Caledonia TD Shabazz: Morvant-Laventille’s time will come

Caledonia TD Shabazz: Morvant-Laventille’s time will comeCaledonia AIA have yet again fallen just short of (Digicel Pro) League success, but Technical Director and club boss Jamaal Shabazz believes the Morvant-Laventille club’s time will come.

Despite already securing an improved runners-up position, with 39 points, behind winners Defence Force (43 points) ahead of Friday’s final match day, it’s evident that the League title along with the Toyota Classic knockout tournament have been pretty elusive.

“Our time will come,” Shabazz said. “The cup is half full, not half empty. We continue to show consistency as a contender. We have a feeling of certainty that our time will come.”

But the football club, formed on May 17, 1979 in the place characterized ‘the ghetto’, has risen to the rank of one of the powerhouses of local professional football in recent years.

In recent years they have won every other domestic trophy—FA Trophy (2008, 2011-12, 2012-13), First Citizens Cup (2011-12 & 2012-13 seasons), Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (2011-12 season) and the Digicel Pro Bowl (2008). And together with W Connection are considered one of the two most attractive football playing teams in the region.

Headed by Shabazz and Coach Jerry Moe, Caledonia even captured 2012 Caribbean Football Union (Club) Championship, yes, champions of the Caribbean born out of Morvant-Laventille.

But the 34 year old club just can’t seem to grab a hold of the League title, at least just yet.

“Trinidad and Tobago would have to learn to live with Morvant and Laventille, and I am sure that they would prefer that relationship to be on the football field, so we are coming again. We are not defeated.”

Last season Caledonia (38 points) finished third, two points shy of winners (DIRECTV) W Connection (40 points), and one point behind runners-up T&TEC FC (39 points).

And last Monday Caledonia squandered its opportunity to improve a mathematical chance of lifting this season’s title after leaders Army dropped three points in a 4-0 loss to third positioned Connection (35 points).

Disappointingly, Caledonia were defeated 2-1 against fifth positioned Central FC (30 points). A goal on either side of the half by Central's Rundell Winchester, separated by Jamal Gay's item, did the damage.

“I think we were disappointed with the result,” shared Shabazz. “…but we thought it was a good game. It was played in a good competitive spirit that augers well for the (TT Pro) league and local football.”

But, “some of the senior players are little bit peeved because they felt that some of the new players did not play with the type of passion to get the result in that game (against Central). But this is football.”

Caledonia TD Shabazz: Morvant-Laventille’s time will comeHowever Caledonia, having shown steady improvement from the years of being a mere campaigner, to being a strong League title contender, deserves two thumbs up.

Flipping the pages back to Caledonia's earlier times of the (TT Pro) League shows: 2002(6th position); 2003(7th position); 2004(6th position); 2005(4th position); 2006(4th position); 2007(4th position); 2008(4th position) and 2009(3rd position).

Then in the 2010-2011 season, Caledonia improved further to finish runners-up in the League, with 36 points, 5 points shy of winners Defence Force (41 points), and have since then been the title contender that they are today.

Returning to the topic of this season; two knockout titles captured, a second position finish in the League, and second round Caribbean qualifying to the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions’ League in a two match playoff against Jamaica’s Portmore United on May 20 and 22, Caledonia AIA “are in no way defeated” according to Shabazz.

He continued, “Because we understood that in January we played without eight starting players (Radanfah Abu Bakr, Ataulla Guerra, Trayon Bobb, Walter Moore, Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, Cornelius Stewart, Densill Theobald, Jamal Gay) who were on trials in Europe.

“And we are now without five starting players who picked up contracts in Finland (Guerra, Bobb and Stewart) and Kazakhstan (Moore and Abu Bakr), and to still be a top contender (in the league) shows the depth in our squad.

“Credit to coach Jerry Moe and his staff and the management team headed by Ricarda Nelson for the work they continue to do with this team. I insist our time to be League champions will come.”

Caledonia are yet to repeat the financial benefits of putting players on the international market, but the club continues to toddle on with the support of its sponsors.

“Finance continues to be a challenge,” Shabazz explained. “But the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago, Neal and Massy, National Lotteries Control Board, Trac Mac Engineering and the Minister of Sport, Anil Roberts has been sympathetic with support in the community. It’s hard to depend on one sponsor, and so we are happy the way our sponsors have held on with us.”

Caledonia will wrap up its final League match on Friday in the final match day—Round Three Match Day Seven—against seventh positioned St. Ann’s Rangers (13 points) from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, prior to a clash between sixth positioned Police FC (16 points) and third positioned W Connection (35 points) which kicks off at 6pm.

And simultaneously at the Marvin Lee Stadium fourth positioned North East Stars (35 points) will take on fifth positioned Central FC (30 points), from 6pm, and from 8pm League champions Defence Force (43 points) are against cellar positioned T&TEC FC (8 points).

“We are going to expose a few young players (on Friday against Rangers) to get a chance to play, because we still have the Caribbean [qualifying to the CCL] in the 20th and 22nd of this month and the Digicel Pro Bowl,” concluded Shabazz.

Digicel Pro League Championship
Round Three Match Day Seven
Friday 10 May 2013
Ato Boldon Stadium
Police FC vs W Connection—6pm
Caledonia AIA vs St. Ann’s Rangers—8pm

Marvin Lee Stadium
North East Stars vs Central FC—6pm
Defence Force vs T&TEC FC—8pm