Defending champions Grove Hi Tech had to once again pull out all the stops to take home the top prize of $1.5 million and bragging rights for the next year, when they outlasted Ann’s Grove United 2-1 on sudden death penalty kicks, following a 4-4 tie after the first five kicks and a 0-0 score line at the end of regulation and extra time.The result brought an end to the second edition of the Stag Super XVI knockout football tournament that featured 16 teams from the East Bank, East Demerara and West Demerara Football Associations, who battled over eight days of exciting action at venues in the three associations.
The third place match, which saw Mahaica Determinators taking on Victoria Kings, saw the latter prevailing, also via penalty kicks 4-3. Regulation and extra time ended 1-1 with Mahaica Determinators equalising on the stroke of full time from the penalty spot.
It was the perfect climax to a truly intense tournament and it was the second time in a row that Grove Hi Tech had defeated Ann’s Grove in the championship match, the first ending 5-0. This time around however, Ann’s Grove, which had lost their semi-final match to Mahaica Determinators on penalty kicks 3-4, were gifted a spot in the final owing to the fact that Determinators fielded a player, who was not duly transferred; thus losing the match and being relegated to the third place game.
Ann’s Grove went about the task of upsetting the defending champs in business-like fashion and would have put the game away early if they were potent in the attacking third as they were all over the Grove Hi Tech team, but just could not finish.
Grove Hi Tech had a few good moments, as it was the home team which enjoyed great fan support from the 3000+ spectators.
Even the minutes added on in extra time could not separate the two sides as the fans from both teams sought to add some energy to their players by cheering them on. It was evident that the grind of multiple matches over the past two weeks was taking its toll.
Regular penalty kicks too, did not produce a winner as after the first five, the score was locked 4-4. Ann’s Grove’s third shot taken by Marlon Adams was saved by Grove Hi Tech’s custodian Michael Matthews. Hi Tech also missed their third shot, which was sent wide of the left upright by Orson Francois.
However, both teams restored order by sinking the next two shots each, which meant that at the end of the first five neither team held the advantage. It was now down to sudden death penalty kicks where the team to miss would be out.
Both teams sunk the first two shots each before Ann’s Grove missed their third, Antonio Jackson buckling under the pressure of the moment. Hi Tech’s Devon Joseph then put the sealer on the match and championship for his team by hitting the ball into the back of the nets past Ann’s Grove’s substitute goalkeeper, Travis Allen, who was inserted into the match for Narvado Denny in the 110th minute.
Joseph’s goal sent Grove Hi Tech’s fans storming onto the field in wild celebrations as they complimented the players for delivering the goods and easing a very pressurised situation in their favour, whilst the Ann’s Grove team and fans were naturally, very disappointed. The losing side will collect $500,000.
Victoria Kings had taken the lead in the third place match against Mahaica Determinators through the third goal of the tournament from Alden Lawrence in the 26th minute. The exchanges were back and forth with both teams exhibiting the desire to go after each other.
The second half saw a much more determined Mahaica side, but the Kings stood firm in attack. The persistence of Mahaica was rewarded in the final minute of regulation time when they were rewarded with a penalty, which was converted by Kurt Roberts to tie the match and force extra time.
Penalty kicks were required after a fruitless extra time period. Kings missed their first shot taken by Samuel Blackett, but converted the next four through Winston Pompey, Sherlock Dowden, Lawrence and Ruben Morris.
Mahaica converted their first, second and fourth shots taken by Terry Caesar, Roberts and Ewart Abel, but missed their third and fifth.Kings will receive $300,000, while Mahaica will be rewarded with $200,000. The presentation of prizes will take place during this week.