Wednesday 01 February 2017
Defence Force, holders of the Digicel Pro Bowl, are keen on retaining the title, an achievement that will see the Army/Coast Guard combination capture both knockout titles on offer in the shortened 2016-17 season after the First Citizens Cup.
Defence Force, who were crowned First Citizens Cup champions last December, will meet San Juan Jabloteh in what is expected to be one of the fiercest Pro Bowl quarter-final matchups determined by a seeded draw and revealed during this season’s launch on Wednesday at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Quarter-final play kicks off next Wednesday with 2015 champions Central against St. Ann’s Rangers and W Connection against Police FC, from 6pm and 8pm, respectively, at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
On Thursday, again at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Ma Pau Stars will tackle Club Sando from 6pm before Defence Force, Pro Bowl champions of 2012 and 2016, and Jabloteh, champions of 2005 and 2006, clash from 8pm.
“We have soldiers that love knockout competitions,” said Defence Force coach Marvin Gordon, whose side sit mid-table on the league standings. “Three games and you can be [Pro Bowl] champions. I have every belief in my players and we are willing to give it everything we have.”
But former Pro Bowl champions W Connection and Central FC, who are in a tight race to the DPL crown on Sunday, are also eager to add the new-look trophy—unveiled at Wednesday’s official launch—to their cabinet.
“I like the trophy I’m seeing; it’s a very nice trophy and I will like to enhance our cabinet with this trophy,” said W Connection technical director/head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who side were edged 2-1 by Defence Force in last season’s final. “And we will do everything in our power to win it, legally.”
Similar romanticism for the Pro Bowl title was echoed by Central FC head coach Dale Saunders, whose side are also one win away from a completing a historic Digicel Pro League three-peat when they face San Juan Jabloteh on Sunday.
Dexter Skeene, TT Pro League CEO, however, had earlier reminded that only the “Winner Takes All” — trophy and the accompanying TT$100,000 in the season-ending Digicel Pro Bowl.
Skeene, in keeping with the tournament’s slogan, also revealed that only the Most Valuable Player of the final and champion coach will each receive a mobile handset, courtesy Digicel, and a $1,000 voucher from The Fan Club sports memorabilia and apparel stores.
Skeene said tournaments like the Pro Bowl brand extension builds the excitement and fan base of the Pro League. He said it motivates players and coaches to improve their craft, to be innovative, and give all teams something new and tangible to play for.
“We love the ‘winner takes all’ concept,” added Fevrier who led Connection to the 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2014 Pro Bowl—the most achieved by any team in the competition’s history.
Quarter-final winners will advance to the semi-final round on February 10 before the competition culminates with the final on February 19.
Central, Connection, Jabloteh, Ma Pau, Defence Force and Sando, based on their positions, in descending order, from 1 through 6 on the DPL standings after last weekend’s Round Two Match Day Eight fixtures earned automatic qualification.
Police and Rangers, meanwhile, needed to advance from the qualifier round on Tuesday night to occupy positions 7 and 8, respectively, in the seeded draw due to their bottom-four status on the DPL standings along with cellar-placed Point Fortin Civic and second-from-bottom Morvant Caledonia United.
Police annihilated Civic 9-0 before Rangers edged Morvant Caledonia 5-4 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in the qualifiers.
Christopher Edmond, Senior Sponsorship Officer at Digicel (Trinidad and Tobago Limited), said the 9-nil qualifying round result adds immediate excitement to this season’s edition.
Edmond reminded that Digicel saw the opportunity to play an instrumental role in the development of the sport of football.
He added, “Through the initiative of the Pro League we began to partner in programmes such as the one we are here to launch today – the Digicel Pro Bowl.
“Key to the way we do business as a company is the compulsion to give back and contribute positively to the communities we serve. Having already been in partnership at the Pro League level, it was a natural synergy for us to get involved in the Pro Bowl—the celebrated knockout tournament which has become one of the important staples on the national football calendar.”
Digicel Pro Bowl 2016/17 season
(Tuesday 31 January 2017)
Police FC 9 (Elijah Belgrave 2’, 16’, 80’ Kareem Perry 44’, 69’, Kadeem Riley 50’, Dexter Alleyne 57’, Jameel Perry 90’+2, Micah Lewis 79’) vs Point Fortin Civic 0, at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
St. Ann’s Rangers 0 (5) vs Morvant Caledonia United 0 (4)
Rangers won the game 5-4 on kicks from the penalty spot, at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Kicks from the penalty spot
St. Ann’s Rangers 5 Morvant Caledonia United 4
Jameel Antoine (scored) Kareem Joseph (scored)
Devon Modeste (overbar) Keron Bethelmy (saved)
Che Benny (crossbar) Akim Armstrong (scored)
Shakiyl Phillip (scored) Jameel Neptune (saved)
Kyle Bartholomew (scored) Dylon King (scored)
Sedale Mc Lean (scored) Seon Thomas (scored)
Kazim Donald (scored) Kordell Samuel (saved)
Quarter Final Round
(Wednesday 8 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6pm (A)
W Connection vs Police FC—8pm (B)
(Thursday 9 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Ma Pau Stars vs Club Sando—6pm (D)
San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force—8pm (C)
Semi Final Round
(Sunday 12 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
A vs D (M)
B vs C (N)
(Sunday 19 February 2017)
Ato Boldon Stadium
M vs N