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Jabloteh, Stars eye Classic final spot
Four-time finalist and 2008 winner, San Juan Jabloteh and DirecTV North East Stars will be fancied to reach the final of the Toyota Classic when semi-final matches take place today at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar from 6 pm. In the opening match, Stars, winners of the Lucozade Sports Goal Shield already this season and runner-up in the FA will come up against giant-killers, bmobile Joe Public of the Super League. Two hours later, Englishman Terry Fenwick and his Jabloteh squad which ended as runner-up in the 2005, 2007 and 2009 Classic final will renew their recent grudge meetings with Ma Pau.
But while most will consider the Jabloteh and Ma Pau contest as the marquee encounter.
The semi-professional Eastern Lions coached by Rajesh Latchoo, who also coaches the Pro League squad have already proven themselves in this year’s tournament by ousting their senior clubmates and last year’s winner, Joe Public (Pro League) 1-0 in the round-of-16 followed by a 2-1 round-of-16 triumph over another Pro League club, Police. Stars, meanwhile, edged Super League, double-crowned champions, T&TEC 1-0 in the round-of-16 and followed it up with an impressive 2-1 win over Pro League champions, Defence Force in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. However, for Stars, coach Shurland David may have to do without midfielder, Marc Leslie and strikers, Errol Mc Farlane Jr and Guyana’s Randolph Jerome, all due to injury as he seeks to stop the fairy-tale run of his opponents. The Jabloteh and Ma Pau encounter is expected to be a tense affair based on recent meetings between both clubs. Jabloteh, still basking in its recent T&T Football FA Trophy triumph 1-0 over Stars had a lacklustre 4-2 penalty-kicks win over Super League’s Stokely Vale after a 0-0 draw followed by a 5-4 sudden-death penalty-kicks win over W Connection after a 2-2 draw in its last-eight match after leading 2-0 with less than a minute left in regulation time.
For today’s meeting with Ma Pau, Jabloteh will be without defender Karlon Murray and will be hard-pressed to maintain its recent winning streak against the Casino Boys. On the other hand, Ma Pau under coach Michael Mc Comie coasted past FC South End 3-0 and then got the better of Caleodnia AIA, 5-4 on sudden-death penalties after a 0-0 draw thanks to the heroics of former England-based and T&T international goalkeeper, Clyton Ince. The winners’ of tonight’s semifinal matches will meet on Friday for the $50,000 winners cheque and Toyota Cup while the runner-up will collect $20,000. In addition, individual prizes of $500 (Most Valuable Player per match), $2000 (Most Valuable Player overall) and $1,000 (Top scorer) are also on offer.
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