The 22nd Annual Kashif and Shanghai Football tournament, Guyana’s premier football competition, kicks off tonight with a double header at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) ground, Bourda.
The opening match will see tournament debutants Kuru Kururu Lions facing Mill Ballers of Bartica from 18:30hrs, while in the second encounter former champions Pele and Timehri Panthers, another debutant, will lock horns from 20:30hrs.
A march past with the 18 teams will also take place before the commencement of these matches, where dignitaries such as the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony, Chief Executive Officer of Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Yog Mahadeo, Marketing Manager of Ansa Mc Al Troy Cadogan, Acting President of the GFF Franklyn Wilson and co-director of the Kashif and Shanghai Organization Greg ‘Kashif’ Muhammad are all expected to deliver remarks at this afternoon’s opening ceremony.
All the teams will be vying for the lucrative first place prize of one pound of gold worth G$4M, compliments of Aruwai Enterprise Incorporated, along with the championship trophy and 22 replicas, while the second, third and fourth placed teams will pocket $1M, $500,000 and $300,000 respectively and the tournament’s Most Valuable Player will receive one motorcycle.
Pele who in, controversial absence of last year’s champions Alpha United due to an ongoing stand-off between the GFF and GFA are arguably one of the favorite teams to win the competition outright. With notable local players such as Gregory ‘Jackie Chan’ Richardson, Devon Millington, Kanata Manning and Travis ‘Zorro’ Grant in their lineup, Pele, who won this tournament three years ago, have high hopes.
While the status of their opposition lineup is unknown, what needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that they have been given an invitation to participate in the tournament based on their performance in matches organized by the East Bank Demerara Football Association (EBDFA), where they have won that area’s title three times already.
They recently played in the EBDFA organized Banks DIH Coca Cola competition, where they were scheduled to battle Kuru Kururu Warriors for the third place spot, but declined to do so, saying it would be an injury risk ahead of this important fixture.
Coach Kwasi Angus believes he has the weaponry in his armory to stop a rampaging Pele, saying his side will be giving a good account of itself, especially with the thought that many would view the encounter as a one-sided affair, in favor of the Georgetown-based team.
“Yes we are newcomers to the tournament and there is no doubt about that. But what persons need to ask themselves is what we have to lose going up against Pele? My answer to that is nothing, since they would be the ones feeling pressure as they have played this tournament before and even won their first title three years ago. With that in mind, I think that once we overcome the nervous periods, we can progress and stake a claim for the top prize,” said Angus.
Troy Johnson and Seon David will be marshalling the defence and will be hoping to combat the attacks of Richardson/Millington, the Pele strike force.
Shannon Vickerie the coach of the Kuru Kururu Warriors had earlier highlighted areas of concern during their preparatory period, and said some of that had been worked on to a satisfactory period.
“We have a very good chance like all the other 19 teams, to win the tournament and I am very confident we will advance to the next round, since we have been training hard on our vulnerable areas, while most importantly the defence is hold their positions and covering well.”
Ryan Scott will marshal the defence with Selwyn Lopes and Cordell Johnson taking charge of the midfield zone, while goal-keeper Dominic Walsh is credited with being a competent shot-stopper and will have a significant role to play.
Mill Ballers, whose most notable performance in local football is defeating Sunburst Camptown and the Guyana Defence Force in the inaugural Guyana Football Federation (GFF) Super League tournament two years ago, cannot be treated as pushovers by their opponents.
Tushie Fredericks, Lindsay Jones, Andrew Stoby, Andrew Chandler, Shawn Garraway and Marlon Ambrose are expected to lead their attack in the match which their coach describes as a great exposure and learning experience for the team which is a very young one.
Pele squad: Konata Manning (captain), Sean Johnson, Quincy Adams, Mervyn Liverpool, Keoma Gravesande, Sheldon Gourick, Dirk Archer, Sheldon Holder, Marvin Joseph, Daniel Wilson, Okenie Fraser, Shawn Arthur, Gregory Richardson, Stellon Davids, Travis Grant, Omalo Williams, and Decon Coldridge.
Timehri Panthers squad: Romel Myles (captain), Troy Johnson, Andy Higgins, Orin Tasher, Oliver Denny, Seon David, Fizil Mohammed, Eon Downing, Travis Thornhill, Samuel Steele, Rodwell Grant, Dellon Douglas, Collis Massiah, Royston Burgess, Raphael Fordycee, Leon Denny, Levaughn Simpson, Donnel Trapp, Steffon Hope, Sceyon Hope, Lyliton Ramsan.
Kuru Kuru Warriors squad: Ryan Scott (captain), Alvin Adams, Terry Millington, Dextroy Adams, Selwyn Lopes, Shannon Vickerie, Cordell Johnson, Joseph Walker, Steve Gibson, Christopher Fraser, Junior Spencer, Christopher Alleyne, Mario De Freitas, Deneir De Cuhan, Reyleigh, Gordon, Dillion Roberts, Dominic Walsh, Jevon Crafford, Marvin Josiah, Wayne Campbell, Niejon Wooke, and Lloyd Banks.
Mill Ballers squad: Andre Stoby (captain), Dellon Welch, Shaquille Hopkinson, Lucious Norton, Lindsley Jones, Shawn Ceaser, Sylvester Da Silva, Andel Norton, Sherwyn John, Keevon Dutchin, Toshiomi Fredericks, Colin Simple, Kwesie Jacobs, Andrew Chandler, Kellon Benjamin, Andy Bishop, Shawn Garraway, and Anil Williams.