Marvin Gordon celebrated the Digicel Pro Bowl in 2012 – one of five titles including the Digicel Pro League in 2010/11 and 2012/13 and the 2009 First Citizens Cup captured by Defence Force FC between 2009 and 2013 – but as assistant coach to Ross Russell.
Now, at the end of his first full season in charge, Gordon wants to put his hands on his first trophy as head coach after missing on a chance to do so five months ago when his side were beaten 4-0 in the final of the 2015 Toyota Classic by Connection who had earlier this season won the First Citizens Cup.
Connection, now in their fifth final of the season, are the unprecedented four-time former Pro Bowl champions and are after their third knockout title this seasonwhen they face-off against Defence Force in the $100,000 winners-take-all season-culminating Pro Bowl final on Friday from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
“The ultimate goal is to win,” said Gordon who took up the post of head coach 17 months ago, at the end of Russell's tenure with the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force in December 2014.
“We haven’t won anything for the season (2015/16) and haven’t won a major title since 2013. This is our last chance to win a major title this season.”
The Defence Force coach added, “It will be great if we do. This is my first full season in charge and in your first season, anywhere in the world, it will always be great to put your hands on a major trophy. But winning the title won’t be just about me. It will be for our players because they have never dropped their heads even when we had bad patches in the season. It will also be a title for the (Trinidad and Tobago) Defence Force because there are a lot of people always working very hard [behind the scenes] for me and the players to get what we need.”
Defence Force, who finished in a creditable third in the Digicel Pro League this season behind champions Central FC and runners-up San Juan Jabloteh, and only ahead of fourth positioned Connection by a single goal-difference, will be without defensive hard-man and former Trinidad and Tobago Youth World Cup player Curtis Gonzales, currently with the T&T senior team, for the Pro Bowl final, while there are doubts over first choice goalkeeper Sheldon Clarke who suffered a knock to his side.
Meanwhile Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier stands with a depleted side due to international fixtures.
Connection previously had six players – Jomal Williams, Shahdon Winchester, Alvin Jones, Daneil Cyrus, Hughtun Hector and Triston Hodge – away on international duty with the T&T senior team for friendly internationals against Peru, Uruguay and China. But that number doubled this week with Gerard Williams and goalkeeper Julani Archibald (St. Kitts/Nevis), Briel Thomas and Anfernee Frederick (Dominica), Jamal Charles (Grenada) and Dimitrie Apai (Suriname) all summoned to their respective national teams for Caribbean Cup qualifiers early next week.
Fevrier’s problem is even much bigger with a total eighteen (18) players unavailable for selection as top Under-18 players Isaiah Hudson, Keston Julien, Kerron Mason and Isaiah Garcia, and 19-year-olds Kori Cupid and Jabari Mitchell all committed to the T&T Under-20 team preparing for Caribbean U20 qualifiers from June 15 to 19.
“We know they are missing a number of players,” said Gordon. “But W Connection will always be W Connection don’t matter who they have available. Their style never changes and we expect a very difficult game because every game in the Pro League is difficult, don’t matter the opponents.”
Defence Force got to the Pro Bowl final by edging Jabloteh 1-0 in the semi-finals on May 13 through an own goal after defeating Morvant Caledonia United 2-0 three days earlier in the quarter-finals.
Defence Force are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions including a 1-0 league win over Connection on May 6, Gordon’s side’s second league win from three against the “Savonetta Boys”.
Digicel Pro Bowl 2016 final
Friday May 27
Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs Defence Force—8pm