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Resilient Region 4 clinch President’s Cup title in thrilling final fuelled by Ferrol

With $2M on the line, all it took was a red card, a free kick, and the restoration of confidence for the Region 4 team, under sponsorship of the New GPC Inc and Ferrol Compound, to come from behind and upset the Region 3 team, under sponsorship of Caribbean Airlines, in the ultimate match of the “One Guyana” President’s Cup on New Year’s Day.

 

Prime Minister Brigadier (ret/d) Mark Phillips making the official kick off before the OGPC final

And that upset of the Region Three took place on their home turf on the West Side, reputed to be “The Best Side”.
For a while, it appeared as though the star-studded New GPC Inc/Ferrol Compound Region 4 Team would suffer an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Caribbean Airlines’ Region 3 Team, who were buoyed by a boisterous and energetic crowd at the National Track and Field Center (NTFC) at Leonora, on the West Side.
The ebb and flow of the fast-paced One Guyana President’s Cup final was so unpredictable that when Region 3 captain Leo Orion Lovell handed his team the lead pretty early, in the 13th minute, his well-placed strike across the face of the goal brought spectators to their feet, and Region 4, having briefly slumped into despair, went on to miss several key chances in the first half.

 

Kelsey Benjamin (11) and Omari Glasgow (10) were ecstatic in their celebration of the Region 4 second goal

The Region 4 shots went over the crossbar; into the hands of the keeper; and, most notably, a foolproof chance in front of the goal, being converted from a set piece, went abegging when Colin Nelson’s soft touch into the goal received a bit of foot on it from a Region 3 defender and was steered inches outside of the goalpost.
The Region 4 Team must have been read The Riot Act at the break, because the New GPC- sponsored troops, probably fortified by liberal doses of Ferrol Compound, came out with fresh vigour, and it was not long before they evened the scores.

 

Abumuchi Benjamin (blue) netted a hat trick in the 3rd place playoff to end up being tied for the ‘most goals’ award with Kelsey Benjamin

Upon resumption of the second 45 minutes, Ryan Hackett came to the fore as a substitute for Marcus Wilson, and immediately came within inches of scoring goal. However, Kobi Alexander’s cardinal sin of literally pulling Nicholas Mc Arthur to the ground made a way for the eventual champions to turn things around.
After Region Three defender Alexander was sent off because of this red card infraction, Region 4 started to take multiple shots at goal; and a free-kick expertly converted by Captain Daniel Wilson eventually levelled the scores for the visitors in the 73rd.

 

Osaffo Chapman dived valiantly, but was unable to stop Daniel Wilson’s free kick from entering the nets

Wilson kept it flat, positioning it perfectly between the wall and the other players, and it flew into the corner of the goal, out of the reach of goalkeeper Osaffo Chapman.
Another shot from that same corner exposed the Region Three goalie’s proverbial Achilles’ heel just two minutes later, when Kelsey Benjamin sent a Nicholas Mc Arthur assist flying into the corner of the goal, much to the dismay of the once- animated Region 3 crowd.
With the lead in hand, Region 4 doubled down on their defenses, and the 2-1 score saw them to the end of regulation time and into being owners of the inaugural “One Guyana” President’s Cup championship.
The ‘Comeback’
Region 4’s head Coach Wayne Dover did not shy away from admitting that his team needed the motivation for a ‘comeback’ in order to topple Region 3 in the final. In fact, during a post-match interview with media operatives, Dover was outright in his praise of the home team’s fortitude.

 

Action in full flow in the President’s Cup final

“Region 3, at home, they had the home fans with them, and they came out to defend their territory, and they made it a bit difficult for us to operate as free as we wanted to,” Coach Dover declared.
But continuing, he said, “Well, I don’t want to take anything away from Region 3, I think Region 3 played well. They had their game plan: they came out and try to play and stifle us; but we play into their hands and we concede an early goal from a mistake, and then that took the confidence away from one of the players, and he continued to make mistakes and the team continued to search to find a rhythm.
“We literally saw a way we could actually take control of the game, and we made the substitution at the half; and bringing back Daniel, the captain, that gave us some kind of comfort to operate, coming from behind,” he declared.
Earlier, the Region 5 Team thumped the Region 7 Team 6-3 to clinch third place in the competition. Abumuchi Benjamin led the charge for Region 5, scoring in the 7th, 30th and 66th minutes for a hat trick for Region 5.
Delroy Fraser (53rd), Marc Galloway (58th) and Olvis Mitchell (88th) added one each to the Region 5 (Mahaica Berbice) tally.
A brace from Andrew Simmons (11th, 36th) and one from Whitney Welcome (90+2) accounted for the three goals scored by Region 7.
Abumuchi Benjamin from Region 5 and Kelsey Benjamin from Region 4 shared the highest goal-scorer’s accolade, each having scored ten goals.
Region 3’s Leo Orion Lovell was adjudged the tournament’s MVP, and received a house lot, compliments of the Government of Guyana.
The President’s Cup team winner, Region 4, took home $2M in addition to other incentives for winning group games and semifinal games, while second-placed team Region 3 pocketed $1M plus similar incentives.

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