– Pele and Fruta Conquerors to battle for third place
By Rawle Toney
By far two of Guyana’s best clubs – Slingerz FC and Alpha United – will square off against each other tonight at the Leonora Stadium, to see who will be crowned ‘League Genesis’ winners, as the curtains come down on the first half of the STAG Elite League.
Slingerz FC, the club based in Vergenoegen, will be heading into the contest as clear favourites based on their dominant showing in the League thus far, while rivals Alpha United, despite not being one of most liked clubs in Guyana, is expected to at least show the rest of the country that the league is not a popularity contest.
With 28 points after their 14 games played, Slingerz FC topped the eight-team table while Alpha finished in third with 26 points; one point behind second place Pele FC but six points ahead of Fruta Conquerors.
The results after the completion of the preliminary round saw Slingerz FC taking on Fruta Conquerors and Alpha United facing Pele FC in the semi-final.
After 90+ minutes of play in the two matches, Slingerz won 2 – 0 and Alpha United got the better of Pele 3 – 1 to set-up tonight’s dream final.
“It is going to be a very good game between two of the better teams in the country, where the winner in my humble opinion, will be the team that makes the least mistake” said Alpha United’s head coach Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover.
Not since their 5 – 0 win in March, 2014 has Alpha United defeated Slingerz FC but according to Dover, the result of the previous clashes will mean nothing tonight.
“Clearly we will look at tonight differently. But if you look at the times we played and they defeated us, had we score our chances, we would’ve won those games, so the results from those matches isn’t enough to boggle my mind” Dover said.
Dover, who also serves as an Assistant to Jamaal Shabazz on the Senior Men’s National team, noted “the fans got their money’s worth on a nightly basis and all the players in the league and the coaching staff; everybody is the reason for that because of the level of commitment each club has shown to the league. The league was able to generate an interest with the fans because of how close it was and the players are to be thanked for that”
Meanwhile, Slingerz FC’s Head Coach Joseph ‘Bill’ Wilson, said that with all the challenges that his team faced in the league, they are more deserving of tonight’s victory.
There was much controversy surrounding the club and at one time, the team’s owner had threatened to pull his side from the STAG Elite League, citing an alleged unfair treatment by the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), after the local governing body had sanctioned the now top of the table club for not taking the field for a match against the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
“The league was a challenge, so we expect to end on a high note after everything that happened” Wilson pointed out.
Asked if the facts and statistics between rivalling clubs should be taken into consideration for tonight’s classic showdown, Wilson said “every game brings a different mentality and we will treat it as a final and not going to play as if we have another game left; we’re going out to win this”
Vurlon Mills, Tichard Joseph, Devon Millington, Jullian Wade, Colin Nelson and Anthony ‘Awo’ Abrams will lead the star studded Slingerz FC line-up.
For Alpha United, Dover will turn to his dependable striker Delon Lanferman, Grenadian forward Kithson Bain along with Anthony Benfield and Dwight Peters. Andrew Murray will be making his first appearance in the league and it comes at a time when his club cannot afford to lose.
The winner will pocket $4M, sponsored by the Government of Guyana. Second place gets $2M, third place $1M and the team finishing fourth walks away with $500,000.