Caledonia AIA out of Trinidad and Tobago grabbed the 2011 Kashif and Shanghai title in an intense battle against Pele with a 2-0 victory at the National Stadium on New Year’s evening. The new champion will fly home with one pound of gold (the equivalent of $4 million), while runner-up, Pele, will walk away with $1 million dollars.
Both teams started energetically with smooth passing and several shots at goal but both goalkeepers were exceptional, as the 0-0 score testified at half-time.
In the second half, however, Caledonia took control of the game. Devorn Jorsling scored off a free kick in the 74th minute and with the goalkeeper stranded way outside the goal, Jamal Gay gently pushed the ball beyond the line in the 83rd minute.
On several occasions Pele were able to take the play in the vicinity of the Caledonia AIA goal but on each occasion they were dispossessed decisive Caledonia tackling and passing.
Due to continuous rain during the day, the outfield was skiddy and unfriendly and undoubtedly affected the quality of play.
Pele were out-of-sorts in the later part of the second half and seemed content to surrender the bulk of the possession to the Trinidadians. Most of their shots on goal were way above target.
Devon Millington and Jackie Chan, both Pele players, got yellow cards in the first and second halves respectively.
Earlier in the evening, Milerock and Amelia’s Ward, both out of Linden, went up against each other in the third place playoff, with Milerock emerging victorious with a 2-0 win, earning themselves $500,000. The goal scorers were Randolph Jerome in the 60th and Randy Small in the 68th minute with a bicycle kick which earned him the best goal of the tournament.
The Morvant/Laventille club became the third team from Trinidad and Tobago to win the tournament following in the footsteps of Doc’s Khelawaas (1998) and Joe Public (2006).
Labeled tournament favourite by punters, well before departing Trinidad two Thursdays ago, Caledonia lived up to expectations in Guyana headed by technical director Jamaal Shabazz and coach Travis Mulraine.
On Christmas Day the Pro League club signaled its intentions opening with a 10-1 crushing of New Amsterdam United in the Round of 16 with striker Gay bagging a beaver-trick, striker Trevin Caesar a hattrick, midfielder Ataullah Guerra a double and midfielder Abdallah Phillips also on the scoresheet with a goal.
And advanced into the semi-final round of the tournament by cruising past Victoria Kings 3-1 in the Round of 8 with Guyanese international Walter Moore and Trinidad and Tobago U-23 players Gay and Caesar all finding the back of the net.
Caledonia midfielder Ataullah Guerra was voted tournament MVP, Travis Mulraine picked up the Best Coach award and DIRECTV North East Stars defender Charles Pollard who represented CBR Milerock was voted Best Defender. Milerock finished third with a 2-0 win over Amelia’s Ward United in the third place play-off.
Caledonia returned home on Monday and will take on Police FC from 5pm on Saturday at the Ato Boldon Stadium as the 2011-12 Digicel Pro League Championship resumes on the weekend with Round Two Match Day Four.
Full award listing as follows; Bakewell Buxton Stars won the Fair-play prize. The MVP in the tournament was Ataullah Guerra of Caledonia. Charles Pollard of Milerock won the Best Defender prize and Travis Waterton from Amelia’s Ward was the Best Midfielder. Randy Small of Milerock scored the Most Spectacular Goal while Andrew Williams of Victoria Kings made the Best Save. Devon Millington of Pele scored the Most Goals, with 7.