Vengeance included: D/Force, Jabloteh chase First Citizens Cup QF spot

 Defence Force ace forward Devorn Jorsling, # 9, during a contest with San Juan Jabloteh last season.
Monday 13 October 2014

Fourteen years after meeting in the Final of the inaugural (First Citizens) Cup (2000), known then as the League Cup, San Juan Jabloteh and Defence Force will renew their tournament rivalry on Tuesday 14 October but in a play-off contest of the 2014 edition.

Both former winners, Defence Force (2002 & 2009) and Jabloteh (2001 & 2003) will tackle each other from 6 pm at the Marvin Lee Stadium – based on a random draw last Thursday – for a place in the quarterfinal round on Friday against six-time  (2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008) First Citizens Cup winners and reigning Digicel Pro League (DPL) champions W Connection.

Back in 2000 – one year before the acquisition of title sponsors First Citizens – Jabloteh lifted the inaugural crown after edging Army 1-0. Since then Jabloteh managed to reach two Finals; winning the 2003 title but lost in 2005.

Defence Force meanwhile are seven-time finalists winning the title in 2002 and again in 2009—the debuting season of present head coach Ross Russell.

“This (First Citizens Cup competition) is one we hold dare to us,” said Defence Force assistant coach Marvin Gordon.

Gordon was a playing member of the Defence Force team that won the title in 2002 and debuted as assistant coach of the professional team alongside Russell when they won the title in 2009.

“It’s a title we will go all out to win,” continued the Army assistant coach. “We are on the hard side of the draw having to play in the play-off for a quarterfinal spot but we welcome it anyway.”

Gordon said that the Army/Coast Guard combination have “a number of scores to settle” against Jabloteh.

The most recent, last season’s 1-0 DPL third round defeat against Jabloteh, which saw the Defence Force finish third behind Central FC on goal-difference and lose out on qualifying this season’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship, the qualifying tournament to the Concacaf Champions League.

“We have a number of scores to settle (against Jabloteh),” Gordon added. “(…) especially with our last meeting last season when they denied us a qualifying spot towards the Concacaf Champions League. We also have scores to settle from past seasons, when they were at the top of their game, and embarrassed the Defence Force. So the 2000 title isn’t the only score to settle on our minds.

“Our players are taking it personally. We know the importance of the game as a win takes us through to the quarterfinal round and also the we are motivated by the rivalry over the years.”

Gordon revealed that midfielder Jerwyn Balthazar and attacker Balondemu Julius are back into the squad following promotional courses with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and will be available for selection along with striker Devorn Jorsling, coming off a hattrick scored against Police FC in a 4-2 league win.

Army undefeated in their two opening DPL matches, which included edging North East Stars 1-0 by a late penalty, will go up against a side that has not conceded in their opening matches of the 2014-2015 season.

Jabloteh played to a goalless draw against Police in their first match and edged St. Ann’s Ranges 1-0 in the second.

“We (the players) are entertainers, so playing against Defence Force at the beginning of the tournament is really good,” said Jabloteh captain Kerry Baptiste following the draw executed during the launch of the 2014 First Citizens Cup at the Hasely Crawford Stadium VIP Lounge.

“It’s going to be an exciting game for the fans,” continued the League’s all-time top scorer. “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.”

In the quarterfinal round defending champions Central FC, led by new coach Zoran Vranes, must tackle Point Fortin Civic; two-time winners (2011 & 2012) Caledonia AIA are against North East Stars; and Police FC goes up against St. Ann’s Rangers.

As for the six-time winners W Connection, the “Savonnetta Boys” must await Tuesday’s result to know their quarterfinal opponents.

First Citizens Cup 2014
(Numberings represent positions selected during the random draw)

Tuesday 14 October
Marvin Lee Stadium
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