“I don’t live under pressure. I’ve been in this game a long time [and] I know what educated and uneducated [spectators] say and i don't live under that pressure,” said Central FC loan-signing and Trinidad and Tobago National Team captain Kenwyne Jones, following what many described a mixed performance by the former England Premier League forward during the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League 2016/17 season curtain-raising Digicel Charity Shield last Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The 31-year-old Jones, a former Sunderland, Stoke City and Cardiff City forward, scored in the fifth minute against Defence Force with a simple finish to put eventual winners Central FC into a two-goal cushion after Darren Mitchell had cleaned up on a headed attempt by Jones to give the Couva Sharks the lead by the third minute.
However the Charity Shield holders and reigning Digicel Pro League and Caribbean champions needed kicks from the spot to overcome Defence Force, thanks to some heroics from substitute goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams – in his first game back since March due to a shoulder injury – who made three consecutive saves in the shootout to give the Dale Saunders-coached Central FC a 3-1 win following a 2-2 draw. Williams had also made crucial stops against the Army in the second half including a stoppage-time save to deny Hashim Arcia.
Defence Force had reduced the deficit through veteran striker Devorn Jorsling in the 18th-minute, and although creating a superior amount of scoring chances, the Army/Coast Guard combination only levelled the game in the 89th-minute through substitute Sean Narcis.
But Jones had an excellent opportunity to put the game out of Defence Force’s reach four minutes from the end of regulation time, however the Central forward headed overbar from just outside the six-yard area.
While fielding questions from the media afterwards, Jones explained, “The only pressure I have is to make sure my performance is good to help the team around me to get the results.”
Jones, who will join new Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Atlanta United in January 2017, said his current focus is on keeping Central – the reigning Pro League champions – on top during his first stint back in Trinidad since 2004.
“I’ve done it before how many years ago. It’s nothing different for me [playing in the Pro League]. It’s just important for me to get some games under my belt. It's about getting to know the team (Central) better and try to help them win games and keep them on top,” added Jones, who scored on his Central debut in August in a 2-2 draw in the CONCACAF Champions League against MLS outfit Sporting Kansas City and made it two in two games by scoring in the Charity Shield.
Jones went on to add that his influence in the team is not alone, as he is only adding to the mix of former Europe players in the fold at Central such as managing director Brent Sancho and assistant coach Stern John, who, like head coach Dale Saunders, are all ex-T&T internationals.
“The experience and the standard is already there and given from the bench [by the coaching staff], and I come in to help them (the players) from the pitch as well. So it’s for the players [to try and become better],” said Jones.