Central eager to defend First Citizens Cup

D/Force and Jabloteh to clash in play-off on Tuesday

 Warren Sookdar, Chief Information Officer at First Citizens, and TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene, centre right, accompanied by players to display the prestigious First Citizens Cup during Thursday's launch of the 2014 edition.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Central FC stands eager to guard their historic First Citizens Cup, but the “Couva Sharks” must wait till October 17 to start the defence of their first ever title.

“We are definitely very eager to defend this title especially being the first one; being very meaningful and very important to the club,” said Central FC midfielder Sean de Silva.

The 24-year-old De Silva, who joined Central during last season’s December/January transfer window and was part of the team that won the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield and finished runners-up in the Digicel Pro League, added, “The dream is to retain that (First Citizens Cup) number one spot all the way till the end. We are definitely more than capable to go all the way and defend the title. We are favourites [being] the defending title holders.”

Based on a random draw conducted during the launch of the 2014 First Citizens Cup on Thursday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium VIP Lounge, Central, led by new coach Zoran Vranes, must first tackle Point Fortin Civic on the quarter-final round day, Friday 17 October.

Also in the quarter-final round two-time winners (2011 & 2012) Caledonia AIA are against North East Stars, while Police FC meets St. Ann’s Rangers.

However the tournament will begin on Tuesday 14 October when two-time (2002 and 2009) winners and last season’s defeated finalists Defence Force challenge San Juan Jabloteh from 6 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium in a play-off towards the quarter-final round, based on their positions in the random draw.

The winner between Defence Force and San Juan Jabloteh will advance into the quarter-final round against six-time First Citizens Cup winners (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008) and reigning Digicel Pro League (DPL) champions W Connection.

“We (the players) are entertainers, so playing against Defence Force at the beginning of the tournament is really good,” said San Juan Jabloteh captain Kerry Baptiste.

“It’s going to be an exciting game for the fans. It would also be a nice test for some of the guys in our team. It’s always nice to play against Defence Force and we will be prepared for them. We take each game at a time, because we can’t look too far ahead. We will be ready for Tuesday (against Defence Force) and after that day we will look to the next task.”

Last season, Central, under the charge of coach Terry Fenwick, defeated Defence Force 2-1 to hoist the illustrious title and the accompanying $100,000 prize, and in the process the club’s first top flight domestic title after just under a year-and-a-half of existence.

Rundell Winchester, the tournament’s eventual Most Valuable Player (MVP) set up a crucial equaliser (scored by Dwight Quintero in the 45th minute) in that Final before scoring the winner in the 75th minute after Defence Force had led from the 10th minute with a Devorn Jorsling strike.

Like in the past, the 2014 First Citizens Cup winners will receive $100,000 and $20,000 to the runners-up. The leading goal-scorer and MVP will receive $1,000 each while young fans will have the opportunity to win $500 starter accounts with First Citizens.

The competition will also see a continuation of the popular “Kick for Cash” with an increased payout of $800 during the quarter-final and semi-final rounds, and a whopping $1,500 in the Final. During the semi-final and Final stages the biggest supporter crews will also have the chance at winning loaded coolers.

“The collective objective is that this year's First Citizens will be the best so far,” said TT Pro League (TTPL) CEO Dexter Skeene during Thursday’s launch of the First Citizens Cup. “This tournament delivers a high level of performance, excitement and entertainment. It is part of the strategy to build the long term fan base of the TTPL.”

Skeene said that First Citizens' support to the TTPL has been unwavering and that the League is very appreciative. He said that First Citizens understands the importance of the development of football, the nation's youth, and the sport industry.

The TTPL CEO continued, “The First Citizens brand has become synonymous with excellence and the TTPL strives to achieve the same as our motto states: one people, one vision, and one culture for excellence. The success of the TTPL is critical as we are to achieve diversification and the development of a sport body. We are the trailblazers, the pioneers, the innovators as we are responsible for the success of the TTPL.

“First Citizens has led be example in moving to the top of the corporate rankings. Their story and journey from adversity to success provides us in the TT Pro League with a positive role model.”

Meanwhile Chief Information Officer at First Citizens, Warren Sookdar said that the sponsorship goes beyond brand awareness. He said that the sponsorship is geared at development in the players and the initiative and that all stakeholders must be unified by the desire to improve football at all areas.

Skeene, during his opening remarks also stated, “It is my view that youth involvement in sport contributes in no small way to the lessening of deviant behavior. It is clear that opportunities abound in the sporting community for the administrators and corporate bodies of any country to invest in the youth, which will bring untold benefits in the long run not only to the country locally but also internationally.”

The former Trinidad and Tobago footballer went on to add, “We have had youngsters, most of them coming from some very humble beginnings; the Dwight Yorkes, Russell Latapys, Kenwyne Jones, who have risen to the pinnacle of the world ladder in terms of their achievements nationally and internationally bringing pride and reputation to the country, incomparable to any other activity.

“Today there are others who strive to have the same opportunity to bring the same joy and pride to their families, community and country. The Kevin Molinos, the Joevin Jones, the Daniel Cyrus, the Shahdon Winchesters are now treading, climbing and creating a pathway to the top, having all begun at the TT Pro League. They, having started in the youth leagues, are moving from obscurity and adversity to greatness. This is exhibited in their performances for the national team. Congrats to the ‘Soca Warriors’ [on Wednesday] night when they defeated Dominican Republic by six goals to one.”

First Citizens Cup 2014
Tuesday 14 October
Marvin Lee Stadium
(Numberings represent positions selected during the random draw)
8. Defence Force vs 9. San Juan Jabloteh (8) – 6 pm

Quarter Final Round
Friday 17 October
1. Central FC vs 5. Point Fortin Civic (A)
2. Caledonia AIA vs 6. North East Stars (B)
3. Police FC vs 7. St. Ann's Rangers (C)
4. W Connection vs 8. (Winner Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh) (D)

Semi-Final Round
Friday 24 October
A. vs C. (M)
B. vs D. (N)

Friday 31 October
M vs N