W Connection hoping to extend league form into Concacaf Champions League qualifying
Thursday 11 February 2015
Former Trinidad and Tobago international and Europe-based attacker Collin Samuel has joined the roster of North East Stars, where he will serve as player/coach.
The 34-year-old 2006 World Cup player recently joined the Sangre Grande club as assistant coach to Ross Russell, who took charge in December.
But Russell believes the former Dundee United attacker, who also had stints with other Scottish clubs Falkirk, St Johnstone, Arbroath, East Fife and Sauchie, has a lot more to offer.
“It’s just for him to get back his habit [on the field of play],” said Russell, a two-time Pro League winning coach at Defence Force.
“So far he (Samuel) is doing well in training and he is quite excited to return to playing.
“But one thing that’s certain, he has a lot of experience to share with the players around him. He had already started doing it as assistant coach and being on the field of play can be another plus.”
Samuel, who had a brief stint with Guaya United in the Super League in 2015, last competed professionally in Trinidad in 2002 with San Juan Jabloteh—the club he served for just under two seasons—before moving to Falkirk for the start of his international adventure which included stints at Toronto FC and England’s Luton Town.
Russell, who plans to bolster his squad during the mid-season transfer window (January 29-February 26), explained, “We definitely have the quality [in players] but we lack numbers and the right attitude. What we have been trying to work on, is the discipline to work hard all the time.”
North East Stars are winless in their last four Digicel Pro League games, including a 7-0 drubbing by W Connection in their last outing.
Russell’s side sits fifth on the standings with 22 points and will welcome leaders Defence Force (32 points) from 3:30 p.m. on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium.
However the league resumption, following the Carnival break, kicks off on Friday with a double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium when Police FC face Club Sando from 6 p.m. and fourth-placed San Juan Jabloteh tackle third-placed W Connection from 8 p.m. at the Couva venue.
Other weekend match-ups includes Point Fortin Civic hosting St. Ann’s Rangers from 5 p.m. at the Mahaica Oval on Saturday, and Morvant Caledonia United visiting defending league champions Central FC from 4 p.m. at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Sunday.
A win for W Connection on Friday will see coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s side go level with Defence Force at the top of the regular league standings, prior to the Army/Coast Guard combination’s face-off with North East Stars on Sunday.
Connection are unbeaten in their last 6 games with five wins and one draw, leading the way for the Round Two Akeem Adams Trophy with 16 points—two points ahead of rivals Central FC and four clear of Defence Force.
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W Connection wants to extend league form into Concacaf Champions League qualifying
“The aim is to continue our good run,” W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean said this week. “We have to keep focus. We have the Caribbean Club Championship coming up also, and we want to do well and qualify for the Concacaf Champions League again.
“This period is very crucial for us and it’s also important to bring in one or two players in the transfer window to give the extra push.”
Central FC and W Connection, last season’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club champions and runners-up, respectively, will tackle Caribbean rivals later this month (February 24-28) in the preliminary round of the 2016 edition.
Central must travel to Jamaica in Group Three where they meet host club and last season’s third place finishers, Montego Bay United, and Scholars International SC (Cayman Islands) at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, Montego Bay.
While fellow Pro League outfit and multiple-time former Caribbean champions, W Connection, will host Group One in Trinidad at the Ato Boldon Stadium where they will welcome Club Sportif Moulien (Guadeloupe), Inter Moengotapoe (Suriname) and Atletico San Cristobal (Dominican Republic).
The four group stage winners will advance into the Final Round to be contested 29 April – 1 May in a straight knock-out format that will crown the 2016 CFU Club Champions and also determine the three (3) Caribbean berths to the Concacaf Champions League 2016/17.
Digicel Pro League 2015/16
Full Round Two Match Day Seven match-ups
Friday 12 February 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
Police FC vs Club Sando—6 pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs W Connection—8 pm
Saturday 13 February 2016
Point Fortin Civic vs St. Ann's Rangers—5 pm
Sunday 14 February
Larry Gomes Stadium
North East Stars vs Defence Force—3:30 pm
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs Morvant Caledonia United—4pm