Three-time winners Defence Force and Cunupia FC registered narrow 1-0 wins as the battle for the T&T Pro League’s 2019 First Citizens Cup kicked off at the Diego Martin Sports Complex in Bagatelle, Diego Martin, on Friday night.
It was the first time that professional football was played in the Diego Martin community and the event was hailed as a step in the right direction towards guiding local clubs to wards a path of self-sustainability in the future. The fact that spectators were treated to two closely fought matches also helped that cause.
In the night’s opener, Cunupia FC got a 53rd-minute strike from Ajani Clarence as they stunned two-time winners Morvant Caledonia AIA 1-0 in their Immortelle Group curtain-raiser.
And in the second match-up, last year’s beaten finalist Defence Force edged title-holders Central FC 1-0 courtesy a 25th-minute effort from Jameel Cooper in the Abercrombie group.
The tournament is being contested via a round-robin format with two groups of six teams each. At the end of the round-robin phase, the top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-final in which the winners of that round will earn the right to contest the $75,000 winners’ prize, while the runners-up with pocket $25,000.
Matches will resume tomorrow with double-headers at both the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo and Diego Martin Sporting Complex, both from 4 pm.
At Mucurapo, record eight-time winners W Connection plays Point Fortin Civic from 4 pm followed by Police against Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, while at Diego Martin, two-time winners San Juan Jabloteh battles 1976 Fc Tobago Phoenix from 4 pm followed by AC Port-of-Spain (formerly North East Stars) and Tiger Tanks Club Sando.
Meanwhile, the league competition will officially kick-off after close to a year of inactivity on December 13 and will eventually be called the ‘Ascension Pro League’, as member clubs and the Pro League board of directors have agreed to have Ascension sponsor the league this year, while discussions are still ongoing with SportsMax and the T&T Football Association to join.
Pro League officials are also considering a call to have the second-tier competition organised in time for the official start of the Pro League on December 13.
Cunupia FC 1 (Ajani Clarence 53rd) v Morvant Caledonia AIA 0
Defence Force 1 (Jameel Cooper 25th) v Central FC 0
Immortelle Group: Tiger Tank Club Sando, Morvant Caledonia United, Cunupia FC, Athletic Club AC Port-of-Spain, San Juan Jabloteh, 1976 Phoenix,
Abercrombie Group: W Connection, Defence Force, Police FC, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, Point Fortin Civic and Central FC
Monday, October 28:
Venue: Diego Martin Sporting Complex, Diego Martin:
San Juan Jabloteh v 1976 FC Tobago Phoenix, 4 pm
AC Port-of-Spain v Tiger Tanks Club Sando, 6 pm
Venue: Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo:
W Connection v Pt Fortin Civic, 4 pm
Police FC v Terminix La Horquetta Rangers, 6 pm