Central FC star and creative midfielder Ataullah Guerra admits it was no easy road for the “Couva Sharks” in becoming champions of the 2014-2015 Digicel Pro League (DPL) but said it was a pleasure working with coaches Zoran Vranes and Terry Fenwick to get the DPL crown, the club’s first in just three years of existence.
“We know Fenwick for the type of coaching (he offers),” said Guerra after his side secured the DPL crown on the night of Tuesday 28 May. “Hard... physical and always trying to get the job done. But Vranes was the same and it was a pleasure working under both of them to get the job done.
“It was a very hard and torturous season for us, with some ups and downs, but it’s a pleasure to play for the club and be here for this title. We worked very hard for it and at the end of the day what we got we deserved.”
The 27-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international added, “It’s a club that’s here only three years and it’s a pleasure to play with guys like Akeem Benjamin, Leston Paul and others like Sean de Silva, Marvin Oliver and Willis Plaza. We worked hard and we gave everything of ourselves mentality to totally want to win. We had a different attitude towards winning and physically we gave everything .”
Guerra scored 15 league goals this season for the “Couva Sharks”, and is presently tied with Point Fortin Civic’s Marcus Joseph, but are both six goals less than leading scorer Devorn Jorsling (21). Joseph, however, will have a chance to improve his tally on Tuesday 5 May in the final DPL match of the 2014-2015 season against Police FC from 8 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, following a 6 pm Digicel Pro Bowl qualifier match between Caledonia AIA and St. Ann’s Rangers at the Couva venue. The Digicel Pro Bowl kicks off on Friday with the quarterfinal round.
Guerra, like current teammates Marvin Oliver, Jason Marcano and Elton John, celebrated a third league winners' medal last Tuesday night under coach Fenwick, with their previous two winners' medals earned while at former club San Juan Jabloteh in 2007 and 2008.
Fenwick was reinstated as coach of Central in late March with three league matches left, replacing 67-year-old Yugoslavia-born Zoran Vranes, who had kept “Couva Sharks” atop the league table for most of this season while winning the First Citizens Cup, the Rawle Fletcher (Round One) and Akeem Adams (Round Two) trophies, and secured the team’s place in next season’s 2016 Caribbean Club Championship along with bitter Couva rivals W Connection, who they must face on 22 May in the semi-final round of this season’s Caribbean Club Championship 2015.
Vranes was shifted into the position of technical director of Youth and Women’s football at Central and was recently installed as head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago Under-23 team – a position he had occupied before – for the upcoming Pan American Games and Olympic 2016 qualifiers.
While Fenwick, a three-time league winning coach with former club San Juan Jabloteh, celebrated his fourth career league title in the shortest of stints this season.
But he had to steer Central to hard-fought league wins over Jabloteh (3-0), Point Fortin Civic (5-2) and North East Stars (2-1), as the “Couva Sharks” (55 points) held off second placed Connection (49 points), who were defeated 3-2 by Jabloteh in their final match on Friday night.
“It’s our first league championship for Central FC and it’s a huge thing for the club,” said Fenwick, who steered Central to a runners-up finish last season. “The boys have been head and shoulders above the rest of the league all season and thoroughly deserve it.”