Bartica side Mill Ballers Football Club last evening clinched a 2-1 victory over Kuru Kuru Warriors during extra period in the opening match of the 22nd annual Kashif and Shanghai tournament at the Georgetown Cricket Club (GCC) Ground.
Andel Norton and Shaquille Hopkinson in the 49th and 103rd minutes were the scorers for Mill Ballers while Terry Millington scored the lone goal for Kuru Kuru Warriors in the 66th minute.
The victory means the Region Seven team has booked a Christmas Day showdown with Rosignol United at the Blairmont Community Center Ground.
In front of a fair-size crowd, both teams set out with the standard 4-4-2 formation but neither team remained disciplined towards that formation.
In a first half that was riddled with wasted chances, it was the tournament debutants Kuru Kuru Warriors who settled the fastest, creating the most clear cut chances with Lloyd Banks having two superb chances to put the Warriors ahead within the first quarter of an hour.
First, in the sixth minute he made a clever cut in run from the left flank, beating two defenders only to strike his shot onto the cross bar.
Then, in the 15th minute, Dextroy Adams on the right-flank sent in sharp cross, across the face goal that Banks shockingly blasted over the bar.
The lack of clinical play continued for the Warriors when on receiving a free-kick in the 27th minute, just around the 18-yard box, Banks blasted his shot wildly into the Rohan Kanhai stand while in the 42nd minute, Shanon Vickerie crossed the ball to Cordell Johnson in the box again, only for Johnson to blast his shot over the bar sending the Bartica team wondering how they were not in the lead at the end of the first half.
Almost as soon as the second half began Mill Ballers made the Warriors pay for their crescendo of wasted first half shots.
The play started with some `skill ball’ from Lucious Norton on the left-wing who sent in a cross across the face of the goal for an unmarked Andel Norton to slot home the opening goal.
Five minutes later Andre Stoby almost made it 2-0 when he ran onto a long-ball from mid-field but chipped his shot unto the top of the cross-bar.
With Mill Ballers in utter control, totally against the run of play Kuru Kuru equalized when Millington capitalized on a poor attempt to clear the ball out of the box by the Mill Ballers defence to slot home his 66th minute goal.
The final 24 minutes of regulation side was a mad dash of end-to-end football with both teams trying desperately to win the game in normal time.
Shawn Ceasar almost won the game with the final kick of the game for Mill Ballers only for his goal to ruled off-side, as the game finished 1-1.
Proceedings now entered the first 30 minutes of extra-time which is split in two 15 minute halves. The winning goal came in the first period of extra-time.
A frantic scramble in the box for possession between the two sides saw the ball falling at the feet of Shaquille Hopkinson who dragged home his shot in the 103rd minute.
Sensibly for the remainder of the extra-time period, Mill Ballers closed up shop playing a tight defensive game, keeping out all of Kuru Kuru Warriors shots on goal to hold on their lead.
After the opening game, the opening ceremony which saw all the 18 teams participating in a march past took place.
The opening ceremony was attended by President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, GT&T Cheif Executive Officer Yog Mahadeo, Minister of Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, Ansa McAl representative Nigel Worrell, and acting Guyana Football Federation President Franklyn Wilson.
(Caption) Teams at the march past of the opening ceremony of the 22nd annual Kashif and Shanghai football tournament yesterday at the Georgetown Cricket Club ground. (Orlando Charles photo)