St Anthony’s College will try to avoid being the latest favoured team to make an early exit in Coca Cola InterCol North Zone action, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, today.
The Westmoorings “Tigers” are the defending InterCol champions and will be expected to challenge for the trophy once more, particularly after their closest North rivals, East Mucurapo Secondary and Fatima College, unceremoniously exited the tournament in the first round.
The Tigers have lost only once in the last two seasons, at the hands of Carapichaima East Secondary in the 2012 Big Five final, and “Caps” went on to claim that title, which was won by St Anthony’s in 2011.
At three p.m. today, St Anthony’s face Senior Division winners Malick Secondary, once one of the top schools football teams. Malick have struggled to win in recent years. But with the record of teams being upset this year—San Juan Secondary, East Mucurapo, Fatima College, Naparima College and Signal Hill Secondary, all national winners in the past decade, are out of the competition—St Anthony’s will be wary of today’s opponents, but will expect to reach the “semis”.
The more interesting clash, however, should be the five p.m. “Old Firm” contest between St Mary’s College’s “Saints” and Queen’s Royal College at the Mucurapo stadium. There are no favourites here, with the teams finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the North.
There is also a rich history between the two colleges. The oldest rivalry in local schools football is expected to draw fans and alumni from different generations, hoping to see their team “one-up” the opposition.
The East Zone has its own stage set for battle, with League winners Arima North Secondary tackling unknown Senior Division champs Valencia Secondary at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Malabar from two p.m.
Arima will leave nothing to chance against the minnows after losing a heart-breaker 1-0 to Presentation College San Fernando in the BG T&T/First Citizens Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Big Five quarterfinal at the same venue. It was also Arima’s first defeat of the season, and last year’s beaten InterCol finalists will harbour hopes of reaching there again under coach Peter Lewis.
El Dorado East Secondary will face a stiffer challenge from Trinity College East from four p.m. at the Malabar venue. “El Do” have shown promise this year, and are known to perform better in the InterCol competition.
Trinity East have had their ups and downs this season. With pending disciplinary matters surrounding the eligibility of their Form Six players, they have been unable to field them. Still, the unpredictable nature of the tournament means it will be anybody’s match to win—or lose.
On Saturday, the two form teams from Tobago—league winners Scarborough Secondary and Speyside—booked their spots in the final with contrasting wins. Scarborough dismantled Roxborough Secondary 5-0—Roxborough previously upset Signal Hill Secondary—and Speyside held on to edge Mason Hall Secondary 4-3, having trailed 3-2 after 72 minutes.
The Tobago final is set for Thursday.
Today’s SSFL fixtures
St Anthony’s College vs Malick Sec, Hasely Crawford Stadium, 3 p.m.
St Mary’s College vs QRC, Hasely Crawford Stadium, 5 p.m.
Arima North Sec vs Valencia Sec, Larry Gomes Stadium, 2 p.m.
El Dorado East Sec vs Trinity College East, Larry Gomes Stadium, 4 p.m.