The Lucozade Sport Goal Shield is back after a hiatus in 2015 and title holders Central FC are eager to retain the title. But competition can be stiff with Couva rivals and two-time (2009 & 2013) former champions W Connection chasing a third major trophy this season after the First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic.
Based on the draw conducted during Monday’s launch of the 2016 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield at the VIP Lounge of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, Morvant Caledonia United will challenge Point Fortin Civic from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium in qualifier one before tournament debutants Club Sando and St. Ann’s Rangers will battle in the second qualifier from 8pm.
The quarterfinal round will involve Central against the winners of the Club Sando versus St. Ann’s Rangers qualifier from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Friday April 8 followed by W Connection against North East Stars from 8pm.
Other quarterfinal round clashes includes Defence Force against the winners of the Morvant Caledonia United versus Point Fortin Civic qualifier from 4pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Saturday April 9 followed by San Juan Jabloteh against Police FC from 6pm.
“Two years [since winning the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield] is a very long time,” said W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean during Monday’s launch. “We are spoilt on winning trophies at W Connection and we have been awaiting on our next chance. We are [presently] very motivated for a third trophy this season.”
Central meanwhile, yet to claim a major trophy this season after last season’s seven title haul – four of them major ones including the Digicel Pro League and Caribbean Club Championship, won the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield the last time it was contested by defeating W Connection 2-1 in the 2014 final.
Central team manager Kevin Jeffrey said the “Couva Sharks” will retain the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield “by any means possible” although their 15-game undefeated run in all competitions was snapped last Friday by Police FC (1-0) in the league.
“Testament to the type of football we are playing we have top scored in the past couple months and we want to take that into this (Lucozade Sport Goal Shield) tournament,” Jeffrey added. “Expect us in the final and lifting the trophy.”
TT Pro League chief executive officer Dexter Skeene, during his opening remarks at Monday’s launch, said, “The concept of the Goal Shield is positive, and there is enjoyment and excitement about the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield.
“The rules and format of the 2016 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield competition will, as is the case with the other tournaments, be unique, different and hopefully exciting to players, coaches, fans and the media.
“Goals win matches,” Skeene pointed out. “…and football fans love seeing goals. Players love scoring goals. This competition is about goals, the best and the most spectacular goals that you can imagine.”
Like previous Lucozade Sport Goal Shield tournaments, Skeene told coaches and players to "suspend any prejudices and biases they may have and only think about – dream about – and design ways and plays to score goals. Do not limit your imagination. Do not doubt yourself. Dare to believe.”
Lucozade Sport distributors Suntory Limited has contributed TT$100,000 to the tournament and Matthew Baboolal, Caricom area manager for Lucozade/Ribena products, said the company looks forward to maintaining its "valuable partnership" with the Pro League and Trinidad and Tobago football.
“Lucozade Sport is always eager to lend support to local sports and we take great heart in extending this fruitful partnership with the TT Pro League and their team for yet another year,” said Baboolal. “We look forward to another successful tournament filled with goals and excitement and hope that it helps to continue the momentum of what has definitely been an exciting year for football thus far, both locally and internationally.”
Continuing from previous seasons, the competition not only allows the winners and runners-up healthy purses at the end of the tournament, but more so give an added incentive for more goals to be scored throughout the tournament.
The champions will be awarded a base prize of TT$30,000 plus an additional TT$3,000 for every goal scored in the final, TT$2,000 for every goal in the semifinals, and TT$1,000 for each goal scored in the quarterfinals. Whereas, the runners-up will receive TT$10,000 base prize plus TT$1,500 for every goal scored in the final, TT$1,000 for every goal in the semifinals, and TT$500 for each goal scored in the quarterfinals.
The player with the Best Goal of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, the Player of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, and the Coach of the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield will each receive TT$1,000 as incentives go, while the spectators have a chance at winning the “Lucozade Sport Goal Pot” of TT$500 in the semifinal and final rounds.
Lucozade Sport Goal Shield 2016 Qualifying Round
Tuesday April 5
Morvant Caledonia United vs Point Fortin Civic—6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
Club Sando vs St. Ann’s Rangers—8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
Friday April 8
Central FC vs (Winners Club Sando vs St. Ann’s Rangers)—6pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs North East Stars—8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium
Saturday April 9
Defence Force vs (Winners Morvant Caledonia United vs Point Fortin Civic)—4pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium
San Juan Jabloteh vs Police FC—6pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium