Central and W Connection resume focus on million $ Digicel Pro League crown

Central FC forward Willis Plaza, third from right, celebrates with teammates after scoring against Point Fortin Civic during a 1-0 Round Two win in the Digicel Pro League on 25 February at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin. Central also defeated Civic 3-1 in Round One. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)
Issued on Thursday 23 April 2015

Central FC (49 points) can take their final step/s within the coming day/s to win their maiden (Digicel) Pro League championship, the title they watched from second place last season as bitter Couva rivals W Connection celebrated a fifth league crown.

Now with two matches remaining (against tricky opponents Point Fortin Civic on Friday 24 April and North East Stars on Tuesday 28 April) this season, one match less than second placed Connection (43 points), the “Couva Sharks”, who have held bite on the $1 million-dollar first prize at the summit for nearly all of the 2014-2015 season, are at the stage of finally gulping.

“If we do our business right against Point Fortin (Civic) and with our [superior] goal difference, it would be very difficult for Connection to catch us,” said Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick, who steered former club San Juan Jabloteh to three league crowns.

“I would like to win the two remaining games,” continued the former England and Tottenham Hotspur defender. “Our players had a good long season and now they can wind it up in style by winning the league.”
Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick shows off the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield Coach of the Tournament award, after leading the

Central have already won this season’s First Citizens Cup and captured the inaugural Rawle Fletcher and Akeem Adams Cups, which were award to the winners of Round One and Two, respectively, in the DPL, under coach Zoran Vranes, who was replaced by reinstated Fenwick last month.

Central are also front-runners for the Kevon Carter Cup, which will be awarded to the top team in the Round Three.

But there isn’t any guarantee for the “Couva Sharks” just yet, albeit boasting a six-point lead at this stage of championship.
W Connection players celebrate the 2013-2014 Digicel Pro League title upon receiving the trophy from TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene on May 6, 2014. (Photo: www.ttproleague.com)
Connection too, are very determined. The “Savonetta Boys” want to retain the crown, which for a second consecutive season carries with it a $1 million first place prize, while the runners-up take $300,000; the third place team gets $150,000; and $130,000 to every other team down the ladder.

Connection, will first try to trim the “Couva Sharks’” six-point league lead when they tackle eight-placed Caledonia AIA (26 points) from 4 pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Friday 24 April in Round Three Match Day Eight.

Four hours later, Central will face Civic (33 points) from 8 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium following a 6 pm kick-off between fifth-placed North East Stars (32 points) and cellar-placed St. Ann’s Rangers (1 point).

While third-placed Defence Force (36 points) – standing with the best chance of finishing in the available third position after Central and Connection have already caged the top two spots – will travel to the Larry Gomes Stadium on Sunday 26 April against sixth-placed San Juan Jabloteh (points) from 4 pm.

But, naturally, the focus is at the top with all eyes on Central, aiming at their first league crown, and Connection, twice winners in the previous PFL (2000 & 2001) and three times in the Pro League (2005, 2011-2012 & 2013-2014), hunting a sixth.
W Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier.
“At this point [in the league] it's difficult, it (league trophy) is no longer in our hand but we will just concentrate on our games and try to win because that is what we have control over,”
 said a hopeful W Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier.

Connection, winners of this season’s Digicel Charity Shield by defeating Central, have remaining league fixtures against Police FC on Tuesday 28 April and San Juan Jabloteh on Friday 1 May following Friday’s meet against Caledonia.
Central FC players celebrate scoring against Guyana champions Alpha United during a 3-1 win on 19 April in Group 1 of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship at Providence Stadium in Guyana. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)
Both Central and Connection are returning to domestic duties, fresh in confidence, after comfortably topping their respective groups at the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship Group stage to reach the semi-final round against each other on May 22.

Central, debuting at the Caribbean tournament, topped Group 1 hosted in Guyana between 15-19 April, by defeating Suriname powerhouse Inter Moengotapoe 2-0, then home side Alpha United 3-1.

Fenwick said there were solid performances all over the pitch by his players and that their Caribbean Club Championship Group stage opponents were not by the faintest thought, rollovers.

He said his role was to get the best out of his players in the shortest space of time and to top the Caribbean Club Championship group was very important to the club in pushing for qualification to the 2015-2016 CONCACAF Champions League, an accomplishment Connection are also desirous of.
 W Connection forward Hashim Arcia, left, congratulates strike partner Akeem Garcia after opening the scoring in a 7-1 win over Guyana Defence Force on 15 April at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Group 2 of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship. (Photo: Allan V. Crane / www.ttproleague.com)
“It was quite a milestone for us, a very young club, to compete so well,” Fenwick concluded.

A double by forward Willis Plaza did the trick against Inter Moengotapoe while a pair from Ataulla Guerra, separated by a Sean de Silva goal, outdid Alpha.

Connection meanwhile, Caribbean Club Champions in 2001, 2002 and 2009, topped Group 2, hosted in Trinidad, by flattening Guyana Defence Force 7-1 and Antigua and Barbuda's SAP FC 7-2.

The Caribbean Group stage was also a good exercise for Connection with forwards Hashim Arcia, scoring a hat-trick in both matches, Shahdon Winchester, three goals in both matches, just as Jerrel Britto, and Akeem Garcia and Jomal Williams notching one each.

Fevrier added, “I think the emphatic manner in which we won the (Caribbean Club Championship) group gave our players some added confidence and we are hoping that we can maintain that sort of confidence for the remainder of the season.”

It took W Connection one season (1999) to celebrate their first title (FA Trophy) and two seasons to lift a league crown. And if all goes well for Central, the “Couva Sharks” can hoist the coveted prize in their third year of existence.

Upcoming Digicel Pro League matches
Round Three Match Day Eight
Friday 24 April 2015
Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
W Connection vs Caledonia AIA—4 pm

Hasely Crawford Stadium
North East Stars vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6 pm
Central FC vs Point Fortin Civic—8 pm

Sunday 26 April
Larry Gomes Stadium
Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh—4 pm

Rescheduled Round Three Match Day Seven fixtures
Tuesday 28 April 2015
Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs Police FC—6 pm

Central FC vs North East Stars—8 pm


Round Three Match Day Nine

Defence Force vs St. Ann’s Rangers

San Juan Jabloteh vs W Connection

North East Stars vs Caledonia AIA

Point Fortin Civic vs Police FC