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Sun, Oct

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NORTH East Stars head coach, Angus Eve, has conceded that his team will be the underdogs in Friday’s Toyota Classic final against Defence Force but says they are willing to play the role of “party spoilers”.

Speaking to Newsday yesterday, Eve acknowledged that the Army/Coast Guard players are going into the match with the more convincing wins under their belt and undoubtedly a chip on their shoulders.

Defence Force have won their last two matches (quarter-finals and semi-final) by a combined aggregate of 10-0 with wins over Westside Superstarz (7-0) and W Connection (3-0) respectively.

In contrast, North East Stars have had to labour for their victories, edging Stokely Vale 4-1 on kicks from the penalty spot in the “semis” after regulation time ended with the score 1-1.

“Finals are usually really close especially between two teams who know each other. Defence Force are the in-form team and we will be trying to play the role of party spoilers. They have been winning very impressively so far,” Eve admitted.

The former national captain revealed that he will have some difficult choices to make in terms of selecting the starting XI but still feels his team can lift the trophy at the final whistle.

“Our chances are as good as any. Unfortunately we will be losing our national players but at the end of the day we have to play regardless of who is missing.

I will be missing all of my central defenders and Cornell Glen who has been scoring most of my goals. We have a squad of 25 though and I told my players that if someone was injured then they would have to be replaced anyway so we just have to view it like that,” he continued.

Eve noted that the preparation for the final has been going well and he is doing some extra work with the strikers to ensure they are sharp in front of goal.

“Preparation has been good. We have an FA game on Wednesday and then the Cup. We’ve been going about our business as usual but we need to be more clinical. We have been creating our chances so I’m not worried about that,” he added.

Meanwhile, with his team unbeaten so far in league play and on the cusp of their first silverware for the season, Eve expressed contentment with the way his campaign has gone so far.

“There were a couple of games we drew that I felt we should have won but it’s a work in progress. Last season the club was close to last in the league and we did a major job in revitalising the team.

We lost our major sponsor (DIRECTV) to W Connection so we don’t have as much resources. As a first-time coach I’m still learning my way and different things we’re dong haven’t been completely grasped yet. We have tasted defeat so far and I know a lot of coaches would like to still be known as undefeated,” he pointed out.

Asked what it would mean to win the Toyota Classic, the North East coach revealed that it would be a tremendous achievement for him in his inaugural season as head of a Pro League team.

“It will be amazing. You have coaches like Stuart Charles-Fevrier and Jamaal Shabazz who I looked up to as a player and now to be able to rub shoulders with them is tremendous.

It is fantastic to make the final and for the club it will restore pride and joy in the supporters as well as bring back some consistency to the team,” he concluded.