Based on current form T&TEC FC may be favoured by many to take the 2011 First Citizens Cup, but not if Caledonia AIA can avoid repeating outcomes of 2001 and 2007.
Defeated finalist in 2001 and 2007 against W Connection on both occasions, Caledonia AIA will now lock horns in the Final on Friday 14 October at the Hasely Crawford Stadium from 6:30pm against competition newcomers T&TEC FC.
T&TEC already enjoying a ‘fairytale’ run in its debut in the TT Pro League, unbeaten after four games in all competitions are into a Final and seems very confident.
T&TEC defeated six-time champions W Connection 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw at the Port of Spain venue on Friday 30 September in the semi-final round while Caledonia ousted neighbouring rivals Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh with a 2-1 comeback victory thanks to a pair of second half goals by Jamal Gay.
“Based on the current togetherness and based on the work we have done, I think we are very capable of taking the title,” said experienced T&TEC midfielder Romauld Aguillera who scored during the game and from the penalty spot against his former club W Connection.
Aguillera believes that once his side puts out a similar performance as against Connection, it would be an easy contest.
He said, “I don’t think it would be easier. Caledonia loves to keep the ball a lot but I think once we put out another performance like we did against Connection, I think it would be an easy contest.
The response is very positive (from my teammates) and that’s what I like about the guys. It’s the first time for some of them at the Pro League level and they really want this trophy. So I feel they will go out and give their hearts out.”
Aguillera, a former Trinidad and Tobago international, said it’s long overdue since he last won a title dating back to 2009 when he helped Connection win the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield. He assured that he will share his experience and hopefully help the team win the trophy.
T&TEC began the season with a surprise 2-1 win over DIRECTV North East Stars in the Digicel Pro League Championship before heading into the First Citizens Cup Group stage with a 0-0 draw against St. Ann’s Rangers and 4-4 against Jabloteh to advance into the semi-final round defeating Connection on penalties to reach the Final.
Defender Kern Peters, a newcomer to the Pro League level this season said, “The feeling is really good at the moment, not only to me but the majority of my teammates—some of which have never played at this level. We have a joy in our hearts knowing that we always wanted to contest the best teams in the country and reaching this (Pro League) level and actually reaching a Final in our first Cup is just an unexplainable joy.
On Friday we are going to play the regular T&TEC style which we have been playing so far and give a good account of ourselves.
We are not focused on shocking people, because we know to ourselves that we can do it. So we are about proving ourselves right rather than trying to prove people wrong.”
Speaking on his team’s preparation Peters added, “The momentum we had from the semi-final dropped a bit seeing that the Final was too weeks away but in saying that we had a lot more time to prepare. We were able to put in a lot of physical work last week while this week was more technical. We can’t ask for more when it comes to our preparation.”
Goalkeeper Akini Adams, who started against Jabloteh in the group stage and Connection in the semi-final round is expected to start on Friday as number one choice Clayton Ince is still sidelined by a shoulder injury picked up during a goalless draw against St. Ann’s Rangers in their opening Group A match.
Aguillera, Kelvin Modeste, Sylvester Teesdale, Anthony Noriega, Vurlon Mills, Kerlon Ferguson and T&T internationals Akeem Adams and Andrei Pacheco all with experience at the top flight are available for selection.
Meantime Caledonia will welcome back head coach Jamaal Shabazz this week ahead of Friday’s Final following international duty with the Guyana National Men’s Senior Team.
Shabazz will most definitely use striker Jamal Gay, midfielder Akim Armstrong, Keyon Edwards, veteran Stephan David, Sheldon Emmanuel, Kareem Joseph while Trevin Caesar and Micah Lewis could also prove key players.
Caledonia started off the tournament on the wrong end of a 4-2 score against Connection in the quarterfinal round Group stage but followed up with a 2-0 win over North East thanks to a first half double by Akim Armstrong. Caledonia then turned its focus to the League Championship and suffered a slim 1-0 defeat against North East in Match Day Two.
The Morvant/Laventille rebounded to enjoy the 2-1 comeback victory against Jabloteh and its place in the Final.
Taking the memory back to the Launch of this season’s First Citizens Cup at the Hasely Crawford Stadium VIP Longue on September 14, images of a smiling Shabazz clutching the trophy and promising that he will take it to the communities of Morvant/Laventille is still fresh on the mind.
Maybe this is Caledonia’s year to lift the prestigious crystal trophy, or will T&TEC electrify all.
First Citizens Cup 2011 Final
Hasely Crawford Stadium
T&TEC FC vs Caledonia AIA—6:30pm
Pro League Coaches vs Media FC—5pm(exhibition match)