Wed, Mar


Defence Force will be hoping their bombs connect on Friday, at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, from 7.15 pm.

If they do, against Vibe CT 105 W Connection as they did last Friday, at the same venue, against North-East Stars and seven days before against defending champion CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh (3-1 on penalties), then the army-coast guard combination will be taking the shiny First Citizens Bank Cup and $35,000 first prize in the T&T Professional Football League back to Tetron for a second time.

A 2-0 winner over WCFC in the 2001 final, Defence Force exploded late in the second-half to destroy North East Stars 2-0 on their way to their second final.

Two recruits, Jerwyn Balthazar and Ordelle Armstrong were the players on target, netting in the 70th and added on time respectively.

In contrast, W Connection connected early and sealed a 2-1 win over Starworld Strikers 2-1 in the second match of the double-header at the southern venue.

Andre Toussaint opened the scoring for WCFC in the 15th, with Kendall Davis increasing the lead in the 41st. Randolph Jerome pulled a goal back from the penalty spot for Strikers in the 88th.

W Connection, the Pro Bowl title holder, was focused from the word go, as Strikers had problems coping with the pace. It wasn’t a surprise when they took the lead because they controlled the game territorially.

A pass from the left flank into a congested area with the players competing for possession ran well for Toussaint, who neatly hit the ball into the roof of the net with his left foot.

Strikers settled down afterwards and came into their own, hitting the post in the 25th — goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa being called upon to save a brilliant far post header from Peter Prosper by diving to his left. It was the only clear-cut chance they had in the session.

In the 43rd minute, the Reynold Carrington-coached “W” went further ahead, Toussaint splitting the defence with a brilliant, intelligent, penetrative pass that sent Davis one-on-one with ‘keeper Marvin Phillip.

A composed Davis dribbled Phillip and rolled the ball into an open net.

Strikers played with all their heart after a quiet first 20 minutes in the second session but found it very difficult to break down the WCFC back four of Elijah Joseph, Atiba Charles, Nicholson “Ice” Thomas and Brazilian Jose Luiz Seabra.

In the last 20 minutes, the southerners kept pushing players forward, which left their defence open, resulting in several scoring opportunities for Connection, who failed to capitalised.

The Strikers team was given a life two minutes from regulation time, when Seabra, who was running when the ball was crossed, left his hand in the way and referee Richard Piper awarded a penalty. Jerome obliged by scoring the kick easily.

After a balanced first-half, which belonged to the goalkeepers Selwyn George (Defence Force) and Trevor Nottingham (North East Stars), Defence Force stepped up their performance, dictating the pace in midfield.

Following a creative build-up, Balthazar side-stepped a defender 20 meters out to shoot a successful right-footer to the right of a helpless Nottingham.

Goal No Two came when Claude Adams launched an attack down the left flank and centred. The first player to reach the ball was Armstrong, who made an intelligent run two meters away from the six-yard box to comfortably beat Nottingham.

“The guys played to plan and rose to the occasion,” said coach Hudson Charles in the dressing room afterward. “Their confidence level was very high after knocking out Jabloteh and it showed up tonight.”

“We are obviously looking forward to win the cup a second time because it is the last time that we won something,” added Charles, a former national midfielder. “We know it would not be an easy task because W Connection is one of the most organised teams in the competition.”

Defence Force and W Connection met twice in the league this year, with WCFC winning both matches (2-0 and 5-1).

WCFC has played in all three finals, winning the inaugural tournament in 2001 and finishing runner-up to Defence Force in 2002 and Jabloteh in 2003.

FCB Cup Results:

Defence Force 2 (Jerwyn Balthazar 70th, Ordelle Armstrong 91st) v North East Stars 0.

W Connection 2 (Andre Toussaint 15th, Kendall Davis 41st) v Starworld Strikers 1 (Randolph Jerome 88th).