Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA will look to put its wretched Concacaf Champions League and domestic league form aside when it begins defence of its First Citizens Cup title against T&TEC in the feature match of a quarterfinal double-header at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, from 8 pm tonight. The meeting is a repeat of last year’s final which Caledonia won 2-1. However, the Jamal Shabazz-coached Morvant/Laventille club has not enjoyed the best of starts to the 2012/2013 season and is winless in four competitive matches, three in the Concacaf Champions League, and one in the Digicel T&T Pro League. After a 3-1 whipping at the hands of North East Stars last Friday at Mucurapo, Shabazz will hope his squad finally kick-starts its campaign against the “Electricity Boys.”
T&TEC, runner-up in the Digicel Pro League last season and twice runner-up in knockout finals, will also be eager to jump start its 2012/2013 campaign under new coach, Jefferson George after a disappointing 2-0 loss to Police at Mucurapo on Saturday last in its league opener and according to club captain, Keeron Benito his team will be ready to play. Benito added, “Our guys are not under any pressure as we feel as champions Caledonia will be the ones with the pressure and this will be a positive for us going into the match.” Two hours earlier, North East Stars tackles St Ann’s Rangers. The Angus Eve-coached Stars, featuring a number of off-season signings led by Cornell Glen and Kerry Baptiste, created a buzz in its league opener with a convincing 3-1 demolition of Caledonia, and the Sangre Grande-based club hopes to build on the momentum against a new-look Rangers line-up coached by Eve’s former national teammate Dean Pacheco. Eve noted his team has set its sights on going all the way to the final and said the win over Caledonia did well for his team’s confidence and would like his players to build on it.
Rangers’ midfielder Mikhail Awai did not mince his words saying his team did not have the luxury of signing the big name players for the season but come match day they would be ready for whichever team it faces, inclusive of Stars. Down at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, six-time winner DirecTV W Connection, coming off a heart-breaking 3-1 loss to Guatemala’s Xelaju on Tuesday night which virtually ended their Concacaf Champions League hopes for this season, will be eager for redemption against Richard Hood’s Police, in the opener. The “Savonetta Boys” who last won the title in 2008, were expected to return home on Wednesday night and the club’s marketing director, Renee John-Williams speaking at the tournament’s launch earlier in the day said she expected the players to be well motivated to reclaim a trophy it had become accustomed to winning. Hood, on the other hand, said he was able to view the Xelaju/W Connection match on television and saw some weaknesses which he hopes his team would be able to capitalise on. “It’s not the greatest draw for us but at the same time it will be good for Police as a team to make another positive statement by beating W Connection,” added Hood. In the second match at Marabella, Defence Force, champions in 2002 and 2009 and three-time runners-up battles newcomer Central FC.
Speaking at the launch on Wednesday, Defence Force assistant coach Marvin Gordon said he felt his team has the toughest quarterfinal match of all the teams as Central FC was an unknown quantity. “We know that Marvin Oliver and a few other players who have played in the Pro League before are with the team but we don’t really know what to expect. “At the same time we are confident in our capabilities as we believe its the best crop of players Defence Force has had in the past few years and we intend to go all the way to the final. In the semifinal round on September 28, the winner of the Defence Force/Central FC encounter will meet the Stars/Rangers winner while in the other semis, the T&TEC/Caledonia victor faces the W Connection/Police winner. The final will be played on October 5 with the winners walking away with the $80,000 cheque and $20,000 for the runner-up. In addition to the team prizes in the final, the tournament’s top scorer and “Most Valuable Player” will each collect $1,000 while the “MVP” of each game will get $500. The “Dash for Cash” winner per game will also receive $500 per game, however for the final they will collect $1,000.
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo
North East Stars vs St Ann’s Rangers, 6 pm
T&TEC vs Caledonia AIA, 8 pm
Venue: Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella
W Connection vs Police, 6 pm
Defence Force vs Central FC, 8 pm