And then they were four.
After 12 games, 67 goals, six yellow cards and a red card, only four teams remain in this year’s 23rd Kashif and Shanghai Football Tournament.
The Buxton Ground will come alive tonight when Pele, Amelia’s Ward United, Buxton United and tournament favourites, Alpha ‘The Hammer’ United who ironed out their wrinkles with the organizers for rescheduling the matches, vie for a spot in the final on January 1 at the Providence National Stadium.
In the first game of tonight’s semi final doubleheader, Pele, the 2008/2009 winner and four time second place finisher, will tackle the pride of Linden, Amelia’s Ward, while the home town team will face the star studded, two-time champions, Alpha United.
Buxton United, will look to take full advantage on their home turf and knockout Alpha United just as they did when they stunned tournament heavyweight and 2009/2010 champions, Western Tigers, one-nil on Boxing Day to move closer to the $4M first prize.
The East Coast side will be leaning heavily on national forward Dwain Jacobs who netted a double in their first game versus Winners Connection.
The star laden, Alpha United, which hammered BV Triumph, four-nil to clinch a semi final berth have numerous players to lean on including national forwards, Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams, the rampant Dwight Peters, who has scored a hatrick and a double in the team’s two games so far, guest player and Grenada’s star forward, Kithson Bain.
The favourites also will have national players, Daniel Wilson, Charles Pollard, keeper, Ronson Williams and national Captain Chris Nurse in the line up. If Buxton United pulls out a victory it will be the upset of the tournament.
Amelia’s Ward will also be plotting an upset of Pele who has not conceded a goal in the competition so far and knocked out the other Linden team, Silver Shattas. Pele won their prior engagements with the less celebrated Buxton Stars and Silver Shattas, six- nil and four nil respectively.
National forward and prolific goal scorer, Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson has helped Pele pull off the one sided wins also netting a hatrick and double in the two games. The semi finals were originally scheduled to kick off last night at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground but were shifted by the organizers who deemed the Buxton Ground more suitable for play.
Alpha United’s Coach, Wayne Dover and Vice President, Steve Ninvalle held a press briefing yesterday at the Water Chris Hotel stating that the team will not play on the rescheduled date but following a last minute meeting with the tournament’s organizers, Kashif Muhammad and Aubrey ‘Shanghai’ Major an amicable agreement was decided on both sides and they decided to do according to Ninvalle “what was best for the game of football”.
On New Year’s Day, the runner-up team will pocket $1 million, third $750,000 and fourth $500,000. The Most Valuable Player of this year’s competition will drive away with a Toyota Allex motor-car, while the best coach will receive a motorcycle.