Top four clash in RSPL semis

April 09, 2016
Portmore United's Adoah Nickle
@Normal:Montego Bay United's Ronaldo Rodney (left) is on the receiving end of a tackle by Arnett Gardens' Jason Moore (centre), while Rodney's teammate looks on during their Red Stripe Premier League football encounter at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex on March 28. Arnett won 2-1.
@Normal:Humble Lion's Horace Sharpe
Portmore United's Ricardo Morris.
@Normal:Humble Lion's midfielder Levaughn Williams.
Portmore United's Kemo Gayle (left).
@Normal:Arnett's Kemal Malcolm
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• Humble Lion vs Portmore tomorrow; Montego Bay United vs Arnett Gardens on Monday

Humble Lion FC and Portmore United FC will clash in an highly anticipated Red Stripe Premier League first leg semi-final at Effortville Community Centre in May Pen, Clarendon, tomorrow, starting at 3:30 p.m.

On Monday night, Montego Bay United host defending champions Arnett Gardens FC in the other first leg semi-final at Catherine Hall Complex in Montego Bay, St James, at 8:40 p.m.

Supporters of the four teams involved in the play-offs for the RSPL national title are anxiously awaiting the matches. And, with all the teams evenly matched it could come down to the teams that executive their plans perfectly on the day.

Playing at home, Humble Lion are very confident they will gain a first leg lead as they enter the last four in the best form. They are on a run of four consecutive wins and coach Vassel Reynolds says that it will be a close encounter between the teams, but he is hoping for a good result at home.

"Portmore are a good team technically, but we are also good. We are expecting Portmore to perform well, so I'm anticipating a tactical game," Reynolds told STAR Sports during the RSPL weekly press conference on Thursday.

Striker Levaughn 'Country' Williams has come back from injury and pushed the team into the semi-finals with a brace against relegated Rivoli United and has scored in his team's last five games. Williams will be a key player for the Clarendon team.

"Levaughn is that type of player that will win games. He was on the injury list for a long time but now, he is back and scoring goals. However, we have a strong unit and looking forward to team work," the head coach added.

oozing confidence

Humble Lion will also rely on senior players such as Wolry Wolfe, his brother Kemeel, Ricardo Cousins, Hugh Howell and national representative Andrew Vanzie to hand them an advantage going into the second semi-final match.

On the other hand, Portmore are oozing confidence after topping the preliminary stage of the RSPL and winning the $1 million cash incentive. Portmore hold a psychological advantage heading into the game, having won twice and drawn the other in three regular season games against their opponents.

However, that is now in the past and the teams will start on a level playing field tomorrow.

"This is the semi-finals and we are fully aware of what we have to do as a team," Portmore United's technical director, Andre Waugh said.

Jovan East is the club's leading goal scorer on nine goals, and he is expected to be supported by captain Omar 'Ratty' Daley, Ewan Grandison, Maalique Foster and Ricardo Morris.

The next semi-final featuring 2013-14 champions Montego Bay United and last season's winners, Arnett Gardens could be a mouth-watering affair.

Going back to the final last year, Montego Bay have failed to beat Arnett in the last four clashes between the teams. However, like in the first semi-final, this is a new day and past results count for nothing.

below par

Both teams participated in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship last month and since then have looked below par in the local league.

Head coach of Arnett, Jerome 'Jerry' Waite, who guided the 'Junglists' to three of their four national titles says that his team is ready for the battle.

"The team is fully recovered and ready for the semi-finals," Waite assured. "We have a deep squad and have been rotating players to keep them fresh," the veteran football tactician said.

Among Arnett's top players are their leading scorer Kemal 'Tull' Malcolm on 12 goals, as well as national representative Vishinul Harris, Newton Sterling, captain Oneil ' Bigga' Thompson, Dicoy Williams and Leon Strickland.

Lincoln White, a director of Montego Bay United FC, says that the time is right to beat Arnett for the first time in the 2015-16 season.

"We didn't have the luck in the three previous encounters against Arnett. This is the right time to beat Arnett as it is the semi-finals," White declared during the RSPL press conference at Red Stripe Lounge on Spanish Town Road.

"We are ready to regain the title from Arnett. Anything less than the best is not accepted. The team is ready and coach Paul 'Tegat' Davis will field the strongest team," White added.

Montego Bay United have the two most potent strikers in the league with Owayne 'Turtle' Gordon on a league high 19 goals and Dino Williams in second on 15 goals. Other players such as national squad member, Allan Ottey, captain Dwayne Ambusley, Fabian McCarthy and Jacomena Barrett.

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