Club Sando head coach Angus Eve has sent a stark warning to opponents with former Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 captain and Point Fortin Civic midfielder Jabari Mitchell among his latest reinforcements.
Mitchell, 21, and 19-year-old 1976 Phoenix FC’s Jabarry Francis, who were both acquired before the August 31 transfer deadline, are expected to beef up Sando’s engine room after the recent acquisition of 24-year-old ex-Civic and W Connection striker Shackiel Henry.
T&T winger Tyrone Charles also made a late return to Sando from Central FC.
“We didn’t just add [players] for adding sake,” said Eve, who believes he is equipped with his best squad since taking over from Anthony Streete in 2016.
The Sando coach added that the new signings represent the club’s commitment to its philosophy in player development and competitiveness.
“We have continuously improved in the last two seasons, finishing fifth, then fourth – the last within a point of a third-place finish; and this season we would like to show further improvement,” Eve explained.
“We don’t have the budget or the resources of the some of the teams in the league, but we always seem to be among the top five.
“We have also seen Jared London, Akeem Humphrey and Josiah Trimmimgham make the [T&T] national team. Trimmingham played most of his young career elsewhere [San Juan Jabloteh] but we’ve added the bit of seasoning needed to be a national player,”
Shackiel, the younger brother of Sando shot-stopper Kelvin Henry, has already scored two goals in less than a handful of appearances for his new club and Eve believes the former-Vietnam-based forward can improve under the guidance of assistant coach and 2006 World Cup forward Cornell Glen.
Mitchell, meanwhile, had reportedly secured his first overseas contract, a one-year agreement, with Albania top-flight team KS Kastrioti in June, but the ex-W Connection starlet was back home to reunite with Civic for the 2018 Pro League season before his latest decision to join Sando.
“Jabari felt his career was going off the boil,” Eve said of Mitchell, the 2014 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Player of the Year who he had coached at Naparima College.
“Jabari had a lot of promise when I had him at Naparima but since then he has really fallen back. He wanted the opportunity to play under me again and I wanted the opportunity to work with him again; here we are.
“We were also short in goal-scoring out of the midfield and Jabari can shoot the ball, he is good on set pieces, and he is someone who can service the balls on set pieces especially with [defender] Josiah Trimmingham back from injury.
“Jabari has creativity, and he is a little more direct than guys like [Michael] Basdeo and [Keron] Cornwall. He is a goal-scorer in midfield. He is a player I’ve always admired.”
Eve still joggles his time as Naparima College coach. And it was during last month’s trip to Tobago for part of the former SSFL champions’ pre-season camp, Francis, a defensive midfielder, impressed the Sando coach during a couple friendly matches “Naps” played against Super League side Phoenix.
Eve said while Francis is not the finished product, he believes the Tobagonian can provide the type of backup needed for team captain and defensive midfielder Jayson Joseph.
“Jayson has played every game, every minute, and with the games coming quickly one after the other, Francis will provide backup for him.”
Eve is also hoping the national selectors will pay close attention to the former Signal Hill Secondary Comprehensive player, Francis, as a future prospect.
“I was really impressed when I saw Francis play [in Tobago] and hopefully the national team coaches take a close look,” added Eve, a former T&T standout and most capped player. “It is one of the reasons we have brought him to Trinidad.
“Francis is quick, strong for his age, and has a good eye for a pass. He is also aggressive in tackles and works up and down the pitch as a typical number 8. He can also play multiple positions, even at wingback. It’s just that he has to get to the speed of the [Pro] League.”
Sando, though enjoying their best league starts since joining the top flight in 2015, are fifth on the PL standings following a rollercoaster start to the truncated 2018 campaign with a W-D-W-L-L-W record.
Sando are tied on 10 points with, in ascending order, Central FC and Defence Force FC, while W Connection (16 points) and San Juan Jabloteh (13 points) lead the pack with 12 games left.
Defence Force will host Sando after Morvant Caledonia United and crosstown rivals San Juan Jabloteh lock horns when the Pro League resumes with a double-header on Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium following the international break.
Pro League 2018
Round One Match Day Seven
(Friday 14 September)
Morvant Caledonia United vs San Juan Jabloteh, 6pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium;
Defence Force FC vs Club Sando, 8pm at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Saturday 15 September)
Point Fortin Civic vs W Connection, 6pm at Mahaica Oval;
Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers vs Central FC, 4pm at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Police FC vs North East Stars, 6pm at Ato Boldon Stadium.
Pro League 2018 standings
# Team MP W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 W Connection 6 5 1 0 17 2 15 16
2 San Juan Jabloteh 6 4 1 1 7 3 4 13
3 Defence Force FC 6 3 1 2 20 9 11 10
4 Central FC 6 3 1 2 11 11 0 10
5 Club Sando 6 3 1 2 9 9 0 10
6 Police FC 6 3 0 3 11 11 0 9
7 Terminix St. Ann’s Rangers 6 2 0 4 2 19 -17 6
8 Morvant Caledonia Utd 5 1 2 2 9 9 0 5
9 Point Fortin Civic 6 0 2 4 3 11 -8 2
10 North East Stars 5 0 1 4 5 10 -5 1