Bitter town rivals W Connection and Central FC – always an interesting duel – will trash it out when the 2014/15 TT Pro League season kicks off on September 20 with the curtain raising Digicel Charity Goal Shield.
Connection, the two-time defending Charity Shield winners, are into the 2014 edition by virtue of winning last season’s Digicel Pro League and Digicel Pro Bowl – both deciding tournaments for the Charity Shield contenders.
While Central FC will have their first shot at the Charity Shield by way of finishing runners-up in the League last season, edging two-time defeated Charity Shield finalists Defence Force for the spot.
“Personally it doesn’t matter whatever opponent we meet,” said Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier, who led his side to last season’s five-title haul: the Charity Shield, Pro League, Toyota Classic, FA Trophy and Pro Bowl.
Fevrier added, “We just have to prepare ourselves for any eventuality, whether it is Central or any other team.”
The head-to-head of seven meetings between Connection and Central last season stands at a deadlock of 3 wins and 1 draw each.
The "Sharks", led by coach Terry Fenwick, defeated Connection 4-2 on penalty kicks following a goalless First Citizens Cup semi-final round meet en route to lifting the 2013 title last October.
But Connection fired back in December with a 1-0 Round One win in the league, and in the same month defeated the "Sharks" 6-5 on penalties in the Final of the FA Trophy after a 2-2 draw.
Both sides met again in Round Two of the league in February, and that contest finished in a 2-2 tie. However in March, Central trounced the “Savonnetta Boys” 3-0 in Round Three of the league, and defeated Fevrier's men again in the Final of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield in April with a 2-1 score.
However Fevrier leveled the head-to-head in May, following a late Pro Bowl semi-final round equaliser by Surinamese forward Stefano Rijssel against Central to tie the score at 1-1 before winning 4-2 on penalty kicks.
September 20, just around four months since their last meeting, a pre-season break and a change in coach at Central, employing 63-year-old Serbian coach Zoran Vraneš, will definitely keep things interesting.
“I don’t know what to expect from Central this time,” continued Fevrier. “…Because I haven’t seen them under their new coach. But I know they are a professional team and would be in serious training. We do expect a difficult game because there is a trophy at stake.”
Fevrier, however, explained that his preparation for the new season is hampered, due to a number of his players having to be away on international duty.
The Connection coach explained that his sessions would become “thin” with around five or six of his players expected to go into camp next week with the T&T Under 20 team, while St. Kitts/Nevis internationals Gerard Williams, goalkeeper Julani Archibald and Devaughn Elliott, and St. Lucia internationals Kurt Federick and Tremain Shayn Paul will join their respective national teams for upcoming Gold Cup qualifiers.
As for Central FC, new coach Vraneš is simply hoping for a good start on September 20 in his first competitive match as coach of the "Sharks", and against the defending league and Charity Shield winners.
“I’m looking forward to a good start,” said Vraneš, a former T&T Men’s Senior Team assistant coach and former coach of the T&T Under 23 and Under 20 teams.
Vraneš, who also had a stint as coach of Joe Public, added, “I know that they (W Connection) are always very serious opponents. I know their coach is very good and enthusiastic about the game, and that’s the way it should be.
“But we are a very competitive team also. If everything goes my way in the way we play, I expect a very close and competitive game, and with some luck a good result.
“They (W Connection) will come to defend their title but for us it’s about getting a good start to the season. We are performing well in practice and although we almost have a very new team, I am very pleased with the way the guys have responded to my training,” ended the Central FC coach.