Naparima College is the 2018 Coca-Cola National Intercol champions after the team defeated San Juan North Secondary School 4-3 from the penalty spot in an exciting final at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva yesterday.
Watched by a large crowd that included the Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, who met the players before kick-off, the southerners added the prestigious silverware to the Secondary School Football League (SSFL) Premier Division and South Intercol titles, for an impressive triple crown this season.
After a goalless 90 minutes of football, Naparima goalkeeper Levi Fernandez held on to Jerry Morris' effort from the spot for his teammate Tyrike Andrews to equalise at 3-3 and send the game into sudden-death penalty kicks.
In the first shootout, San Juan's Akil Johnson missed when his shot rebounded off the upright. Then with a perfect season on the line, Seon Shipley made no mistake with his attempt from the spot which sends the crowd into wild celebrations as the ball hit the net at the back of the goal.
In the early action of the match-up, San Juan mounted a series of early attacks that had Naparima on the defence in the first half as both teams were playing at that venue for the first time this season but San Juan was playing like it was their home ground.
San Juan thought they might have scored when Elair Brewster's well-floated ball from a left side free-kick found the head of Renaldo Boyce, but it cannoned off the crossbar and into safety.
Naparima came to life in the latter part of the first half and from a Decklan Marcelle's cross from the left, they got their first chance at goal. However, Isa Bramble connecting header did not trouble keeper Emmanuel John in the 32nd minute. With honours even after that attempt on the San Juan goal, the teams went into the dressing room evenly matched as the half-time scoreline stayed goalless.
Afterwards, both teams cancelled each other out in the early part of the session until San Juan's Brewster got a rare chance from a ball that was lofted inside the penalty area. However, his weak attempt was quickly secured by Naparima goalkeeper Levi Fernandez.
The southerners received renewed energy when Mark Ramdeen turned and twisted his marker on the left flank before his thunderous drive cannoned off the crossbar and safety behind the goal line. As play continued with both teams seeking title honours and bragging rights, both sides could not be separated, and they had to settle the affair from the penalty spot.
Naparima College (4-2-3-1): Levi Fernandez (GK) (C); 5.Daquon Foster, 4.Tyrike Andrews, 13.Jeron Pantor, 15.Marvin Waldrop; 6.Shoaib Khan, 17.Nathaniel Perouse; 10.Declan Marcelle (9.Ezekiel Kesar), 8.Kodel Frontin, 7.Mark Ramdeen; 19. Isa Bramble (20.Seon Shippley).
Unused Substitutes: 12.Asukile Christopher, 14.Molik Khan, 16.Akil Johnson, 24.Jabari Lee, 30.Enrique Changiah.
Coach: Angus Eve
San Juan North Secondary (4-2-3-1): 1.Emmanuel John (GK); 19.Adrian Duncan (10.Jerry Morris), 4.Elisha Garcia, 22.Kyle Thomas, 17.Kareem John; 14.Darion Warner, 18.Malik Farrier; 2.Tyrell Cameron (13.Christon Mitchell), 3.Elair Brewster (16.Obadele Dickson), 11.Isaiah Chase; 9.Renaldo Boyce (C).
Unused Substitutes: 6.Jordan Britto, 8.Jeremiah Rodriguez, 12.Mattias Kendo, 30.Emmanuel Clarke.
Coach: Jerry Moe
Naparima crowned National Intercol champions.
T&T Newsday Reports.
NAPARIMA College's captain and custodian, Levi Fernandez, produced a spectacular performance in the final of the National Coca-Cola Intercol by flying exceptionally well throughout the game before saving three penalties in an intense shootout. San Juan North Secondary fell victim to a 4-3 loss from the spot at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, after the match ended 0-0 in regulation time. With penalty kicks deciding the newly crowned 2018 Champions, Fernandez saved his side's perfect season and captured the title which eluded them for the past three years.
San Juan's winger, Isaiah Chase, tested Fernandez in the early minutes of the match by taking two shots from distance but the goalkeeper was well alert to the tasks at hand. Naps thought they had opened the scoring in the 22nd minute from a set piece but the goal was ruled offside despite Isa Bramble placing the cross into the back of the net.
Fernandez was in flying form when he saved a powerful shot from San Juan's captain, Ronaldo Boyce in the 47th minute. Two minutes later Chase skied his effort from outside the box. Naparima's midfielder, Mark Ramdeen, then crept into the game when his shot struck the post in the 63rd minute. Fernandez was then called to action in the 72nd minute when he had to dive low to deny Chase of a goal from a shot inside the six-yard box.
Boyce then had his second attempt blocked five minutes later by the unbeatable custodian. The score remained 0-0 until the end of the match as both goalkeepers made their impact. Elisha Garcia managed to save two consecutive shots in the shootout for San Juan North but they were unable to captivate from their advantage.
Speaking after the match, MVP of the match, Fernandez said, "Being the captain of this spectacular side for this season it was a big responsibility for me and when everyone thought it was over in the shootout, I was still calm and confident in myself that I would save at least one penalty." He continued, "It is a remarkable feat to go unbeaten for the entire season and to keep five clean sheets in the Intercol. We know it would have been a physical game against a strong team but I think I did my job which was to keep the ball from hitting the back of the net and we give thanks to God for us achieving this prestigious milestone."
Naps celebrate Intercol victory.
By Radhica De Silva (Guardian).
Celebrating their Triple Crown victory having emerged Intercol champions for the third time in their school's history, footballers of Naparima College held a special assembly at their school in San Fernando on Wednesday.
As their schoolmates applauded lustily, the footballers presented their football trophies to the audience having copped the Premier League championship, the South Intercol championship and the 2018 Coca-Cola National Intercol Championship.
Principal Dr Michael Dowlath said the footballers were undefeated throughout the season and despite the nail-biting final match and the startling penalty kicks by their opponent San Juan Secondary, the Naparima footballers emerged victoriously.
Dowlath said the school was proud as it was the third time that it won the Triple Crown having copped the titles in 1999, 2015 and 2018.
"The support from the student's rhythm section was really outstanding this year. This type of success is an example of the kind of holistic education that we pride ourselves in at Naparima College," Dowlath said.
He added that it was not the only success achieved at the school this year.
"We also won the Junior Achievers Leadership debate series this term and the National Chess Championship as well. We really try to develop all-around men and we are proud of the students and their commitment and perseverance to their academic and extracurricular activities," Dowlath added.
Dowlath also expressed gratitude to the coaching staff led Angus Eve and manager Percey Samlalsingh who played football for Naparima College.
"We want to recognize that football is a great part of the Naparima College. We have produced Mark Ramdeen who was a member of the National Under 20 team. We continue to produce players who go on to top National success," Dowlath added.
He also said that the school had 14 national titles, the most of any secondary school in T&T.
Responding to the Naparima victory Coach Eve said the school has been successful in football over the past few years.
"That consistency was proven by us playing the entire season undefeated and when we went into the Intercol we said we will not concede any goals. The boys showed their discipline and that is the hallmark of the school itself. Every one of my 25 players was tremendous. Captain Levi Fernandez was unbelievable in his leadership," Eze said.
He thanked all the players, defenders, strikers, mid-fielders, their parents, members of staff, sponsors and the principal for helping the team to secure the victory.