Photo: Meadowbrook High head coach Neo Oxford has set his sights on a place in the second round in the ISSA/FLOW Manning Cup this season.
Meadowbrook High school is certainly not one of the more fancied names in schoolboy football in Jamaica but that could certainly change if their head coach Neo Oxford has his way.
Oxford has been at the helm at the institution for three years now and having laid the proper foundation, believes his team is ready to be noticed. He has spent time building from scratch and is certain that the players under his command are ready to make a mark on the 2017-2018 ISSA/FLOW Schoolboy Football season.
He has however, set a modest target as he bids to return football to the forefront of the sports programme at the school.
“The main objective for us has to be making it to the second round because we have the same bunch of guys from last year. It is my third year here but our second season in the Manning Cup since I took over,” he said.
The Meadowbrook past student believes that the players finally understand his system which has led to the steady progress he desires.
“When I got here we started with the Under-16 team and we have just about the same team now. We have lost four main players but the system is there. We are getting it now, as the pre-season progresses we are seeing the progression of the team, so as we continue playing we hope that we get better in the season, but really the main objective now is the second round.”
One of the main challenges he faces is the area of goalkeeping, but a former goalkeeper himself, Oxford is sure he will get it right.
“We lost our goalkeeper, our central and right midfielders and we lost our main striker from last season. It has been relatively easy to replace the forward and the midfielders but there is a problem with the goalkeeper position throughout the country. We have set about the task of starting from scratch in that area and hopefully he can be ready come September 9th, but so far he is showing some progress.”
There are certain key players around whom the team will revolve this season if Meadowbrook is to make it beyond Group C.
“We have some new players in the school such as Donte Deszousa who will captain the team this year and will be our main striker, Steffon Gregory who was the captain last year, he will strengthen the midfield and Lemar Eccleston is a player with some amount of caliber who will be shoring up our defence line.”
At only 25 years old, Oxford is one of the youngest coaches in the league, but backs himself to upset the applecart this year.
“Last year was our first time in the Manning Cup in three years. The boys learned a lot and the squad is a lot stronger with a lot more firepower. We picked up three points from a single win in 2016 but we aim to get 18 points this year, which guarantees a spot in the second round,” said the brash young coach.
The new schoolboy football season gets underway in just under two weeks and Meadowbrook High will bow into action with a home game against St. Mary High on Monday September 11th.
The other schools in the Group are, Camperdown High, Cumberland High, Hydel High and Waterford High.