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One win away from securing the Digicel Pro League 2015/16 championship and fresh from their Caribbean Club Championship 2016 crowning – repeats from last season – Central FC wants to complete the season by successfully defending the TT$100,000 “Winner takes all” Digicel Pro Bowl.

Central, who defeated Morvant Caledonia United 4-1 in last season’s final, will begin their Pro Bowl defence against North East Stars, who the “Couva Sharks” must first face on Sunday in the league from 4pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.

 

Central (52 points) are seven points clear at the top of the league standings, and a win on Sunday will hand coach Dale Saunders’ men the DPL 2015/16 crown with two games to spare.

“We want to fill our trophy cabinet like other teams,” said Central FC goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams. “Yes, we would like to top off the season with the Pro Bowl. Winning the Caribbean Club Championship showed us that we can actually defend titles. I believe we have underachieved this season after winning seven titles (four of them major ones) last season. Now we want secure the league title by Sunday and then move on to the Pro Bowl.”

The Digicel Pro Bowl quarter-final round match-ups were determined by a random draw during the 2016 launch on Thursday May 5 at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.

The quarter-final round which plays off on Tuesday May 10 will see four-time (2004, 2007, 2013 & 2014) champions W Connection against Police FC from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium followed by Central against North East Stars from 8pm. And in another quarter-final double-header, St. Ann’s Rangers will meet two-time (2005 & 2006) champions San Juan Jabloteh from 7pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium before 2012 champions Defence Force take on recently crowned Lucozade Sport Goal Shield champions Morvant Caledonia United from 9pm. Caledonia won the Pro Bowl in 2008.

The semi-final round and final are scheduled for May 13 and 20, respectively.

North East Stars captain and utility player Anthony Wolfe issued a warning to holders Central FC during Tuesday’s launch, when he said, “sometimes the hand that once served you come back to bite you as well”, in relation to the “Couva Sharks”’ sacking of coach Ross Russell last December.

Russell has since then joined North East Stars who are currently on a seven-game winning streak in the DPL, and are one of five teams vying to occupy the two CONCACAF Champions League qualifying spots by finishing in the top two in the league.

Wolfe, a former Central captain and forward, added, “Central have to wait a bit longer [to celebrating the league title]. By stopping them on Sunday (in the league) it will make it a bit easier for us on Tuesday (in the Pro Bowl quarter-finals).”

Wolfe said finishing second in the league and winning the Pro Bowl is the focus of North East Stars, a team he considers eager to achieve.

Speaking during the launch of the Digicel Pro Bowl – the final tournament on the Pro League calendar – TT Pro League chief executive officer Dexter Skeene reminded all that with the right mind-set and attitude the sky is the limit at the League.

The League has thrived

Skeene said the Pro League has the capabilities and talent to make it one of the best professional leagues in the CONCACAF region.

“The League has not only survived, it has thrived,” said the Pro League boss. “As I stated in a recent article, key performance indicators show that that our clubs are the best in the Caribbean region by winning the CFU Club Championship [another time] and as a result, they have qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League [yet again]. Congrats to W Connection for qualifying and congrats to Central FC for winning the CFU Club Championship.”

“We have the best players and best coaches in the CFU region.

“Another factor is the competitiveness of the Digicel TT Pro League. With three rounds to be completed, five clubs are in contention for the first two spots.

“Another factor is the marketability of players and performance at the national level. We have seen the selection of local players as well to the national team, performing with distinction at the international level, bringing us to within a few points of qualification for the second round of qualification for the World Cup (2018).”

Skeene added that more players have moved to foreign clubs during the past year, which he said, signifies that the management of clubs has improved in the business of professional football and clubs are equipping themselves with the necessary skills and personnel to run a successful professional football business.

He said the League provides the platform for the next generation of national footballers and coaches, with young local coach such as Dale Saunders, Ross Russell, Marvin Gordon, Keith Jeffery, Angus Eve, Earl Jean, Dean Pacheco and Richard Hood are making names for themselves, adding that the Digicel Pro League has afforded the coaches the opportunity to work in a professional environment, day in, day out, honing their skills like the Zinedine Zidanes and Diego Simeones of the world.

The Pro League calendar runs from September to May and Skeene reminded that new ownership groups and clubs are expressing genuine interest to align with the league. He also said, with regard to sponsorship, the amount of partners continue to grow. But assured current corporate partners that the League's view is one of exclusivity.

“We want to make sure that we build relationships with corporate partners,” said the Pro League CEO. “…and afford them the brand platform to meet their strategic objectives. This is to say that our existing partners have treated the league with respect. We will certainly discuss with our current partners the mutually beneficial opportunities.”

Full remaining Pro League fixtures including the Digicel Pro Bowl

Digicel Pro League 2015/16

Friday May 6, 2016
Round Three Match Day Eight
Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs San Juan Jabloteh—6pm
W Connection vs Defence Force—8pm

Mahaica Oval
Point Fortin Civic vs Morvant Caledonia United—6pm

Digicel Pro League 2015/16

Sunday May 8, 2016
Round Three Match Day Eight
Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
Central FC vs North East Stars—4pm

Larry Gomes Stadium
St. Ann's Rangers vs Police FC—4pm

Digicel Pro Bowl 2016
Quarter Final Round

Tuesday May 10
Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs Police FC (D)—6pm
Central FC vs North East Stars (A)—8pm

Hasely Crawford Stadium
St. Ann’s Rangers vs San Juan Jabloteh (C)—7pm
Defence Force vs Morvant Caledonia United (B)—9pm

Digicel Pro Bowl 2016
Semi-Final Round

Friday May 13
Ato Boldon Stadium
A vs D
B vs C

Digicel Pro League 2015/16

Tuesday May 17, 2016
Round Three Match Day Nine
Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6pm
Club Sando vs W Connection—8pm

Hasely Crawford Stadium
Police FC vs Point Fortin Civic—7pm
Defence Force vs Morvant Caledonia United—9pm

Barataria Recreation Ground
San Juan Jabloteh vs North East Stars—6pm

Rescheduled Round Three Match Day Seven fixtures
(Date, venues and kick-off times to be decided)

San Juan Jabloteh vs Central FC
W Connection vs St. Ann’s Rangers

Digicel Pro Bowl Final

Friday May 20
Ato Boldon Stadium