Repeat of 2003 final on Sunday at Ato Boldon Stadium
For one team it’s about retaining the title, while the other wants to capture it for the first time since 2003, when title holders DIRECTV W Connection and North East Stars contest the final of the TTFA FA Trophy 2015 on Sunday from 6 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
But for both W Connection and North East Stars, there is a shared love affair with the FA Trophy; being the first ever title won by both sides.
W Connection, under present coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, won the title in 1999, the year of the club’s professional debut. Connection went on to retain the title in 2000 and won it again in 2002 and 2013-14. The “Savonetta Boys” were also runners-up in 2003, 2008 and 2009, therefore achieving their eight final this year.
While North East Stars, runners-up in 2006 and 2010-11, won the title back in 2003 under the guidance of Guyanese coach James Mc Lean, in the club’s third year of existence, by defeating Connection in the final.
Now 12 years later, North East Stars will be led into Sunday’s final by coach Angus Eve, who wants to restore glory to the Sangre Grande club and pride to club owner/chairman Darryl Mahabir.
“Once you make a final you go in to win the game,” said Eve, who will also be attempting to join Fevrier as a FA Trophy winner as a player and head coach. “The FA Trophy is the first title won by the club (North East Stars) and a trophy the chairman (Darryl Mahabir) is very passionate about. It is also one of the most prestigious titles in world football and we would like to win it again.”
North East Stars defeated three-time winners San Juan Jabloteh 2-1 in the semi-final to secure a place in Sunday’s final. Eve’s side also defeated six-time winners Defence Force (quarter-final), three-time winners Caledonia AIA (round of 16) and Central Football Association (CFA) side Enterprise Life Sport (round of 32) along the way.
“If we win on Sunday it will be the second [overall] title in the three years that I have been here,” continued Eve. “But already it is our sixth final that we have reached during my time. It shows consistency but it is just that we were only able to convert one final into a title so far.”
Stars, runners-up in this season’s First Citizens Cup behind winners Central FC, last won a title in 2012, when Eve’s side claimed the Toyota Classic, and before that the 2010 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield under then coach, Shurland David.
“We know W Connection very well and I think that they are one of the best playing teams traditionally,” continued Eve. “I have a lot of respect for what those guys have been doing at Connection but we are confident because of how we plan to tactically contest the final on Sunday.”
However Eve believes that the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva is “an advantage for W Connection.”
The North East Stars head coach stressed, “They train and live there. Their office and staff house are a few minutes away. They have number one dressing room. Their equipment is there. So it’s definitely a home advantage. It suits them.”
W Connection, winners of this season’s Digicel Charity Shield, one of five titles, including the FA Trophy, captured by Fevrier’s side last season, defeated bitter rivals Central FC 3-1 on penalties in their semi-final clash, in a repeat of last season’s final, to reach Sunday’s final. The “Savonetta Boys” also defeated Northern Football Association (NFA) side St Francois Nationals (quarter-final), and Super League sides Stokely Vale (round of 16), former winners WASA (round of 32) and Real Maracas (preliminary round) en route to the final.
Fevrier has also led the "Savonetta Boys" to Round Two (1-0) and Round Three (2-0) league wins over North East Stars this season after losing in Round One (1-0) against Eve's side.
“Our players are looking forward and we feel confident that we can defend [the FA Trophy]”, said Fevrier. “It’s very important because it’s the first trophy we won as a club. It is very dear to us. We always want to win it; it has sentimental value to us. We always have new players every year so we always pass that knowledge to them, and I think they too have their own goals of winning it again ...and for some players winning it for the first time.”
However, Fevrier is very wary of his opponents, adding, “I expect North East Stars to be focused. They have shown that they can compete. We are the defending champions and will be seen as favourites because we are also ahead of them in the league, but in the beauty of football even the underdogs have a chance.”
Connection have six players (Akeem Garcia, Shannon Gomez, Aikim Andrews, Jomal Williams, Mekeil Williams and Hashim Arcia) with the Trinidad and Tobago team for today’s (Friday) friendly international against Panama along with North East Stars’ Neveal Hackshaw and Dwane James.
“The rest of my players have done well to reach the final,” explained Fevrier. “I have confidence in every player. I feel they deserve the opportunity [to play the final] so I will rewarded them. I’ve been criticised in past for this, but if players on national duty weren’t able to prepare with the team at least two sessions then they can be considered to start. But if they get one session, maybe they can be considered to be used off the bench. I will be selecting my team from the players who were able to prepare for the final.”