Saunders: Tuesday’s Clásico against Connection crucial to Central’s league title defence

Central and W Connection in back-to-back upcoming Couva Clásicos

​Photo: Central FC players (left to right) Sean De Silva, Kaydion Gabriel, Jason Marcano and Darren Mitchell pose last season with the Digicel Pro League and Kevon Carter Round Three 2014/15 trophies.

Monday April 11, 2016

Central FC coach Dale Saunders says Tuesday's Digicel Pro League Clásico against rivals W Connection can determine whether or not the “Couva Sharks” go on to retain the league crown.

The defending league champions, Central (46 points), with a game in hand, are four points ahead of second positioned Defence Force (42 points) on the 2015/16 DPL standings while in third position are Connection (40 points) with five regular league games left this season.

Connection, last season’s DPL runners up, will attempt to slice the “Couva Sharks”’ lead while improving their chance at the league crown this season when both sides meet from 8pm on Tuesday April 12 at the Ato Boldon Stadium, in what will also serve a preview of Friday’s Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (LSGS) semi-final round clash between the Couva rivals.

Central are defending LSGS champions having won the title the last time it was contested in 2014, while Connection are two-time (2009 & 2013) former champions.

“[Tuesday’s game is a] top-of-the-table league clash and we have to try and motivate our players,” said Saunders whose side needed a penalty shootout to dispatch St. Ann’s Rangers in the quarter-final round of the LSGS following a 1-1 draw last Friday.

Saunders said his players, who were, along with Connection, competing since the 2015/16 Concacaf Champions League group stage in August are now showing “some tired legs”. However he is confident in his methods and that of his coaching staff to keep the “Sharks” motivated for the two upcoming Couva Clásicos as well as the rest of the season.

“I think the game (against W Connection) will decide if we go on to win the title. It will be a very good game. Tactically, we will go back to the drawing board and try for full points against Connection,” explained Saunders who served as assistant coach to Zoran Vranes then Terry Fenwick last season, and in the same role under Ross Russell for five months this season before being promoted at the helm in mid-December after the club parted ways with Russell, a two-time league winning coach with Defence Force.

Tuesday’s Clásico is Saunders’ second in charge since holding Connection to a 1-1 draw in the DPL on January 24.

W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, also looking ahead to final round of the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship in which Central are defending champions, said he is happy to face the “Couva Sharks” twice in four days.

“It’s the sort of competition we need to prepare for the Caribbean Club Championship final round which Central are also a part of. So [playing against each other twice is] useful preparations for both teams,” said Fevrier who led the “Savonetta Boys” to this season’s First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic titles and are into the LSGS semi-final round with a 4-1 win over former champions North East Stars last Friday.

“We want to win both games,” added the Connection coach. “The first game (on Tuesday) is very important because it’s a situation where we are playing catch up in the league six points away from Central. We are confident in our ability and on any day we can defeat any team in the league. It’s just a matter of maintaining consistency and focus now. We don’t have a choice and I believe our players will do what is necessary, not just for the two upcoming games against Central, but for the rest of the season.”


Central and W Connection will later shift their attention the final round of the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship in Haiti, seeking consecutive berths at the Concacaf Champions League.

Central, who defeated W Connection in the Caribbean final last season, will, for a second consecutive time, meet Haiti’s Don Bosco FC in the semi-final round on April 29, while multiple-time Caribbean champions W Connection must tackle Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens after all four semi-finalist teams topped their respective groups.

The 2016 final and third place play-off will be contested on May 01. The two semi-final round winners and third place winners will secure the three Caribbean berths at the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League.

Last season Central, coached then by former England and Tottenham defender Terry Fenwick, needed penalties to defeat Don Bosco 3-1 following a goalless semi-final draw before edging 9-man W Connection in the final to lift the Caribbean crown.

Digicel Pro League 2015/16
Round Three Match Day Five fixtures
Tuesday April 12, 2016
Larry Gomes Stadium
North East Stars vs Point Fortin Civic—4pm

Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs Defence Force—6pm
W Connection vs Central FC—8pm

Hasely Crawford Stadium
Morvant Caledonia United vs St. Ann’s Rangers—7pm
Police FC vs San Juan Jabloteh—9pm


Digicel Pro League 2015/16 standings

#

Team

GP

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

PTS

1

Central FC

21

14

4

3

48

15

33

46

2

Defence Force

22

12

6

4

48

16

32

42

3

W Connection

22

11

7

4

45

21

24

40

4

San Juan Jabloteh

22

12

3

7

39

31

8

39

5

North East Stars

22

10

5

7

35

43

-8

35

6

Police FC

22

10

4

8

47

42

5

34

7

Club Sando

21

7

3

11

24

38

-14

24

8

Morvant Caledonia Utd

22

5

3

14

23

49

-26

18

9

Point Fortin Civic

22

4

4

14

19

46

-27

16

10

St. Ann’s Rangers

22

2

5

15

23

50

-27

11

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