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Fatima, St Augustine in InterCol final
One team on a late season surge, Fatima College, and one which has been almost impeccable throughout the campaign, St Augustine Secondary, will clash for the biggest prize in schools’ football, the Coca-Cola National InterCol title, when the final kicks off today at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain, from 4.30 pm. Neither their current form nor either team’s history in the competition will give a proper indication of which outfit starts as favourite today. This evening’s title decider comes just four days after both teams cruised past their semifinal opponents. St Augustine, opening the last-four double-header, on Friday, scored two unanswered second half goals to defeat surprise South Zone package, Princes Town West Secondary. Maurice Ford opened 12 minutes into the restart, before Akeem Garcia closed the scoring in the 75th minute. The result saw St Augustine continue one of its typically strong runs, as it cruised into its second straight InterCol final, while Princes Town, a team which finished sixth of seven teams in the South Zone league competition, but blew away some of the more favoured schools to capture the South Zone InterCol title, saw its dramatic run end at the second to last hurdle.
The second double-header fixture raised many more eyebrows as Fatima simply crushed Speyside 4-0. Fatima’s potent attack was not the staggering revelation from the semifinal. Many of Fatima’s goals this season were top class, but it was Speyside’s lack of thrust and substance which had spectators, particularly from Tobago, scratching their heads after witnessing the same team win back-to-back zonal titles. Fatima, the North Zone InterCol champion and fourth-placed league finisher was in cruise control throughout. With neither winning semifinalist conceding a goal much to the ideal of the defending via possession and attack, today’s final may witness each team cancelling out the other. Michael Grayson, coach of St Augustine, said his initial intention for the team was to capture all titles this season. It fell short in the SSFL Big-Five semifinal to St Mary’s College, but was impressive almost throughout the season, with the help of his team’s top goalscorer Ricardo John. Grayson, however, indicated his desire of closing this season in the perfect way by claiming National title.
The last time St Augustine won the National InterCol was in 1984, three years after it won the title for the first time. In between then and now, particularly in the last decade, St Augustine Secondary has been one of the best teams in the country in knockout competitions, taking the Big-Five title four times during Grayson’s reign as head coach. Meanwhile, Fatima College, which last lifted the National InterCol title eight years ago, is equally hungry for national success. Coach Richard Hood, who joined Fatima at the end of last season said he looks forward to further success today, although he can already claim triumph in his debut season. Hood, who coached Providence Girls Catholic School for 11 years, carried his former team to the Big-Four, Zonal InterCol and National InterCol titles, all in 2005. He wishes to do the same in coming years for Fatima. Heading into the final, Hood said: “We have a different game plan, obviously. We’re putting on some finishing touches here (in training) in preparation for tomorrow. We’re confident.” Asked if there was a particular position which may have needed fine-tuning ahead of today’s match, Hood hastily said, “Finishing. Our finishing could sharpen.” Versus Speyside on Friday, Hood added that he had expected his team to score more goals than the four. “They (defenders) were also very good and we expect a lot from our back-line,” said Hood.
Today’s Coca-Cola National InterCol final: Fatima College v St Augustine Secondary, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, 4.30 pm.
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