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Manning Cup preview

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  • Manning Cup preview

    <TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=1 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR><TD><SPAN class=TopStory>Manning Cup preview</SPAN>
    <SPAN class=Subheadline></SPAN></TD></TR><TR><TD>Omar Clarke &amp; Vishwanauth Tolan
    Saturday, September 09, 2006
    <P class=StoryText align=justify>Group A<P class=StoryText align=justify>No great analysis is needed to initially pick Excelsior and St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) to be the immediate favourites to advance from this group.
    Many thought Excelsior would have put up a tougher fight last year in attempting a third consecutive hold on the championship, but instead made a surprisingly early exit.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Despite this, the level of inexperience seen last year should be minimal, as they are again seeking to get it right this year.
    In doing so, Coach Leebert Halliman will rely on his seasoned coaching skills and expertise, hopefully to guide his team at least to the quarter-finals.<P class=StoryText align=justify>On the other hand, former champions STATHS, will be under pressure this year, to prove that their semi-final place last year was no fluke. Their level of skill displayed last year attests to the competitiveness of the non-traditional high schools, that is expected to be seen again this year.
    However, the ever-present issues of academics and good behaviour continue to be one plaguing factor in some key players returning.<P class=StoryText align=justify>The other teams in the group such as Cumberland, Tarrant, Dunoon and the returning St Mary's College, will all be aiming to put on a show and, somehow, make it past the qualifying round. 'Underdogs' Waterford, who is bent on improving their previous second-round showing, is a real threat and could somehow upset the two favourites.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Group B<P class=StoryText align=justify>Although not one of the toughest or exciting groups, Group B could prove to be very tricky for all the teams in it. Last year's finalists, Norman Manley are looking good to repeat or even better last year's performance.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Expected to move out of the group along with Norman Manley, are either Spanish Town or St Jago, who have done well in the past. On the other side of things, Edith Dalton, Donald Quarrie and Mona are all gearing up to defend those vital points and should not be underestimated.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Group C<P class=StoryText align=justify>St Catherine has become one of the teams to watch over the years, especially now after their surprising semi-final place last year. Known for their fruitful counter-attacks and good defending, much is expected from St Catherine in this new Manning Cup season, as they are clearly the group favourites.<P class=StoryText align=justify>A budding Charlie Smith team also did well last season and if they can improve on their confidence, they could even go as far as the last eight.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Kingston Technical, Inswood, Jonathan Grant and Penwood are all bent on making, as difficult as possible, the aforementioned teams' progression out of the group.
    However, with much of these teams boasting inexperienced line-ups, the end-results can go either way.<P class=StoryText align=justify>Group D<P class=StoryText align=justify>In Group D, the immediate standout team is last year's wildcard Eltham High. Entering the competition for the first time, the Spanish Town-based rookies, managed to defy all odds and make their way firmly into the second round.
    By doing so, they denied Kingston College a place in the next round and stamped their mark on the competition with a 4-0 defeat of the then only undefeated team in the group - Bridgeport High. After finishing second in their group, Eltham managed to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the competition in the second round, drawing two-all with eventual champions Calabar High, after trailing 2-0 for most of the match.<P class=StoryTe
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