Issued on Thursday September 8, 2016
Ex-England Premier League forward and current Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones is expected to mark his return to the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League on Friday September 9, for the first time since 2004, when holders Central FC tackle Defence Force FC in the 2016/17 season curtain-raising Digicel Charity Shield from 7pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The 31-year-old former Sunderland and Stoke City forward will don the Central FC kit when the two-time reigning Digicel Pro League (DPL) and Caribbean champions aim to defend the Charity Shield which they captured for the first time last season with a 1-0 score to dethrone three-time winners W Connection (2-0 vs Defence Force in 2012, 4-2 vs Defence Force in 2013, and 1-0 vs Central in 2014).
The Charity Shield pits the DPL and Digicel Pro Bowl winners of the previous season—and in this season’s instance its Central and Defence Force, respectively. The winners receive TT$10,000 to be given to a charity of their choice.
Jones, who represented W Connection between 2002-2004 after kicking off his professional career with Joe Public, went on to enjoy a lengthy career span in England. But after a loan stint with Abu Dhabi outfit Al-Jazira this year, which also saw the expiration of his Cardiff City contract in England, Jones recently joined Central FC – the town rivals of his former club Connection – on loan till December before he heads to new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United in January 2017.
Jones, who has already scored on debut for Central in a 2-2 draw against MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City last August at the Ato Boldon Stadium in the group stage of the Concacaf Champions League, will surely hope to help the “Couva Sharks” start the shortened 2016-2017 Pro League season in winning-fashion.
This season, the calendar (September 2016 to January 2017) will consist of two Rounds of DPL matches as well as the First Citizens Cup and Digicel Pro Bowl knockouts before reverting to the April to December calendar for the new season in 2017. The major benefits of the change as outlined by the league Directors are the elimination of the Christmas and Carnival breaks and aligning the schedule with regional competitions which will allow Pro League clubs to be in full competitive mode for the Caribbean Club Championship and Concacaf Champions League.
Confident his side can continue from the success of last season and the season before that, Central FC head coach Dale Saunders said, “Obviously, we want to make it a hat-trick of Pro League and Caribbean titles, but as far as I'm concerned, every Cup is up for grabs and we want to win every game.”
Looking ahead to Friday’s Charity Shield, Saunders said, “When Central play the Army (Defence Force), there is always fireworks,” said Saunders. “But more so on Friday as Central will be looking to retain the Charity Shield, while Defence Force will be keen to begin the new season with a trophy.”
Last season Defence Force ended as Pro Bowl champions. Now head coach Marvin Gordon of the Army/Coast Guard combination wants his side to show their quality against the Central, who have made a number of notable signings during the pre-season.
Veteran Defence Force forward and former Toyota/Pro League Player of the Year, Devorn Jorsling, said, “We have been working hard to get ready for this [short] season and we know we must start strong [by] winning the Charity Shield, and that’s what we are going out there to do on Friday.”
Digicel Charity Shield 2016
Friday September 9
Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Central FC vs Defence Force—7pm