Caledonia to turn to old practices

Shabazz promises the return of possession build-up of play

Caledonia players huddle during the first leg Toluca clash in Mexico
Previously famed by its attractive and possession styled brand of football, which ultimately led to multi-successful seasons in 2011-12 and 2012-13, Caledonia AIA failed to hit the ground running this season.

It was only until last Saturday that Caledonia managed its first win of the 2013-14 season, snapping an overall nine-match winless streak.

Goals by Noel Williams, Densill Theobald, Keyon Edwards and an own goal by Jabloteh, handed Caledonia a comfortable 4-1 win over the San Juan club in their Round One Match Day Five Digicel Pro League fixture at the Marvin Lee Stadium and it was quite a "relief" for head coach Jamaal Shabazz.

“Oh! What a relief,” said Shabazz, on snapping the winless streak. “I think it is a huge relief for the team. But it’s a big challenge going forward.

“We have not handled well, being the team that everybody wants to beat. Because being the top team in the last two years have been something new to us.”

The two previous seasons (2011-12 & 2012-13) saw Caledonia hoist the FA Trophy twice (2011-12 & 2012-13), the First Citizens Cup twice (2011 & 2012), won the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship (2012), won the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (2012), and consecutively qualified for Concacaf Champions League group stage.

Last season the Morvant-Laventille club even finished runners-up in the League.

Caledonia’s 2013-14 campaign kicked off with the CCL group stage, losing all of its home and away ties against Group 6 opponents Deportivo Toluca of Mexico and Guatemala’s CSD Comunicaciones.

Caledonia also suffered defeat in its opening domestic league fixture, going under 3-0 against North East Stars, and followed with drawn results against Central FC (0-0) and Police FC (1-1). The Jamaal Shabazz coached team’s fourth league match ended in 3-2 in favour of Defence Force, the same team that ousted them 1-0 in the quarterfinal round of the First Citizens Cup this season.

Caledonia will next face St. Ann’s Rangers on Friday from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Round One Match Day Six of the Digicel Pro League, and coming off last weekend’s win over Jabloteh, Shabazz naturally wants consistency.

“We are looking for consistency,” he said. “Both Rangers and us use the same (Hasely Crawford Stadium) training ground. They are no secret to us and we are no secret to them. We always have combative games against Rangers. We want to remain positive and continue to plough our way back into this league and into the hearts of our die-hard fans.”

However, Shabazz’s wants the results to come via the club’s signature style of play.

“It’s more important for me at this stage, for us to go back with our possession build-up plays, and performing well, and let the results come, rather than worry about winning or losing,” explained the former Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago national teams head coach.

He admitted, however, that a lot of work is needed, and pointed out a few areas of concerns.

“We are going to use the matches this season, to groom a couple youngsters such as (20 year-olds) Keron Bethelmy and Aaron Lester, since several senior players are getting down in age, mainly (34 year-olds) Stephan David and Abdallah Phillips,” said the Caledonia coach. “…And push for players like Nathan Lewis and Tyrone Charles to become a lot more consistent.
Caledonia midfielder Stephan David (left) against Toluca in the CCL group stage first leg
“I think we have not done well in terms of closing the ball down and our goalkeeping needs to step up. What we’ve gotten from our goalkeeping prompts me to lose 15 lbs, get myself registered and go back between the uprights. It’s a matter of how they apply themselves to their own training, preparation and mindset to compete. Glenroy (Samuel) showed great improvement in the Jabloteh game, but they (Samuel and Grenada National Senior Team goalie Shemel Louison) know they have until mid-December—the transfer window—to step up.

“That apart, the guys are working hard and I am commending the attitude and fighting spirit they are showing in this challenging period.”

Presently Caledonia are positioned at 6th with just 5 points—10 points away from leaders DIRECTV W Connection (15 points)—however Shabazz isn’t dismissing his team’s chances at the League title just yet.

He said, "The season still has a long way to go."

Digicel Pro League Round One Match Day Six fixtures on Friday include Jabloteh against Point Fortin Civic FC from 8pm, following the Caledonia, Rangers contest from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.

And a simultaneously double header at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, will see Police FC against Defence Force from 6pm, and North East Stars against Central FC from 8pm, while leaders W Connection sits out on a bye.

Digicel Pro League 2013-14
Round One Match Day Six fixtures
Friday 01 November 2013
Ato Boldon Stadium

St. Ann’s Rangers vs Caledonia AIA—6pm
San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic FC—8pm

Marvin Lee Stadium
Police FC vs Defence Force—6pm
North East Stars vs Central FC—8pm