Excelsior's Riley says he's happy with 'ugly win' over St Catherine

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

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When Excelsior High defeated St Catherine High in the semi-finals of the ISSA/Digicel Walker Cup last Friday, it took the dreaded penalties to separate the two teams who had twice faced each other in the preliminary round of the Manning Cup competition.

One win apiece, on their respective home grounds, had set the stage for a classic winner-take-all occasion in a match that required a conclusion, and it was the Mountain View Road-based team that got over the line from 12 yards to advance to tomorrow's final against Hydel High.

Their Head Coach Daniel Riley had all the confidence in his goalkeeper to get his team into the final, after they had played to a 0-0 scoreline at the end of regulation time.

“We knew that our goalkeeper had a save in him, we knew he can definitely save one of those balls, but we were hoping that he would have saved one earlier. But then once he got it we knew that definitely we are in the game, and once we are in we could keep the pressure on — and we knew that at some point they would crack under the pressure.”

Riley also praised the success of the programme which is still in its infancy, as it is only his first year in charge at his alma mater.

“It is a success. It is the first time I am coaching the team this year and the programme worked. Before going into the final it was testimony that our programme is working, so this is just bonus (getting into the final) on whether or not it is working. So we give thanks, and next year it's gonna be a better year and at the end of the finals, win or lose, it's definitely shown that our programme has improved,” he stated.

The game wasn't a fluent passing game with lots of goalscoring opportunities as many had expected, but the wily coach explained that it was all a part of his strategy.

“We knew that this game would be an ugly game, we planned it. We didn't come here to play any pretty football, we were just looking for the result. We knew that St Catherine were going to be a tough game because we played them twice this season. It's a best of three, so we definitely knew that it is one of those games where you wouldn't see some excellent football playing,” he explained.

Tactical adjustments were made throughout the game almost until the final whistle, all of which culminated in the Excelsior win in the end.

“We saw that we were fitter than them so we knew that they wouldn't outrun us for the 90 minutes. We stacked the midfield to make sure that there weren't any balls coming through there... going into the penalties we brought on our penalty kickers, [as] we were prepared for the penalties,” said Riley.

— Dwayne Richards

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