Pro League crowning on Sunday; Central and Connection ready to flex muscles on D-day

Photo: Central FC midfielder Sean De Silva, foreground, and Defence Force defender Aklie Edwards vie for the ball during the 2016-17 Digicel Pro League season.
Thursday, February 2, 2017

Leaders Central FC are three points away from successfully completing a historic three-peat in the Digicel Pro League.

But with Couva rivals W Connection hot on their heels – one point behind in second – and both sides facing the next best teams on the deciding day, Sunday, the league crown can go either way in the two-team race.

Central (44 points), champions of 2014-15 and 2015-16, must face third positioned San Juan Jabloteh in their final league game on Sunday from 3:30pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Simultaneously at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, Connection (43 points) will host fourth-positioned Ma Pau Stars.

Connection are on a seven-game winning streak since losing 2-1 to Central on December 12, while the Couva Sharks are on a four-game winning run and are coming off last week’s 6-0 win over St. Ann’s Rangers.

However, their opponents Jabloteh (29 points) and Ma Pau (28 points) are also in a two-team battle of their own for a respectable third-place finish this season.

Jabloteh, last season's runners-up also preparing for upcoming CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers in March in the Caribbean Club Championship, are coming off last week’s 1-0 loss against Connection. It was the second loss for the San Juan Kings in the January month that included three wins.

Ma Pau, meanwhile, are undefeated in their last four outings with three wins, inclusive of full points against two-time reigning Caribbean champions Central, and one draw.
Photo: Central FC head coach Dale Saunders, right, is presented with The Fan Club Coach of the Month reward for October from Mario Singh, director of operations at The Fan Club sports memorabilia and apparel chain of stores, during a photocall at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Feb. 1, 2017.
“At Central FC winning is a part of us,” said Central FC head coach Dale Saunders on Wednesday during the launch and seeded draw of this season’s Digicel Pro Bowl knockout tournament.

Saunders said the work of the full Couva Sharks coaching staff—that includes the support of 2006 Trinidad and Tobago World Cup players Stern John and Brent Sancho—has been fantastic.

John serves as Technical Coach, while Sancho, the club’s Managing Director, is also known to put his knowledge of the game on the training pitch, as both ex-Trinidad and Tobago internationals had extensive careers on two continents.

“We are on the verge of winning a three-peat [in the League],” added Saunders. “…and we will try to go all the way.”

Earlier this month Stuart Charles-Fevrier, head coach of five-time league winners (2000, 2001, 2005, 2011-12 & 2013-14) W Connection, said, “We want to win the league [this season] like everyone else. We have definitely improved in our results and I hope we can keep the consistency for the rest of the season. [But] we only have control over our games. So we must remain focused.”
Photo: W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, right, is presented with The Fan Club Coach of the Month reward for October from Mario Singh, director of operations at The Fan Club sports memorabilia and apparel chain of stores, during the photocall at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Feb. 1, 2017.
Fevrier was honoured on Wednesday with The Fan Club Coach of the Month reward for January. His team’s one hundred percent win record blew off all competition.
Photo: Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon, second from left, Central FC coach Dale Saunders, third from left, and W Connection technical director/head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, right, show off their The Fan Club Coach of the Month rewards during a photocall at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Feb. 1, 2017. Gordon won back-to-back honours for November and December, while Saunders and Fevrier picked up the reward for October and January, respectively. At left is Mario Singh, director of operations at The Fan Club sports memorabilia and apparel chain of stores.
Saunders, who led Central to season’s Digicel Charity Shield winners and Rawle Fletcher (DPL Round One) trophy, received The Fan Club Coach of the Month for October with his team’s performances during the period setting the tone for the Couva Sharks title defence.

While Marvin Gordon won back-to-back The Fan Club Coach of the Month for November and December. The Defence Force head coach beat off all competition during the two months which included his side lifting the First Citizens Cup.

Gordon and his Defence Force side will travel to Mahaica Oval on Saturday against hosts Point Fortin Civic from 5pm in their final league game. But the weekend’s final day league fixtures rolls off on Friday with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium when Club Sando take on Rangers from 6pm and two hours later Morvant Caledonia United face Police.
Photo: Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon, right, is presented with The Fan Club Coach of the Month reward for October from Mario Singh, director of operations at The Fan Club sports memorabilia and apparel chain of stores, during the photocall at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Feb. 1, 2017.
Digicel Pro League 2016-17
Round Two Match Day Nine

(Friday 3 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6pm
Morvant Caledonia United vs Police FC—8pm

(Saturday 4 February 2017)
Mahaica Oval
Point Fortin Civic vs Defence Force—5pm

(Sunday 5 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs San Juan Jabloteh—3:30pm
Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
W Connection vs Ma Pau Stars—3:30pm

(Also see full upcoming Digicel Pro Bowl quarter final fixtures)