Elite Sports Club take on Roma United in the FA Cup final this Sunday in what promises to be a classic game.
Although Elite are in the Premier League and Roma First Division champions, consensus is that Roma are the favorites.
Unbeaten in their league this season with plenty of goals, Roma are bubbling with confidence and will be hard to contain.
The match is at the TE McField Annex, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Elite started the season promisingly but losing key players Mark Ebanks and Jessus Ebanks – who went to California to try for pro contracts – left big holes in their already small squad.
The fact that influential midfielder Rene Carter was rolled over last year and returned to Honduras did not help either. Consequently, Elite finished fifth having been champions only a few years ago.
Gregory Ebanks, Elite’s technical director, watched Roma draw 2-2 with Tigers on Saturday and was impressed as they strung some flowing passes and demonstrated their skills with open, entertaining football.
“I intend for Elite to contest at the same level, therefore this should be a good game to watch,” he said.
Roma were losing FA Cup finalists to Bodden Town last season and Elite have failed at three attempts, so both sides desperately want to win this one to break that duck.
“Both teams are highly motivated and will give their best shot,” Ebanks said. “I trust that all players will be in good health and the game will be played at a fast pace.”
He added that if Elite play to their potential and don’t lose concentration, they should win. His confidence is not misguided because they beat double champs Bodden Town 3-0 in the semifinal, the only loss in an otherwise totally dominant season for Bodden Town.
Win or lose, Ebanks knows he has to strengthen his squad this summer. “Elite need a bigger squad,” he said. “Losing Rene, Jessus and Mark has put us back far. Hopefully, we can bounce back and attract good quality players to enhance our endeavors for next season.”
George Thomas, Roma manager, claims his side go into the match with an underdog mentality.
“We’re going to play our usual, attractive game but if we have to play a more rugged game, we can too,” he said. “We know Elite play a hard, running game and use their fast wingers well and have an excellent coach. They also start very fast, which we will have to be aware of.”
In Dwayne “Gaza” Wright, Elite have one of the deadliest strikers in Cayman. A former Roma player, he was the league’s top scorer for three seasons but has struggled to find the net this season, mainly because of injury.
Nevertheless, Elite have many fine potential match-winners, including coach Greg’s sons Jedd and Jason, winger Brian Scott, Benji Cupid, captain Abijah Rivers and free-kick specialist Jairo Sanchez.
Roma’s key players are captain Kiegel “Stamma” Atkinson, Kemar “16” Boothe, Steve Dunkley and Davin Reynolds.
The Jamaican community always comes out to support Roma so there will be a lot of banter from the stands. One thing is guaranteed; whatever the outcome, it will not be boring.