Lucozade Sport final: Connection and Caledonia to square off in knockout final for the first time in nearly four years

File photo: W Connection forward Shahdon Winchester, left, shields the ball from a Guyana Defence Force player during the group stage of the 2015 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship.
Friday April 22, 2016

In June 2012, after 120 minutes of play and a late 1-1 draw with both goals scored in extra-time, Morvant Caledonia United outscored W Connection 4-3 in a penalty shootout at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium to be crowned Caribbean Club champions for the first and only time since then. It was the last time both sides met in a final.

Now for the first time in nearly four years, W Connection and Morvant Caledonia United will meet in only their fifth ever knockout final against each other when the title game of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield 2016 unfolds on Sunday April 24 from 6pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The Under-16 teams of Caledonia and crosstown rivals San Juan Jabloteh will provide spectators the early entertainment from 4pm with a fixture in their Flow Youth Pro League 2016 calendar.

Connection and Caledonia pride themselves on attractive play, but with a title at stake, it is not absurd to expect the gloves to come off in Sunday’s Lucozade Sport Goal Shield 2016 final as explained by Connection captain and Trinidad and Tobago international Hughtun Hector.

“Caledonia and us (W Connection) play the same type of football in passing the ball around which makes it easier than the long balls like other teams,” said the former Vietnam-based midfielder. “But you never know what can happen with the title at stake. It can turn out a tough game because Caledonia are not a bad team and can trouble us at times. But I expect it to be a tactical game and I believe we have a good chance to win.”

Hector said winning the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield will put the Stuart Charles-Fevrier-coached Connection in a good position with confidence and momentum to go on to qualify for next season’s Concacaf Champions League and win the Caribbean Club Championship when they travel to Haiti next week for the final round.

Prior to the start of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield 2016, Connection assistant coach and former star forward Earl Jean said the “Savonetta Boys” are spoilt on winning trophies and are very motivated to win a third domestic trophy this season after the First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic.

While Caledonia coach Moe had warned that Caledonia are not the same whipping boys they were earlier in the season and are fired up to go all the way to the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield title.

Caledonia, LSGS champions in 2012, clawed from the qualifiers due to their bottom-four seating on the Digicel Pro League standings. The Jerry Moe coached-side signalled their intentions with a 3-1 win over Club Sando. They then defeated Defence Force 5-1 in the quarter-finals before outscoring Police FC 3-1 in a penalty shootout following a 1-1 draw in the semi-finals to progress into Sunday’s final in pursuit of their first trophy since capturing their third FA Trophy in 2013.

Connection, meanwhile, LSGS champions in 2009 and 2013, defeated North East Stars 4-1 in the quarter-finals before dispatching holders Central FC 4-2 in the semi-finals to move within one win to capture their third major title this season after the First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic.

Connection have two wins from the four meetings with Caledonia this season including a 3-0 semi-final result on October 23 en route to lifting the First Citizens Cup, but the “Savonetta Boys” have been held twice to draws in the league by the “Morvant Stallions” including their most recent clash on March 4 which ended 2-2.

“There is the belief from the start that we can win the tournament and we want to play the same way in the final,” Caledonia captain Kareem “Tiny” Joseph said. “We are stronger unit now than we were earlier in the season, with a few good additions in the January transfer window with Robert Primus, Leslie Russell and [Maestro] Mensah.

“We want to win the title and salvage something for Caledonia, not only for this season but for the last two seasons we have been in transition with a number of new players.”

Joseph said Caledonia have done all the necessary preparations and it is now about executing the instructions of the coaching staff.

“It’s all about winning on Sunday,” added the Caledonia veteran. “We have been creating a lot of chances in the tournament even from the qualifying game but any way the win comes we will take it. Scoring a lot of goals is an added incentive, especially with the prize structure.”

Based on its unique prize money scheme, the LSGS champions will be awarded a prize base of TT$30,000 plus an additional TT$3,000 for every goal scored in the final, TT$2,000 for every goal in the semi-finals, and TT$1,000 for each goal scored in the quarter-finals. Whereas, the runners-up will receive TT$10,000 base prize plus TT$1,500 for every goal scored in the final, TT$1,000 for every goal in the semi-finals, and TT$500 for each goal scored in the quarter-finals.

Lucozade Sport Goal Shield 2016 Final
Sunday April 24
Hasely Crawford Stadium

W Connection vs Morvant Caledonia United—6pm

Flow Youth Pro League Under-16 game
Morvant Caledonia United vs San Juan Jabloteh—4pm