Photo: Dr. Dean Weatherly coach of Montego Bay United and Jerome Waite coach of Arnett Gardens will come head to head in the Red Stripe Premier League final on Monday Night at the National Stadium.
Defending champions Montego Bay United FC hunt back to back titles when they take on the regular season best team , Arnett Gardens FC, in the finals of the Red Stripe Premier League inside the National Stadium on Monday night, starting at 9:00pm.
Arnett and Mobay will assume the mantle in the long-standing rivalry between Urban and Rural soccer powerhouses. An Arnett win will give the urban club their 4th title in the nation's top flight football league. Mobay (formerly Seba United) will make it 4 titles for the rural area team should they prevail.
Not surprisingly, Arnett Gardens advanced past Humble Lions to the final despite drawing the first semi-final at home, given its pedigree, experience and star power. But Mobay United's unexpected whipping of last year's beaten finalist Waterhouse denied the soccer world another all KSAFA finals.
However, the actual Arnett Gardens vs Mobay United clash has already produced a number of intriguing storylines, which will frame conversation in the soccer world for months and years to come.
Arnett Gardens, founded in 1977, was so dominant in their debut season it propelled them to the 1977-78 championship. Although they suffered a long drought after that, the club re-emerged at the start of the new millennium, winning both the 2000–01 and 2001–02 championships. The man who delivered both titles then, Jerome Waite, is at the helm again.
A successful coach who knows how to win titles and a man who has been in the hot seat more times than the number of his own fingers and toes, Waite will be featuring in his third finals for this season, hoping to turn his luck around from the last two.
Walking away without the prestigious title would count as a disappointing season for Waite and his team despite finishing the league on most points, with the most goals, best attacking team, end of round finals champions and a league record of 10 straight wins.
For Waite to inscribe his name in Arnett Gardens's folklore, his key players will have to strike the right chord and sing the right note. Arnett has finished the regular season with 13 clean sheets and they have failed to score on only 5 occasions. Though Arnett is known for their goal scoring prowess, there is also a gaping hole in their line of defence especially when Dicoy Williams is absent. Four goals to nill was their largest margin of victory and a five nill thumping by their opponent in the final. Mobay United, was their largest margin of defeat.
Arnett Gardens success all season came by the mere fact that 15% of their goals were scored in the first 20 minutes of the first half, while 28% of the goals scored in the second half were scored in the last 15 minutes of the game. The main players responsible for this are, Andre Clennon (national invitee) and Arnett's leading goal scorer Leon Strickland.
The midfield trio of Marvin Morgan, Renae Lloyd and Vishinul Harris are all hungry for a Premier League title, hence they are aware that a stellar performance is needed in the middle of the park to prevent the cup from eluding them for another season.
Montego Bay United on the other hand, knows how important it is to erect a brick wall for the 90 minutes if they want to retain their title. Founded as Beacon in 1972, the club was renamed Seba United a few years after and won the Jamaican National Premier League in 1987 and 1997 under that name. Perhaps their more famous win was in the 1996/97 season when they were docked twenty points but still found a way to lift the title.
The renaming for a second time as Montego United has yielded fruit as they won the title for an overall third time and first as Mobay United, last season.
Dr. Dean Weatherly has been given the baton in the anchor leg position again and he is in very good strides to finish in first position, as he did last year, after taking over at a similar stage in the competition.
With two premier league and several schoolboy titles to his credit, Dr. Weatherly knows how to prepare a team for a final of this magnitude, which is twice as hard as extracting a tooth.
The nucleus of Mobay's team were all winners last year and are heading into the finals with the comfort of knowing how to handle the pressure on the big occasion. Boasting the best defensive record of 15 clean sheets, they know they are up against the best offensive team in the island, therefore the defensive unit must be rowing in the same direction.
Though all key players of Allan Ottey, Dino Williams and Lesley St. Fleur display goal scoring adroitness, they have failed to find the net on 11 occasions. Mobay United is not an early starter but the best part of their game will come alive in the second half with 31% of their goals scored is in the final 20 minutes of games. This is due to the mere fact that they are a very physical team.
One would expect Mobay to deploy a 3-5-2 formation to combat Arnett's 4-3-3 formation and try to force the Arnett's defence to chase their speedy forwards of Ottey and Williams.
Whatever the game plan of both coaches, the fans can expect goals, excitement and tons of entertainment in what is expected to be a classic final between two evenly matched teams, with perhaps the main statistic being the fact that Arnett has scored only once against Mobay this season.