Trinidad and Tobago internationals Daneil Cyrus and Joevin Jones, fresh from unsuccessful trials in Vietnam and Italy respectfully, are likely to be wedged into DIRECTV W Connection’s squad for Wednesday’s FA Trophy Final against rivals Central FC from 7:30 p.m. at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Connection, winners of the 2013 Digicel Charity Shield and recently crowned Toyota Classic champions, are in chase of a third title this season, while opponents Central, winners of the First Citizens Cup, are gunning for their second overall knockout title.
However Connection isn’t certain of a full squad on Wednesday.
“We will have eleven players on the field,” said the Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier, “But we aren’t sure of having seven players on the substitutes’ bench.”
Fevrier divulged on Tuesday that defenders Leslie Joel Russell and Devaughn Elliot are out, nursing a groin and thigh injury respectively, while Colombian midfielders Camilo Ortega Andres Diaz, Yhon Stiven Lopez and Yefer Steven Lozano have all returned home to sort out domestic issues, and are only likely to re-join the “Savonnetta Boys” in January.
He said that Cyrus, who returned to Trinidad on Sunday following a trial at defending V-League champions Hanoi T&T, might be involved in Wednesday’s Final because of the unavailability of Russell. While Britto and Clarence, who both had unsuccessful trials at another Vietnam top-flight club, Song Lam Nghe An, are scheduled to return later this week and will not be part of Wednesday’s FA Final.
Jones, meanwhile, only returned to Trinidad on Monday from Italy, after failing to impress coach Francesco Guidolin at Serie A club Udinese.
“I was disappointed (for Jones) just as everybody,” shared Fevrier over the player’s failure to secure contract Italy. “We have no control whether the players make it or not, when they go out there. We can only try to prepare them as best as possible.”
Fevrier further explained that trials in the December-January window are always very difficult.
“In this window, clubs are either looking to win the league or avoid relegation. So they are looking for proven players – players that are playing the game at a high level on a consistent basis – to add some value in strengthening their teams.
“It would be easier for a player from the Caribbean to join European teams in pre-season. It allows the player time to adjust, because coming from the Caribbean they are not playing matches week in, week out, as high as the level of a top club in Europe.”
Fevrier wants Jones to learn from the experience and work on improving himself for the next opportunity.
“If we don’t have enough players on the bench, Jones will be listed as a substitute on Wednesday,” said Fevrier. “But he definitely won’t start. He only returned a day ago and the Final is on Wednesday. Also I have already prepared a team and won’t force him in with just one session.”
Central FC meanwhile, stands without regular left-back Keion Goodridge, who suffered bruised ribs after crashing into the upright during the semi-final round against Super League outfit Malabar FC a week ago.
Central eventually won the match 3-2 on penalties following a hard-fought 2-2 draw, while Connection warmed late to defeat North East Stars 3-0 in semi-final two.
The Stars will meet Malabar from 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Couva venue in the third place play-off for a fraction of the prize money structure, which includes $50,000 to the winners, $30,000 to the runners-up, and $20,000 to the third place finishers.
Central FC head coach Terry Fenwick expressed concerns over the third place play-off, which he believes, stands the risk of marring the Final.
“The (Ato Boldon Stadium) pitch is already taking a soaking these days and overused as it is,” said the Central coach. “By the time we get to our game – the finale which everyone is turning up to see – the surface will be terrible by the end of the third place match. I don’t see why they have to play a third place match in the FA, it doesn’t happen anywhere else.”
Also, Connection and Central, both based in Couva, share the single Ato Boldon Stadium training field, which has also been affected by rainfall.
Both Fevrier and Fenwick said that preparations for Wednesday’s Final was hampered due to the training ground conditions, but both men remain optimistic.
“We are confident going into the game,” Fenwick said. “They (W Connection) were lucky the last time we met. They converted the one chance they carved against us, while we wasted a lot of opportunities.”
Fenwick blames off the field hiccups, for his side’s mixed results this season, but promised that Central will be “all guns blazing” on Wednesday.
He singled out Trinidad and Tobago international forward Rundell Winchester, and winger Johan Peltier, younger brother of T&T international and Slovakia based winger Lester Peltier.
“Winchester has done remarkably well for the national side, but haven’t really played well for us in months,” said the Central coach. “It’s time he gave a decent performance for us. He must recognise the importance of doing well at club level if he has to continue doing well at international level.
“Johan Peltier [meanwhile] has tremendous talent. Possibly more talent than his older brother, but he needs to be consistent at it, and Wednesday is a good opportunity to show that he is national material as well.”
Two months ago Central defeated Connection 3-2 on penalties in the semi-final round of the First Citizens Cup following a goalless draw, but when both teams met two Saturday’s ago in Round One Match Day Seven of the Digicel Pro League, it was the “Savonnetta Boys” that celebrated a 1-0 win.
“We are confident that we can play a game to win the Final,” added Fevrier, who has led the “Savonnetta Boys” to six wins in as many matches in the League this season.
“Central too, will feel that they can play a game to win. So at the end of the day it’s going to be an interesting final.”
But what about the perceived rivalry?
“Every team is rivalry,” clarified Fevrier. “Because every team wants to beat you. Every football club in the world is our rival. That’s how I see football. Central is no different.”
Fevrier’s starting line-up will possibly have the likes of sturdy defensive midfielder Gerard Williams, young talented goalkeeper Jelani Archibald; defenders Mekeil Williams, Kurt Frederick and Christian Viveros; midfielders Jomol Williams and Neil Benjamin Jr.; and forwards Hashim Arcia and Stefano Rijssel.
As for Central, former Connection goalie Jan Michael Williams; defenders Elton John, Akeem Benjamin, Dwight Pope and the fierce Jamal Jack; midfielders Marvin Oliver, Jason Marcano, Peltier and Toric Robinson; and strikers Qwight Quintero and Winchester are likely starters.
2013 FA Trophy Final Wednesday 18 December
Third Place Play-off
Malabar FC vs North East Stars—5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
Central FC vs W Connection—7:30pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
2013-2014 Digicel Pro League weekend fixtures
Round One Match Day Eight
Friday 20 December
Police FC vs North East Stars—5pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh vs Defence Force—7pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium
Saturday 21 December
Central FC vs St. Ann’s Rangers—5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs Caledonia AIA—7pm, Ato Boldon Stadium