Carlass pulling strings from midfield
Haile Selassie's 2-0 win over top-seed Holy Trinity in their first-leg, round-of-16 Manning Cup game at Constant Spring on Tuesday was a major shocker in the second round of the competition. At the heart of everything good the underdogs did that day was midfielder Tajae Carlass.
The playmaker was not on the scoresheet, nor has he been on many, with only one goal to his name this season. However, he patrolled midfield, making tackles and breaking up Holy Trinity attacks, dictating the game from the middle of the park and stringing passes in attack.
The second year Manning Cup veteran credited his strong performance this season to coach Perry Bartley and his coaching staff.
"Preseason we worked with what the coach said and we have worked with his instructions by going out and doing it on the pitch. The coaches knew what they wanted. They told us what to do and we came and executed on the pitch, " Carlass said.
The midfielder said though they Haile Selassie are not fancied to win the Manning Cup, he is confident in their ability and believe they have what it takes to go all the way.
"People didn't know what to expect from us this season but we expected to come through and we did. We didn't think we would have to come through as one of the third-place teams. We expected to finish higher than that.
"This (win over Holy Trinity) might surprise a lot of people but not us. We know we have it in us. Now we have this (2-0) advantage and are looking to hold our position and move on to the next round," he said.
Although they hold a comfortable lead over the number-one seed, Carlass hopes they can put the tie further out of their reach.
"When we come back, we are going to be the away team. We have an advantage but we are going for it again," he said.
Meanwhile, Bartley insisted that if they are to do anything special this season, Carlass will have to play an important role.
The game we lost against Tivoli, one of the reason we lost the game against Tivoli was because he wasn't playing,. He was out on cards. He is very important to the team. He is the leader, he is a great tackler. He passes the ball well and his level of maturity makes everyone look up to him for that strength. He is a key piece of the puzzle," he said.
"If the team is to do well, he has to play well, and he knows this. He knows he has a role to play and nobody can fill the role the way he does it," Bartley added.