Botafago win UDFA GT Beer football title
Botafago topped Net Rockers 4-1 to win the Upper Demerara Football Association (UDFA) GT Beer football title on New Year’s night, carting off the top prize of $1.2 million.
Net Rockers, who pocketed $600,000 for second, had to deal with Donavon Francis and Jamal Haynes, who shared the four goals netted by Botafago.
Former champions Silver Shattas were relegated to fourth as Eagles United won 2-1 to take the $300,000 prize, leaving Shattas to settle for $150,000.
Playing in wet condition, which created a heavy outfield at the Mackenzie Sports Club ground, Botafago showed strength in their youthful forward line which created havoc against Net Rockers who were a tad too slow for their rampaging opponents.
It was Net Rockers who settled in early and had two close shaves that called Botafago’s man between the uprights, Wayne Wilson, to show his worth as they made their threats in the centre from a hard working Clarence Huggins on the wing.
However, after 10 minutes the Botafago outfit would strip the Rockers defence apart, as Francis, who bolted away and collected the ball, outmanoeuvred two defenders to find the back of the net with a crisp shot that went past Ryan Rose in goal for a 1-0 advantage.
Soon after Botafago would again pierce through as Haynes netted in the 12th minute to send his team up 2-0 as Botafago fans began celebrating.
But noticeable was the calmness of Coach Anthony ‘Toto’ Stephens, who later said he was careful not to get excited too early because he knew what Net Rockers were capable of and wanted his charges to remain focused.
In the 15th minute a free kick was held by the Net Rockers goalkeeper Rose, but they in turn would test the character of the Botafago’s defenders as Huggins continued to do well on the right wing.
Time and time again he would facilitate them with fine crosses, but the finishing of the Rockers left much to be desired.
Huggins remained a constant threat, but it was Botafago defenders who would circle him and gave other problems to another danger-man for Rockers Denzil Pryce, who kept trying to unleash shots without much success.
Orande Wills at one time could not complete a move started by Huggins and this must have frustrated the thinking of Rockers as they tried to reduce the 2-0 deficit.
However, it was after Rockers looked like getting a goal against the run of play that Botafago would increase that advantage, when Francis got his fourth goal of the tournament after accepting a square ball from Haynes, planting it past the Rockers goalkeeper in the 61st minute.
In the 64th minute another chance came, but this time the Rockers goalkeeper was able to make a save.
Botagafo then upped their game and were rewarded with a fourth goal through Haynes, who received a through ball from Amar Jones at midfield and would find the back of the net in the 72nd minute.
Rockers eventually pulled one back through Shane Luckie, who netted six minutes later. Apart from championship honours, Botafago players walked away with the majority of individual prizes. Francis was named Most Valuable Player, goalkeeper Wilson the best goalkeeper and Floyd Headley the best defender.
In the third place playoff, Kendolph Lewis netted in the 60th and 90 + 1 minutes to lead Eagles United to their win after Shattas had taken a sixth minute lead through Dexter Garraway. (Photo and reporting by Joe Chapman)