Shawn Cooper, the Presentation College, San Fernando coach does not want to put any more pressure on his young bunch of players heading into the Coca Cola National InterCol Final against San Juan North Secondary at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain Couva on Wednesday.
However, he wants to avoid a situation of 'deja vu' when the teams meet from 4:30 pm this afternoon.
The game will follow an earlier Girls InterCol final encounter between Pleasantville and Signal Hills Secondary from 2:30 pm at the same venue.
On Tuesday, Cooper said it could be a case of deja vu if his players do not win on Wednesday.
In his school's last InterCol final match in 2016, they defeated San Juan North 2-1 in the League but lost 1-0 to them in the InterCol final. This year, the southerners were again 2-1 winners over the San Juan boys, but this time they will be hoping to prevent the jinx of another loss to the same team.
Besides that, coach Cooper hasn't been too hard on his players, reducing his training sessions to just a couple times a week to allow the players the opportunity to recuperate.
"After losing some nine players from last year, we have made it very clear this year that it would have been a rebuilding year for the team, and to be fair to them, they have exceeded our expectations so far, because we were not expecting them to achieve as much as we have," Cooper explained.
He added, "We are already very proud of them so what I want is for the young players, is for them to go out there and have fun, do their best, and try to win the match." The irony, however, is that Cooper's 'young' bunch of players will have the task of earning the school their second InterCol title in more than 44 years.
Presentation's last InterCol win came back in 1975 and despite the inexperience of the team this year, they have racked up a few impressive achievements, such as conceding the least amount of goals for the Premier Division held earlier (7 goals) and just two in the InterCol play-offs. The southerners also finished the League in the second position and will be in a similar position should fortune not favour them this afternoon.
Meanwhile, San Juan manager Stephen Clarke said his team wants to finish the season with a bang, by winning it for a large number of players who will be leaving the school after this season. They include instrumental striker Renaldo Boyce, Isaiah Chase, Malik Farrier, Elijah Garcia and Kendo Mathias, among others.
"We are living our dream of playing on the first and last day of the SSFL, so why wouldn't we want to win? At this time we feel very confident that we are going to win the title, once we dig deep and play the type of football we know we can play. Too besides, we will have several players playing their last game, so we want to win that for them," Clarke said.
He dismissed concerns his team was beaten by their counterparts in the League, saying, "They played us when we were going through a difficult patch, but now it's the final and the players are aware of how important it is for them," Clarke said.
Intercol Boys, Girls champs to be decided at Couva.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
THE 2019 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) season will conclude on Wednesday, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva with the boys and girls finals of the Coca Cola National Intercol.
The girls decider will take place from 2.30 pm with defending champions Pleasantville meeting Signal Hill, in a repeat of the 2018 final.
Two hours later, the boys final will be contested between Presentation San Fernando and San Juan North.
Pleasantville and Signal Hill had one-sided results in their respective semi-finals on Sunday.
Pleasantville trounced Five Rivers 8-0 at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. Latifha Pascall netted twice, in the 48th and 65th minutes, and there was a goal apiece from Aaliyah Pascall (16th), Kurshell Allen (42nd), Alexcia Ali (56th), Akyla Walcott (61st) and Chrissy Mitchell (76th). Pleasantville also benefitted from an own goal, in the 38th.
In the other girls semi, Signal Hill hammered Carapichaima East 8-1 at the Plymouth Recreation Ground. Tiah Crichlow led the way with a hat-trick, Celine Loraine contributed a pair and there was a goal each from Dilleasia Nicholson, Jelese Alexander and Aaliyah Alvarez.
Presentation San Fernando eliminated 2018 champions Naparima in the South Zone Intercol final on November 25.
And, on Friday, the Shawn Cooper-coached outfit cruised to a 3-1 win over St Anthony’s in the second game of a National Intercol semi-final double-header at Couva.
And San Juan North, coached by Jerry Moe, defeated Carapichaima East 2-0 to book a ticket to the final.
Both San Juan North and Presentation San Fernando met in the 2016 Intercol title-match, with San Juan prevailing 1-0.