“I urge football lovers to come out and see the most exciting football,” promised Caledonia AIA boss Jamaal Shabazz ahead of Friday’s 2011 First Citizens Cup quarterfinal clash against DIRECTV North East Stars from 7pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“We prefer to win a match 6-5 than 1-0, because we recognize the entertainment value to fans,” continued the Caledonia and Guyana National Team head coach.
“I think it’s going to be a very tough game and we also look forward to welcoming (Stars forward) Stern John to local football.”
Caledonia and North East Stars are without a point ahead of Friday’s final Group B clash with leaders W Connection already through to the semi-final round with maximum 6 points in the three team group. Only the top two teams advance into the semi-final round.
Caledonia fell victim to Connection last Friday in a 4-2 defeat but had positives with strike debutants Jamal Gay and Trevin Caesar both getting on the scoresheet.
Shabazz said that his team doesn’t have major problems in offence, but focus was heavy on defence in this week’s training sessions.
“I think we’ve worked hard on the defence in organizing the team defensively and we are pretty confident going into this game,” said the Caledonia coach.
Caledonia will be without midfielder Densill Theobald for Friday’s match and the rest of the season after picking up an 8-month contract with Indian League club Dempo SC this week.
“Of course we will be without Densill Theobald,” admitted Shabazz.
“But I’m very excited to see the team without him. It will answer questions to how we have grown. Densill was a pivotal player in terms of our style of play, in terms of ball possession and I look forward to see how we would continue in his absence.
“In the short term assistant coach/player Travis Mulraine will fill the gap, but on the long term we have some youngsters eager to take up the mantle,” he ended.
Friday will also feature Group A final clash between St. Ann’s Rangers and Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh from 5pm.
T&TEC leads the group with just two points, while Rangers and Jabloteh follow with a point each.
Quarterfinal Day One results
T&TEC FC 0—0 St. Ann’s Rangers
W Connection 4—2 Caledonia AIA
Quarterfinal Day Two results
T&TEC FC 4—4 San Juan Jabloteh
Connection 4—1 North East Stars
Quarterfinal Day Three
Friday 23 September
Hasely Crawford Stadium
St. Ann’s Rangers vs San Juan Jabloteh—5pm
Caledonia AIA vs North East Stars—7pm
Semi Final Round
Friday 30 September
Friday 14 October
St. Ann’s Rangers and Adam’s Construction San Juan Jabloteh of Group A will contest each other from 5pm and in the second clash, Caledonia AIA and North East Stars of Group B do battle from 7pm.
“Right now we are down and it’s all about who is hungrier that will come away with it,” said North East Stars head coach Shurland David.
“We are going to play hard at every ball,” he promised. “Our players recognized that we have fallen short and in order to advance into the semi-final round we must win the game. We know it’s going to be a hard fight but we want to advance and try to win the title.”
Both North East Stars and Caledonia are without a point, following defeats against Group B leaders W Connection (6 points). Connection defeated Caledonia 4-2 last Friday and North East 4-1 on Tuesday.
“We still have hope although its winner takes all,” said Stars captain Marc Leslie. “We will have to play a system that will counterattack Caledonia’s game.”
Experienced Guyanese international Charles Pollard said, “We need more desire. We need to maintain the principles of the game and not throw it through the window (like we did against W Connection). If we cannot perform through the principles of the game we will always go down.
“Caledonia plays an attractive brand of football. But as a team we can’t study the end of the race when the race hasn’t started yet. We have to run the race and then think of the finish.”
Meantime Rangers head coach Anthony Streete said that he expects nothing less than a hard fight from his opponent, San Juan Jabloteh in the earlier clash.
Rangers and Jabloteh are with just one point each, while T&TEC FC enjoys two points and a foot into the semi-final round.
T&TEC played to a goalless draw against Rangers last Friday, and on Tuesday Jabloteh pulled off an astonishing 4-4 comeback against the Dexter Cyrus coached “Electric Boys”.