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The Final Group of Stage Two of the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC) is set to kick off with  what promises to be an enticing double header at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya on Wednesday.
This Group H contest will see hosts and 2007 Runners Up Trinidad and Tobago battle for one of the two remaining spots for the Grand Finals next month in Jamaica, along with Antigua/Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis and Guyana over three days of action in the twin-island Republic.

With the high interest in the beautiful game and moreso the Trinidad and Tobago team in light of their ongoing run of successful results in the 2010 World Cup qualification bid, the excitement is expected to run over into the Digicel matches.

The “Soca Warriors” will undoubtedly want to keep their momentum going as apart from moving on to the Finals next month in Jamaica, they also have their sights on the CONCACAF Gold Cup next year with the top four finishers in the Digicel Caribbean Championships moving on to that tournament.

The top two nations from Group H will join Cuba, Barbados, Guadeloupe, Grenada, DCC 2007 champions Haiti and DCC Finals’ host Jamaica  in December to speak the universal language of football and play for the coveted Digicel Caribbean Championships trophy. Trinidad and Tobago head coach Francisco Maturana expressed his eagerness for the “Soca Warriors” to go all the way.

“We intend to use these upcoming matches in the Digicel Championships to prepare our team in the best possible way for the rest of matches to follow. Of course we are in the World Cup qualification also and with these three matches against Guyana, Antigua/Barbuda and St Kitts/Nevis coming up, it gives us the opportunity to get valuable match practice as well as try to emulate the rest of teams that have already qualified for the finals in Jamaica. We definitely want to be in that final tournament where the best of the Caribbean football will be on display,” Maturana said.

Jack Warner, President of the Caribbean Football Union, expects this final group contest to set the pace for the Grand Finals in Jamaica next month.

“Having just completed an inspection in Egypt for a World Championship, I had to ensure my presence for this launch in Port of Spain and moreso the matches which we shall witness this week because I felt it would be a fitting end in Trinidad and Tobago to what has been an exciting stage of matches throughout the region over the past few months.

“Here it is we now have the runners up from the last competition – Trinidad and Tobago facing what I expect will be stern challenges from Antigua/Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis and Guyana for a chance to play in the region’s most prestigious tournament. The stakes are very high this time also with the top four teams from the Finals next month going on to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2009. As such, I am foreseeing the battle and moreso the quality of the football to be better than ever before,” Warner said.

Marketing Director at Digicel Trinidad & Tobago stated that the company is excited to host this important leg of the tournament and remain committed to Caribbean Football development.

“Digicel remains committed to football across the Caribbean and right here in Trinidad & Tobago. It is our pleasure to bring entertaining and exciting matches to local the football fans. The public can also look forward to innovative promotions and activities in the stadium on match days”.

In keeping with the company’s philosophy of social responsibility, Digicel hosted a free football clinic last week for children from around the country, and this was an overwhelming success.  Thompson also commented on this event:

“130 children came out from orphanages and football clubs from as far as the North Coast and Point Fortin, and Digicel staff also brought their children along. Everyone was treated to a day of football skills and inspirational words from coach Dion La Foucade and Neil ‘Shaka’ Hislop. It was Digicel’s pleasure to bring such a meaningful experience to the nation’s up and coming football stars.”

Tickets for these double headers will be available at the Marvin Lee Stadium on match days (November 5, 7 & 9) and are $100 TTD for adults and $20 for children under 12. There will be lots of exciting promotions, giveaways and entertainment by the Digicel Girls and the Carib girls. There will also be drink specials available on Carib beer.

Trinidad and Tobago has a rich history in this regional championship,, winning the coveted title on eight occasions since its inception in 1989. Those titles were won in  1989,1992, 1994-97, 1999 and 2001. T&T has hosted the finals eight times in 1990 (abandoned at semi-final stage), 1992, 1994,1996,1998,1999,2001 and 2007.
Soca Warriors hunt Cup finals spot.
By: Ian Prescott (Express).


T&T open against Antigua tonight.

Aurtis Whitley is back and confident that Trinidad and Tobago will be among the last two qualifiers for the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC), to be contested from December 3-14 in Jamaica.

Hosts Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, Barbados, Grenada and Guadeloupe are already through, leaving Trinidad and Tobago seeking one of the two remaining spots in the Caribbean Cup finals.

Today, Group H kicks off with a double-header at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. St Kitts-Nevis begin the qualifiers with a 5 p.m. match against Guyana, while two hours later, the home team face a dangerous Antigua-Barbuda squad, who include former San Juan Jabloteh striker Peter Byers and Jason Gregory.

T&T have a rich history in the regional championships, winning the coveted title on eight occasions, but have not been successful since 2001.

Trinidad and Tobago were champions in 1989, 1992, 1994-97, 1999 and 2001, and runners-up in 2007 as hosts.

This year, with the Soca Warriors fielding one of their strongest teams in the competition for many years-including ten members of the current line-up for the 2010 World Cup qualifiers-midfielder Whitley feels T&T cannot just qualify, but also win the Digicel Championships.

Whitley captained the national team for much of the year, but has been out through injury for the last two and a half months. Yesterday, he rated himself as 80 per cent fit and thinks that Trinidad and Tobago's squad is formidable, having included Cyd Gray, Avery John, Cornell Glen and himself, who all played at the 2006 World Cup.

Also in the team are players who have been involved in the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign such as Khaleem Hyland, Marvin Phillip, Aklie Edwards, Anthony Wolfe, Clyde Leon and Keon Daniel.

"This is a talented team and at the end of the day each man is playing for a spot in the World Cup team," Whitley declared. "In the past, we have not had senior players in the team. But this time we have that, and World Cup players as well."

And Trinidad and Tobago head coach Francisco Maturana expressed his eagerness for the Soca Warriors to go all the way in the competition and earn one of four qualifying spots at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.

"We intend to use these upcoming matches in the Digicel Championships to prepare our team in the best possible way for the rest of matches to follow. Of course, we are in the World Cup qualification also and with these three matches against Guyana, Antigua-Barbuda and St Kitts-Nevis coming up, it gives us the opportunity to get valuable match practice, as well as try to emulate the rest of teams that have already qualified for the finals in Jamaica. We definitely want to be in that final tournament where the best of Caribbean football will be on display," said Maturana.

But Antigua-Barbuda manager Fernando Abraham cautioned the Soca Warriors they will not have an easy match tonight. "I know Trinidad and Tobago plays to win, but Antigua plays to win also. And, we will be going out to be one of the two teams to qualify for the final stage."