W Connection, winners of this season's First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic, will attempt a third domestic knockout title this calendar when they tackle Defence Force in the season-culminating Digicel Pro Bowl 2016 final from 8pm on Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Connection left full-back and interim captain Kurt Frederick said wining the Pro Bowl title could ease the “Savonetta Boys” disappointment after finishing fourth in the 2015/16 Digicel Pro League (DPL)—outside the top-two qualifying zone for the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship which serves as the Caribbean qualifier to the CONCACAF Champions League.
Connection will compete at the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League beginning in August, after qualifying out of the 2016 CFU Club Championship by finishing runners-up behind Trinidadian rivals and two-time Caribbean holders Central FC.
But coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s “Savonetta Boys” must spectate next season when this season's DPL champions Central and runners-up San Juan Jabloteh contest the 2017 CFU Club Championship with the hopes of qualifying for the 2017/18 CONCACAF Champions League. Central, then, will attempt a third consecutive CFU crown while former champions Jabloteh returns to the Caribbean tournament for the first time since 2010.
“We (W Connection) always want to be at the CONCACAF stage,” said Frederick. “We failed [to finish top-two in the league this season] but next season we will try to finish better and attempt to reach CONCACAF again.”
The 25-year-old St. Lucia international added, “We will try to do everything in our power to win the game (against Defence Force) on Friday to win the Pro Bowl, so we can be a little happier and take some of the disappointment of not finishing in the top-two in the league out of our minds.”
Connection, the most successful club in the Pro Bowl with four titles (2004, 2007, 2013 & 2014), got to their overall eight final of the tournament by defeating North East Stars 4-2 in a penalty shootout following a goalless semi-final draw on May 13 after edging Police FC 4-3 three days earlier in the quarter-finals.
Connection are coming off last Friday’s 5-2 win over Club Sando in their final league game of the season and are on a four-game winning streak in all competitions as they head into their fifth knockout final of the season after the First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic (which they won) and the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield (won by Morvant Caledonia United) and CFU Club Championship (won by Central FC).
But coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier’s side are without six regulars – Jomal Williams, Shahdon Winchester, Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Hughtun Hector and Triston Hodge – currently with the Trinidad and Tobago national team.
“We don’t have some players [at present] but we have played good in the last two games [with the squad we have available],” said Frederick. “We know it will be a lot harder now—it’s a final and we expect Defence Force to come very physical like they usually do. We must remain mentally strong and the players with more experience, like myself, must show confidence in all the players we have available to do well.”
Connection defeated Defence Force 4-0 in the final of the Toyota Classic last December, but since then the “Savonetta Boys” have lost two of three league clashes against the Army/Coast Guard combination with the latest a 1-0 loss on May 6 after midfielder Hashim Arcia netted late against his former side.
Digicel Pro Bowl 2016 Final
Friday May 27
Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
W Connection vs Defence Force—8pm