W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean wants his players to demonstrate loyalty as the Savonetta Boys look to an unprecedented eighth First Citizens Cup, which ultimately means dethroning holders Defence Force when the two sides lock horns from 8pm on Friday in the 2017 final at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
However action kicks off from 6pm at the Couva venue with defeated semi-finalists Point Fortin Civic and Club Sando against each other in the third-place match.
Connection, First Citizens Cup champions of 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, last hoisted the title in 2015 but the Pro League powerhouse have gone without a major trophy since then.
“I am confident we can lift the First Citizens Cup again,” said Jean, a multiple-time First Citizens Cup winner during his playing time at Connection.
“It feels a long time since we last won the First Citizens Cup and getting our hands on the title an eighth time would be an inspiration to the club,” added the ex-St. Lucia international striker.
“This (First Citizens Cup) is one of our trophies that is really close to us and it has also been a long time since we won a major title.
“Our players now have to show their loyalty and importance to the club,” insisted the Connection assistant coach.
“We are confident in our squad and the work we have done with our players. It’s now for our players to show up. It’s about how much desire you have as a player because after your playing career you can only look back on the titles you have won.”
Connection defeated former champions Central FC (3-1) and Club Sando (2-0) in the quarter-final and semi-final rounds, respectively, to book an unprecedented 11th First Citizens Cup final and third against Defence Force, a side that have defeated them 4-1 when both sides last met in Pro League action in July.
“We have been in transitions over the last few years with our best players moving on to clubs abroad every year to every two years,” explained Jean, who has been a long-serving assistant to head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier along with countryman Eligah Joseph.
“But we have still shown progress over the years and always in a final because of the belief we have in the squad. Our squad is younger, smaller, and still getting into finals—credit to our players and it augurs well for the club.
“We are in the final of the First Citizens Cup and it also presents the opportunity for our new players to win a title and for the club to earn prize money especially with the financial situation faced by clubs.”
Connection, last season’s Pro League runners-up behind three-peat champions Central FC by a point, are currently second on the 2017 league standings with a game in hand and three regular matches left, but nine points adrift of leaders North East Stars and closely followed by third-positioned Club Sando who are two points behind and also with a game in hand in the chase for a top-two finish which earn teams CONCACAF qualifying spots.
Sando and Connection will resume league play on Sunday when they visit Police FC (3:30pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium) and San Juan Jabloteh (4pm at Barataria Oval), respectively, in two of three rescheduled matches. Point Fortin Civic will host Central FC from 5pm at the Mahaica Oval in the other rescheduled league clash.
First Citizens Cup 2017
(Friday 17 November 2017)
Point Fortin Civic vs Club Sando, 6pm, at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Defence Force vs W Connection, 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.
Trinidad and Tobago Pro League 2017
(Sunday 19 November 2017)
Rescheduled Round Two Match Day Six fixtures
Police FC vs Club Sando, 3:30pm, at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
San Juan Jabloteh vs W Connection, 4pm, Barataria Oval.
Rescheduled Round Two Match Day Three fixture
Point Fortin Civic vs Central FC, 5pm, at Mahaica Oval.