STETHS, Frome, Manchester and Edwin Allen book spots in Ben Francis final four

By Sports Desk January 14, 2022

St Elizabeth Technical (STETHS) secured their spot in the semifinal of the ISSA Ben Francis Cup following after cruising to a 2-0 win over Vere Technical.

After enterprising play early on Negus Daley gave STETHS the lead when he slipped by his defender at the area and fired the ball past Vere goalkeeper Michael Panton. 

With Vere finding it tough to create legitimate goal-scoring opportunities, Michael Jerman made the result safe for STETHS in the 56th minute.  After rapidly closing down defender Nevaughn Myrie, the industrious player sprinter away from the rest of the backline before lofting the ball over the advancing Panton and into the net.

Elsewhere, Frome got the better of Munro on the back of a goal from Javel Clarke.  The hard-sprinting Clarke finished with geometric precision after being played through on goal from a perfectly weighted pass from Fabian Forbes.

In other matches, a Shaquille Campbell double led Manchester High to a 3-0 win over Christiana and Edwin Allen also moved into the semifinals after a 2-1 win over Cornwall College.

 

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  • Head coach Lorne Donaldson says Reggae Girlz are ready ahead of final round of CONCACAF Women's Championship Head coach Lorne Donaldson says Reggae Girlz are ready ahead of final round of CONCACAF Women's Championship

    Reggae Girlz head coach Lorne Donaldson says his team is ready to go ahead of their Concacaf Women’s Championship final round opener against Mexico on Monday.

    Jamaica and Mexico are in Group A of the final round along with Haiti and the United States while Group B contains Canada, Costa Rica, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago.

    The four semi-finalists after the group stage will advance to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

    “I think, if we have everybody healthy and ready to go, we will give a good account of ourselves. The girls will come out and be ready to play. The first few minutes may be a little rusty because they haven’t played a game in a while but, when the game settles down, I think we can put some good stuff together,” Donaldson said in a pre-match interview on Sunday.

    The match will be played at the University Stadium in Nueva Leon, home of the Liga MX club Tigres UANL, with kick-off scheduled for 9:00pm Jamaica time (10:00pm EST).

    The Jamaicans, who spent the last two weeks in training camp in Denver, Colorado, know what to expect in enemy territory according to their head coach.

    “Obviously, we play Mexico who’s the home team. They’ll have a lot of fans in the stadium and we know what to expect. Hopefully the preparation we’ve had can nullify some of their strengths,” said Donaldson.

    “It’s going to be a difficult game but hopefully we can grind and battle through it so the result can fall in our favor,” he added.

    Both teams come into this game on the back of some good form as the Reggae Girlz have scored 24 goals and conceded just two in their last four games while Mexico have scored 25 and conceded just one.

  • Raphinha: What's so special about the Barcelona and Chelsea target? Raphinha: What's so special about the Barcelona and Chelsea target?

    "He wants to come."

    Barcelona president Joan Laporta did not mince his words when speaking about the possibility of the Blaugrana signing Raphinha.

    Last week, Chelsea struck a deal with Leeds United – reported to be worth around £55million with add-ons taking the total fee to more than £60m – to take the Brazil winger from Elland Road to Stamford Bridge.

    That agreement seemingly saw Chelsea pip London rivals Arsenal to the post after a high-profile pursuit.

    Yet a deal that seemed set for a swift resolution has, as of yet, not been completed, and that is because, if Laporta is to be believed, the 25-year-old is prioritising a switch not to Stamford Bridge, but Camp Nou.

    Barca have been consistently linked to Raphinha, who has established himself as one of the most exciting attackers in the Premier League since his move to Leeds from Rennes in September 2020.

    Yet Laporta acknowledged that, despite Raphinha's wish to join Barca – whose financial issues make matching Chelsea's offer to Leeds problematic – the race is not won.

    "We've spoken to Leeds, I don't think they will be offended," he explained. "We have communication and we have spoken personally. 

    "What happens is that there are other clubs that want Raphinha and they are making their proposals."

    At this stage, it does seem to be a two-horse race. Previously, with Barca's interest having seemed to have cooled, Arsenal looked well set to beat their rivals Tottenham to the winger, but it was then Chelsea who stole a march.

    Bayern Munich have been credited with an interest in the past, but Sadio Mane's switch to Bavaria has ruled the German champions out.

    But just why has Raphinha, a somewhat under-the-radar arrival in Yorkshire under two years ago, been so coveted?
     

    Brazilian stardust meets street fighter spirit

    Brazil. The home of the Copacabana, festivals and beautiful football. Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, Pele, Kaka, Neymar, Zico, Socrates... the list of world-class talent produced by the South American nation is endless. They are five-time world champions for a reason.

    But while Brazilian flair remains in abundance, the most recent success stories when it comes to the players that have struck gold, in the Premier League at least, have been those who have merged that national talent with steel, grit and robustness perhaps more associated with the likes of Argentina, Uruguay or the northern European nations.

    Raphinha fits that bill, and like Premier League-based compatriots Gabriel Jesus and Richarlison, always seemed set to move for pastures new this off-season.

    His talent cannot be doubted. Since making his Leeds debut, he has directly contributed to 29 Premier League goals, scoring 17 times and providing 12 assists, at least five more than any team-mates in the period.

     

    The variety of his strikes has also been hugely impressive, with seven of his league goals for Leeds coming from outside the area. Only one player – Southampton captain James Ward-Prowse – can boast a better total (nine) in the same time frame.

    Raphinha's 11 league goals last season marked his best performance since the 15 he netted in the 2017-18 campaign, when he played for Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal. He did not score as freely for Sporting CP, and only managed seven goals during his sole full season with Rennes in France.

