Coaches predict battle of wits for semis
Mount Pleasant Football Academy head coach Theodore Whitmore will continue to take things in stages as they gear up for their semi-final first-leg clash against Arnett Gardens at Sabina Park at 7:30 this evening.
Mount Pleasant have coveted the national title since their rise to top-flight football in 2018, but Whitmore contends they will focus on the present and their meeting with Arnett.
"It's stages. We wanted to reach the top six, and once we were in the playoffs, the next step was to make the semi-finals, and now we are in the semis, we look beyond.
"What we have to look at are the opponents who you play and how they play. After that, we will look as a staff and see how we want to approach the game.
"Arnett is a tough team, and you cannot deny that fact, but it is for us to prepare ourselves physically and mentally. Arnett hasn't played in a few weeks now. We don't know what they are doing, but if match rust should get them, that will be good for us," he commented.
Arnett Gardens' assistant coach Eric Rademakers pointed out that they are far from being rusty, having played several practice games and incentivised squad matches over the period without competition games, and assured that they are fully prepared for the encounter.
The Dutchman believes they are settling into the style of play implemented over the last two seasons and expects a high-level display from his players.
"After two years, the players are now making it into a habit of how we play. Our playing style is coming out more. There is a certain style of football we play, and the players can't not play like that anymore.
"It is really a part of them to play like that now, but we have to remember that it is the 180 minutes, and this is just the first half. We want to ensure that we nullify the dangers.
"We have to find ways to ensure they do not use their strengths and play our game and hope after the game we are the better team and we have the result to go with it," Rademakers said.
He added that the St Ann-based Mount Pleasant are one of the tactically superior teams in the league, with quality players. He is intrigued by the tactical matchup between coaches as well.
"Playing Mount Pleasant, we can get into the tactical patterns that we see, and, as a coach, it gives you more of a challenge because you have a team that has something that they are trying to bring, and you are trying to go up against that, and I look forward to it. I enjoy these matches," he added.
In the first game at 5 p.m., defending champions Harbour View take on Cavalier, who are still reeling from having their valuables stolen during the Lynk Cup final against Portmore at the same venue on Friday.
Coach Rudolph Speid said they haven't recovered mentally, while Shaneil Thomas, Brian Elshot and Makenson Cadet are out injured and, on loan Ronaldo Robinson cannot play against his parent club.
"The recovery process wasn't too good because we didn't train Saturday, but we won't cry. We will try to get them in the best mind we can. We will come and do what we have to do," Speid said.
Harbour View's coach Ludlow Bernard believes it will be a battle of the wits of the coaches.
"I sit and observe not only the players but the coach. I think this will be a game of coach versus coach," Bernard said.