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Defence Force was given a tricky path to the defence of its First Citizens Cup title it won by a 1-0 margin over bmobile Joe Public last year at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya. The draw for the tournament was disclosed by T&T Pro League Chief Executive Officer, Dexter Skeene at the launch of this year’s $200,000 competition, the ninth overall, at First Citizens Corporate Centre, Queen’s Park East, Port-of-Spain, yesterday. The Ross Russell-coached Defence Force, also winner in 2002 was one of the six teams which qualified automatically for the quarterfinal round based on its position on the Digicel Pro League table at the end of the Round One, Match Day 11.

The other teams which qualified automatically were Joe Public, W Connection, Ma Pau, San Juan Jabloteh and Caledonia AIA in that order. Police and South End which were tenth and 11th on the table contested a qualifier on September 3, which was won by the latter 2-1. With the win, South End advanced to the qualifying round to meet DirecTV North East, seventh on the table, while St Ann’s Rangers and Tobago United, who occupy the eight and ninth spots on the standing, will clash in the other qualifying round match. Both qualifiers will take place on Saturday at the Marvin Lee Stadium. In the quarterfinal round, Defence Force will meet the winner of the Rangers/Tobago United duel.

Should the Teteron Boys get past that hurdle, they will then meet the winner of the Ma Pau and Jabloteh quarterfinal match in the semifinal round. Six-time tournament winner, W Connection, the only other club apart from Defence Force to capture the title also has a tough task in securing title number seven. In the other half of the draw, the “Savonetta Boys” as W Connection are known come up against Caledonia AIA in its quarterfinal match while Joe Public meets the winner of the other qualifying round match between, Stars and South End. Only the winner and runner-up will receive prize money in this year’s tournament. The champion team will collect $80,000, an increase of $15,000 from last year while the runner-up $20,000, $10,000 less than last year.

In addition, $1,000 each will be awarded to the tournament’s winning coach, most valuable player and the top goalscorer. In his brief address, Damian Cooper, First Citizens Marketing Manager said his company was extremely proud to be aligned with such a great event.

“Throughout time, football has proven to be a unifying activity that contributes to national solidarity, and through the efforts of T&T Pro League, this event has showcased talent and discipline which has been recognised nationwide and considered exemplary,” said Cooper.