Head coach of defending Toyota Classic champions San Juan Jabloteh, Keith Jeffrey, has challenged underdog teams to rise in this season’s 2015 edition.
Following the draw, Jeffrey said, “Last season it was Point Fortin Civic versus San Juan Jabloteh and we are asking lesser known teams to come out and deliver, to see if we can move away from the W (Connection)-Central finals. The competition is already unique, so let us see what other clubs can do.”
Based on a seeded draw, the ten (10) Pro League clubs (Central FC, North East Stars, Police FC, Defence Force, Point Fortin Civic, W Connection, San Juan Jabloteh, St. Ann’s Rangers, Morvant Caledonia United and Club Sando) and the top six (6) Super League Premier Division teams after Match Day 16 (Guaya United, Defence Force, 1976 FC Phoenix, Siparia Spurs, Marabella Family Crisis and FC Santa Rosa) were pooled into four (4) groups.
“It is in tournaments like the Toyota Classic which provides the forum for the coaches and players to perform with something at stake,” TT Pro League Chief Executive Officer Dexter Skeene reminded during the launch. “These brand extensions like the Toyota Classic are critical to the development and sustainability of the TT Pro League.”
In Group A, Point Fortin Civic will renew their rivalry against reigning Digicel Pro League champions Central FC, and 1976 FC Phoenix of Tobago will take on Morvant Caledonia United; with both winners advancing to meet in the quarter-final round.
While Group B features former champions North East Stars against Siparia Spurs, and three-time former champions and recently crowned First Citizens Cup champions, W Connection, against 2013 defeated finalists, Club Sando; with both winners advancing to meet in the quarter-final round.
Guaya United, fresh from capturing the Super League Premier Division knockout title on Sunday, must tackle Police FC of the Pro League, while Marabella Youth Crisis will meet the defending Toyota Classic champions, San Juan Jabloteh; with both Group C winners advancing to meet in the quarter-final round.
Group D will feature the only all-Super League clash with Defence Force (Super League) against FC Santa Rosa, and the other match-up an all-Pro League clash between St. Ann’s Rangers and Defence Force; with both winners advancing to meet in the quarter-final round.
Last season the Jeffrey-led Jabloteh outscored Civic on penalties 4-2 following a 1-1 draw in the final of the Toyota Classic for the San Juan club’s first title in 6 years.
Now looking ahead to his preliminary round clash with Marabella Youth Crisis this season, Jeffrey said, “I have no idea about the Super League teams but I guess if they are in the top six, they will have something to offer.”
This season the Toyota Classic will feature an increased champions’ prize of $75,000, dwarfing the previous $50,000 offered, while the runners-up will receive $20,000.
Skeene commend Toyota (Trinidad and Tobago) and its general manager Andre Baptiste for their unwavering support for the Toyota Classic, the concept that brings together the best 16 football clubs in the country in a unique and innovative tournament that is aimed at showcasing the best players and coaches in the TT Pro League and the Super League.
The TT Pro League CEO said the Toyota Classic, the brainchild of Baptiste, was also created with the purpose of developing a loyal fan base who will continually attend TT Pro League matches.
“The goal is to improve attendances and shift the event type supporter to one that grows the long term fan base of the clubs. A major element is a relationship with community. The currency that runs football is fans and the League and its directors understand this and are taking steps to build the support of the teams and create loyal supporters. The thrust is now to utilize fields in the communities represented by the clubs.”
Skeene added that the League will continue to expand its target audience with marketing strategies geared to cater to families, including aspects for children. He said that incentives such as awarding $5,000 to the club with the most and vocal supporters. Also, in keeping with bringing stakeholders together, the League will invite two Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) teams to play the first game of the double header on final night, where they will compete for a trophy and cash prize.
Toyota (T&T) marketing manager Sean Shaffie, speaking during today’s Toyota Classic 2015 launch, said, “(…) the development of football has been the major focus for us (Toyota) over the years. It is with this desire that we teamed up with the Pro League to bring about a change in culture by instilling a professional attitude in the sport, to prepare our potential talents to embrace the dynamism of world football. We believe with the right approach, there are many more (players) who can make it on the world stage and Toyota will play its part in helping the realisation of those talents. We applaud the efforts of the Pro League and will continue to encourage them to achieve excellence.”
2015 Toyota Classic Groups
1.Point Fortin Civic
2.1976 Tobago Pheonix
3.Morvant Caledonia United
1.North East Stars
2.Marabella Youth Crisis
3.San Juan Jabloteh
1.Defence Force (Super League)
2.St. Ann’s Rangers
3.Defence Force (Pro League)
4.FC Santa Rosa
Round of 16 (Preliminary Round) (Match dates, times and venues will be published on Tuesday 03 November)
Point Fortin Civic vs Central FC (A1)
1976 Tobago Phoenix vs Morvant Caledonia United (A2)
North East Stars vs Siparia Spurs (B1)
W Connection vs Club Sando (B2)
Guaya United vs Police FC (C1)
Marabella Youth Crisis vs San Juan Jabloteh (C2)
Defence Force (Super League) vs FC Santa Rosa (G1)
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Defence Force (Pro League) (G2)
Quarter Final Round
Winners A1 vs Winners A2 (E)
Winners B1 vs Winners B2 (F)
Winners C1 vs Winners C2 (G)
Winners D1 vs Winners D2 (H)
Semi Final Round
Winners E vs Winners F
Winners G vs Winners H