Last update: 20-Dec-2013 2:48 pm
Friday, December 20, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
You are here
Defence Force sets bar higher for new season
Retaining the Digicel Pro League title isn’t the only ambition of Defence Force for the 2013-2014 season according to the soldiers’ head coach Ross Russell.
But the Teteron-based army-coast guard combination will kick things off without ace forward and last season’s top scorer Devorn Jorsling, beginning with a revenge clash of the Digicel Charity Shield tomorrow gainst DirecTV W Connection at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo from 7 pm.
The Charity Shield brings together the league champion (Defence Force) and the Digicel Pro Bowl winner (W Connection) of the previous season.
And in the inaugural edition last season, both teams met with Connection finishing comfortable 2–0 winners against the soldiers with a goal each by Shahdon Winchester and Joevin Jones.
This time around Defence Force with a basically unchanged roster, from last season, will tackle a new-look Connection.
The Couva-based W Connection are without national midfielder Winchester who joined Finland’s FF Jaro last January, defender Daneil Cyrus and Mekeil Williams, both away on national duty with the Soca Warriors.
However, the “Savonnetta Boys” boast pre-season imports Celio Guilherme Da Silva Santos and Joao Ananias Jordao Junior of Brazil, as well as Colombians Yefer Steven Lozano Rubiano, Yhon Stiven Reyes Lopez and Camilo Andres Ortega Diaz, and Italian striker Mirko Delia.
On the other hand, the Defence Force squad is a very familiar one, although the 2010-11 T&T Pro League/Toyota Player of the Year, Jorsling will be notably absent, while defender Curtis Gonzales misses the match due to national team duties.
The 29-year-old Jorsling, a army/coast-guard private, is currently on a promotional course towards the rank of lance corporal and would only be available to coach Russell from the end of September.
Team captain and defender Corey Rivers will lead out the squad inclusive of goalkeepers Kevin Graham and Sheldon Clarke; defenders Devin Jordan, Marvin Jones, Rodell Elcock, Glynn Franklyn, Aklie Edwards; midfielders Jerwyn Balthazar, Dexter Pacheco, Josimar Belgrave, Jemel Sebro, Kerry Joseph, Sean Narcis, Ross Russell Jr and attackers Kevon Carter and Richard Roy.
“This season we are looking to fill the cabinet,” said an ambitious Russell. “We are looking to get more trophies in there.”
Last season Russell, with the help of able assistant Marvin Gordon, led his troops to the league title with 49 points, six clear of second positioned Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, and nine points ahead of 2011-12 winner, W Connection.
But the “Teteron Boys” came up short in their effort to capture any of the knockout competitions—First Citizens Cup, Toyota Classic, FA Trophy, Lucozade Sport Goal Shield and Digicel Pro Bowl and will be eager to add to their coffers.
By winning the league title, Russell and the Defence Force have qualified themselves along with runner-up Caledonia to challenge the rest of the Caribbean for qualification into next season’s Concacaf Champions League.
“Last (season) I think we were a little shaky in the Cups, and we were too focused on the league (title),” explained Russell, the two-time league winning coach of the Defence Force.
“But I think the team has set different goals,” he continued. “Before I used to set the goals because I love to play CFU (Caribbean Football Union) and Concacaf (Champions League), and because I think those are the right spots for clubs in T&T to showcase themselves and their talents, as well as stretch your coaching knowledge.
“So I think the team is more focused this season. Last season we just wanted to win back our (League) trophy that we lost to W Connection, and we did that. So this season we are going to try to retain our title and try to win at least two or three (knockout titles),” Russell said.
Russell, who also led the soldiers to league triumph in 2010-2011, before a T&T issued State of Emergency (SOE) hampered the team’s attempts to retain the title in 2011-2012, labelled 2012-2013, a fantastic season.
He said, “I think it was a fantastic season for the club … seeing that for the first time all the teams did well. Our Pro team and Reserve team won their leagues respectively, and the Under-17, U-15 and U-13 teams finished second, third and second, respectively. So you can see the progress that we are making.”
A former national goalkeeper, Russell, praised the support of San Juan Jabloteh, which was adopted to serve as the youth teams of the Defence Force last season.
“Thanks to the Jabloteh organisation that they helped us a bit in organising our youth programme, because I know they were, as we would say, starving for football. Mr Azad Khan and the administration of Jabloteh, and myself did a co-job with their youths and our youths and had strong teams,” said Russell.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.