When the final round of matches in the 2018 ten-clubT&T Pro League kicks off this afternoon, four teams will still be in the hunt for the coveted title.
For most of the season, five-time winners, W Connection held a comfortable lead at the top of the table, but with the injury to the national striker, Marcus Joseph, the “Savonetta Boys” saw their advantage trimmed to one point after going on a five-match winless streak.
Going into today’s matches, W Connection heads the table with 34 points from 17 matches, one ahead of Club Sando, Police FC and three-time winners, Central FC.
In addition to the league title at stake for the top four teams in the quest for a top-two finish which will guarantee CONCACAF Champions League qualifying football in the Caribbean Football Union.
Tonight, W Connection will be heavily fancied to complete its title chase as it faces cellar-placed Stars at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva from 8 pm; while Central FC and Police clash in the opener at Couva from 6pm with both clubs needing a win to have any chance of lifting the title, as they trail the table-toppers on goal-difference.
Down at Mucurapo, Morvant Caledonia United meets Club Sando from 6 pm, while San Juan Jabloteh faces St Ann’s Rangers two hours later.
Despite faltering for most of the second half of the season “Savonetta Boys” head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier believes it is the best climax to a very competitive season and his team will come out triumphant in the end.
“We couldn’t ask for a better climax,” said Charles-Fevrier who has full confidence in the ability of his team.
“It gives you an idea of how competitive the league has been despite the challenges faced by teams.”
A win, however, for Club Sando and or Police or Central in their matches will put them ahead of W Connection, forcing the “Savonetta Boys” into a must-win situation against table-proppers North East Stars, a side fresh off their 21st loss of the season in all competitions (22 games)--a 4-1 defeat against Defence Force in a rescheduled league fixture on Wednesday.
W Connection, however, is taking no chances against the side anchored at the bottom of the standings.
Charles-Fevrier and his W Connection staff have been preparing for nothing less than a win against the side they defeated 7-1 in the season-opening Charity Shield on June 1.
Stars, less than a shadow of the league-winning team of last season under then-coach Derek King, however, showed signs of improvement losing just 2-0 fifteen days later against W Connection in the group stage of the First Citizens Cup before holding Fevrier’s men to a shock 1-1 draw in the league on September 22.
“It’s a game we must win to be champions on Friday,” said the W Connection coach.
“It’s a game we have made very good preparations for. We cannot take them (North East Stars) lightly. They held us to a draw the last time and we must give them credit, but on that day we should have had done better having created many chances. We were poor in front of goal. It’s a new game on Friday and we have to be on top of our game.”
A win now for Stars will end Zoran Vranes’ men on high spirits against the side they will join at the 2019 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship as last season’s PL champions and runners-up respectively.
Club Sando’s ambition to qualify for the Caribbean Club Championship has been boosted by the team’s recent form of five straight wins and a seven-game undefeated run while Police and two-time former Caribbean champions Central are eager to return to CONCACAF status.
Like Charles-Fevrier, Club Sando coach Angus Eve believes “it speaks volumes for the Pro League that four teams are vying for the title on the final day.
He said it’s a great advert for the league that there is some semblance of parity.”
Eve, T&T’s most-capped international, heaped praise on the Ministry of Sport and Minister Shamfa Cudjoe for “seeing the importance of developing young people and keeping them away from the streets”.
He said the Ministry’s financial assistance to clubs also helped in levelling the playing field and that two matches ago, seven teams were still in contention for a CONCACAF qualifying spot.
“We (Sando) were aiming for a Caribbean Club Championship spot so it was either first or second,” explained Eve, who said the ambition of the club’s chairman Eddison Dean is to develop young players for the national team and progressing to an international level of competition fits in Club Sando’s plans.
Eve speaking on his team’s recent string of performances said winning is a by-product of a number of contributing factors as his team continues in the development of his young team led by experienced forward Tyrone Charles, who currently leads the league Golden Boot race with 17 goals, two more than Police FC’s Kareem Freitas and W Connection’s Marcus Joseph.
He said adding Cornell Glen as assistant coach proved a masterstroke as the former T&T international and 2006 World Cup forward has been excellent in working with the team’s offence.
“We know his exploits as a forward because he was a good goalscorer and sometimes I think he still wants to play.
His enthusiasm for the game is passed on to the players.”
Club Sando scored 25 goals in their last seven outings, more than any other team but Eve is wary of Morvant Caledonia, the team his side had to wrestle a 5-3 win over in September.
Eve will square off on the sidelines with Morvant Caledonia coach Jerry More for a second time in four days after leading Naparima College to a 4-3 penalty win over San Juan North Secondary, coached by Moe, in the Coca-Cola National Inter-Col final to complete the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) 2018 treble as Premier Division, South Inter-Col and National Inter-Col champions.
Today (Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva)
Central FC vs Police FC, 6pm
W Connection vs North East Stars, 8pm
Morvant Caledonia United vs Club Sando, 6pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs St Ann’s Rangers, 8pm
(Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo)
Latest T&T Pro League standings
1. W Connection*17*9*7*1*39*8*34
2. Club Sando*17*10*3*4*44*23*33
3. Police FC*17*10*3*4*37*20*33
4. Central FC*17*10*3*4*41*25*33
5. Defence Force*18*9*3*6*38*21*30
6. Morvant Caledonia *17*7*6*4*33*22*27
8. Pt Fortin Civic*18*3*2*13*20*46 11
9. St Ann’s Rangers*17*3*1*13*13*62*10
10. North East Stars*17*1*3*13*16*54*6