Squad keeper.
Christoph again left his mark on the game when he replicated his first assist to Millington, this time finding Wade flashing down the middle and his one-touch effort was put out of reach of the advancing keeper.
Riddim Squad really had no chance getting past Slingerz’s rock-solid defence led by Colin Nelson, King Solomon Austin and Joshua Brown.
Dwayne Lawrence and Abrams came in as substitutes replacing Vurlon Mills and Wade respectively and the two teamed up to score the game’s fourth goal.
Lawrence attacked his defenders, sending a ‘through-ball’ that was beautifully taken by Abrams that saw him go one-on-one with the gaolie. The veteran dapper striker then used his experience to guide the ball safely into the net.
It was the team’s most impressive performance as compared to their foes Alpha United who had to scrape past Pele.
Omallo Williams was Pele’s star of the night, breaking down Alpha United’s defence at will but the diminutive forward lacked technicality in finishing.
Alpha United and Golden Jaguars defender Jamaal Smith had his work cut out for him for the entire night.
However, the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship-bound team played flatfooted and had Pele finished on all the chances they created, on Sunday, the finalists would certainly have been different.
Richardson capitalised on Pele’s weak defence and broke down the middle using some fancy footworks, coupled with a sudden burst of speed. He perfectly controlled the ball and beat Pele’s Richard Reynolds, who advanced, but experienced as he is, could not prevent the game’s lone goal in the 30th minute.
The winner of this year’s tournament will pocket $2M, second-placers $1M while third- and fourth-placers get $750 000 and $500 000 respectively.