Jabloteh fired up for Toyota Classic Final

‘San Juan Kings’ chase first title in 6 years

San Juan Jabloteh’s Dario Holmes, left, and Jevon Morris, taking care of business at the back during a league match against North East Stars back in November.
Thursday 11 December 2014

Play Whe San Juan Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey is standing firm on his belief: “the team that [won] between Police and Jabloteh (in the Toyota Classic semi-final round) will go all the way to the title”.

Now one win away from hoisting Jabloteh’s first title in six years, Jeffrey will lead the San Juan club against Point Fortin Civic from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday 12 December in the Final of the 2014 Toyota Classic.

The Final will be preceded by what should be an appetising contest from 6 pm between recently crowned East Intercol champions San Juan North Secondary and Point Fortin East Secondary, two Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) teams chosen by the Toyota Classic finalists.

“No disrespect to Point Fortin Civic,” said Jeffrey, now in his second term as head coach of Jabloteh. “They (Civic) will come out and play well. But as I said before, the team that wins between Police and Jabloteh will go all the way to the title.”

Jeffrey, a former assistant coach to ex-Jabloteh coaches Ron La Forest and Terry Fenwick, also said it is a privilege for both Civic and Jabloteh, two teams with rich past histories, to meet in Friday’s Final.

Civic whipped Rangers 3-0 in the preliminary round before getting past Central FC 4-2 on penalty kicks in the quarter final round following a 0-0 draw; then got rid of Super League powerhouse WASA FC 4-0 in the semi final round for its Final berth.

Jabloteh meanwhile, this season’s defeated First Citizens Cup semi-finalists, crushed Super League's 1976 FC Phoenix 4-0 in the preliminary round; then edged Super League giants Club Sando 1-0 in the quarter final round before ousting 10-man Police FC 4-3 on penalties following a keenly contested 2-2 semi final draw.

But on Tuesday, in Round One Match Day Six of the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League (DPL) championship, the “San Juan Kings” suffered an embarrassing 4-0 defeat against DPL leaders Central FC while Civic celebrated a 4-1 win over cellar positioned St. Ann’s Rangers.
“The teams in the 2014-2015 [DPL] are evenly matched and on any day, any team can defeat the other,” Jeffrey said. “And Tuesday’s defeat was just a reminder of how close all the teams are, and if you are not on top of your game what can happen.

“But our players are still on a high because Friday’s Final is what we were really looking forward to. In our team at the moment, we have experience and youth, which combine well, together with the experience to be prepared for Friday.”

The Jabloteh coach conceded that his tactics against Central FC did not work but promised that he will revert to earlier strategies that saw his team reach the semi-final round of the concluded First Citizens Cup, stay undefeated in the league after four matches, and reach the Final of the Toyota Classic, all prior to Tuesday’s defeat in the league.

Jabloteh and Civic have met once this season, in Round One Match Day Three of the DPL back in October, with that encounter ending in a 2-2 draw.

Civic are seeking their first title since joining the TT Pro League last season, while Jabloteh – defeated Toyota Classic finalists in 2009 – last captured silverware in 2008, under the then charge of former England international Terry Fenwick, by winning the league, Toyota Classic and the now defunct Big Six titles.

With his eyes and heart set on the Toyota Classic title, for the people of San Juan, the club, the players, and his personal achievement, Jeffrey added, “I’ve been working behind the scenes in the past as an assistant coach but at this stage, being the person in charge, I understand what it takes to be successful. It takes good management skills because modern day coaching is more than seeing about the game itself. It’s about managing personalities and finding the right chemistry.

“Winning the (Toyota Classic) title on Friday will do well for the community of San Juan, which kept supporting us since our return to the league after a one-year hiatus. It’s also a great opportunity to show that we are returning to the glory days. And of course it’s always good to be successful as a club, as a player, and as a coach.”