Officials of one of the world’s foremost sports investment agencies, Doyen Sports Group, and Arsenal Football Club are expected to sign an agreement with the Phoenix All-Star Academy this afternoon in Kingston.The deal, which is being hailed by Phoenix co-founder Craig Butler as a major development for Jamaican football, will see the agency, which, among other ventures, manages the certain affairs for some of the planet’s leading footballers, partner with Phoenix in the establishment of a state-of-the-art football academy just outside of Montego Bay, as well as prepare, market and place talent from the club into the European market.Doyen’s website lists names such as Neymar, Radamel Falcao, Mangala, Alvaro Morata, Alvaro Negredo, and Marcos Rojo, but does not outline the nature of their involvement with the players.The group is considered to be an investment-based organisation that facilitates player transfers.Phoenix already has several players on overseas contracts, with Belgium-based Leon Bailey, who is already in the Genk first team, and Kyle Butler, both doing well. But Craig Butler is confident that this partnership will create opportunities for more players and open another avenue to the international markets.”This partnership between Phoenix Academy and Doyen has many positives. They will partner with us in the building of an academy in Trelawny, as well as the marketing and placement of players in Europe,” Butler told The Gleaner ahead of today’s signing, which is scheduled to take place at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.”Phoenix have done extremely well over the years in terms of our standard of developing players in technical, tactical and personal development. We are creating players that are ready for the European market,” Butler added, while referring to Arsenal’s interest.”Leon (Bailey), at 18 years old, is already one of the best players in Belgium, and is already in the first team there. Kyle is also doing well and should be in the first team soon.”Arsenal have taken note of that and want to come and take a look and see what our other players are about,” added Butler.”This is huge for the country. I still believe that with development, Jamaica can become one of the teams that challenge for World Cups, not just strive to participate and make up numbers,” Butler said.Butler also underlined that a 14-acre property has already been secured by Phoenix All-Star Academy and will be developed to accommodate a full academy, in collaboration with Doyen Sports.
Anthony ‘Baba’ Nunes’ three year-old colt, BIGDADDYKOOL, announced his arrival on the big stage earlier this year, when he captured the Lotto Classics for the Governor’s Cup in May. A month later the young horse was second in the Jamaican derby after an exciting battle to the wire with FUTURE KING for Jamaica’s most prized race, although both horses ended up being disqualified. However, despite taking on some of the best thoroughbreds on the local circuit, in the Lotto Classics, such as ORPHEUS and JAMAI RAJA, and horses like FUTURE KING in the derby, the three year-old colt will face his toughest test to date when he lines up for the Superstakes, against defending champion FRANFIELD, reigning horse of the year SEEKING MY DREAM, PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, PHINEAS, A THOUSAND STARS, JAMAI RAJA among others, this weekend at Caymanas Park. Veteran trainer, Nunes, is confident the young horse has what it takes to win the $1 million purse on Saturday. “It is the first time he (BIGDADDYKOOL) is going to run against the top A class older horses like SEEKING MY DREAM and PERFECT NEIGHBOUR, and so it’s left to be seen if he can manage them. But I am pretty confident in him, he’s a really nice colt and he certainly stays the trip and he has mature extremely nicely since the St Leger. We have high hopes for him,” Nunes told The Gleaner. Nunes’ biggest concern is that his main contender has not raced in over two months and he thinks this could have an effect on the outcome, but nevertheless remains very optimistic of his chances. “He has trained well, I can’t be happier. I would have preferred if he had gotten a prep race but he had ‘stone’ squeeze about four weeks ago so we ended up missing the Governor Cup, which would have been our prep race. So it has been ten weeks, two and a half months between races. “But he has trained nicely and I thing he can overcome it (A class, older horses). In my mind you are always going to have question marks until the race runs. But ideally I would love to have a race four weeks before but it didn’t happen and that is how it is in horse racing sometimes, things don’t work out the way you plan. But as far as me preparing him for this race with that in mind I have no complaints,” he said. Nunes has won the event on three occasions and would love a fourth, he also wants to give Trinidadian owner Stephen Narinesingh his first Superstakes win. – L.S.
With an eye to the virtual title clash against Aizawl FC away in the weekend, Mohun Bagan will take on Maziya Sports and Recreation in their Group E AFC Cup tie at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium here on Wednesday.Bagan recorded a last-minute win over Minerva Punjab FC in their last I-League encounter to keep pace on Aizawl, who has surprised one and all this time to top the table.With Haitian star forward Sony Norde scoring the solitary goal, the Sanjoy Sen-coached outfit are now dreaming of their second league triumph in two years’ time.The AFC Cup is a distraction for the green and maroon brigade and on Wednesday they won’t be expected to field all their key players.So far, Bagan have won one and lost the other of their matches against Dhaka Limited Abahani at home and Bengaluru FC away respectively.Scottish striker Darryl Duffy has also been in good form for the hosts along with Japanese playmaker Yusa Katsumi.Coming to their rivals, Maziya have been regular participants in the AFC Cup since 2013. However, the Maldivian outfit have never managed to go past the group stages.Last year, Maziya were thrashed by Bagan 5-2 in Guwahati but drew 1-1 with Bagan in their own lair.The visitors’ new coach Sekulovski is keen on playing a more passing game. The team thrives on their strong backline with the new addition of Cordos. His partner Amdan is also physically tough and good in air.Skipper Abdulla Assadhulla will also be a player to watch out for being the top scorer in Maldives over the last three seasons.advertisement