Reigning South zone intercol champions St Benedict's College and Presentation College (San Fernando) will meet in the South zone intercol final on November 24, after getting contrasting wins in their respective semi-finals at the Mahaica Sporting Complex, Point Fortin on Friday.
Benedict's got a thumping 5-0 win over Pleasantville Secondary in the first semi. Meanwhile, Presentation emerged 5-4 victors on penalties after playing out an intriguing goalless stalemate through regular time with their bitter rivals Naparima College. Presentation and Naparima played to a goalless draw in their Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) premier division meeting this season, and their intercol encounter again showed how evenly matched both schools are.
Naparima goalkeeper Tyrece Romain, a national intercol winner with Fatima College in 2022, was in sensational form in goal as he pulled off a number of fine saves during the contest to keep Presentation at bay. In the 77th minute, Romain had his central defender Josiah Cooper to thank for preserving the "Naps" clean sheet, as the latter player made a dramatic goal-saving block to deny what looked like a certain goal from opposing midfielder Adah Barclay.
In the penalty shootout, the "Pres Lions" just about held their nerves to set up a rematch of last year's South intercol final, with defender Duhrell Young keeping his composure to slam the fifth and final penalty kick past an inconsolable Romain. Already nervy by its nature, the penalty shootout posed a great challenge to players from both teams due to the wretched state of the penalty spot. Referee Andrew Samuel and the respective kickers had difficulty placing the ball on the designated spot. As fate would have it, Naparima's Kanye Francis was the lone player to miss in the shootout as he sent his right-footed effort well wide of goalkeeper Kanye Lazarus' upright with the scores tied at 3-3 in the shootout.
Second-half substitute Chaz Forde made it 4-3 for Presentation, before an equalising penalty from Jkwon Bailey. A composed Young had the last say in Point Fortin as he shot coach Shawn Cooper's team into yet another South zone intercol final.
Benedict’s had a literal stroll in the park in the opening game of the Mahaica double-header, as striker Daniel Jones registered a hat-trick in their easy win over Pleasantville. Jones, son of former Strike Squad forward Philbert Jones, dominated the Pleasantville team and completed his hat-trick with the most nonchalant of free kicks in the 72nd minute – passing the ball past the hapless goalkeeper from the edge of the area with a gentle swing of his left boot. As Phlibert and the Strike Squad team look to commemorate the 34th anniversary of their famous Italia 1990 World Cup qualifier versus the US on Saturday, the younger Jones showed he had a thing or two in his locker.
Daniel dedicated his deserved man of the match award to his mother and his father, Philbert. When asked about the team he would like to face in the South intercol final next Friday, Daniel said, "Football is on the day. Professionalism (is the key) to consistency."
The South intercol final will be held in Mahaica, after the SSFL reversed an initial decision which would have seen the marquee game being held as part of a double-header with the North zone intercol final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.