    Leeds' system, particularly under former manager Marcelo Bielsa and even still under Jesse Marsch, is physically demanding.

    Raphinha, however, proved more than up to the task. Indeed, last season, he was a standout performer when it came to both targeted off-ball runs into the final third, and the number of sprints made per 90 minutes. 

    A tireless runner, Raphinha offers both sides of the game.

    He compares competitively when stacked up against Tottenham new boy Richarlison, one of the hardest working wide players in the Premier League across his time with Everton and a player that Raphinha competes with for a place in the Brazil side.

    Raphinha's duel success rate of 42.6 per cent falls just short of Richarlison's 43.4 per cent, since the winger's league debut for Leeds on October 19, 2020, while the pair have won the same number of tackles (42), albeit Richarlison's success percentage of 59.7 compared to Raphinha's 54.1 puts him ahead in that regard.

    Nevertheless, whichever club gets Raphinha is buying not just attacking output, but defensive steel.
     

    Top-class creativity 

    As mentioned, Raphinha's attacking output is up there with the best the Premier League has had to offer in recent seasons, especially when Leeds' struggles last season are taken into account.

    Only four forwards have created more goals in the competition than Raphinha since his Premier League debut, and just one – Tottenham star Son Heung-min (131) – has created more chances in total than his tally of 129.

    Of those opportunities, 85 came from open play, ranking him third in the division's attackers behind Mane (93) and Mohamed Salah (101), with his 22 big chances trailing only Salah and Harry Kane (both 26).

     

    Raphinha has attempted 286 dribbles, the third-highest total in the league behind Adama Traore and Allan Saint-Maximin, though his success rate (41.3) trails some way behind that duo.

    Four forwards had more than Raphinha's 155 shots, though his conversion rate of just under 11 per cent shows an area of improvement if he is to succeed at one of Europe's elite clubs.
     

    World Cup hopes

    It was in Portugal, not his homeland, that Raphinha made his name, but ahead of Qatar 2022, he seems a shoo-in to make Tite's squad.

    He has won nine caps since his first selection in October last year, when he assisted twice on just his second appearance in a 3-1 win over Venezuela before scoring twice on his full debut in a 4-1 rout of Uruguay. Raphinha's third international strike came in a 4-0 defeat of Paraguay.

    While a place on the plane to Qatar should be secured, barring injury, Raphinha will be determined to ensure he is fighting for a place in Tite's starting XI.

    Brazil's coach has plenty of options to choose from for both flanks; the aforementioned Richarlison and Jesus can play central or wide, while Real Madrid star Vinicius Junior is surely a certainty to start on the left. Ajax's Antony, Madrid's Rodrygo and Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli and Everton, now back in Brazil with Flamengo, are all likely to be in that fight, too. 

    Should he get his move to either London or Barcelona, Raphinha will get the opportunity to show Tite he truly can perform on the biggest stage.

  • 'Xavi has good taste but there's no contact' – Barcelona yet to make Kounde offer 'Xavi has good taste but there's no contact' – Barcelona yet to make Kounde offer

    Neither Barcelona nor Chelsea have presented an offer to Sevilla for sought-after centre-back Jules Kounde, according to the Spanish club's sporting director Monchi.

    Kounde attracted interest from Chelsea last year and Sevilla acknowledged at the time they rejected at least one offer for the defender.

    While the fee involved then is unclear, Sevilla were reportedly holding out for as close to the France international's €80million (£68m) release clause as possible.

    Indications this year are that Sevilla have relaxed their stance slightly, with suggestions their asking price is close to €70m (£60m).

    Such figures would appear to be out of Barcelona's reach given their financial problems, though Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has been frequently talking of activating "levers" – such as selling off TV rights and half of their merchandising business – to inject capital and ensure the club remains competitive in the transfer market.

    Monchi seemed to acknowledge Barca's interest in Kounde, as he distanced himself from criticism of Laporta's dealings in trying to ease the club's economic woes.

    "Xavi has good taste, but there are zero contacts with Barca," Monchi told Onda Cero. "As for their 'levers', everything that fits the rules of the game [is fine] ... You have to be innovative, have inventiveness."

    But it would appear Chelsea are focusing their efforts on other targets first as well, despite an apparent necessity to get centre-backs in after seeing Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger depart.

    "[Chelsea] have to look for two or three central defenders. They don't have many, but there are also more English clubs and clubs from other countries that are looking for central defenders," Monchi continued.

    "There are calls from everywhere. The money is starting to roll in a bit. It's what we have left until August 31.

    "There is interest. Jules has had a good season, he has established himself in the French team, he's going to go to the World Cup – that has made more clubs interested.

    "Directly, there has been little movement, but his name is marked with a fluorescent highlighter in the sports directorates of important clubs.

    "Kounde is in the United States. He will join us in South Korea a little later and I don't know what will happen tomorrow.

    "There is movement around Kounde, yes. Many teams are looking for central defenders. Let's see what happens."

    Sevilla have already seen one important player leave, with Kounde's centre-back partner for the past three years – Diego Carlos – moving to Aston Villa.

    Galatasaray defender Marcao was rumoured to be his replacement, and Monchi confirmed there is an interest in the 26-year-old.

    "Marcao is a centre-back that is among the names we have considered," he said. "From then on, obviously, he is not the only one. I always try to work with alternatives.

    "He has passed all the filters we have to decide and is on that final list of players. He's a centre-back who may only seem aggressive, but he's left-footed with a very good touch, with personality... He's an interesting centre-back who meets the profile we have in mind."

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