Defence Force are expecting a tough semi-final challenge against defending Toyota Classic champions San Juan Jabloteh on Sunday, but coach Marvin Gordon’s side are confident of advancing to the final on December 6.
The army-coastguard combination defeated St. Ann’s Rangers 3-1 in the Round-of-16 but had a dismal showing in the quarter-final stage last weekend, although edging Super League side FC Santa Rosa 2-1 to set up Sunday’s semi-final clash with Jabloteh from 4 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, which will be followed by semi-final two involving rivals Central FC and W Connection from 6 pm.
Buoyed by a 4-1 league win over Club Sando on Tuesday, which pushed the soldiers two spots up into second on the Digicel Pro League 2015-16 standings, it restored the confidence in ability for Gordon’s men.
“It’s a great boost for us because our (previous) performance (against Santa Rosa) wasn’t a good one,” said Gordon on Tuesday night. “To come and play like this tonight and scoring this amount of goals is great for the confidence of the team for the game (on Sunday) against Jabloteh.”
Gordon said his players didn’t show their professionalism against Santa Rosa, taking the Super League side for granted “because they are a lesser team.”
“I had a go (verbal lashing) at my players about it and (Tuesday) you would have seen a difference in performance,” added the Defence Force coach. “It was brilliant from me as coach to do what I did after the Santa Rosa game. I needed the players to understand what I expect from them every time they go out onto the field.”
Defence Force have met Jabloteh twice already this season, narrowly defeating the San Juan club 3-2 on September 30 in the qualifier round of the First Citizens Cup and 1-0 in a league game on October 27.
“We played them (Jabloteh) twice already this season and won on both occasions,” continued Gordon. “…but (Sunday) is a different game. They will be coming all-out to stop us.
Defence Force defensive utility player Curtis Gonzales concurred.
“It’s going to be a very tough contest,” said the 26-year-old Trinidad and Tobago player. “It’s a game to the final. We defeated them twice this season and we know a side won’t just allow us to beat them three times in a row, especially in a semi-final.
Gonzales, who represented T&T at the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, added, “But we (Defence Force) are looking forward to the battle. My teammates and I are ready. Over the next few days it will be spot on in training with everyone fighting for their picks… just the way professional football has to be.”
Defence Force have never won the Toyota Classic, losing their only final on penalties following a 2-2 draw with North East Stars in 2012. Jabloteh meanwhile are five-time finalists, winning the title in 2008 and 2014.
“The main thing is about getting a result to go forward,” Gordon expressed. “The game against Jabloteh on Sunday is the only thing on our minds. Once we get past them, and I am confident we can, then we will prepare for whoever advances from the next semi-final.”
Toyota Classic 2015
Semi Final Round
Sunday 29 November
Hasely Crawford Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force—4 pm
Central FC vs W Connection—6 pm