Wed, Jul

Streete puts faith in regulars as Club Sando embark Pro League quest.

Club Sando will boast familiar faces when the club debuts in the TT Pro League this season – the 2015/16 calendar which kicks off later this month.

Although adding a few new faces, the majority of head coach Anthony Streete’s roster includes the players that won him last season’s Super League crown – the main title of the Trinidad and Tobago second tier of football.

Now entering the Pro League – the nation’s top tier of football – Streete has retained the services of goalkeeper Alexi Julian, the 2014/15 Super League MVP, and second choice goalie Derron Millard along with defenders Devon Drayton, Kern Cupid, Kemuel Rivers and Anthony Parris.

In midfield, Ryan Frederick, Jack Weedon and 19-year-old T&T Under-20 player Akeem Humphrey will continue to serve Sando, while the forwards consist of Kevon Woodley, Teba Mc Knight, Jessie Downing, Kevon Neaves, Kerron Mitchell and Keith Williams, the younger brother of Central FC and Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.

“I’ve kept these guys to give them the opportunity, some of them to return to the Pro League level, because they paid their dues in getting us (Club Sando) here [at the Pro League level],” said Streete, a former St. Ann’s Rangers coach. “The players that I’ve kept, showed that they have what it takes for physical training in getting to the required level for the step up to the Pro League.”

Streete, who kicked off pre-season training on June 16, said his team’s present readiness stands at around 80 percent. He also warned that, by no means Club Sando will be a pushover for any club in the Pro League, including top sides Central FC and W Connection, last season’s Digicel Pro League winners and runners-up, respectively.

Defender Corneal Thomas and forward/midfielder Devon Modeste have re-joined Club Sando following last season’s stints at San Juan Jabloteh and Rangers, respectively.

While Streete’s newcomers include midfielders Jeromie Williams, a 26-year-old former T&T Under-23 and North East Stars player, 25-year-old United States-born Anthony De La Rosa, 24-year-old former North East Stars and Jabloteh player Shane Hospidales, 23-year-old Dwayne Ellis, and 20-year-old Jared London, who can also occupy defence.

Other new talents include ex-Naparima Boys College captain and defender, 20-year-old Amritt Gildharry, 21-year-old former T&T Under-20 and Carapichaima East Secondary forward Shaquille Holder, while 22-year-old goalkeeper Kelvin Henry, formerly of Palo Seco FC, has been added in the shot-stopping department.

“We would have liked to add a few more players, some local and a couple from outside of Trinidad, but our budget doesn’t allow it,” explained Streete.

“We are now entering the Pro League and it would be very ambitious to say we want to win the league over more seasoned teams,” said Club Sando owner Edison “Eddie” Dean. “Realistically, we want to finish as high as possible and will settle for anywhere above mid-table. But surely we are not here to finish at the bottom.”

Club Sando will kick of their campaign on the weekend of the 26-27 September against North East Stars, last season’s FA Trophy winners, in the Digicel Pro League.

Muhammed Isa continues to serve as Club Sando technical director, while Streete’s support staff includes Robert De Gale, goalkeeper coach, Saron Joseph, physiotherapist/trainer, Roger Ryan, physiotherapist, Amaly Sincere, health administrator, Antonio Matthew, strength trainer/equipment manager, and Derek Lange, administrative assistant

Buoyed by the ambitious owner/CEO Edison Dean, a board of directors inclusive of Marlon Zoe, Lange and Isa, and dedicated players and fans, Club Sando's arrival at the Pro League became a reality earlier this year – the club’s 25th anniversary year – when the TT Pro League’s board of directors accepted the Super League champions’ application.

Back then Isa said, “Our organisation has worked very hard to achieve this. Three years ago Dean called a meeting with two of the key stakeholders, which were Derek Lange and myself. Our club was approaching 25 years [of existence in 2015], and we decided that at 25 years we want to play at the highest level in the country, which is the TT Pro League.

“We started to work on it two years ago. We didn’t just want to pay our way into the TT Pro League. We wanted to come into the TT Pro League as Super League champions. The management and staff worked very hard to win the Super League and today we are very much honoured to be in the TT Pro League as the Super League champions.”

Club Sando enjoyed their best years at the Super League in the last two seasons since the arrival of Streete.

In 2013-2014 Club Sando finished runners-up in the both the league (by one point less) and knockout competitions behind Guaya United.

One season later, 2014-2015, Club Sando won the Super League title in the year of celebrating their 25th anniversary, and to top it off, are now less than a month away from competing in the highest tier of football in Trinidad and Tobago, the TT Pro League.

In January, Isa assured, “We will continue to play the high brand of football that we played in the Super League and I will assure you that we will be competitive in the TT Pro League. Our coach (Anthony Streete) cares about the style of football that we play. He always emphasized that he wants people to follow the team, so he always emphasized a high quality [of play] from the players. He wants to bring back the fans to football and that’s why we have a [huge fan support] because of the style of football that we produce.”

In 2013, Club Sando etched themselves into history, becoming the first and only second tier of football team in T&T to reach the Toyota Classic Final but went under 2-0 against W Connection in the title match.

“Expansion is one of the League’s main objectives, however, it must be in key areas, strategic and community based,” said TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene back in January during the unveiling of Club Sando for the 2015/16 season.

Skeene added, “The Club Sando model, we feel, is the correct one for sustainability in professional football. Club Sando have all the ingredients to be successful and that’s why they have been accepted today into the TT Pro League. They have the correct ingredients. Their name is tied to the community of San Fernando where it is situated, and will play matches in the area that is represented by the club and players. We welcome Club Sando and we expect that their entry in professional football will bring rich rewards.”

Club Sando’s youth teams had their first taste at the top level during the recently concluded 2015 Malta Carib Youth Pro League, finishing in sixth, fifth, and eight positions in the Under-13, Under-15 and Under-17 divisions, respectively.