“I gave my team a lot of confidence in the week of preparations and let them know we can do it.”
That’s the response of Defence Force head coach Russell following his team’s hard-fought 2-1 win over St. Ann’s Rangers in the First Citizens Cup semi-final round.
Despite losing defender Rodell Elcock to a second booking around the hour mark, Jerwyn Balthazar and Kevon Carter snatched goals in the 67th and 79th minutes respectively.
“Once we were in the game we knew that we can reach the Final,” boasted Russell.
Rangers pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 84th minute from midfielder Devon Modeste after a handball decision.
The Army coach continued, “I think my team’s performance is up to par. I think we had two penalties in the game and we didn’t get them. So the result didn’t really say what it was supposed to say.
I think Rangers were a little gutsy and fought to the end. The referee also gave them some nice calls and kept them in the game. I think they worked hard enough to even stay on the pitch with us.”
Striker Richard Roy who is now anxious for the Final said that his team fought till the final whistle, just as Rangers, despite going down to ten-men.
The two-time winner, Defence Force, will meet defending champion Caledonia AIA in the First Citizens Cup Final from 8:30pm on Friday 5 October at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Russell a former Trinidad and Tobago and Defence Force goalie said, “I’m in the Final so I have a chance. We will take it stride by stride.”
Meantime Rangers rubbed their wounds and rightfully blamed poor finishing for their semi-final round exit.
“We should have finished all our chances in the first half,” said Team Manager Adrian Romain.
He went on to add that lack of discipline contributed to the pair of Defence Force goals.
Romain added, “They took advantage of our indiscipline and put away their chances. To be fair they only got two chances and took it. We got five chances and scored one goal.”
Rangers head coach Dean Pacheco credited his team’s performance but knocked the finishing. He said, “The performance was good but at the end.