By Ian “Magic” Hughes
THE GRAY’S GREEN DERBY
It is early days in the Harney Motors Premier Division but already the league is hot, hot, hot, with Cool & Smooth Empire taking on Cool and Smooth Hoppers on Sunday.
Dubbed the Cool and Smooth Cup by some, this is a game of extreme significance.
Empire’s Coach Steveroy “Demon” Anthony is predicting his team will win. Meanwhile, Hoppers’ Coach Vaughn “Pop T” James is promising a
Hoppers’ victory, especially with the insertion of national keeper Brenton Muhammad.
In their opening game, Hoppers narrowly escaped with a 1-0 win against Old Road. Last week, Hoppers got a scare from Five Islands and had to rebound from two goals down to gain a point.
Hoppers are no easy walkover, but they will be coming up against an extremely up-beat and confident Empire team.
Empire lost on opening day but came from behind last week to defeat defending champions Asot’s Arcade Parham.
The team also demonstrated an admirable level of fitness against Parham, when, in the final stages of the game, Empire were firing on all cylinders as Parham fizzled.
There are also reports that a secret weapon will be released in the Empire line-up, and, if he is as good as his resume suggests, fans at the ARG should be in for a treat.
MUST WIN FOR PARHAM
The defending champions, Parham, lost the first two encounters against Sap and Empire, and Coach Rolston “Debu” Williams has promised a reversal of fortunes.
To do so, Parham will have to take down the unbeaten Five Islands, a team that is difficult to assess.
Parham appears to be struggling with the absence of central defender Akeem “Leppy” Thomas to steady things in the back.
In addition to Thomas’ absence, Parham was without the services of national goalie Molvin James last week, which seemingly contributed to a disorganised defence.
James is expected to reclaim his spot in goal on Sunday.
THE ROUND SOUTH DERBY
Sap, the league leaders to date, based on paper, should improve to nine points from three games when they take on Old Road in the first game on Sunday.
The team has not missed a beat since the opening demolition of Parham, with Peter “Big Pete” Byers starting his season with a hat-trick.
The Sap offence is the most potent in the league, and while they had to come from a goal down to beat Fort Road last week, Byers missed numerous opportunities to score.
But Sap cannot take Old Road for granted or they could pay the price for it.
Stephan Smith is still a formidable force on attack and Sap’s defence can be lethargic at times.
Old Road had chances against Hoppers and took a two-goal lead against Bullets, signaling potential.
A win against Sap and Old Road will send a clear message that they are team to be reckoned with in the premiership.
SATURDAY AT THE ARG
Fans attending Premier Division games at the ARG on Saturday are advised to wear protective gear for the Pigotts-Jennings match-up.
Jennings will be hoping to dodge the bullets that are expected to be flying at them, while Pigotts will aim to keep the Jennings men from hurling close-range grenades.
Bullets won their opening encounter and came from two goals down to draw last week against Old Road.
There is a lot of hype in the Pigotts’ camp and rightly so. The team, newly promoted, is second behind Sap in the standings with four points.
Bullets can score goals – four in two matches – therefore Grenades must look out for long-range missiles from the Pigotts men.
The opening encounter on Saturday is Fort Road against Rangers – two teams that lost last week in similar circumstances.
Both Fort Road and Rangers have two goals from as many matches, and it is clear that both need fire power up front.
That said, though, Fort Road may fancy their chances and may be looking for another win to add to the week one upset of Grenades.
The Rangers will, however, likely be coming with the grit and determination that are characteristic of the coach, George “Cajawawa” Warner.
Fans should expect good football on both days.