By Michelangelo Jacobus
GEORGETOWN Association champions, Fruta Conquerors FC and runners-up, Santos FC, have progressed to the semi-final stage of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF)/KFC U-20 Independence Cup after contrasting victories yesterday at the GFF National Training Centre (NTC), Providence, East Bank Demerara.
Santos FC kicked off the day’s proceedings with their clash against Strikers FC (Rupununi Football Association champions) and won comfortably with a 3-1 scoreline.
Winger forward Stephen Reynolds opened the scoring in the 20th minute to put Santos 1-0 up but Strikers’ Felix Bartholomew equalized in the 40th minute to make things level at half-time. However, Bevney McGarrell in the 61st and Ronaldo Rodrigues (80th minute) got in on the action to secure safe passage for their side.
The final game of the day between surprise package, Buxton United, and Fruta Conquerors FC produced fireworks with extra time needed to produce a winner with the latter coming out on top with a 5-3 victory.
Buxton took Fruta by surprise with a 1-0 lead at half-time after Omari Glasgow had opened the scoring in the 21st minute; however, Ravon Bayley drew Fruta level in the 58th minute before Nicholas McArthur added his name to the scoresheet with a well-taken goal in the 72nd minute to make it 2-1 in favour of Fruta.
But Buxton had other ideas and two goals from the boot of Kobe Durant in the space of 10 minutes put his side 2-3 up; he netted in the 78th and 85th minutes respectively to give Fruta and their supporters a scare.
It turned out that Leon Richardson would be the hero for the GT outfit with a last gasp equalizer in the 90th minute to send the game into extra time.
It was here that Fruta showed the resolve of champions and dug deep to produce two goals; McArthur netting his second goal in the 107th minute while Wayne Barker put the icing on the cake with Fruta’s fifth goal in the 110th minute to ensure his side secured a semi-final berth.
The four semi-finalists, Fruta Conquerors, Santos FC, Botofago FC and Dynamic FC will be in action on June 29 (Saturday) with the third place and final slated for July 1.
Winners of the tournament will pocket $500,000 plus a trophy and medals while second placers will collect $300, 000, a trophy and medals.
For their efforts, third place finishers will receive $200,000, a trophy and medals while fourth place will collect a prize, a trophy and medals.