Last season’s defeated finalists and current National Super League (NSL) leaders Club Sando wants to go all the way this time around and win the 2014 Toyota Classic, which will make them the first ever second tier team to win the title, now in its 10th edition.
The preliminary round action will commence on Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium when recently crowned First Citizens Cup champions Central FC tackle Super League outfit and Toyota Classic debutants La Horquetta SA from 6 p.m., followed by Club Sando against former winners North East Stars from 8 p.m. at the Couva venue.
“It’s [going to be] a challenging game,” said Club Sando Technical Director Muhammad Isa following the draw conducted during the official launch on Tuesday morning at Toyota Trinidad and Tobago Limited's Showroom in San Fernando.
Isa, a former Technical Director of Police FC, added, “We saw them (North East Stars) and we understand how they play. And at this level that’s the kind of [contest] we are looking forward to.
“But looking at the team we have put together this season, we feel we can reach the Final [again] and even win the Toyota Classic.”
Last season Club Sando, led by present coach Anthony Streete, were etched into the tournament's history by becoming the first second tier team of the Trinidad and Tobago football system to reach the Toyota Classic Final but went under 2-0 against W Connection.
Now according to Isa, Club Sando – a club still very much ambitious of playing the TT Pro League after falling short of financial requirements in their entry attempt earlier this year – wants to go a step further in achieving its goals.
“We are celebrating the club’s 25th anniversary next year (2016) and the goal of the club is to go into the professional league, but we want to go into the Pro League as a champion team and winners of the Super League,” said the Sando Technical Director.
Last season, Sando didn't reach the semi-final round alone. Fellow Super League campaigners Guaya United also reached the final four. It was the first time in the tournament’s history that two Super League clubs made it to the final four.
Back in 2012, Super League club Stokely Vale reached the semi-final round but were eliminated by eventual champions North East Stars after a creditable performance at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
And before that, the 2010 edition, the now defunct-Joe Public’s Super League outfit, became the first team of the second tier league to ever reach the semi-final round, after defeating its Joe Public Pro League counterpart, 1-0 in the opening round and Police FC 2-1 in the quarter-final round along the way, but were dumped 3-1 by North East Stars in the semi-final round.
Isa said Sando, which boasts a number of former Pro League players, boasts a very strong attack and midfield.
Former W Connection forward Teba Mc Knight, who recently returned to the Club Sando squad for the first time this season, will resume the captain’s armband in a roster that includes former St. Ann’s Rangers standout Devon Modeste, former North East Stars and Caledonia Guyanese defender Charles Pollard, and former W Connection players Kemuel Rivers, Devon Drayton, Kern Cupid and Ryan Frederick.
The team also includes Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 footballers Akeem Humphrey and Kishun Seecharan, who were both part of the squad that won the recent Under-20 Caribbean Cup.
However Seecharan will miss Sando’s preliminary round match against North East Stars due to illness along with the experienced Cupid.
As to how well the Super League clubs will do against Pro League clubs at the 2014 Toyota Classic, only time will tell.
The preliminary round action will continue on Saturday when present Pro League leaders San Juan Jabloteh face off against Super League's Tobago outfit 1976 Phoenix FC from 6 p.m. at the Marvin Lee Stadium, followed by tournament-debuting Petrotrin Palo Seco of the Super League against Defence Force of the Pro League from 8 p.m. at the same venue.
Also on Saturday Caledonia AIA will welcome Defence Force's Super League outfit from 6 p.m. at the Ato Boldon Stadium prior to the 8 p.m. clash between defending champions and three-time winners (2005, 2011 & 2013) W Connection and WASA FC.
On Sunday the action continues with St. Ann's Rangers traveling to the Mahaica Oval against Point Fortin Civic from 3 p.m. – in the only Pro League tie of the preliminary round – while Police FC will welcome Super League’s Guaya United from 4 p.m. at the St. James Barracks ground.