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Back to back! Central crush Stars to retain Pro League crown on Mother’s Day

Bankers Insurance Central FC will hang on to the Pro League crown for another season, as the “Couva Sharks” secured their second successive domestic league title today after crushing Japs North East Stars 4-0 at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.

Photo: Central FC forward Jason Marcano (centre) is dragged to the ground by his teammates after his opening goal against North East Stars at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 8 May 2016. Marcano scored twice as Central cruised to a 4-0 to complete their successful defence of the league title. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Jason Marcano (centre) is dragged to the ground by his teammates after his opening goal against North East Stars at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 8 May 2016.
Marcano scored twice as Central cruised to a 4-0 to complete their successful defence of the league title.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Dreadlocked attacker Jason Marcano scored twice and Jamal Jack and Kevon Villaroel chipped in one item apiece, as Central cruised to a comfortable triumph and wrapped up the title with two games to spare.

It meant that after the Sharks failed to snare the First Citizens Cup, Toyota Classic Cup and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield, they grabbed the two biggest trophies of them all within a two week spell, as their Pro League triumph followed closely on the heels of Caribbean Club Championship success.

In the process, rookie Dale Saunders became the first local coach to lift a meaningful trophy at Central, as their previous silverware came under Englishman Terry Fenwick and Yugoslav-born Zoran Vranes.

“It is a great feeling,” Saunders told Wired868. “I just want to credit the title to the players, management, technical staff, backroom staff. It was a collective effort from everyone.

“Everyone deserves credit.”

Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (third from right) and the rest of his squad celebrate their second Pro League title in successive seasons at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 8 May 2016. Central retained their crown with two games to spare, after a 4-0 win over North East Stars. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (third from right) and the rest of his squad celebrate their second Pro League title in successive seasons at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 8 May 2016.
Central retained their crown with two games to spare, after a 4-0 win over North East Stars.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

It has been quite a year at the Sharks. The club’s managing director, Brent Sancho, and operations director, Kevin Harrison, are still theoretically under investigation by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for alleged corrupt practises. And the club released two coaches—Fenwick and Ross Russell—changed sponsor and acrimoniously parted ways with veteran captain Marvin Oliver.

But, where it mattered most, Central were clearly a cut above the rest.

Russell must have dreamt of watching Central lift the Pro League title. But he ended up being on the wrong bench when it happened. And his Sangre Grande-based employers waved goodbye to their hopes of a top two finish—and a spot in the 2017/18 CONCACAF Champions League tournament—in the process.

In truth, Stars had the better of the opening half hour and the lanky coach might have felt optimistic early on.

Twice, veteran poacher Kerry Baptiste had items ruled out by referee Rashby McPhee during that period—for offside, then poking the ball out of the hands of opposing goalkeeper, Javon Sample—while Baptiste also struck the outside of the post and team captain Anthony Wolfe missed a free glancing header.

Once Central scored, though, Stars didn’t fancy the contest too much.

Photo: Central FC forward Jason Marcano (centre) lifts the ball over North East Stars goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel (not in photo) during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016. Marcano scored twice as Central won 4-0. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC forward Jason Marcano (centre) lifts the ball over North East Stars goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel (not in photo) during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016.
Marcano scored twice as Central won 4-0.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Stars goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel was at fault for the opener, although he didn’t seem to think so.

Central right back Kaydion Gabriel’s cross looped upwards after a deflection and Samuel, who was already advancing off his line in anticipation of the ball’s trajectory, paused and then moved towards the ball before pausing for a second time.

Marcano could not believe his luck, as he gently lifted the bouncing ball over the opposing custodian to open the scoring. Samuel, with colourful language, accused his defenders of slack marking.

Stars, who were on a five-game winning streak at kick off, were not themselves after that.

It did not help that their playmaker Ryan “Fry” Stewart was kept on a short leash by Central utility player, Jack, who was utilised in central midfield—a trick first used successfully by Fenwick.

“It worked for us against W Connection in (the Caribbean Cup final in) Haiti,” said Saunders, “and we decided to go back with it against North East.

Photo: Central FC captain Leston Paul (background) tries to steal the ball from North East Stars midfielder Anthony Guppy during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016. Central won 4-0 to retain the Pro League title. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC captain Leston Paul (background) tries to steal the ball from North East Stars midfielder Anthony Guppy during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016.
Central won 4-0 to retain the Pro League title.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“In Haiti, we wanted him to disrupt Hughton Hector. And (Stars midfielder) Ryan Stewart is a technically good player too, so we used him there again.”

By the second half, Jack spent more time on the ball than chasing it, as Stars returned in body but not in spirit after the interval.

Stars defender Glenton Wolffe might have been a touch unfortunate when McPhee ruled his tackle on Sean De Silva to be an infringement and awarded a penalty, which Marcano tucked away in the 55th minute.

Jack got Central’s third, five minutes later, as he neatly curled into the far corner from 10 yards after a Darren Mitchell pass.

And Stars found a novel way to shoot themselves in the foot for the fourth as defender Keryn Navarro bizarrely kicked the ground while trying to cut out a routine pass, which led to a rare goal from left back Kevon Villaroel after clever build up play from Marcano and De Silva.

Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia (left) and North East Stars defender Jesus Perez contest the ball during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016. Central won 4-0 to retain the Pro League title. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia (left) and North East Stars defender Jesus Perez contest the ball during Pro League action at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on 8 May 2016.
Central won 4-0 to retain the Pro League title.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“We really had no doubts about (winning the trophy today),” said Saunders. “We were just on a high coming from winning the Caribbean Championship.

“It was’t a tough game for us. We were focused and disciplined and organised.”

At this rate, the Pro Bowl title might be next.

(Teams)

Central FC (4-2-3-1): 1.Javon Sample (GK); 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 4.Andre Ettienne, 3.Keion Goodridge, 24.Kevon Vilaroel, 19.Nathaniel Garcia (14.Nicholas Dillon 76), 12.Jamal Jack; 11.Darren Mitchell (9.Kadeem Corbin 74), 22.Leston Paul (captain), 8.Sean De Silva (45.Ricardo John 69); 7.Jason Marcano.

Coach: Dale Saunders

 

North East Stars (4-1-4-1): 32.Glenroy Samuel (GK); 3.Kion Joseph, 25.Keryn Navarro, 19.Glenton Wolfe, 4.Jesus Perez; 21.Neil Mitchell; 8.Anthony Guppy (42.Reon Moore 62), 5.Ryan Stewart, 26.Anthony Wolfe (captain), 7.Kerry Daniel, 8.Anthony Guppy (9.Gorean Highley 62); 40.Kerry Baptiste (14.Chike Sullivan 67).

Coach: Ross Russell

 

Referee: Rashby McPhee

Man of the Match: Jason Marcano (Central FC)

Photo: Central FC substitute Jason Marcano (right) takes on North East Stars substitute Jeromie Williams during 2014/15 Pro League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC substitute Jason Marcano (right) takes on North East Stars substitute Jeromie Williams during 2014/15 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Pro League results

(Sunday May 8)

Central FC 4 (Jason Marcano 37, 55 pen, Jamal Jack 60, Kevon Villaroel 69), North East Stars 0 at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium;

Police FC 1 (Kareem Freitas 85), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Larry Gomes Stadium.

Photo: Police FC attacker Kareem Freitas (centre) tries to escape from Defence Force players Ross Russell Jr (right) and Akile Edwards during 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Police FC attacker Kareem Freitas (centre) tries to escape from Defence Force players Ross Russell Jr (right) and Akile Edwards during 2015/16 Pro League action in Malabar.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Upcoming Pro Bowl fixtures

(Tuesday May 10)

W Connection v Police FC, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

Central FC v North East Stars, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;

St Ann’s Rangers v San Juan Jabloteh, 7 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Defence Force v Morvant Caledonia United, 9 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) tries to evade St Ann's Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip during Pro League action at the Barataria Recreation Ground on 2 April 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) tries to evade St Ann’s Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip during Pro League action at the Barataria Recreation Ground on 2 April 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Standings (Tabulated as Won-Drawn-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)

Central FC         25-17-4-4-591755

Defence Force 26-14-6-6-53-22-48 [+2]

Jabloteh             25-15-3-7-47-34-48 [-1]

North East        26-13-5-8-42-48-44 [+1]

W Connection 25-12-7-6-46-23-43 [-2]

Police FC           26-12-4-10-57-51-40

Club Sando      26-9-3-14-34-52-30

Caledonia Utd 26-6-3-17-27-5621

Point Fortin      25-5-4-17-235619

Rangers              25-3-5-17-26-55-14

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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10 comments

  1. i thought that ball pest would be back for this game

    Any word or just simply wasnt yet match fit

  2. Big respect to Saunders on this great achievement , Fly the flag high for local coaches,in the real world those are the two trophies that matter. The house negroes who own or manage pro league clubs have to put their tails between their legs.

  3. ..Indisputably the best team in Trini and the Caribbean. Congratulations to them..

  4. Marcano played as a forward ? Roneil K Walcott Lasana Liburd

    • He has played upfront from almost as soon as Dale Saunders took over. Usually as one of two strikers.
      And he is the second highest scorer in the league too. So that hasn’t gone too badly.

  5. Congrats to Central!
    Did Foncette play the Police match?

    • I wasn’t at that game and we don’t get team sheets from Pro League for other matches. He should have. Unless he was jet lagged. Lol

    • Lol.
      Another question…
      It’s 27 matches for the season? Meaning each team plays another team three times? Did I get that right?
      If so… How is it determined who gets the more home games?
      I know it’s probably not a big deal at the moment given the use of the stadia… But it’ll be more consequential if the league were to move to the community fields. So how does the league decide?

    • There is no criteria that I know of. Teams would generally moan if they play more than one game on the community grounds, which are Mahaica Oval and now Barataria. Those are the only grounds with proper home advantage.
      The other thing is, and the public may not have noticed, about half the stadia don’t work properly.
      Only the Couva and Port of Spain stadia work at present really.
      So what choice does Sangre Grande-based North East Stars have? Every game for them is an away game.