MVP Alfred spurs Tiger Bay to Corona Futsal title
By Akeem Greene
The superlatives would be exhausted when you attempt to describe the impact of Deon Alfred on local fustal, particularly for Tiger Bay who edged Back Circle 4-3 to the Corona Futsal title in the wee hours of Sunday at the National Gymnasium, Mandela Avenue.
A massive and partisan crowd rammed the venue to the extent that some patrons were extremely close to the playing area. Given you had to be glued to a spot due to the inability to move freely, all eyes were pierced to the see-saw action.
After Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, did the ceremonial kick-off, both sides were intent on creating immense pressure. Shots were peeling off cleats, testing the nerves of fans.
Just six minutes into play, Alfred’s first of three goals came with a wonderful free-kick just on the outskirts of the penalty area. It whistled pass to the right of the jumping defenders and keeper; the fans erupted with thunderous cheers.
A minute later, he was awarded a penalty. He took his time to settle the ball, took five steps and then rush to smash it into the top left; the keeper was virtually unmoved and more hysteria filled the Gymnasium.
The dreaded-hair Alfred avoided the frenzy and rushed to kneel and say a quiet prayer. Just as Back Circle may have been thinking things were looking promising, a well-executed play with Alfred and Josiah Charles increased the lead to 3-0 in the 11th. Charles skipped behind the defence and slotted to the low left.
Back Circle got their first mark on the board when Trayon Bobb tucked a shot into goal during the 15th. However, that joy was short-lived when Alfred found another inspiring run to reach his hat-trick four minutes later.
The second half was where the match looked to turn on its head. Back Circle came out firing, forcing the play. The positive approach by Back Circle even had passionate supporters of Tiger Bay such as Zahid Hack sliding to the edge of his seat.
Bobb reduced the deficit to two when he breached the defence in the 24th, followed by Stephon McLean 10 minutes later. It now required just one goal by the formidable Back Circle to take the game to extra time.
Shots rained, but Tiger Bay held on well-organised until the final whistle for a well-deserved victory, pocketing $500,000. Back Circle were awarded $250,000.
Inspirational captain Alfred ended the tournament with 18 goals and received the Most Valuable Player prize of a Hero Motorcycle.
Future Stars won $150,000 after they hammered Bent Street 8-4 in the third place playoff; $75,000 went to the fourth place finishers. Teams were also awarded $40,000, $30,000, $20,000 and $10,000 for their respective placing in their group after the round-robin stages.
Co-Director of the Petra Organisation, Troy Mendonca, expressed gratitude to all a sponsors and the fans for an incident-free tournament. He lauded teams for their discipline and was most exuberant about the level of play.
Mendonca envisions that next year’s tournament will be even bigger and possibly have more cash pay-out for players.