“Each game brings its own situation.”
That’s the viewpoint Caledonia AIA coach Jamaal Shabazz, and rightfully so.
Caledonia, the defending First Citizens Cup champ, reached its second consecutive FCC Final by defeating W Connection 1-0 in semi-final two last Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
And would meet two-time champion Defence Force—2-1 semi-final winner against St. Ann’s Rangers—from 8:30pm at the very same Port of Spain venue on Friday 5 October on the Final stage.
“We are very happy that we are in the Final again,” said the Caledonia coach. “…and we look forward to the encounter with Defence Force.”
But for the charismatic Shabazz it’s always a little more than just a football match.
Shabazz’s history against the Defence Force treks the memory back to 1990 when the Caledonia coach, a member of the Jamaat Al Muslimeen, was involved in a staged coup attempt which lasted six days before the group eventually surrendered to the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force.
“With Defence Force, it’s since 1990 we battling them,” said Shabazz in his regular dry humor personality. “So it’s always a pleasure to meet them on the football field because off the field we have no chance.
But on the field we are the soldiers of the ghetto. We are the soldiers of the people in Morvant-Laventille, and against Defence Force it’s a pleasure.”
Caledonia notched the semi-final winner in the 89th minute when a determined run by substitute Densil Theobald inside the area and cross was finished off by the boot of another substitute Keyon Edwards for the 1-0 result against Connection.
Caledonia only returned home on Thursday following a 2-1 defeat to Honduran club CD Marathon in the CONCACAF Champions’ League a day earlier, while Connection played to a 2-2 draw against Mexican giants Chivas Guadalajara at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
“I thought we made the right decision to put (Theobald) on the bench with a couple other players who started in the Marathon game,” explained Shabazz. “I thought they all came on, Keyon Edwards Densil Theobald, and made a big difference for us. The discipline and understanding that he (Theobald) showed in knowing that this was a game to come off the bench, I thought that was admirable and I thought he did very well for us tonight.
We were exhausted because we had a long flight from Honduras with difficult games in the Champions’ League and against W Connection it’s always a difficult game.
I think the players from both teams worked very hard. We both came off tough Champions’ League matches. They played Chivas and we played CD Marathon. Good experience and it was shown in the intensity of the game. I thought both teams were a bit tired down to the end, but when W Connection and Caledonia play, it’s always good tactical games …some method in the madness.”