Defence Force coach tells Rangers don’t “come cocky” as First Citizens Cup quarter-finals take centre stage this coming weekend

​Defence Force players, from left to right, Hashim Arcia, Jemel Sebro, Devorn Jorsling, Aklie Edwards, Jerwyn Balthazar and Curtis Gonzales enjoy simulating a game of jump rope after Arcia scored against Club Sando on Tuesday Nov. 8 in the first of two First Citizens Cup 2016 play-off matches contested at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Defence Force won the game 1-0.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon has issued a stern warning to his First Citizens Cup quarter-final opponents, St. Ann’s Rangers, who had stunned the Army/Coast Guard combination in their opening Digicel Pro League clash this season.

“I don’t know the margin [we will beat them by] but I know if Rangers come cocky, they are going to concede a couple well,” Gordon told on Tuesday night, following his team’s 1-0 win over Club Sando in the First Citizens Cup play-off round at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Hashim Arcia’s second-half strike made sure the two-time (2002 & 2009) former First Citizens Cup champions, Defence Force, despite losing attacker Darryl Trim to a red card, progressed to meet Rangers, who are into the quarter-finals by virtue of the 2016 random draw.

On Saturday Nov. 12, Defence Force and Rangers will take on each other from 4pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, then from 6pm, First Citizens Cup holders and seven-time champions, W Connection, will clast with Ma Pau Stars, who progressed from Tuesday’s play-off double-header in Couva with a 3-1 penalty win over San Juan Jabloteh following a 1-1 draw.

Quarter-final action continues on Sunday Nov. 13 with two two-time former First Citizens Cup champions, Central FC and Morvant Caledonia United, against each other from 3:30pm at the Morvant Recreation Ground.

And on Monday Nov. 14, Police FC and Point Fortin Civic will tackle each other from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium to decide the final semi-final berth.

“I’m glad we played Club Sando and now we have Rangers – these are two clubs that have defeated us in the league [this season],” continued Gordon. “We are struggling in the league and we know that in the knockouts we have to throw everything at it. We are all working on it and I have no doubt that on Saturday we are going to progress into the semi-finals.”

Defence Force are currently second from bottom on the 10-team league standings after opening with a 2-0 loss against Rangers and conceding three more defeats after six league games, including being on the wrong side of the 3-2 result against Sando on Oct. 21.

“Every game is a tough game in the Pro League,” added the Defence Force coach on Tuesday night. “The coaches have good standards and like to play good football. But Sando had beaten us a few weeks ago after coming back from two goals down. I think my (Defence Force) players had that in their minds tonight.

“I thought the first half we possessed a lot of the ball but weren’t assertive enough in the attacking third [against Sando]. I had a good go at my players in the dressing room at half time, especially Hashim and [Devorn Jorsling] ‘Droggy’.

“But we showed a lot of heart and grit after being down to ten men for so many minutes after the red card, and the goal from Hashim was brilliant,” concluded Gordon.

Defence Force defensive midfielder Curtis Gonzales said, “They (Rangers) beat us in the first [league] game and might be coming on a high. But we know what to expect. We won’t be making the mistakes we made in the first game and if we can add the effort like we did today (Tuesday against Sando), hopefully we would be in the semi-finals.”

Meanwhile, Rangers, coached by former solider Anthony Streete, are fifth on the DPL standings with three wins and a draw from their six league games so far. And despite coming off a loss against W Connection in their most recent league game, team administrator and former coach Jason Spence would like to see the St. Ann’s club transfer their “Cinderella run” into the First Citizens Cup.

Spence admitted the knockouts are always a tougher challenge but believes that Rangers – a side usually known for occupying bottom of the league standings and underdog status – are on the upswing.

While all teams are hoping to advance one step closer to the Dec. 2 final, holders W Connection are hoping to go all the way in securing their eighth First Citizens Cup.

However the Savonetta Boys first challenge is against a star-studded Ma Pau, who are coached by Ross Russell, a former First Citizens Cup-winning coach at Defence Force.

Russell, during the launch of this season’s First Citizens Cup, reminded that the Cup is very close to his heart – being the first ever title he won when he debuted as coach of Defence Force’s top flight team back in 2009. 

But Connection assistant coach and former First Citizens Cup winner as a player, Earl Jean, said his team are very excited and hungry to lift—for an eighth time—a title that’s “very special” to the Savonetta Boys.

Jean, though, believes the 2016 edition will be one of the toughest tournaments due to increased level of competitiveness among Pro League clubs.

First Citizens Cup 2016
Play-off Round results

(Tuesday, November 8, 2016)
Club Sando 0 vs Defence Force 1 (Hashim Arcia 53’), at the Ato Boldon Stadium;

San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Kennedy Hinkson 81’) vs Ma Pau Stars 1 (Kerry Daniel 57’)
Ma Pau Stars won the game 3-1 on kicks from the penalty mark, at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

Kicks from the penalty spot
Ma Pau Stars 3                       San Juan Jabloteh 1
Elton John (saved)                  Josiah Trimmingham (scored)
Neil Mitchell (scored)             Tyrone Charles (saved)
Keryn Navarro (scored)          Nathan Lewis (saved)
Hayden Tinto (scored)            Kion Joseph (saved)

Quarter Final Round
(Saturday, November 12, 2016)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Defence Force vs St. Ann’s Rangers—4pm (C)
W Connection vs Ma Pau Stars—6pm (D)

(Sunday, November 13, 2016)
Morvant Recreation Ground
Central FC vs Morvant Caledonia United—3:30pm (B)

Ato Boldon Stadium
(Monday, November 14, 2016)
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic—6pm (A)

Semi Final Round
(November 22)
A vs D
B vs C

(December 2)