Defence Force head coach Marvin Gordon says he welcomes the 2017 First Citizens Cup seeded draw unveiled during Wednesday’s launch, which pits his defending champions against San Juan Jabloteh in the quarterfinal round later this month.
“…watching the side of the draw that [my team] are on, playing Jabloteh from the quarterfinal round (…) I think we can go all the way back to the final and defend this title,” said the Defence Force coach.
North East Stars, W Connection, Club Sando, Defence Force, Jabloteh and Morvant Caledonia United, due to their positions 1-6 respectively on the Pro League standings after Round Two Match Day Two earned automatic places in the quarterfinal round to be contested on the weekend of October 13-14.
While Central FC, the two-time former champions, Police FC, Point Fortin Civic and MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers, due to their placements in descending order at the bottom of the 10-team PL standings, must contest the play-offs on Wednesday 11 October.
Central must tackle Rangers, with the winners advancing to face record seven-time former First Citizens Cup champions W Connection in the quarterfinals, while Police are against Civic, with the winners meeting current PL leaders North East Stars.
Club Sando will take on Morvant Caledonia and Defence Force are against Jabloteh in already determined quarterfinal match-ups. The semi-finals are carded for October 20 before the competition culminates on November 3 with the final and third-place matches.
“(But) it (First Citizens Cup 2017) will be a difficult challenge [because] all teams are being prepared well and any [team] can beat any [team] on any given day,” continued Gordon during Wednesday’s launch at First Citizens Corporate Headquarters located at Queen’s Park East, Port of Spain.
Gordon said the First Citizens Cup is very close to Defence Force as well as himself having won it as Defence Force player in 2002, then assistant coach of the Army/Coast Guard combination in 2009, then in 2016 as head coach.
“Belief” was the key to winning the First Citizens Cup last season, said Gordon. “The guys believing that we can go all the way. The main thing is always belief in yourself [and] believing what we can do. Believing in what we do on the training park and going out on game day and executing it.
Gordon said the current mood of the Army/Coast Guard combination is great. “We have been on a good run in the last few games. The youngsters and the seniors are blending together and we are now starting to come to the top. The guys [also] understand what is at stake with the First Citizens Cup.”
New this season, the First Citizens Cup prize money structure has been adjusted in aligning with the competition’s new tagline “Where Winners Reign”, with the champions, runners-up, third and fourth-placed finishers receiving TT$60,000, TT$40,000, TT$15,000 and TT$10,000 respectively, whereas past champions collected the “Winner Takes All” TT$100,000.
The Most Valuable Player and Top Scorer will each receive TT$1,000, and new this season the Best Goalkeeper, Best Defender, Best Midfielder and Best Striker will each receive TT$500 while the “Dash For Cash” returns for the semi-final and final where supporters can win TT$500 and TT$1,000 respectively among other giveaways.
“Exciting football awaits us,” predicts Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene. “…as we have one of the most competitive seasons ever with the results being very unpredictable which makes for an exciting and entertaining tournament.”
First Citizens Cup 2017 - Play-off Round
(Wednesday 11 October 2017)
Central FC vs MIC-IT St. Ann’s Rangers
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic
Quarter Final Round
(October 13 & 14, 2017)
North East Stars vs Police FC/Point Fortin Civic (A)
W Connection vs Central FC/St. Ann’s Rangers (B)
Club Sando vs Morvant Caledonia United (C)
Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh (D)
(Friday 20 October 2017)
A vs D = M
B vs C = N
(Friday 3 November 2017)
Loser M vs N
M vs N