The second round of the new look Manning Cup competition, begins on today with only six of the expected eight games. The second round will be contested by sixteen seeded teams with the higher seeded teams facing off against the lower seeded teams.
With some preliminary round games yet to be played, only six match-ups have been confirmed and these games will be contested across three venues.
Over at the Stadium East Field, the competitions highest aggregate scoring team, Kingston College, will do battle with the vastly improved Tivoli Gardens at 1pm, while the second game of the double header will feature defending champions Jamaica College going up against the inconsistent Charlie Smith.
Kingston College were run away winners of Group E, winning nine of their ten games, drawing their last prelim game against Excelsior and will be confident going into the game against Tivoli. Last year’s Manning Cup top scorer Rashawn Mackison, has already scored half his tally for last season, slamming 11 of KC’s total of 57 goals. He has been ably supported by wingers Omar Thompson and Trayvone Reid who have scored and respectively.
Tivoli has had their most impressive showing in the competition in years and won’t be overawed by their opponents, after showing some pedigree by taking a point off of defending Super Cup champions, Wolmer’s Boys in a Group A encounter at their home base. They finished runners- up in the group and earned the right to face the former champions in the home and away tie.
Defending champions Jamaica College have been a mixed bag this season, drawing twice with St. Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) and Bridgeport High on the way to finishing second in Group B, behind surprise winners STATHS. Now with their title literally on the line in the second round knockout phase, the ‘True Blue’ must get it right against the Jerome Waite coached Charlie Smith. Tyreke Maghee must lead the way for the Miguel Coley coached boys as they continue their pursuit of a fifth straight hold on the trophy.
Charlie Smith has been a disappointment every time their head coach has been away on national duty as assistant coach for the senior Reggae Boyz team, but with Waite back from Saudi Arabia he will be able to get the boys focused and ready against a vulnerable JC team. It will however, be a tough task for the Trench Town based team, against the battle hardened champions.
Camperdown High finished second to Hydel in Group C and their fairly young unit has shown sparks here and there but must come good against a STATHS team that has shown grit, coming from behind twice to draw with JC in the first round.
STATHS has been showing signs from last season and will be a major problem for the Chris Bender coached Camperdown. STATHS are former champions and will be showing their pedigree in one of the most open ties of the second round. This game begins at 1pm at the Constant Spring Stadium.
The feature game at Constant Spring could mark the start of the upsets in the second round. Calabar High has had their best start to a Manning Cup campaign in a decade, but after over running Group G in the first five games of the first round, found the going a lot tougher in the return fixtures succumbing to Charlie Smith and Eltham, before recovering against lowly Campion to claim first place in the group.
Calabar will be going against a talented Excelsior High that, drawn in just about any other group could have ended up as group winners and enjoyed a much higher seeding. The Mountain View Avenue based school has had only one failure so far this term, losing 3-1 to KC before holding them to a draw in the return leg. Despite finishing second in their group and Calabar ending as group winners, Excelsior will start favourites against the boys from Red Hills Road.
Over at the Spanish Town Prison Oval at 1pm, giant killers St. Catherine High will face off with a talented Hydel team who on their day, can hang with the best teams in the competition. St. Catherine will still be on a high following their stunning 2-0 win over St. Georges College on Wednesday and will carry over that emotion into today’s encounter. Their coach Anthony Patrick knows how to win this competition and will have his troops tactically ready to go.
For Hydel it is a matter of concentration and tactical discipline for 90 minutes. There is talent right throughout the squad but they have continuously played in spurts which will not be good enough today. Coach Corey Bennett is in his debut season as head coach and will have to find the right words, at the right time, to inspire his team to victory.
Super Cup champions Wolmer’s Boys will battle a confident Bridgeport, in what should also be an open tie starting a 3pm. Despite coming out winners of Group A, Wolmer’s have been less than impressive all season and were even stunned by Haile Selassie 2-1, this after being held scoreless by Tivoli Gardens. Bridgeport High are third place finishers from the competitive Group B and with two draws against JC under their belt, will feel like Wolmer’s is there for the taking. The result in the first leg could go a far way in deciding who advances to the third round of the competition.
The other games to be played on the day are Group A and D preliminary games.
Already out of contention Denham Town face former champions St. Georges College (STGC) at Tivoli Gardens. STGC were stunned 2-0 by St. Catherine High on Wednesday and will need a win to boost both confidence and their seeding position.
Haile Selassie has a chance of qualifying for the second round and will be going with all guns blazing when they host the lowly Pembroke Hall. Both games start at 3pm.