Written off by fickle fans following their 0-1 defeat at home to Linden’s Intermoengotapoe at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground in the first game of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) club championships, Milerock are today basking in their historic win in Suriname which advances them to the second round.
Playing at the Andre Kamperveeen Stadium in Suriname last week-end, Milerock proved that they are indeed `The Chosen Ones’ with a 2-1 win to advance by virtue of scoring more away goals.
Milerock’s coach Brian Joseph, a former national player gives all the credit for the victory to the Almighty.
Joseph reported that such was the belief that God would see the team through that a lot of the players fasted prior to the game.
“A lot of the players believed in their God, and that God is Jesus Christ; and they believed as some of the players fasted, the favour of the Lord was upon us and we knew we couldn’t lose, that’s the mentality we went out with. We played hard and won the match and gave all praises to God,” Joseph said afterwards.
“I think on the day of the game and even the day before the day of the game, we spoke to the players a lot. We tried to inspire them.
“I felt as coach, that the players asked me to give that inspirational speech on the day of the match. We did that. We also asked former outstanding national forward Collie Hercules to give some insights and at the end of that we felt that the team was inspired and ready; and we went out there and we executed. We won the game and that’s it. I am convinced that we were the better team and I still am convinced that we should have won the game in Guyana and the better team qualified to go forward,” said the former GFF Player of the Year.
Ever since “We knack them three” when Guyana lost a return World Cup match to Suriname, playing return matches in the neighbouring Dutch republic has taken on an aura of defeat but this game was different.
“Initially I thought this was going to be an easy game because of how the opportunities came but for the fact that we didn’t convert them.
“I wasn’t too worried about it at that time but as the game went on and we couldn’t find the back of the net, I began to get worried. Of course in games like that where you totally dominate you can end up on the losing side, but the guys stuck to the task and we called for patience and victory is going to come and that is exactly what happened. We stuck with it, but we gave up a goal in added on time but the important thing is that we have qualified for the second round,” an elated Joseph declared.
Rebel with a cause
The Milerock team might have been a bit apprehensive coming up against Inter Moengotapoe for included in that team’s line up was a player by the name of Ronnie Brunswijk.
Brunswijk is a Surinamese rebel leader, politician and businessman. He was also a personal bodyguard of Desi Bouterse back in the 1980s.
Brunswijk played the first half of the game against Milerock.
“We played with him yeah,” pointing to the owner of the club and present member of the current Bouterse Government, Brunswijk, who had joined Guyana’s Milerock in their celebration in the locker room.
Brunswijk was magnanimous in defeat and congratulated the Linden side.
“I wish you good luck in your next game. I want to make contact with you and I think in December we will meet again,” he declared.
Brunswijk later admitted that “the better team won,” as he presented the football used in that historic clash to coach Joseph.
Milerock’s win is historic in the sense that it is the first time that a football team from the Mining Town had managed to advance in Caribbean Club championship football.
The 2-1 Milerock victory, courtesy of goals by Collie Hercules in the fifth and youth defender Ryan Crandon in the 75th minutes, was enough to send them through even though they had lost their home tie 0-1.
It was the first win in five tries by Linden clubs. Previously, in Caribbean Club tournaments, Linden’s Christianburg FC in 1976 and Mackenzie YMCA FC played in 1977 and 1979 without any success, losing all their home and away encounters, numbering six in all, to the Dutch-speaking neighbour club sides Voorwarts in 1976 and Robin Hood in 1977 and 1979 respectively.
“It’s really invigorating for football in Linden. It’s a piece of history that was just created by a Linden team heading into the second round of a CFU tournament. It has never happened to a team out of Linden so we have just created some history and we are totally ecstatic about it,” was his take.
Joseph maintains that before the second match in Suriname…. “We know once we participated in the football match we have a chance.
The club now turns its attention to April 10 when they compete against Trinidad’s Defence Force club at a venue to be named.
Joseph was grateful for the support he received which assisted his team in winning the tie.
“We just say thanks; the financial support for this trip has been difficult to come by. Fortunately for us through the intervention of Mr. Odinga Lumumba, we were able to get $1M from the Government of Guyana. That directly influenced whether we could have gone on the return leg or not. We got it just before we left for the game and once we got it, yes the tour was on. We came here, amidst all of that the players did not know what was going on and we got the victory. I hope that more support will come from the corporate community so we can go to the next stage and make it a reality.”
Captain of the winning Milerock club Marlon ‘Scarry’ Maxius was elated too.
“I am overwhelmed. It was something we thought we could achieve and we had our differences in putting ourselves together as brothers. In working hard it is a great achievement to the football world and to Linden and our fans. It was a well deserved victory. Collie Hercules and Kayode McKinnon added a boost to the motivation of the players and the youthful team. With Hercules up front and McKinnon and, myself in defence it was a real boost with all that experience and it worked out for the best. The next step is to go back to the drawing board and even though we won this game there are some flaws which we will work on. We have the ability to compete in this CFU competition.”
Manager of the Milerock side Claude Williams added: “we are hoping to get more financial help as this time around. We are looking to persons to give us whatever support they can give as we are coming at you hard because this is the next step as we have go to the other round. We can only hope and pray that we get your support as we have confidence that we are going all the way once given the support.”