Neymar Jr's Five an eye-opener for Spartan Elite's top marksman Gibbons


Neymar Jr's Five an eye-opener for Spartan Elite's top marksman Gibbons

Monday, July 15, 2019

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SAO PAULO, Brazil — That Akeem Gibbons was the top scorer at the just-concluded Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five World Final for Spartan Elite is no real surprise.

In fact, he certainly possesses the ability to do even better.

Gibbons, 22, a star player for Frazsier's Whip in the St Catherine Super League competition, registered a total of five goals in three games in group play against Portugal's Para A Cueca, Belgium's Miramas, and Australia's Links FC.

In the first game, he appeared nervous and heavy-legged as he misplaced a number of passes in dangerous areas of the pitch, but still managed to get two goals in the 2-5 loss to Para A Cueca.

He came good in the second game against an overmatched Miramas from Belgium, notching a hat-trick in his team's 5-0 rout. However, he failed to find the net against Australia's Links FC, eventually losing 2-3 inside the last minute, thus ending any hopes of advancing as the second-placed team from Group C behind Para A Cueca on maximum nine points.

“My performance was good, but it could have been a little bit better because sometimes I should have passed the ball, but I kicked at goal, but overall it was good,” was Gibbons self-appraisal.

Asked if the players were nervous to be playing on such a big stage on foreign soil, with five of the seven travelling outside Jamaica for the first time, Gibbons said: “I don't know if there were any nerves; I wasn't, but I don't know about my teammates.”

He added that the Spanish-Town-based group didn't play as a team for some inexplicable reason. “In defence, we didn't have it, we weren't tracking back and get the marking right.”

Spartan Elite had failed twice in the local qualifiers but it was third time lucky for them in the Falmouth qualifiers, where they beat Falmouth United 3-0 in the final, with Gibbons scoring a brace.

He ended up with nine goals in that leg, and was voted the FLOW Most Valuable Player, where he won $50,000 and a chance to train with National Premier League champions Portmore United in 2019/20 preseason.

“I am grateful and I thank God for it,” he said of the FLOW-organised opportunity to train with Portmore United, even as he is yet to finalise the mechanics of the deal.

He's also thankful for the opportunity to learn from the 43 teams from 42 countries on the men's side and 10 countries on the women's side, as they exhibited their style of play at the Red Bull Neymar Jr's Five World Final.

“They keep the ball more than how we play in Jamaica; they move a lot and they used the backboard (as part of their play) more than us, and they are very fit and focused,” he said.

“We have learnt that there is a lot more training that we need.” He ended.

– Ian Burnett

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