Six TT Pro League clubs, five third-tier zonal teams, four National Super League outfits, and one Secondary Schools Football League underdog will be in action today, when the T&T Football Association (TTFA) kicks off a full slate of matches in the round-of-16 stage of the FA Trophy competition.
Defending FA Trophy champion, Caledonia AIA, a club which has not experienced its best start to the domestic campaign, will face one of the stiffest tests remaining in the competition in fellow TT Pro League’s second-placed team, Point Fortin Civic Centre, from 3.30 pm.
The Eastern Lions will undoubtably have an even more difficult task on its hands when it faces some of the most enthusiastic supporter in the country on the road to Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin.
The two teams have not met in league competition this season. However, after six matches played each, Point Fortin, the newest addition to the top tier football competition sits fourth with three wins and as many losses, compared to Caledonia, which sits one point behind in fourth with two wins, two draws and two losses.
Caledonia made it into the round-of-16 without kicking a ball due to the withdrawal of NSL outfit, Club Sando, which may rue its decision after the announcement of the sponsored prize moneys of $100,000 up for grabs. Its opponent Civic Centre, however, was made to work its way closer to the title when it dropped another Pro League club, Defence Force, 1-0, in the round-of-32, last week.
Meanwhile, DirecTV W Connection, the only team in the TT Pro League with a 100 percent winning record after five matches, and a finalist in the Toyota (T&T) Classic, meets Pro League’s sixth-placed Police FC.
The two teams met in league action back in September with the Savonnetta Boys edging the Policemen 1-0. On-fire T&T international midfielder Joevin Jones scored the decisive goal five minutes into the second half in that encounter. Both teams eased into the third round with big wins in the round-of-32.
W Connection took a 6-2 victory over Cunupia FC, with former T&T international Silvio Spann on target with a first half brace, while Police secured a one-sided 7-0 win over Golden Lane.
In other interesting match-ups, St Mary’s College, the last remaining team from the SSFL will need to punch above its weight, when it faces Central FC, at home, in St Clair, while Guaya United and Westside Superstarz, two stong attacking NSL teams convene at St Anthony’s College Ground, Westmoorings.
After today’s round of matches, at most four TT Pro League clubs will advance to the quarterfinal round.
The subsequent draw for the quarterfinal round is expected to take place on Friday.
Today’s FA Trophy Round-of-16
Point Fortin Civic Centre v Caledonia AIA, Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin, 3.30 pm
St Mary’s College v Central FC, St Mary’s Ground, Serpentine Road, 3.30 pm
Petrotrin Palo Seco v Defence Force (NSL), Palo Seco, 6 pm
Tunapuna Titans v North East Stars, Constantine Park, Tunapuna, 6 pm
Westside Superstarz v Guaya United (NSL), St Anthony’s College, 3.30 pm
Police FC (Pro League) v W Connection, Fatima College Ground, Mucurapo, 3.30 pm
QPCC v St Francois Nationals, Dibe Recreation Ground, Long Circular Road, 6 pm
Malabar FC v T&T Prisons FC, Larry Gomes Stadium, Arima, 3.30 pm
Tournament organisers to disclose $100,000 prize structure this week.
Caledonia AIA will take to the field on Wednesday, for the first time in the 2013 FA Trophy, in the Round-of-16 to begin defense of its title.
Meanwhile the tournament organizers – the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association(TTFA) – are expected to reveal a $100,000 prize structure later this week.
Over a week ago, TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips assured that there would be a substantial prize money amount.
And on Monday of this week, Phillips told Wired868, “The prize money we are putting on the table is $100,000.
“We still just need to work out whether it is a case of winner-take-all or maybe the top four finishers.
“But there will be prize money and the amount we have settled on is $100,000.”
Caledonia assistant coach Jerry Moe believes that the prize money will help in the motivation of clubs, including his, although the players aren’t aware of the prize money yet.
“It feels good to be back, and in this situation (to try and defend our title),” Moe said. “The attitude and mindset of the players in training is good, and we are all eager to get back on the field of play.”
But the two-time reigning champions and three-time winners (2008, 2011 & 2012) had to give up its home advantage because of the unavailability of the Hasely Crawford and Larry Gomes Stadiums.
Instead, Caledonia will travel to the Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin to tackle Point Fortin Civic from 3:30pm.
“The fact that we had to give up our home advantage isn’t good,” explained Moe. “…but we are eager to get the game going.”
Moe said that the Hasely Crawford isn’t available because of Secondary Schools Football League matches scheduled at the venues this week, while the Larry Gomes, which is still in need lighting repairs and cannot host night matches, is already the venue for the match between Malabar FC and T&T Prisons FC.
“[Right now] we see it as a plus to play against Civic, and in their environment,” added the Caledonia assistant coach.
Caledonia avoided the FA Trophy qualifying round by way of the random draw and advanced into the Round-of-16 without playing a minute of football because of a pullout by then opponents, Club Sando.
Sando, the longstanding Super League leaders, opted out of the FA Trophy to concentrate on its 2013 Toyota Classic and Super League ambitions.
And last weekend secured its place in the Toyota Classic Final by defeating Defence Force 3-2 in semi-final one.
Sando will meet 3-0 semi-final two winners over Guaya United, DIRECTV W Connection from 8pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Saturday 30 November.
Connection will be among six Pro League clubs in FA Trophy action on Wednesday.
The “Savonnetta Boys” will meet Police FC from 3:30pm at Fatima College Ground, Mucurapo; Central FC will meet home team St. Mary’s College at the school’s ground from 3:30pm, while North East Stars must take on home team Tunapuna Titans from 6pm at Constantine Park in Tunapuna.
Other Round-of-16 match-ups include Petrotrin Palo Seco against Defence Force (Super League), Westside Superstarz against Guaya United and QPCC FC against St. Francois Nationals.