The 2012 Toyota Classic preliminary kicks off on Friday with double headers at the Hasely Crawford, Manny Ramjohn, Ato Boldon and the Dwight Yorke Stadiums, as the eight (8) TT Pro League clubs take on the top eight (8) Super League clubs.
Defending Toyota Classic champions and two-time winners DIRECTV W Connection will take on Defence Force Super League outfit from 8pm at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium; two hours after North East Stars tackle Siparia Spurs of the Super League from 6pm at the Marabella venue.
“It’s not going to be easy for them,” said Connection central defender Joel Leslie Russell. “They will have to come good. They will have to come hard because the Pro League outfits work very hard throughout the day. We train five days a week and some teams six days a week.
Over his team’s confidence to defend the title, the Trinidad and Tobago U-23 player said, “I think the confidence is always there in the team. Connection is a team that always works hard.
We are here to defend our title. Football is eleven versus eleven and we are not too worried about our opponent. We are just going to go out there and play our basic game and try to defend our title.”
WASA FC Head Coach Frederick Harris fired back.
He warned that his side trains as hard as Pro League team and that they expect good results. And that WASA FC considers itself a Pro team.
At the Hasely Crawford Stadium Digicel Pro League leaders Caledonia AIA will meet tournament debutant and eight positioned Super League club 1st FC Santa Rosa from 6pm, and from 8pm at the Port of Spain venue, Super League leaders WASA takes on two-time Toyota Classic runners-up and Digicel Pro League sixth positioned St. Ann's Rangers.
“I won’t say [it’s an easy bite for us against Santa Rosa],” said Caledonia assistant coach Jerry Moe. “…because we played them last season in the FA at their ground and I think it was a difficult game where we won 1-0. In football there is no easy game so we have to have the right mentality going into the game.
“It’s not a team that we take lightly. I think coach (Keith) Lookloy is a very good coach and he would have his team ready [for Friday]. I think it is really important for us to prepare well and have the right mindset,” ended Moe.
Meantime Lookloy said that his club’s move into the tournament is a big move.
“Three years ago we didn’t have a senior team, and we have gone from under-17 football to Toyota Cup in three years,” said Lookloy highlighting the challenge.“So we are frankly just happy to participate and we are going to participate well to the best of our ability. Caledonia will have to play and we would learn from the experience and come back next year and look to win it.”
In 2010, Super League outfit Joe Public had the best run of the second tier clubs by reaching the semi-final round.
Coached by Rajesh Latchoo, Joe Public edged its Pro League counterpart Joe Public—also coached by Latchoo at the time—1-0 in the preliminary round before defeating former Super League club Police FC 2-1 in the quarter-final round. But the Eastern Lions were halted in the semi-final round suffering a 3-1 defeat against North East Stars.
Joe Public, currently second on the Super League standings, will meet Pro League eight positioned T&TEC from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, followed by third positioned Super League club West Side Starz against Pro League newcomers Central FC from 8pm at the Couva venue.
The sister isle of Tobago will also have a taste of the tournament with Defence Force of the TT Pro League against Tobago Phoenix of the Super League from 6pm at the Dwight Yorke Stadium and Stokely Vale against Police FC from 8pm.
Full 2012 Toyota Classic schedule
Friday 23 November
Hasely Crawford Stadium
Caledonia AIA vs 1st FC Santa Rosa—6pm (F1)
WASA FC vs St. Ann's Rangers—8pm (G2)
Manny Ramjohn Stadium
North East Stars vs Siparia Spurs—6pm (E1)
W Connection vs Defence Force(Super League)—8pm (G1)
Ato Boldon Stadium
Joe Public vs T&TEC FC—6pm (E2)
West Side Starz vs Central FC—8pm (H2)
Dwight Yorke Stadium
Defence Force vs Tobago Phoenix—6pm (H1)
Stokely Vale vs Police FC—8pm (F2)
Quarter Final Round
Tuesday 27 November
E1 vs E2
F1 vs F2
G1 vs G2
H1 vs H2
Semi Final Round
Friday 30 November
Winner E vs Winner F
Winner G vs Winner H
Friday 7 December