CLEON JOHN admitted his delight in copping the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at last Friday’s Toyota Classic competition.
The North East Stars goalkeeper saved two penalties to guarantee a 4-2 win, via kicks from the penalty spot, over Defence Force in the final at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, after the scoreline read 2-2 at the end of regulation time.
“I feel special, I feel great,” said John. “I came out there and played to (the best of my ability) and come out with the MVP (award).” Concerning his role in assisting North East towards the title, John noted, “That’s wonderful. That’s a great stepping stone for the team because a lot of new players came into the team.”
John moved from the defunct San Juan Jabloteh to North East during the off-season and he commented, “The set-up is very wonderful. We have the best coach in Trinidad and Tobago right now in Angus Eve. He works with us and we came out here and played to the best of our ability.”
On the other side of the coin, John has never earned an international cap due to the presence on the national team of current captain Jan-Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip.
Asked if his Toyota achievement can prove to be a lifeline for him gaining a national spot, John replied, “I hope so because my performance is not today, my performance has been gradual. It’s been years upon years I’ve been performing. I don’t know what’s going on with the (TT coaches).”
A lot of supporters made the trek from the Stars’ base in Sangre Grande to the Hasely Crawford Stadium for the match. “The support was wonderful,” noted John. “The support for football in Trinidad and Tobago is very steep and the more support we get, the more we’ll want to come out and play.”
Defence Force’s Marvin Gordon, who deputised as coach in the absence of Ross Russell, admitted, “It was disappointing but I thought we put a lot of heart into it, a lot of work into it. At the end of the day, the tactics (were) right. For me, personally, I thought we deserved to win the game but that’s how football is.”
He continued, “Sometimes you dominate a game and decisions go against you and you lose. But you just have to go from strength to strength, keep working hard and hope one day a decision go our way.”
Asked if the absence of national players Richard Roy, Kevon Carter, Devorn Jorsling and Kevon Carter hampered his plans, Gordon responded, “You have a squad and at the end of the day you work with what you have.
I thought everybody (adapted) well because I thought we dominated the game. “We come from a goal down and went 2-1 up with seconds to go on the clock. I thought everybody worked hard and put their hearts into it. I have to give my players a lot of credit for the performance (on the) night.”
Looking ahead, Gordon said, “I think the main focus will be the League. We’ll like to see how much Cup competitions we can get under our belt. This is the third final we’ve played in and we’ve lost all three, but I know the guys will rally and come back.”