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Tue, Oct

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The stage is set for an intense affair in today’s Toyota Classic final when DirecTV W Connection looks to withstand the challenge of Club Sando, the Super League’s longstanding frontrunner.

The match starts at 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. Sando became the first-ever second-tier club to reach the classic title match by defeating Defence Force 3-2 in the semi-final round last weekend, and their journey included outlasting Caledonia AIA 11-10 on penalties in the quarterfinal round following a 2-2 draw, and defeated Police FC 3-1 in the preliminary round.

Sando head coach Anthony Streete said that his team has done its loyal supporters proud thus far, but calls for an increased turnout of supporters, past and present, to come out in support. Today’s match will mark Streete’s second final against Connection, in his career as a head coach, and third of the Toyota Classic.

In 2006, Rangers coached by Streete suffered a 4-0 defeat against the now defunct United Petrotrin in the Toyota Classic Final. A year later, Streete’s players suffered a penalty loss to Connection in the Pro Bowl Final following a 2-2 draw. Then in 2007 the “Miracle Worker,” as he would often be referred as, led the St Ann’s club to the Toyota Classic final again in 2008 but went under 2-1 against San Juan Jabloteh.

And although he looks towards breaking the duck for his first-ever trophy as a head coach, the 54-year-old prefers not to be overconfident ahead of the big stage. “I know every game is different,” he said. “So we can’t be overly confident at this stage. Connection is a good club and playing against them is always exciting, clean and tactical football. So I can guarantee it’s going to be a great final.”

Connection, which successfully defended the Digicel Charity Shield at the beginning of the season, is the current leader of the Digicel Pro League championship, with a maximum 15 points from five matches. The Stuart Charles Fevrier-coached “Savonnetta Boys” also enjoys ten wins from 11 matches in all domestic competitions this season, with its most recent a 1-0 win over Police FC on Wednesday in the FA Trophy Round-of-16.

Following Wednesday’s win, in which Fevrier utilised a number of non-starters—Devaughn Elliot, Tremain Shayn Paul, Celio Da Silva Santos, Mickaeel Gordon, Camilo Ortega Diaz and Andell Noray—the Connection coach said, “This (win) gives us more confidence because we haven’t lost a game in open play for the season.

“Today (Wednesday) we had some of our other players in the game and regardless of whom we utilised, we have been getting the results. So that’s very encouraging for us and we would like to continue that way.”

Connection’s ride to the final included taking the scalps of three Super League outfits—first Real Maracas 2-0 in the preliminary round, then Malabar FC 4-1 in the quarterfinal round, and Guaya United 3-0 in the semifinals. The two-time Toyota Classic winners, Connection, will look to continue its perfect form against a fourth Super League outfit.

“You can expect the same from W Connection,” said Fevrier. “We always play to win. It will be no different but we are playing against Club Sando who will also want to win. “But we are always confident in our ability. We are confident that on Saturday (today) we can win, and we will be doing everything in our power to try to win.”

Asked if shuffling between the FA Trophy and Toyota Classic competitions has been difficult, the Connection coach said, “It’s part of our job as a staff. For me personally, it’s nothing new, because I’ve been coaching the club for almost 14 years and sometimes based on the amount of competitions you’re in, you have to manage the players. I have enough experience in doing that and we are managing quite well.”

Fevrier is a seasoned finalist coach, and one of the most successful coaches in the past decade and a half. “I learned a lot from my time at W Connection and from ‘Stuarty’…the little that I didn’t know,” said Streete, who served as an assistant coach to Fevrier last season after being sacked by Rangers in February 2012, but switched clubs a year later, joining Sando.

“I also admire their professionalism and I would like to thank them for letting me continue my trade after Rangers left me out. But ‘Stuarty’ always encouraged me and always said that I was a head coach, and when the opportunity came to me in the form of Club Sando, I welcomed the move.”

Streete said that Sando’s position at the top of the Super League, and place in the final of the Toyota Classic is all for the supporters, and for corporate central and south Trinidad to see that they must now do their part in helping football go further.