Dixon relishing Charlie Smith-Haile Selassie rematch
LAST MONTH Haile Selassie's head coach Linval Dixon projected their season-opening 0-0 draw with Charlie Smith, their first ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup game in over a year would be a strong launch pad for his team to improve and thrive.
With the leadership of Group C on the line, the two teams will battle again this afternoon at 3:30 at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, with Dixon expecting a tighter contest than that September 12 meeting which saw his team denied a winner by the finest of margins.
Since that result, Haile Selassie have not lost a game, winning four straight, including the 4-0 drubbing of Edith Dalton James on Thursday which saw them maintain their two-point lead (13) ahead of Charlie Smith (11).
What has had Dixon impressed is the rate at which his young team has adapted to what the coaching staff have asked of them after a year away from schoolboy football because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The mentality of the youngsters really changed. They understand their roles. They understand the discipline and the commitment that they have to put into it. They are learning and are growing in what they are doing," Dixon said.
"It's hard work for us and hard work for them to stay grounded as we go along. It is very difficult, in a sense, to get them to organise, to get them to play together and work for the team, but they are doing it.”
It is the level of commitment to their philosophy, as well as to each other that Dixon hopes will continue, especially against a Charlie Smith team he knows is dangerous.
"Charlie Smith is a big team. We expect a great battle, a great challenge from them. We are taking it one game at a time. We know that we have to come super ready," Dixon said
Meanwhile, in Group A, St George's College will travel to Ardenne High as all the teams in that Group will be playing for the first time in 10 days because severe weather conditions associated with Hurricane Ian caused last Saturday’s and Tuesday’s games to be postponed.
Despite the long wait to get back on the field, St George's assistant coach Marcel Gayle is optimistic about his team's ability to shake off any rust that exists.
"Come (today), we will know if it (layoff) has had any effect on us. But physically, and mentally we are ready to go. We sent some programmes for the children to follow. Seeing them back in the week, we are still where we want to be," Gayle said. St George's lost 3-2 to Waterford in their last game on September 21.
Gayle said Joshua Jackson, who was injured in the Meadowbrook Game on September 15, could feature today should he respond well to yesterday's training session.
Today's Games @ 3:30 pm
Ardenne High vs St George's College
Calabar High vs Kingston College
Meadowbrook High vs Waterford
St Mary's College vs Jamaica College
Cedar Grove Academy vs St Jago High
Charlie Smith vs Haile Selassie
Bridgeport High vs Edith Dalton James
Vauxhall High vs Tivoli High
Dunoon Technical vs Jonathan Grant High
Spanish Town High vs Tarrant High
St Andrew Technical High vs Norman Manley High
Hydel High vs Papine
Kingston High vs Mona High
Clan Carthy High vs Campion
Jose Marti High vs Cumberland High
Kingston Technical vs Excelsior High