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NORTH East Stars coach Zoran Vranes says he got what he expected against a much stronger W Connection side that celebrated their fourth Pro League Charity Shield with a commanding 7-1 win against the Pro League title holders last Friday at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

“We cannot think we are the same team that won the (Pro) League last season,” said the 67-year-old Yugoslav-born Vranes who returned to Trinidad to spearhead North East Stars’ coaching staff with the club’s new focus on youth development.

Vranes gave Jabari Brathwaite, Tyrell Jobe, Lashawn Roberts, Daniel La Croix, Shaqkeem Joseph, Josiah Daniel and Jaden Prowell starting Pro League first team debuts, with Sherwin Williams, Jeankeon Alexander, Bradley Taitt and Bret D’Abreau making debuts off the bench.

Kyle Bartholomew, who played the full 90 minutes against Connection, and unused substitute goalkeeper Jabari Bryce, are they only remnants of last season’s squad. Seasoned Pro League ‘keepers Glenroy Samuel and Javon Sample were rotated between the sticks.

Prowell converted from the penalty spot in the 71st minute to earn North East a consolation item but it wasn’t enough on a night that his team conceded a Marcus Joseph hat-trick and a goal each from Dimitri Apai, Kadeem Corbin, Briel Thomas and debutant Adan Noel.

“Almost all the players [of last season] are no longer with us,” continued Vranes, a former Trinidad and Tobago and Central FC coach.

“I got what I expected [against Connection]. It was a hard game. They (Connection) were better, they were stronger, and they had a much more experienced side with national players.

“We (North East Stars) are making a young team that will be much better next season or the season after that. We have young players with no experience but they will play competitive by the next few games.”

While Vranes believes too many “silly mistakes” resulted in the score-line, the North East Stars coach said he took away some positives after a number of debuting players showed good potential. He also said he expects to add new Under-20 talents. “We need some more games before making a solid team.”

North East Stars will return to action next weekend in the First Citizens Cup. The First Citizens Cup 2018 draw will take place tomorrow.