First Citizens Cup semi-finalists Jabloteh hungry for success

Stars, Police, and defending champs Central also in chase

San Juan Jabloteh's Jamaican forward Newton Sterling, #8, is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's first goal in a 2-0 First Citizens Cup quarterfinal round win over W Connection.
Thursday 23 October 2014

Boosted by their 2014 First Citizens Cup wins against two-time winners Defence Force and six-time winners W Connection en route to the Semi-Final round, two-time winners San Juan Jabloteh plans to go all the way to the title and $100,000 winners’ prize.

Central FC, the defending First Citizens Cup winners, will take on Police FC from 6 pm on Friday 24 October at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Semi-Final One followed by North East Stars against the 2000 and 2003 winners Jabloteh in Semi-Final Two from 8.15 pm at the Couva venue.

“Jabloteh have been out of it for two years and we are now within sight and smell of an achievement,” said Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey. “And we are hungry for it.”

Last season, after a season (2012-2013) sabbatical, Jabloteh returned to professional football, installing Jeffrey, a former youth coach with the San Juan club, as head coach of its senior team, and in a hurried move snatched up available players.

The snap return by the four-time Pro League champions ended in a disappointing 8th position finish on the league standings in 2013-2014, a season topped by long-time rivals W Connection, who captured the League, FA Trophy, Toyota Classic, Digicel Pro Bowl and Digicel Charity Shield.

While two-year-old Central FC took home the First Citizens Cup, Lucozade Sport Goal Shield and league runners-up position which qualifies them alongside Connection to compete in next year’s Caribbean Club Championship.

Now in an entirely new season Jabloteh journeyed from the 2014 First Citizens Cup play-off round, defeating Defence Force 3-2 on kicks from the penalty mark after a 1-1 draw on October 14 and three days later the “San Juan Kings” surprised again with a 2-0 win over six-time former winners W Connection.

"Our guys are pumped up having such a good run," continued Jeffrey, whose side remains unbeaten in all competitions this season, with its most recent a 2-2 league match draw against Point Fortin Civic last Tuesday.

Jabloteh are positioned fourth on the Digicel Pro League standings with 5 points after three matches; one win and two draws.

"The results have gone our way and we don't intend to stop now," revealed the Jabloteh coach, who must get past the Angus Eve coached-North East Stars on Friday to keep the chances of lifting the First Citizens Cup alive.

"North East Stars have always competed well over the years so it will be a well-fought semi-final. As for us (Jabloteh) we have done the harder of the jobs in reaching this stage. We have been on the harder side of the draw, having to defeat Defence Force then W Connection, and now we are hoping to go all the way. And we have a good core of players to do the job," concluded Jeffrey.

"Jeffrey has been doing a good job," Eve said. "And there was always the belief that he would improve. He saw where they (Jabloteh) needed to improve from last season and brought in a number of Jamaicans and some Trinidadians to strengthen his team and they are a definitely a better team. We have stuck within our philosophy of selecting Trinidad nationals to support the national team and develop players for the future so I believe it would be an interesting clash."

Eve, a former Jabloteh player, youth development coach and senior team assistant coach, said Friday’s semi-final clash against his former employers “should be a good game” with both teams trying to establish themselves for the season.
Point Fortin Civic defender and captain Andre Ettienne, left, and Central forward Dwight Quintero puts in chase during their First Citizens Cup quarterfinal clash. Central won the match 4-3 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw.
Central meanwhile have stated since prior to the tournament kick-off that they don’t intend to relinquish the First Citizens Cup, which happens to be the club’s first top flight domestic title.

“We are definitely eager to defend this (First Citizens Cup) title, especially being the first one; being very meaningful and very important to the club," said Central midfielder Sean de Silva at the 2014 First Citizens Cup launch earlier this month.

The 24-year-old De Silva added, “The dream (of the club) 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 [also] favourites being the defending title holders.”

The "Central Sharks" head coach Zoran Vranes echoed De Silva comments, saying, “We are the defending champions so we want to defend our trophy.”

Following a keenly contested 1-1 quarterfinal round draw against Civic, Central edged the Point Fortin club 3-2 on penalties while North East Stars enjoyed a 4-1 penalty win against Caledonia following a 1-1 draw.

Stars and Central also enjoyed league wins in the lead-up to the First Citizens Cup semi-finals, defeating W Connection (1-0) and Caledonia (3-1) respectively on Tuesday.

Police meanwhile got the better of Rangers with a slim 2-1 win to reach the semi-final round and again defeated the St. Ann's club 3-2 in their league match last Tuesday.

“The last game (against Rangers) was difficult because we made it difficult by not putting away our chances; something that has plagued us all along," said Police FC head coach Richard Hood.

"But we will approach the game against Central differently. I won’t give much detail but can say that we have made certain adjustments and expect a positive result."

Hood also admitted that Central are tough opponents and that his team must work hard in order to advance into the Final.

First Citizens Cup 2014
Semi-Final Round
Friday 24 October
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs Police FC—6 pm
North East Stars vs San Juan Jabloteh—8.15 pm

Quarter Final Round results 
on Saturday 18 October at the Marvin Lee Stadium
Police FC 2 (Todd Ryan 3’ penalty, Elijah Belgrave 90’+) vs St. Ann’s Rangers 1 (Kennedy Isles 81’)

Caledonia AIA 1 (Pernell Schultz 44’) vs North East Stars 1 (Tyrone Charles 24’)
(North East Stars won the match 4-1 on kicks from the penalty mark)

Kicks from the penalty spot
North East Stars (4)                 Caledonia AIA (1)
Keron Cummings (scored)            Taylor Benjamin (missed)
Tyrone Charles (scored)                 Kareem Joseph (missed)
Aquil Selby (scored)                        Pernell Schultz (scored)
Kennedy Hinkson (scored)
Quarter Final Round results
 on Friday 17 October at the Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection 0 
vs San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Newtown Sterling 14’, Adrian Reid 35’ penalty)

Central FC 1 (Ataullah Guerra 42’ penalty) vs Point Fortin Civic 1 (Andre Toussaint 2’)
(Central won the match 4-3 on kicks from the penalty mark)

Kicks from the penalty spot
Point Fortin Civic (2)               Central FC (3)
Andre Toussaint (saved)                   Ataullah Guerra (scored)
Marcus Joseph (scored)                   Jean-Luc Rochford (saved)
Andre Ettienne (scored)                   Sean de Silva (overbar)
Matthew Bartholomew (saved)       Akeem Benjamin (scored)
Weslie John (saved)                           Marvin Oliver (scored)

Play-off result on Tuesday 14 October at the Marvin Lee Stadium
Defence Force 1 
(Richard Roy 88') vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Andell Noray 75')
(San Juan Jabloteh won the match 3-2 on kicks from the penalty mark)

Kicks from the penalty mark

San Juan Jabloteh (3)                    Defence Force (2)
Shaquille Bertrand (missed)                 Richard Roy (saved)
Dillon Kirton (scored)                            Dave Long (missed)
Calib Sturge (saved)                                Ross Russell (scored)
Andell Noray (scored)                            Curtis Gonzales (scored)
Adrian Reid (scored)                               Rodell Elcock (saved)