Arnett Gardens meet Montego Bay in Jamaica Premier League finals
In three games, Arnett Gardens have only managed to score one goal against defending Jamaican Premier League champions Montego Bay United.
In fact, after a 5 - 0 loss during the opening stages of the season followed by 0-0 and 1-1 ties, the Arnett Gardens faithful could have been excused for being a little restless heading into Monday evening's mouthwatering 8:30 p.m. final inside the National Stadium.
But not head coach Jerome Waite.
The colourful tactician, enters the clash having won two of his three previous appearances in a final and as far as he is concerned, that 5 - 0 defeat was the best thing to have happened to his team.
"That 5-0 defeat came in the first rounds of the competition, we understand what took place," said Waite referring to his team's late arrival for that game back in November of last year.
Waite's perspective makes a lot of sense too when you consider that the 'Junglists' went on a 10-game winning and 11-game unbeaten streak following that loss. That run helped them to finish the preliminary round of the island's premier football competition at the top of the points table 13 points better than their nearest opponents and 14 points better than Montego Bay United.
"We rewrote history after that game, it was the turning point of our season," added Waite.
His team's consistency in the regular season certainly adds to his confidence heading into the title game, but following their demolition of Waterhouse with a 8 - 2 aggregate, Waite needs no reminding of the quality and threat awaiting them in the final.
"The players are very confident and the consistency shows that they are ahead of the rest of the pack, including Montego Bay United," Waite said.
"But we still have to give them credit, they have been doing well and what they displayed in the semis showed that they are at a point.
"It will Arnett Gardens, the number one team in the country versus the defending champions. It should be exciting."
Arnett Gardens enters the final having scored the most goals in the competition's preliminary stages (64). Montego Bay United, who showed their offensive dynamism to the detriment of Waterhouse, had the best defensive record with a mere 28 goals conceded. Ten of Arnett Gardens' goals game from their star striker Leon Strickland and though the experienced hitman looked a bit rusty during his team's 4-3 aggregate win over Humble Lion in their semifinal, Waite again had an answer.
"Nineteen players have scored for us, so we know we can get goals from all over the field. Leon Strickland has had his ups and downs indeed but we know he will be ready for the big night," Waite said.
He needs to be if they are to end their 12-year wait for the Premier League title.
Montego Bay United ended a rather lengthy spell off the top of the pile themselves after 17 years and should still like their chances of retaining the title.
In the speedy Allan Ottey and Dino Williams they possess a frontline that will haunt any defence in the region. Supported by a robust and dynamic midfield, United will start -- at least in the minds of most observers -- as the slight favourites going into this contest.
Captain Dwyane Ambusley certainly agrees.
"We are unstoppable," he said. Trashing a team of the quality of Waterhouse in the manner, which they did tends to do that to one's confidence.
The midfield handyman added that the objective is to enter the contest in full focus, not to get carried away with past results and get everyone on his team to paddle in the same direction when the bright lights come on this Monday.
"It's just to keep our feet on the ground and keep our players focused, and for them to do well in terms of playing to the best of their ability. If we do that, we will not be stopped," he said. "This Arnett Gardens team has not beaten us all season so I think that our chances are pretty good."
"It should be a 50-50 game because it's a final, and we are happy and upbeat and ready to go," added Ambusley."We always find our best football at this time. We are proud people, and we are people who don't want to be shown up on the big stage."