Combine Ballers advanced to the Vincy Cup championship game for the second time in the two-year-old tournament and debutant Layou United is in on its first try. Both teams played excellent games to rally from deficits and win their respective divisions last Saturday.

Albany Kickers and Maestros also played to semifinal wins last Saturday to contest the Over-40 title. All games were played at Boys High Stadium in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where this Saturday’s title games will be played.

Combine Ballers, winners of the Honved Division, advanced to the final on the herculean effort of former St. Vincent and the Grenadines national forward Renson Haynes, who scored a hat trick in the team’s 5-3 victory over Youlou Stingers. Haynes, last year’s scoring champion, is going into the championship game in a tie with teammate Joel Ford as the tournament’s leading scorers with seven goals.

Stingers took the initiative when Joel Lewis found himself with room to shoot at the top of the penalty area and hit a hard shot into the upper left-hand corner of the net 10 minutes into the contest. Just five minutes later, Stingers forged ahead, 2-0, when Combine Ballers goalkeeper Clint Providence failed to hold onto a cross, and Frank Hood made no mistake in pushing the ball beyond the goal line.

Trailing by two goals, Haynes and company went to work; they pressed forward in search of the equalizer and when Haynes found Ford inside the penalty box with a cross from the right side, a Stingers defender fouled Forde; the forward made no mistake in cutting into the two-goal deficit and recording his seventh goal on the season, midway in the first half. Haynes equalized just before the break for a 2-2 halftime score line.

The second half belonged to Haynes; he scored at the 50-minute mark to put Combine Ballers ahead, 3-2, for the first time in the contest, but a determined Stingers leveled the score at 3-3 in the 57th minute. The seesaw battle continued until Haynes came up with the winner in the 75th minute for the final lead at 4-3. Stingers were spent and didn’t seem to have much left.

In the closing moments of the game, Andrew ‘Cat’ Douglas pummeled the ball into the upper right corner of the net from 18 yards, allowing Stingers goalkeeper Nathaniel ‘Pepper’ Alexander, who had an excellent game in goal, no chance for a save.

Layou defeated defending champion Future Stars, 4-2, to win the Geest Division. Midfielder Sinard Owens gave the defending champion the lead just five minutes into the contest off a powerful 25-yard free kick after Layou committed a foul in the area. Coached by former St. Vincent and the Grenadines national coach, Everard Young, the disciplined Layou team pressured the ball relentlessly and denied the defending champion space to operate. The pressure paid off when Layou forced a corner kick; Darren Dopwell sent a high looping cross to the far post where defender Troy ‘Panda’ Jeffers leapt high above everyone to give Layou the equalizer at the 15-minute mark.

Once the equalizer came, the Layou ‘Red Shirts’ were on the move; midfielder Mishach Tinglin, after squandering earlier chances, made no mistake in the 30th minute to give Layou a 2-1 halftime lead. The second half was off to an exciting start as Future Stars, with Grayson Alexander and Owens working hard at midfield in search of the equalizer, and Tinglin and Millon Prescott working just as hard to forge ahead. In the 60th minute, forward Mazi Jack caught Future Stars goalkeeper Orlando ‘Super’ Thompson off his line and coolly chipped the ball from 30 yards out over Thompson’s head and into an open goal to give Layou a 3-1 lead.

Future Stars kept coming and attacked down the Layou right side where substitute Darren Williams had just replaced Dopwell. Williams hardly settled before he committed a foul in the penalty area and Alexander used excellent technique from the penalty spot to cut the deficit to 3-2. Little midfielder Johndy Sam had the final say as he completed the scoring when Future Stars defense failed to clear a cross but Sam was successful in scoring.

Albany Kickers and Maestros advanced to the Over-40 title game with strong wins as well. Albany came from being a goal behind to defeat Vincy Masters, 4-1, and Maestros defeated Trinam, 6-0. The Over-40 title game kicks-off at 3:00 p.m., followed by the Vincy Cup championship game for The Joseph Chatoyer Trophy at 4:30 p.m. The Vincy Cup third-place match-up between Stingers and Future Stars starts at 1:00 p.m. All games are at Boys High Stadium at Troy Avenue and Maple Street in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

World Cup

Of the six African teams in the first World Cup played of African soil, disappointingly, only Ghana and Algeria have chances to advance beyond the preliminary stage in South Africa. Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast are on their way home, while South Africa has a very slim chance to advance. The Bafana, Bafana must beat France by a large margin and hope that either Uruguay or Mexico loses in their match, where a draw would send both teams through the next round.

Already qualified for the next stage after two games are undefeated and untied teams Brazil, Holland and Chile. Brazil was a 3-1 winner over Ivory Coast on Sunday; Holland topped Japan, 1-0, on Saturday; and Chile set back Switzerland, 1-0, on Monday. Paraguay, Portugal, a 7-0 defeat of North Korea, are pretty much in. The tournament continues until the July 11 final in Johnnesburg, South Africa.

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