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A recent switch of coaches Gilbert Bateau and Kevin Jeffrey to the Under-18 sides of North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh respectively could bait emotions when both sides meet this afternoon from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar, Arima for a place in the final of the inaugural Flow Youth Pro League Cup on May 27.

“For the players, it will be highly emotional,” said new Jabloteh U18 coach Kevin Jeffrey, who only three weeks ago was still an employee of North East Stars and coach of the club’s U18 team.

“A lot of the (Stars) players have been calling me saying they missed the style of play, my persona and the way I passed on my knowledge of the game to them. And now they have to come up against me, someone they enjoyed playing under.”

Last month Gilbert Bateau vacated the posts of Jabloteh first team assistant coach and head coach of the U18s to reunite with Zoran Vranes after the Yugoslav-born coach returned to Trinidad to join North East Stars as head of coaching on an initial one-year agreement, subject to a work permit.

Bateau accepted the role as assistant coach in all divisions including the Stars’ first team under Vranes who he had served under with the Trinidad and Tobago team at the 2009 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Egypt and Olympic qualifiers with the U-23s in 2011.

Meanwhile, Bateau said he expects his now former charges (Jabloteh U18s) to be professional enough to put up a strong challenge on semi-final Sunday. He too said his former players were disappointed in his departure.

“My move to North East Stars is strictly in the interest of development of players,” explained Bateau. “North East Stars’ plans are exactly what I hoped Jabloteh had done. We (at Jabloteh) were creating the most amount of players to fit into the [first] team but that wasn’t happening. I have no ill feelings for Jabloteh because I am still open to communication with the club.

“The plans at North East Stars to develop the players and progress them through our teams is what I’ve always wished for at Jabloteh. The focus must be to try to develop the players at best. For instance, when they go abroad on trials they shouldn’t come back. Too many times players are coming back because they lack technique. So the arrangement put forward by North East Stars for development of the football where the players benefit most, is the reason I made the switch,” ended Bateau, father of recent North East Stars signing Sean Bateau and Kazakhstan-based T&T international Sheldon Bateau.

Jabloteh’s Under-14 and Under-16 FYPL league winners also advanced to Sunday’s semi-finals and will take on Defence Force and Point Fortin Civic respectively from 10 am and 2 pm at the same Malabar venue.

At Mannie Ramjohn Stadium (training field 1) in Marabella, Point Fortin Civic must face W Connection in the U14 age group (10 am) and Club Sando will tackle Police FC in the U16 division (2 pm) before the U18 sides of Police and Connection lock horns (4 pm).

TODAY’S MATCH-UPS

Under-14 Division

San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force, 10 am Larry Gomes Stadium;
Point Fortin Civic vs W Connection, 10 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.

Under-16 Division

San Juan Jabloteh vs Point Fortin Civic, 2 pm at Larry Gomes Stadium;
Club Sando vs Police FC, 2 pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.

Under-18 Division

San Juan Jabloteh vs North East Stars, 4 pm at Larry Gomes Stadium;
Police FC vs W Connection, 4 pm at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium training field 1.