Every match critical, says El Karfa
Promoted pair X-Roads and Young Men’s Social Club are already facing a crucial Premier Division match at Garrison Field on Sunday.
The bottom two clubs are finding life tough in the top flight, X-Roads still without a goal or a point after three games in their first season in the Premier Division.
Social Club are faring only slightly better, with a goal and a point so far in their first season in the top flight for 37 years.
X-Roads, who have already conceded 11 goals, will be without goalkeeper Dashun Cooper as he will be in Haiti as the goalkeeper coach for the Bermuda Under-17 women’s team in their Concacaf Caribbean qualifiers.
“The transition to the Premier Division has been difficult, especially as we have had a lot of changes in the team,” Farid El Karfa, the X-Roads coach, said. “We had players leave to go to school and we had new players coming in. When you add the transition to that it’s not going to be smooth.”
When the teams previously met at Garrison Field in February, Social Club scored two late goals to seal a 3-2 win, although X-Roads eventually clinched the First Division title.
The honeymoon period is over, however, as they prepare for tough matches against North Village and PHC in their next two outings.
“When you drop nine points you get to a point where every match becomes critical,” El Karfa said. “We’re definitely confident and the team has been working consistently. We’re committed and we keep working hard.”
Last season X-Roads held their own against Premier Division sides Devonshire Colts and Dandy Town in the FA Cup, winning the first before losing to Town in the quarter-finals.
Striker Daniel Baker has returned from injury and came on as a second-half substitute in X-Road’s 4-0 defeat at home to Boulevard last weekend.
“He’s just making his way back,” El Karfa said. “He’s definitely a key part of the team.”
The title race is taking shape at the other end of the table where PHC Zebras and Robin Hood, the league champions, will meet in a top-of-the-table match at PHC Field.
PHC have maximum points, scoring 14 goals without conceding, while Hood, second on goal difference, dropped two points last weekend when they drew 0-0 with Devonshire Cougars.
Cougars head to Lord’s where Boulevard will play their first match at their new home after making the switch from Police Field. Cougars are third in the table and coach Omar Butterfield is encouraged by their start to the campaign.
They are in the semi-finals of the Dudley Eve Trophy, which they won last season, and will soon have a couple of late transfers on board when Allan Douglas Jr and Oronde Bascome complete their moves.
Dandy Town are at home North Village at St John’s Field, with Ian Coke, the new Town striker, hoping to have recovered from a groin injury he picked up against PHC.
In his absence Town earned their first win of the season last away to Somerset Trojans last weekend.
The Trojans are chasing their first win of the season when they face Flanagan’s Onions on Saturday at 9pm. They are also without a goal after three league and two Dudley Eve Trophy matches.
In First Division on Sunday, leaders BAA will play Paget Lions at Goose Gosling Field, while Southampton Rangers host Somerset Eagles. St David’s play Wolves at home and Ireland Rangers welcome Devonshire Colts to Malabar Field.
The match between Hamilton Parish and St George’s, which was scheduled for tomorrow at Wellington Oval, will now be played on Sunday at 12.30.
• The Masters Division match between Young Men’s Social Club and Somerset Extros, scheduled for Police Field on Saturday, has been switched to Somerset Cricket Club on Saturday starting at 7pm.
The Masters match between St George’s Stallions and Hamilton Parish on Saturday has been postponed.