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(ST LUCIA FA) – A euphoria centric Philip Marcellin Grounds on Wednesday night embraced the new champions of the top tier club competition on St. Lucian soil.
Platinum FC, the Vieux Fort South based juggernaut, eternally inscribed their names in St. Lucian football history as the victors of the 2018 SLFA First Division. Thanks to their eight nil demolition of the now second division team RV Jrs, Platinum solidified their grasp on the coveted piece of silverware and once again brought the footballing accolades to the southern tip of the island.
Undefeated throughout their 2018 top flight campaign, Platinum amassed a total of 15 points in 7 matches, inclusive of 4 wins and 3 draws. However, their path to the title was one of great suspense as they were kept on their heels throughout the competition by tournament runners up VSADC. Impressively, the second placed team finished square on points with the champions but were separated by a country mile via goal difference. Platinum’s triumph at the highest level of St. Lucian club football sees them walk away with the tournament’s first prize of $10,000 supplemented by an additional $25,000 pledged by the SLFA.
Along with national bragging rights, the champions have now earned themselves a spot in the recently introduced CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield. This competition was specifically designed for the elite club of each of the confederation’s affiliates. The Caribbean Club Shield was inaugurated this year and is currently being played out in the Dominican Republic. Platinum, through their diligence in the first division have now been charged with the task of carrying the St. Lucian flag at the 2019 edition of the Caribbean Club Shield.
Platinum’s triumph at this year’s first division has been heavily credited to their consistency as a team and their resilience in defence. Perhaps to an even greater effect, Mr Antonious Myers, Platinum’s flamboyant and seemingly inexorable attacker, should be lauded for their success. Through his incredible ability to ease his way passed players, Myers terrorized every defence line with which he was confronted.
Teams resorted to strategies which involved double marking the player, but his agility, and adeptness to meander his way out of tight situations proved to overwhelm all of those who tried. He made an invaluable contribution of 3 goals and six assists throughout this tournament standing out as one of the more technically gifted and tactically sound players.
After many years of lingering on the periphery of football royalty, Platinum FC have finally been crowned as the king of St. Lucian club football at perhaps the most rewarding time. This for sure makes them much more attractive to the corporate world who would be keep on latching on to the opportunity of regional and international exposure which Platinum’s participation in the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield would definitely provide. The club is now in a prime position to be a victor on and off the pitch.
Runners up to Platinum was the city based team VSADC. A team which in the beginning was not considered by pundits to be a gravitas contender for the title, exceeded, by a considerable margin the expectations of most. Many have speculated that good fortune favoured VSADC; however from a more analytical standpoint, if their campaign was to be cross examined, one would come to the realization that VSADC played entirely to their strengths. They capitalized on set pieces and dug deep defensively maintaining a very pragmatic approach to each game.
Discipline and persistence seemed to have been their mantra as they toiled in each game to ensure that they escaped with at least a point. However, they found it a little difficult to sustain the laser beam focus needed to win a championship as prestigious as this one. When champions Platinum slipped up against Ti Rocher FC in round 5, it illuminated a pathway to the title for VSADC. All that was needed from the runners up in order to switch positions with the current champions, was a win away to Allez FC.
Sadly, VSADC were simply off the grid on that night and had to settle for a point against a renewed Allez unit who were pressing rather aggressively for a win. The draw kept Platinum ahead in the table and proved to be very costly to VSADC (to the tune of $35,000). Despite winning their following two encounters, VSADC were forced to learn this important life value “Opportunity lost can never be regained”.
To the absolute astonishment of football fans in St. Lucia, Ti Rocher FC finished in third place in the islands most competitive, most prestigious and most demanding competition. Promoted to the top flight only in the previous season, Ti Rocher FC proved to the nation that they are a team which is to be revered and that they deserve to be competing among the elite in St. Lucia. Due to their propensity to maraud points wherever they can, they were seen as a thorn in the flesh of the more decorous teams.
Their inexhaustible determination meant that they fought till the death to avoid a loss. In the end Ti Rocher finished with 10 points through 2 wins 4 draws (Platinum, Uptown, Northern, and VSADC) and one loss. This podium finish for a relatively young first division team is one for which they should be commended and it also could be an indication of a bright future for the boys of TFC.
As the first division withered down into the final rounds, it was hard to recall that there was actually was a team in defence of such an esteemed crown. The results at the business end of the competition proved to be devastating for defending champions Northern United and that instantly extinguished any hopes of title retention. Their pre-competition temerity very quickly tapered into a vast state of dystopia as Northern, the defending champions, only just avoided sinking into the pits of relegation. For a team from which much was expected, their output was extremely sub-par.
The reason for such, could’ve been their inability to endure the weight of expectation, as one would assume to be the same for Uptown Rebels, another team tipped to blow the competition out of the waters. In shallow contrast, the wind was taken out of the sails of these two club giants from the very inception.
Statistically speaking, Uptown were rather abysmal. Scoring only six goals and conceding half that amount, the Vieux Fort South team can be considered to be lucky to be in fourth place. The similarity between these two teams is that they were quite clearly the most active during the transfer season. They were able to lure in the more popular and supposedly the more skilful players from across the nation and even more impressively across the OECS.
Despairingly, according to the statistics, these additions might have had a reverse effect on the efficiency of the team. In perfect contrast, teams which were more conserved in the transfer window appeared to have reaped greater results as is proven with the top two teams in this year’s edition of the First Division. This observation points clearly to the greater value of an established chemistry within a football unit as opposed to the random assembly of skilful players.
As is customary, the bottom two teams have been relegated to second division of St. Lucian football (The President’s Cup). Predictably, RV Jrs have finished bottom of the table after their consistent production of lacklustre performances; which is totally unacceptable at the highest level. Allez, though they seemed a renewed force towards the latter part of the competition, just couldn’t do enough to drag themselves above the drop. These two teams along with the other 19 league promotional competition winners will play the President’s Cup for a spot in the 2019 SLFA First Division Competition.