Title holders North East Stars must travel to second tier club Siparia Spurs when the 2017 FA Trophy competition kicks off on the weekend of September 16-17 with the Round of 64.
It is one of eight pairings that includes Pro League clubs against lower league sides, while Central FC are against Morvant Caledonia United in the only all-Pro League clash of the Round of 64.
All this, along with huge cash incentives totally TT$415,000., were revealed on Tuesday afternoon during the preliminary round draw at the Media Room of the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva.
Venues and times are not yet determined although all participating clubs were to indicate their home venue prior to the draw.
The 2017 FA Trophy will involve all ten (10) Pro League clubs, nineteen (19) Super League sides, six (6) each from the Northern FA, Eastern FA, Central FC, Southern FA and Tobago FA, and five (5) from the Eastern Counties Football Union (ECFU)—all hoping to advance to the TT$100,000 final.
The overall champions will, in fact, walk away with a total purse of TT$135,000 due to—for the first time in the tournament which have gone without prize money in its last few editions—a prize structure that will see winning teams of the Round of 64, Round of 32, Round of 16, Quarter finals, and Semi Finals earn TT$3,000., TT$5,000., TT$7,000., TT$9,000. and TT$11,000. respectively.
“It’s a great motivator for all the clubs involved, knowing the current situation clubs are in for financial support,” said North East Stars head coach Derek King.
Ewing Davis, vice president of the tournament organizers, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), said the competition currently stands without a sponsor and, at present, the prize monies would have to come from the FA.
Teams will also benefit from gate receipts through to the quarter final round before the FA takes control for the semi-final and final stages.
Spurs are currently tenth on the Super League’s division one standings while North East Stars are third on the Pro League standings but inactive till September 8 due to a break in the PL to facilitate the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s Senior Team preparations for crucial FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying.
“It’s tough trying to keep players motivated at the moment by just training and playing practice matches,” said King, who took charge of North East Stars last May. “But we will try our best to be ready when the FA Trophy comes around. We are the defending champions.
“We also know that the FA Trophy is tough; it’s a knockout tournament and you have to be on top your game not taking anyone for granted. Some teams in the Super League are good challenges for Pro League opponents.”
Two years ago, when the competition was last contested, North East Stars, led by former coach Angus Eve, won their second FA Trophy by defeating four-time former winners W Connection 5-4 on penalties following a 0-0 draw at the Ato Boldon Stadium on March 29, 2015.
King also FA Trophy success when he defeated Connection in the 2009 final to hand Joe Public the crown with a 3-2 win.
Connection, who last had their hands on the FA Trophy by defeating Couva rivals Central FC in the 2013/14 final on penalties, must host ECFU side Tamana United on Sunday 17 September while Club Sando, Eve’s present club, must travel against Northern FA side Cultural Roots.
Three-time former winners San Juan Jabloteh are drawn against EFA side La Horquetta XF while six-time former champions Defence Force must face NFA’s Belmont FC. Police FC, another Pro League campaigner and three-time former winners, and WASA, the 2006 champions, will meet in the Round of 64 while Point Fortin Civic, the 1969 champions, are against EFA side Red Hill FC.
Since the debut of the professional teams into the FA Trophy competition in 1999, clubs from the former Professional Football League (PFL) and the current Pro League have won the trophy in all but 2006 when WASA became surprise winners. WASA defeated two top flight clubs including North East Stars 4-2 on penalties in the final following a 3-3 draw.
FA Trophy 2017 - Full Round of 64 match ups
(Home teams are listed first. Venue and times still to be determined)
(Saturday 16 September 2017)
Central FC (Pro League) vs Morvant Caledonia United (Pro League)
San Juan Jabloteh (Pro League) vs La Horquetta XF (EFA)
Siparia Spurs (SL) vs North East Stars (Pro League)
Eagles FC (CFA) vs Matura All Stars (ECFU)
D’Marie Hill Youths (ECFU) vs Guaya United (Super League)
Malta Carib Alcons (NFA) vs UTT (SL)
Fire Service FC (CFA) vs Black Rock FC (TFA)
Manzan United (ECFU) vs Prisons FC (SL)
1976 FC Phoenix (SL) vs Goal City FC (TFA)
Perseverance Ball Runners (CFA) Erin FC (SFA)
Biche United (ECFU) vs Trinity Rangers (EFA)
QPCC (SL) vs FC FC Santa Rosa (SL)
Petit Valley United (SL) vs Cunupia FC (SL)
Central Soccer World (CFA) vs Harlem Strikers (CFA)
Calder Hall FC (TFA) vs Bethel FC (SL)
Serial Strikers (SFA) vs Pitchmen FC (SFA)
(Sunday 17 September 2017)
W Connection (Pro League) vs Tamana United (ECFU)
St. Ann’s Rangers (Pro League) vs Perseverance Ball Runners (CFA)
Cultural Roots (NFA) vs Club Sando (Pro League)
Red Hill FC (EFA) vs Point Fortin Civic (Pro League)
Belmont FC (NFA) vs Defence Force (Pro League)
WASA FC (SL) vs Police FC (Pro League)
Santa Flora FC (SFA) vs Harlem Strikers (SL)
RSSR (NFA) vs Signal Hill United (THA)
San Fernando Giants (SFA) vs St. Francois Nationals (NFA)
Club Sando Moruga (SL) vs Perseverance United (CFA)
Leeds FC (TFA) vs Creek SCC (EFA)
Step by Step Maple (NFA) vs Stokely Vale FC (SL)
Central 500 Spartans (SL) vs Marabella Family Crisis Centre (SL)
Defence Force FC (SL) vs Youth Stars (SL)
Pele Pele (SFA) vs Police FC (SL)
WASA FC (EFA) vs FC Maloney (EFA)