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Defence Force FC pose for a team photo before facing 1976 Phoenix FC at Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday, November 24th 2023.

After falling to their second loss of the 2023/24 Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League (TTPFL) on Sunday, reigning TTPFL champions Defence Force will be hoping to bounce back to winning ways when they face the second-placed Police FC (24 points) from 4 pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium, Malabar on Saturday.

The Army are currently fourth on the 11-team table with 20 points from ten matches – six points behind table-toppers AC PoS who entertain Tobago’s 1976 FC Phoenix at the Arima Velodrome on Friday.

Phoenix stunned Defence Force on the weekend when they got a 2-0 win at Bacolet Stadium in Tobago, and the Tobago club will aim to keep soaring high when they meet the TTPFL’s top team. Defence Force coach Lloyd Andrews wants his troops to put the Tobago experience behind them quickly.

“We have to shake off the disappointment of not coming away victorious in Tobago,” Andrews told Newsday. “The job at hand is to get three points against Police FC come Saturday evening.”

He said it was important for the defending champions to keep the TTPFL leaders within striking distance.

“We also have a game in hand over Police, but we don’t want to count on that. We want to get three points against Police and enhance our position even better in the top-runners in the league,” Andrews said.

“Once we work the ball around as quickly as possible, we will be good. Police have some ex-national players, but if we maintain intensity, we will be able to do the best we can.” Fresh from their league and knockout triumphs in the inaugural TTPFL season, Andrews said his team is in the middle of a rebuild after losing a few key members of their squad.

Versatile former national under-20 midfielder Kaihim Thomas went overseas for trials, while the dangerous attacking pair of Reon Moore and Brent Sam have both left the Defence Force team to take up contract opportunities abroad.

Moore has been an integral member of coach Angus Eve’s Soca Warriors squad in their 2023/24 Concacaf Nations League campaign, with the towering Sam being a constant source of goals for Defence Force in local football’s top flight.

Sam, the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) MVP in 2015, scored 20 goals across the league and knockout competitions last season, and his tally of seven goals in the ongoing TTPFL season is second only to Caledonia FC’s veteran striker Kevon Woodley (eight goals).

With injured defender Justin “Shiggy” Garcia being Defence Force’s next-best scorer this season with three goals, Andrews said his team will need a collective effort to find the net with regularity.

“We have to look all over (for goals). We have no specific person who we could pinpoint and say this is where the goals are going to come from, but we are hoping to acquire Isaiah Leacock from AC PoS to assist us in that area.”

Like Sam, Leacock has netted seven times so far this season, and would be a welcome addition to the Army attacking line if he is indeed signed.

“We have to be conscious that we have lost some players and we have to replace them,” Andrews said. “The journey starts all over again. When you now join, you have to get the coach’s ideas and philosophy and from there we move forward.” Midway through their title defence, Andrews said the Army are far from throwing in the towel. “Yes, we are still confident of retaining the league title. We cannot give up that hope.”

In the previous meeting between the two teams in December, Police got a late goal to salvage a 2-2 draw at the St James Barracks. In this weekend’s clash of the servicemen, Andrews’ charges will try to commence their “rebuilding process” against a Police FC team which boasts a wealth of experience with players such as Alvin Jones, Joevin Jones and skipper Adrian Foncette within their ranks.

Army’s potential new recruits may have to hit the ground running if they are to hand Police a second loss in the ongoing season.

SOURCE: T&T Newsday