The annual Kashif and Shanghai football tournament opened Sunday evening with the usual pomp and splendour as two of Guyana’s leading footballers, former national captain Charles “Lilly” Pollard and striker Collie “Hitman” Hercules were honoured for their contribution to the sport locally at the ceremony.
An estimated 8000 fans turned up at the Guyana National Stadium at Providence to witness the march past of 18 of the 20 competing teams to herald the start of the 21st edition of the annual Christmas Festival which received glowing tributes from both Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony who attended the opening.
The feature exhibition game between a Guyana All Stars team and the visiting Aletico Roraima almost ended prematurely but in the end the Guyanese secured a 1-0 win that came under controversial circumstances.
Acting President Hinds, lauded the organisers for contributing to the development of football locally and made a call for football officials to make a concerted effort to promote football in secondary schools.
Dr. Anthony said that in recent discussions with Kashif Mohammed and Aubrey “Shanghai” Major the two senior partners in the Kashif and Shanghai organization, he had encouraged them to sponsor 100 youths as a pilot project to develop football locally.
Mohammed thanked both the public and private sector for their support in his remarks but raised concerns about the prevalence of HIV/AIDS among youths.
He called on young football fans to act responsibly to curb the high incidents of the deadly disease.
In the feature match of the double header card a 35 minute strike by overlapping right back Carey Harris enabled the Guyanese to secure a 1-0 win over the visiting Brazilian side which was reduced to 10 men when their energetic captain Clayton Robson De Lima was sent off the field after he received two yellow cards.
De Lima spearheaded his team’s early charge but received his first yellow card when he protested the goal which was deemed offside.
Assistant referee Rollin Tappin had raised the flag for offside but referee Stanley Lancaster was unaware of the signal and awarded the goal.
The Brazilians protested and threatened to leave the field and their action forced play to be suspended for close to four minutes before the visitors decided to return.
Both teams started aggressively but Guyana’s nippy striker Gregory “Jackie Chan” Richardson could have put his team into the lead as early as the sixth minute but his shot was saved by Cristiano Rodrigo Besuska.
The Roraima players also had their fair share of opportunities but were thwarted by excellent goalkeeping from Ronson Williams and sturdy defence from Pollard, Walter Moore, Howard Lowe and Harris.
With de Lima ejected in the 59th minute after he received a second yellow card for a rough tackle on one of Guyana’s strikers, the Brazilians were forced to defend against several second half assaults by substitutes , Devon Millington, Anthony “Awo” Abrams and Dwight Peters.
Earlier, the National Under-20 squad almost blew a 4-0 half time lead but eventually won 4-2 against an Upper Demerara Under-23 side.
Olvis Mitchell scored a double while Sheldon Holder and Marco Marcus scored for the Under-20 players before Randy Jerome and Orand Willis netted for the Upper Demerara side in the second half.
Defending champions BK International Western Tigers will clash Buxton United on wednesday’s opening night of competition at the Georgetown Football Club (GFC) ground.
Their encounter will be the second game of a double header card with Riddim Squad taking on Liquid Gold of Bartica in the opening fixture at 18:00 hours.