With the first phase of the Championship Stage having wrapped up last weekend, Weymouth Wales topped Group 1 with six points while UWI Blackbirds barely made it through by their feathers on one point, after drawing 1-1 with Notre Dame. While they have the same number of points as the Dames, they advanced on goal difference.
In Group 2, Ellerton remains at the top with six points. Currently, they are ahead of Wales on goal difference having secured 11 goals in this stage, while Wales captured nine. Pride of Gall Hill also showed exceptional prowess and were able to capture three points after beating Youth Milan 3-2.
Meanwhile, in Group 3, the most feared team in the tournament to date, the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme (BDFSP) came out on top with six points with St Andrew Lions bringing up the rear on three points following their 4-3 triumph over dark horses Silver Sands.
In Group 4, Empire continues to lead the way with six points and Paradise, who did not perform very well in the qualifiers, managed to up their game and win their Championship Stage match over Barbados Soccer Academy 7-0 to stay in the running with three points, despite going down 3-0 to the Mighty Blues.
When the quarterfinals kick off on Saturday, BDFSP will open this phase when they face Gall Hill. The soldiers will be suiting up minus Omani Leacock, after he was red-carded in the last game for striking Shamar “Buju” Edwards, when they kissed victory with a 4-1 win over the St Andrew side.
And while the soldiers have dominated the field throughout the tournament, amassing 25 goals, they will have to get their heads in the game and play as a unit if they intend to stay in the running for the shot at the $50, 000 grand prize.
Gall Hill, who copped two wins and a draw in the qualifying games, came back in the Championship Stage to defeat Milan 3-2 and fall 2-0 to Ellerton to qualify. And although BDFSP has been pegged as the winners for their encounter, Gall Hill has been full of surprises all tournament and may still have some tricks up their sleeves.
In the nightcap game, Ellerton will face the St Andrew Lions. Captain Shakille Belle and Shaquan Clarke dominated the field and have 9 and 8 goals respectively, and will be looking to add to their 31-goal haul.
Meanwhile, Darico “Helmet” King and Edwards have played a solid game. However, coach Christopher King will need to up the ante if he is ever to stand a chance against the insurmountable Ellerton, especially with Justin White out after he too was red-carded in their last encounter against the soldiers.
On Sunday, Empire and UWI will get the ball rolling, before Wales and Paradise square things away. Empire has shown much progress throughout this tournament and with headliners Zinio Harris and Jabarry “Pappy” Chandler, who stand on eight and six goals respectively, they would be a force to be reckoned with.
UWI however will have to get it together and strengthen their defense to cop a win if they are to stand a chance against the Mighty Blues, despite the teenaged Niall Reid-Stephen having had a good run thus far.
Front runners for Paradise, Captain Armando “Sugar” Lashley, who currently has seven goals under his boots, will have the help of Ackeel Applewhaite, Chai Lloyd and veteran Barry Skeete to ensure a win over Wales.
However, Wales will be no walkover, having pocketed 26 goals throughout the tournament, and with the help of Riverre Williams and Arantees Lawrence they have and continue to be a force to be formidable.