Police’s objective is to upend Central’s First Citizens Cup three-peat attempt

Exciting Couva Sharks return to the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday against title hunting Police in FCC quarters

Flashback: Central FC players and staff celebrate as First Citizens Cup 2014 champions. (Photo courtesy Allan V. Crane/www.ttproleague.com)

Friday 16 October 2015

English coach Terry Fenwick led Central FC to the club's first ever title – the 2013 First Citizens Cup (FCC) – and Serbia-born coach Zoran Vranes successfully defended the crystal trophy in 2014.

Now all eyes are on Trinidadian coach Ross Russell, as the new coach attempts to navigate the Couva Sharks to a third consecutive FCC.

Russell, who won the 2009 FCC on his debut season as coach of Defence Force, the side he later led to two Digicel Pro League (DPL) championship, oozed in confidence at the launch of this season's 2015 FCC.

“It’s no pressure for me; I’ve already won it,” Russell said. “[The trophy] has my name on it already.

“…we are looking to stay on top as a club,” added Russell, who took charge of the reigning Caribbean Club and DPL champions during pre-season.

“I’m going all guns for it (FCC), don’t matter where we play or who we play. It’s difficult having to play from the qualifying round. But its [how] the draw went and we have to accept it. We as a club have represented ourselves well and we are entitled for any challenge.”

Central will meet Police FC from 6 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Sunday in the final quarter-final matchup following a 4 pm kick-off between two-time former champions Morvant Caledonia United and Defence Force at the same Port of Spain venue.

But the quarter-final round action kicks off on Saturday at the Mahaica Oval in Point Fortin with St. Ann’s Rangers to tackle FCC debutants Club Sando from 4 pm. Then from 6:30 pm six-time champions W Connection are against Point Fortin Civic with the quarter-finals day one culminating under the floodlit Mahaica Oval.

Central FC midfielder Ataulla Guerra sends a low strike beyond a sliding challenge by Police defender Elijah Belgrave during the semi-final round of last season’s 2015 Digicel Pro Bowl. Central won the match before lifting the title in the final against Morvant Caledonia United. (Photo courtesy Allan V. Crane/www.ttproleague.com)

With $110,000 accompanying the crystal trophy to the eventual champions on October 30, 2015, the intensity was evident from the qualifier round on September 30. A total of 10 goals were produced at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, some of them scorchers, when Defence Force out-scored former champions San Juan Jabloteh 3-2 and Central made clear their ambition with a comprehensive 4-1 win over North East Stars in a repeat of last season's final which the Couva Sharks won 1-0.

“Our aim is to knock Central out,” Police FC head coach Richard Hood told www.ttproleague.com this week. “Our ambition is to win titles this season and we want to start with the First Citizens Cup. It won't be easy for Central. We've had a good pre-season with an all-round strong squad, and we are quite capable of doing well this season.”

Hood, who took charge of the Lawmen in September 2012, guided his side to their first final in 18 years when he reached the title match of the 2014 Digicel Pro Bowl, however Police eventually lost to W Connection.

Meanwhile Central are the in-form team to beat. The Couva Sharks, winners of four major titles and each of the three rounds of the DPL last season, are unbeaten in the last five in all competitions this season, one of which included ending Connection’s reign of the Digicel Charity Shield with a 1-0 win on September 11, 2015.

Police too, had a positive result against Connection in the Lawmen’s only competitive match this season. Hood’s side, with some roster changes this season, held the Savonetta Boys to a 1-1 draw on September 26 in their opening match of the 2015-16 DPL.

“I thought it was a positive start for us,” Hood said. “Our boys played well against Connection who were already into competition. And we could have actually won had we used more of the chances we created.”

First Citizens Cup 2015
Quarter Final Round
Saturday 17 October 2015
Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin
St. Ann’s Rangers vs Club Sando—4 pm (QF 1)
W Connection vs Point Fortin Civic—6:30 pm (QF 2)

Sunday 18 October 2015
Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain
Morvant Caledonia United vs Defence Force—4 pm (QF 3)
Police FC vs Central FC—6 pm (QF 4)

Semi Final Round
Friday 23 October 2015
Winners QF 1 vs Winners QF 4
Winners QF 2 vs Winners QF 3

Friday 30 October 2015

Qualifying Round results
Wednesday 30 September 2015 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Tyrone Charles 58’, Rickcardo Harriott 90’) vs Defence Force 3 (Glynn Franklyn 53’, 66’, Jerwyn Balthazar 80’)

North East Stars 1 (Keron Cummings 40’) vs Central FC 4 (Marvin Oliver 2’, Sean De Silva 18’, Willis Plaza 69’, 90’+2)