It will be a case of two derbies, one rich in history and the other relatively new in terms of the clubs, but not their coaches when the First Citizens Cup resumes with a semifinal double-header at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva from 6 pm today.
In the opener, two-time winner and six-time finalists Defence Force buoyed by their 1-0 quarterfinal defeat of Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, come up against returning club, San Juan Jabloteh in a clash of North-based clubs.
Two hours later it will be the turn of a Central-based duo when, six-time champions and eight-time finalists, DirecTV W Connection continue their bid for a first hold on the crown when they face second-year club, Central FC.
Both matches are expected to provide a lot of excitment based on their quarterfinal displays, but it will be the night’s second encounter between the Stuart Charles-Fevrier coached W Connection and Central FC, coached by his long-time rival, Englishman Terry Fenwick, that is sure to have the fans at the edge of their seats.
The “Savonetta Boys” as W Connection are called earned a spot in the last four, after a tense 6-5 sudden-death penalty kicks win over newcomer Pt Fortin Civic Centre on Saturday last after a 0-0 draw and being reduced to ten men due to two bookable offences by St Lucia Gerard Williams.
A night earlier at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, Central FC used a dominant first-half display and well taken strikes from Hector Sam and Rundell Winchester to hold off North East Stars, who got a late reply from Trevin Caesar for some respectability to the score in their quarterfinal.
Both teams have also had impressive starts to their domestic campaigns with W Connection retaining the Digicel Charity Shield with a 4-2 thumping of Pro League champions which was followed by a 7-0 blowout of St Ann’s Rangers in their league opener and a 1-0 win over Police before dumping Pt Fortin.
Speaking on the eve of the contest, Charles-Fevrier who has been at the helm of the team for all their previous First Citizens Cup campaigns said his team will have to lift its game another level because Central is a good team and like W Connection they will want to win to get to the final.
While W Connection midfielder Gerard Williams will miss the match due to suspension, coach Charles-Fevrier will have the availability of national duo Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus after the pair missed the quarterfinal contest for breaching club rules and playing in minor league football.
Charles-Fevrier said, both players have gone before the club’s disciplinary committee and were handed their punishments, and its up to him now to select them against Central or not.”
On debut last year, Central FC was blanked 3-0 by eventual runner-up Defence Force in last year’s quarterfinals, but having gotten past that hurdle after they trounced league holders Defence Force 3-1 in their league opener and then a 0-0 draw with Caledonia, the “Shark” are hungry to make another big bite as they seek their first title.
This after coming up short in last season’s T&TFA FA trophy final to Caledonia, 2-0 at Couva.
Fenwick, who led Jabloteh to the title in the ompetition’s first year, 2000, via 1-0 win over Defence Force said his only headache going into the match was that he had a full squad to choose from.
“We have had a great start to the season, unbeaten to date and the mood in the camp is very positive ahead of another important match for us. The guys are all pumped up to face W Connection as we want to make a statement for local talent.”
The former England international also took a swipe at his rivals saying that it seemed that they were now desperate for success with the signing of so much foreigners during the off-season while his team was loaded with local talent, who are quite as capable.”
In related news, despite just ending its two-match losing streak to start the season, Defence Force starts as favourtites against two-time First Citizens Cup winner’s San Juan Jabloteh for a place in the $120,000 final on October 18.
After the quarterfinal win, Defence Force coach Ross Russell who led his team to the title in 2009, seven years after their first triumph and was also on the losing end in the finals in 2010 and last year said he was looking foward to much more in the competition.
He said, “You would always feel good with a win, but I'd be a little more comfortable when we get past the semifinal round, but a worrying sign is the lack of goals from his strikers, Josimar Belgrave and Richard Roy.
So far this season, Defence Force was beaten by W Connection 4-2 in the Digicel Charity Shield and in the Pro League round one contest, by Central FC, 3-1.
But those worries will be eased somewhat with the return of main striker and last season’s top goal scorer, Devorn Jorsling who had a little run out in the win over Caledonia.
It was his first bit of action for the new season following his successful promotional course towards the rank of Lance Corporal which he received during a graduation ceremony held earlier in the week, and he will be eager to boss his rivals tonight.
Jabloteh, won the title in 2000 with Fenwick in charge, 1-0 against Defence Force, and then three years later with another Englishman, Ricky Hill at the helm, but its last appearance in the final was 2005, something first year coach Keith Jeffrey hopes he can correct, even at the ‘Teteron Boys” expense.
Prior to its one year league absence last year, Jabloteh, which has two wins from two matches this season, 6-5 in the league over St Ann’s Rangers and the quarterfinal victory over the same club, has been to the final-four in 2008, 2009 and 2011 without going further, but with a first prize of $100,000 on offer club captain Kerry Baptiste and his team-mate will no doubt be up for the fight to ease the burden on their financiers.