-Pele coach Denzil ‘Hunky Brains’ Thompson
Pele Football Club created history on the first day of the new year when it defeated Sunburst Camptown to win the 19th annual Kashif and Shanghai Tournament.
Pele had twice made it to the finals in successive years (96-97 and 97-98) and lost to champions Topp XX and Milerock from Linden respectively.
Led by former national custodian Denzil `Hunky Brains’ Thompson, Pele was drilled sturdily for the eight-day knockout tournament and became a force to be reckoned with.
In the first round they defeated Milerock and then went on to defeat powerhouse Alpha United who won five tournaments in 2008. Pele then defeated the Guyana Defence Force in the semi-final to challenge Sunburst Camptown for the million-dollar prize.
With tears streaming down his cheeks, Thompson said after six weeks of preparation he is pleased with the outcome and the 1-0 victory Pele secured.
“This tournament is Guyana’s biggest tournament and to win this is just a joy” he said. Thompson who was named the best coach of the tournament has been a part of the Pele team for some time.
Pele, on the first night of the New Year played more composed football all around the field with positive attacks building up from mid-field which stormed down the flanks and centre field. They also had an unyielding defence which proved too much for Camptown’s strikers.
“We stuck to the game plan and never once I was bothered about the format of play we executed. It was a good effort, I thought the guys played well and I’m quite thankful for this great victory,” Thompson said. He added that the team’s discipline was crucial to them winning.
On the other hand, Camptown’s coach Troy Mendonca commended his team’s efforts though he conceded that Pele played a better game at the final. “I’m not disappointed but the team that made the least amount of mistakes won and in this case we paid dearly.
“It hurts but that’s football” he said. “It came as no surprise to me how Pele performed, it’s a final and I expected them to come out and play to their best and they did,” Mendonca added.
The final was held at the National Stadium at Providence.