Guyana Defence Force storms to another Elite League title
An epic showdown was promised, and a thriller it was when the final game of the KFC Elite League Season 5 was staged on Saturday.
After 90 minutes of exhilarating, high-quality football action at the Guyana Football Federation’s (GFF) National Training Center (NTC), Providence, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Football Club did more than needed to lift the spanking new, BACIF-curated Elite League trophy.
Scores of spectators flooded the East Bank Demerara (EBD) venue, where the thrills began as early as the 5th minute of play in the final league game between the GDF and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) FC.
The very first goal of the game, was witnessed after back-to-back corner kicks, taken by the GDF outfit. While the first attempt was unsuccessful, Stephen McDonald was perfectly positioned meters before the keeper on the second attempt. McDonald headed the ball out of the keeper’s reach and into the back of the nets for GDF’s first.
The second strike followed not too long after coming off the boots of Ryan ‘Bom Bom’ Hackett, who also sported the GDF’s captain’s armband for the half.
A pass found Hackett just outside of the 18-yard box, who, after shifting to his left foot, sent his trademark long shot into the top-right corner of the box, escaping the clutches of the GPF keeper by centimeters in the 11th
At this juncture, the battle gained intensity when the tournament’s highest goal scorer, Nicholas McArthur, pulled one back for the Policemen.
The soldiers’ keeper, Jamaine Cumberbatch, misjudged McArthur’s ability to collect a high pass, meeting the striker outside the box. McArthur, however, was able to execute the shot before the keeper collided with him. The ball safely entered the nets for the 21st-minute strike.
The goal visibly lifted the spirits of the Police camp, but the euphoria was short-lived as the voice of veteran journalist and announcer, Allan La Rose, filled the venue again. “GOAL!”
It was the soldiers’ third strike, this time off the boots of the capable Kelsey Benjamin, who capitalized on an assist in the box to add his from 9 games played, to clinch the trophy. Sneaking into the second position was Western Tigers FC, who finished the league with 22 points.
The Policemen had for settle for the third position, after the loss to GDF left them at 21 points.
Regarding individual awards, Nicholas McArthur’s 18 goals from 9 games, not only afforded him the highest goal scorer accolade, but the forward carted off the coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. GDF’s Jamaine Cumberbatch was also adjudged the tournament’s best goalkeeper, only conceding one goal in 9 games.name to the scoresheet in the 29th.
The score at the end of the half remained stuck at 3-1, but this would change early in the second segment.
Stephen McDonald completed his brace in the 58th, which was the last goal of the 4-1 encounter between the disciplined forces’ teams.
“In retrospect, I must say that the work on the field reflects what happens behind the scenes. I thought that the players were committed, I thought that the support was there and that’s what showed out in all 9 games in the league,” GDF Head Coach Joseph Wilson said about the team’s victory.
Wilson added, “The players were determined, the players gave up their stint in the national team training programme to be part of this success, because the players see it as an important part of their future going forward.”
The victory brought the GDF outfit 25 points.
Meanwhile, Den Amstel came from behind to upend former champions Fruta Conquerors FC in the penultimate game of the league.
At the end of the first half, Fruta led 2-0 with goals compliments of Dennis Edwards and Samuel Garnett in the 12th and 41st, respectively.
However, Den Amstel’s Stephon Jupiter and Cleavon Murray cut out the deficit with goals in the 55th and 56th, while Malcolm Dainty handed the west Coast outfit the lead in the 64th.
Andre Hector made it a 4-2 game in Den Amstel’s favour in the 72, via penalty.
Although Deandre Linton struck or Fruta in the 83rd, it was not enough to bar Den Amstel from the 4-3 win.