… Fate tests debutantes’ resolve
Debutantes, T&TEC, must withstand a searching close season test of endurance if it is to claim its first Trinidad and Tobago Digicel Pro League football crown tomorrow night at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
T&TEC, who is still without silverware despite two Cup final appearances, is desperate to avoid a hattrick of disappointment when the South-based club challenges third-placed Caledonia AIA tomorrow.
But the “Electricity Boys” job is made more difficult by a fixture list that saw the club play three games in one week and twice in 72 hours.
“This is ridiculously unfair,” T&TEC head coach Dexter Cyrus told Wired868.com. “I find it very strange that T&TEC has to play in a make-up game and nobody else…
“Why they cannot push the (final) game back so that everyone could be on even keel?”
Caledonia AIA and Defence Force contested the TTFF FA Trophy final on Sunday, just two days after a League fixture on Friday. But Cyrus argued that at least both teams were similarly inconvenienced whereas T&TEC and its Tuesday opponent, Police, are unlikely to be as fresh as their challengers.
The identity of T&TEC’s and Police’s final opponents added to Cyrus’ poor mood.
While T&TEC must shake off weary legs to steal a point from a tricky Caledonia side, W. Connection, who trails T&TEC by two points, faces a Police outfit still recovering from a 6-1 loss on Tuesday.
Cyrus said his team was also asked to play a make-up game before its Toyota Classic final loss against Connection and he questioned whether the Pro League administrators are picking on the newcomers. He insisted that such an order would never have been given to more respected coaches.
“I feel there is some form of biasness,” said Cyrus. “It can’t be that the team W Connection play against (tomorrow) also played on Tuesday and has weary legs like ours whereas Connection resting for six days now.
“Why doesn’t the governing body just push the game back? Nowhere else in the world would a league decider be played 48 hours after a fixture.”
Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene was out of the country and unavailable for comment but Secretary Julia Baptiste told Wired868 that T&TEC’s plight was nothing more sinister than bad luck.
Baptiste said the Pro League could not find two available grounds on Friday and Saturday that would allow T&TEC and Connection to kick off simultaneously while Sundays traditionally belongs to the Youth League. It left Thursday as the only available day that the administrators felt was reasonable to close the regular season.
She explained that Tuesday’s rescheduled fixture against Police was a result of a fatal industrial accident, months ago, that led to T&TEC successfully requesting a postponement.
“It is unfortunate but we could not help it,” said Baptiste. “We didn’t change our minds about the Friday fixtures; it was about availability. It just happened to be so.”
Baptiste pointed out that Defence Force, because of its success in the FA Trophy, has played three games a week for a month and a half in an effort to fulfill matches postponed due to last year’s State of Emergency.
“Defence Force has been playing every Sunday, Tuesday and Friday for at least six weeks,” she said. “This is the only week when T&TEC had to do it. I am not saying (Cyrus) is wrong but there really just wasn’t anywhere to play.”
There are still two remaining Cup competitions to be run off. The Lucozade Sport Goal Shield kicks off on April 13 and will be followed by the Digicel Pro Bowl, which brings the season to a close on May 18.
Cyrus thinks the time lapse between tomorrow’s decisive fixture and the launch of the Goal Shield provides ample time for a postponement. The Pro League’s administrative body doesn’t think it necessary.
The disagreement has stoked additional tension as the League title chase goes down to the final whistle.
But the T&TEC coach insisted that his charges, who were twice runner-ups already, will not crack under the pressure.
“I think T&TEC has done quite a lot for the T&T Pro League,” said Cyrus. “In 12 years, I don’t think the League has gone down to the last game to find the champions. That says a lot for T&TEC and our players and management.
“Whatever happens on Thursday, I am very proud of the guys and my coaching staff.”
Tomorrow’s Pro League
(29 March 2012)
NE Stars vs St Ann’s Rangers, Couva, 6 pm;
Defence Force vs San Juan Jabloteh, Marabella, 6 pm;
W Connection vs Police, Couva, 8 pm;
Caledonia AIA vs T&TEC, Marabella, 8 pm.
T&TEC 39 points
W Connection 37 points
Caledonia AIA 35 points