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Defending champion W Connection will face Defence Force of the National Super League as it opens its account in the eighth annual $60,000 Toyota Classic, which kicks off on Friday.

The launch and draw of the 2012 edition, which took place yesterday at the VIP Lounge, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, saw eight Digicel TT Pro League clubs pitted with eight Super League teams in the four groups of the knockout competition, which concludes on December 7.

Two-time champion W Connection, which dropped T&TEC in last year’s final after a 0-0 stalemate, was placed in Group C (Yaris), where it faces the eighth placed Super League club.

And, instead of a round-robin format, the winner between the two teams, will face the victor in the match between Group C’s other two teams Super League leader WASA FC and another Pro League club, St Ann’s Rangers.
 
The preliminary round which kicks off on Friday, was expected to continue into Saturday. However, due to the six Super League matches which will be played on Sunday, the Toyota Classic organisers are currently making efforts to facilitate all preliminary round matches on Friday. Details of this weekend’s fixtures are yet to be finalised.
 
Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene, speaking at the launch admitted that he was excited for yet another year of the classic knock-out competition, insisting that the sponsor’s ongoing support is testament to its faith and confidence in the quality of players.
 
He further called on players to accept their responsibility to strive for excellence on and off the field, by suggesting that there is more at stake in the Toyota Classic than the trophy and prize money.

“Undoubtedly, it is a competition aimed at bringing out the best in the players and coaches of both league (Pro League and Super League),” said Skeene.
 
He added: “I also wished there was a TT Pro League in my day and, therefore, sometimes look on with a tinge of envy. I say all of this to urge the current generation of footballers not to throw away the opportunities they have, Always focus on the positives and don’t be complacent.”
 
Among some of the dignitaries at yesterday’s launch were popular names in local football, including representatives of the all but three competing clubs.

Newest addition to the TT Pro League, Central FC was present with its administrative manager Norris Ferguson pulling the card which saw it into Group D (Camry), an exciting one which includes fellow league member Defence Force,  Westside Superstarz and 1976 FC Phoenix of Tobago.

Central will face Westside, which currently sits second in the Super League, for a place against the winner of Defence Force’s clash with Phoenix. In Group A, North East Stars will meet newly promoted Super League club Siparia Spurs, with defending Super League champion Joe Public facing up against last year’s Classic finalist T&TEC.
 
In Group B, Caledonia AIA and 1st FC Santa Rosa will vie for a quarterfinal spot against the winner of Tobago’s Stokely Vale and Police Sports Club. There will be no extra time in the competition, so penalties immediately following the full time whistle will determine the team which progresses.
 
The runner-up team will secure $20,000 for its effort, which the most valuable player will earn $1,500. The leading scorer and the coach of the tournament will both walk away with $1,000.

Preceding the draw for the preliminary round of competition, a dummy cheque to the tune of $60,000 was prepared by Toyota marketing officer, Nora Shade and presented by fellow Toyota representative Sean Shaffie to Skeene and the Super League technical director Douglas James.

Fixtures

Group A

North East Stars (Pro) v Siparia Spurs (NSL)
T&TEC FC (Pro) v Joe Public (NSL)

Group B

Caledonia AIA (Pro) v 1st FC Santa Rosa (NSL)
Police FC (Pro) v Stokely Vale (NSL)

Group C

W Connection (Pro) v Defence Force (NSL)
St Ann’s Rangers (Pro) v WASA FC (NSL)

Group D

Central FC (Pro) v Westside Superstarz (NSL)
Defence Force (Pro) v 1976 FC Phoenix (NSL)

Quarter Finals
Tuesday - November 27

Semi-Finals
Friday - November 30

Finals
Friday - December 7