Last update: 13-Dec-2013 3:20 am
Friday, December 13, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Caledonia starts Cup defence against Army
Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA will put its two-year hold on the First Citizens Cup on the line when it faces fellow two-time winner and rivals Defence Force, in the feature match of a quarterfinal double-header at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya from 8pm tonight.
The meeting between Caledonia and the “Teteron Boys”, the reigning Digicel Pro League champions and also a four-time First Citizens Cup losing finalists is a repeat of last year’s final which was contested at the Mucurapo venue.
Back then, Caledonia, beaten in the 2001 and 2007 final by W Connection made a successful defence of its crown with a 2-1 defeat victory thanks to goals from Jamal Gay in the 20th and Guyana’s Trayon Bobb, in the 49th to cancel out Richard Roy’s 26th minute effort.
A year earlier, the Morvant/Laventille club won the competition now in its 14th year, and 12th of First Citizens-sponsorship by a similar 2-1 scoreline with Kareem Joseph scoring both goals in the 26th and 65th after the now defunct T&TEC had a taken a 15th minute advantage through, newly signed Pt Fortin Civic FC striker Sylvester Teesdale.
But while Caledonia tries for a third straight First Citizens Cup its recent form suggest that will be an uphill battle.
So far this season, Caledonia has played six competitive matches combined in the 2013/2014 Concacaf Champions League and the Digicel Pro League and is yet to secure a win.
In the CCL, Caledonia was beaten by Guatemalans CSD Comuniciacones 3-0 and 2-0 last Wednesday night at Estadio Cementos Progreso, Guatemala City, Guatemala while they also went under to Mexican powerhouse Toluca 3-1 and 5-1.
The club’s fortunes did not improve on the domestic front as they were trounced 3-0 by Central FC in their 2013/2014 Digicel Pro League opener by Central FC on September 14 before earning a lacklustre 0-0 draw with North East Stars, nine days ago.
However, looking ahead to today’s match-up, Jamaal Shabazz, the long serving Technical Director and coach of Caledonia said its always a pleasure for his team to play Defence Force.
He added jokingly, “Its the only place where people from the ghetto can legally challenge the Defence Force,”
“As defending champions we have a lot to play for as we are trying to match six-time winners DirecTV W Connection as the only teams to win the competition three years ina row.
With regards to his team’s winless start to the season in all competitions thus far, Shabazz, a former Guyana and Soca Warriors national coach said he felt his team had a good match in the 2-0 loss away to Comuniciacones in Panama.
“At the same time, I believe as a team Caledonia is still at one level lower than some of the teams in the Champions League, but at the same time we are very excited to get on with the business of our local league competition and of course defending our First Citizens Cup.
For today’s match, Caledonia will be without the trio of striker Akim Armstrong and Julien Wade of Montserrat as well as central defender Jamal Smith of Canada, all through injury.
Like four-time finalists, Caledonia, Defence Force has started this season rather slowly, without a win in two competitive matches while conceding seven goals, a very uncharacteristic statistic which coach Ross Russell, will no doubt hope to correct starting today.
A former national goalkeeper, Russell led the “Teteron Boys” to the title in 2009, seven years after their first triumph while he was also on the losing end in the finals in 2010 and last year, something he hopes to avoid for a third time.
Speaking at the tournament launch on Wednesday, a relaxed Russell said his team was ready to take on any team it got.
He warned, “We are really not afraid of anybody. We are the defending champions of the Digicel Pro League and yes we have had a rough start to the season. We lost two matches [against W Connection in the Digicel Charity Shield 2-4 and against Central FC 1-3 in the League and I think that’s our quota for this year.
“We want to do our best in the First Citizens Cup because it’s a tournament that we love and my boss likes nice things, and I like to give him nice things.”, added the Defence Force sargeant who club has also ended as runner-up a record four-times.
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