Hassan Kamara plays an awkward, aggressive style of soccer, but he can be effective scorer when given the right opportunity.
He got that opportunity after coming in as a second-half substitute Wednesday night and he made the best of it by slotting the winning goal with five minutes left as St. John’s Hyundai earned a 2-1 victory over the AC Pumas of Saskatchewan on the opening day of the Sony national under-18 boys’ soccer championship at Smallwood Park in Mount Pearl.
“I realized their goalie was far over in his net,” said Kamara of his winning goal. “Those (Saskatchewan) defenders are really good at heading high balls, so I knew I had to keep it low. I hit it hard and low to the left side of the net and I think it deflected off one of their players before going into the net.”
Kamara admitted the game could have gone either way.
“It was a tough, tiring game,” he said. “They were tough to play against because they are really fast and good at moving the ball.”
In his first year at the U-18 level after coming up through the St. John’s U-14 and U-16 minor system, Kamara earned the scorn of several Saskatchewan players because of his tendency to go hard into his opponents with knees and elbow up which, he said, is basically the way he plays the game.
Though not a big kid, Kamara, who needs to break a habit of hanging on to the ball too long, doesn’t shy away from taking on larger opponents.
“They go in hard, so you’ve got to go in hard, too,” Kamara said without making any apologies for his style of play.
St. John’s coach John Breen said he likes to bring in Kamara in the second half of games as a sort of change of pace.
“He’s very quick and he’s tenacious. He’s done well when he comes off the bench,” noted Breen.
Breen said it was a “major” win because it should give his team a confidence boost.
“Hopefully, their confidence will grow and they’ll settle down and play better — which they can,” said Breen, who felt his team created more scoring chances than Saskatchewan
“But both teams played well,” he suggested. “It was a hard-fought game. It was a tough, old-time game and it was good to see.”
Daniel Rowe, a nifty, dynamic striker, opened the scoring for St. John’s eight minute in after beating Saskatchewan goalkeeper Jonah Gardikiotis to the ball just inside the 18-yard box.
After the goal Rowe ran down the sidelines, purposely avoiding his teammates, before stopping directly in front of some Saskatchewan fans and doing a little victory dance.
He might be a bit of a hotdog, but his on-field play is so superb he can get away with a little showboating.
Gardikiotis, meanwhile, was superb in making two outstanding saves to keep the game close.
Saskatchewan’s dazzling striker Brett Levis, who came close to scoring on three other occasions, tied the game at 66 minutes with a long cracking shot that beat St. John’s keeper David Hickey.
St. John’s, which plays Western Newfoundland 6 p.m. today at King George V Park, picked up three yellow cards, while Saskatchewan was yellow-carded once.
Western Newfoundland, this province’s second team at the tournament, lost 7-1 to Saskatchewan on Wednesday.
Western Newfoundland — officially listed as the host team for the championship — faces St. John’s today.
The Newfoundland and Labrador entry in the Canadian female under-18 championship — also known as St. John’s Hyundai — plays its first game 4 p.m. today against Alberta at King George V Park in St. John’s.
The provincial representatives will be without three “key” players according to coach Dragan Mirkovic. They are central defender Michelle Ward (on scholarship in United States), central midfield Kiley Delong (on scholarship with St. Francis Xavier) and attacking midfield Katie Dunphy (recovering from knee surgery).
“As you can see, strategically, the heart of the team,” said Mirkovic. “Not having those players is a huge setback, but I am never one to complain.”
Results of Wednesday’s first day games in the 2010 Sony Cup Under-18 male and female soccer championships in Mount Pearl and St. John’s:
New Brunswick 1, P.E.I. 0
GS: New Brunswick: Eustache Kanye (72); SO: Devin Knowles
Alberta 7, NL Western (Host)
GS; Alberta — Brett Howard (18 minutes, 52, 71), Charlie Trafford (42, 69), Alexander Vaughan (21), Bradley Crewe (77); Host — Brien Pattenden (30)
British Columbia 7, Nova Scotia 0
GS: B.C. — Carlo Basso (56, 58, 74); Kresimir Ukalovic (77, 88), Luigi Pantusa (63) Domenico Delli Santi (76)
SO: Brando Ciccone and Francesco Scigliano
Ontario 2, Yukon 0
GS: Ontario — Fabio Campoli (60); Sammy Orlando (81)
SO: Hylton Mcpherson
Quebec 2, Manitoba 0
GS: Quebec: Nana Safo (3, 4); SO: Pierre Dallaire
9 a.m. — Ontario vs Nova Scotia at Mount Pearl; B.C. vs Yukon at Mount Pearl
11 a.m. — Prince Edward Island vs Manitoba at Mount Pearl
1 p.m. — Quebec vs New Brunswick at Mount Pearl
6 p.m. — Alberta vs Saskatchewan at Mount Pearl;
St. John's vs Western Newfoundland at KGV
Quebec 4, Manitoba 0
GS: Quebec — Marie Christine Gauthier (4); Gabrielle Davis (6), Lea Chasteney- Joseph (12), Melissa Roy (76)
SO: Charlotte Bodreaux and Joelle Morasse
Alberta 1, New Brunswick 0
GS: Alberta: Claire Hosford (39); SO: Kelti Biggs
Ontario 1, Saskatchewan 0
GS: Ontario: Bianca Rossi (10); SO: Sara Petrucci
British Columbia 3, Nova Scotia 2
GS: B.C. — Kristina Sharp (24 75), Yvamara Rodiguez (60); Nova Scotia: Paige Bagnall (65), Keosha Provo (90)
10 a.m. — Ontario vs New Brunswick at KGV
Noon — British Columbia vs P.E.I. at KGV
2 p.m. — Quebec vs Nova Scotia at KGV
4 p.m. — Alberta vs St. John's at KGV
Other National Soccer Championships
Holy Cross blanked by P.E.I. team on opening day
of national Challenge Trophy senior men’s soccer tourney
Newfoundland champion Holy Cross Kirby Group was blanked 2-0 by Prince Edward Island ‘s Churchill Arms 2-0 Wednesday night in the opening game of the national senior men’s Challenge Cup soccer championship in Charlottetown, P.E.I.
Holy Cross has today off prior to playing the host P.E.I. Selects Friday.
The Holy Cross Kirby Group senior women’s team plays its first national Jubilee Cup game today when it takes on Barrie, Ont.
Newfoundland and Labrador defeated New Brunswick 3-1 Wednesday in under-14 girls’ national soccer in Moncton, N.B.
Melissa Reid led the way with two goals while Morgan Fitzgerald added the other.
The Yukon is the opposition for the U-14 girls today.
The under-14 boys club was blanked 4-0 by Ontario and goes against Manitoba today.
In Vaughan, Ont., Saskatchewan defeated the Newfoundland under-16 girls 7-3. Jane Pope scored twice for the St. John’s team, while Connie Lewis added the other. Ontario will provide the opposition today.
Also in Vaughan, the under-16 Newfoundland boys were shut out 2-0 by Alberta. They face British Columbia today.