Newly formed outfit, Central FC, is set to become the latest entrant to Trinidad and Tobago’s Pro League ranks after being accepted for the Digicel Pro League 2012/13 season.
Central, which lists its address as 53 West Boundary Street, California, Couva, will be the 20th football club to take a stab at professional football in the twin-island republic. The “Sharks” are headed administratively by the former North East Stars duo of 2006 World Cup defender Brent Sancho and Englishman Kevin Harrison who are managing director and operations director respectively.
Another Englishman, former Chelsea assistant coach and Arsenal standout Graham Rix, will serve as head coach with former Trinidad and Tobago national youth players Kevin Jeffrey and Anthony Sherwood as his assistants. Norris Ferguson, a former Pro League Manager of the Year at W Connection, is the club’s manager.
Central’s delight is offset by the pain of Professional Football League (PFL) founding member, San Juan Jabloteh. Jabloteh was unable to find a sponsor for the 2012/13 season and will not participate in the local top flight competition for the first time.
It leaves DirecTV W Connection as the only privately-owned team to participate in every season since the PFL was formed in 1999. Defence Force, the army/coast guard combination, is the only other ever-present team.
Connection and Defence Force, as last season’s Digicel Pro League and Pro Bowl winners respectively, will kick off the 2012/13 campaign with the Digicel Charity Shield clash from 5 pm at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella. The winner will select a charity for a $10,000 donation from Digicel while part of income generated from gate receipts will go towards a literacy programme at a school within the club’s community.
Connection is already two games into its new season due to the club’s participation in the CONCACAF Club Championship. And the “Savonetta Boys” have made three significant changes to its title winning team with the return of midfielders Andrei Pacheco and Silvio Spann while Trinidad and Tobago utility player Daneil Cyrus should start in central defence.
The Defence Force club, which was understandably distracted last term with a three-month long State of Emergency, also celebrates the return of striker Devorn Jorsling.
Jorsling helped Caledonia AIA to the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) crown in June but rejoins the army to make a potentially eye watering strike partnership with sharp shooter Richard Roy.
Central has some intriguing recruits too with ex-Joe Public winger Hayden Tinto on its books as well as former Jabloteh captain Marvin Oliver, T&TEC goalkeeper Marvin Phillip and the North East Stars duo of Anthony Wolfe and Marc Leslie.
No Pro League newcomer finished better than second from bottom until T&TEC, steered by coach Dexter Cyrus, managed second place last season after leading the standings for much of the year.
Incidentally, Cyrus was replaced before the close of the 2011/12 season and the “Electricity Boys” has significantly trimmed a team that was so laden with talent that it boasted two national goalkeepers and record T&T shut out leader, Clayton Ince, in its squad last year.
Police is again expected to feature a largely unglamorous squad spearheaded by veteran ex-national captain Trent Noel while coach Richard Hood replaces Muhammed Isa at the helm of the technical squad.
St Ann’s Rangers coach Dean Pacheco has added tricky former Jabloteh winger Jason Marcano to its ranks as well as young striker Andrew Smith, also from Jabloteh, and ex-Caledonia AIA custodian Zane Coker.
However, Connection would expect its stiffest challenges to come from Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA, North East Stars, Defence Force and, possibly, Central FC.
Caledonia has again reunited with playmaker and 2006 World Cup midfielder Densill Theobald, who won the Indian Premier League last year with Dempo SC, while ex-T&TEC striker Kerlon Ferguson and right back Aubrey David have also signed up.
And the “Eastern Stallions” have plenty depth with midfielders Ataullah Guerra and Akim Armstrong due to return from long standing injuries while attackers Conrod Smith and Jamal Gay and defender Radanfah Abu Bakr will hope to transfer their CONCACAF Club Championship form into the domestic game.
North East Stars is led by ex-Jabloteh assistant coach Angus Eve and he raided his former club for employees with goalkeeper Cleon John, defender Elton John, versatile midfielder Elijah Manners, attacker Kerry Peters and 2006 World Cup player Cornell Glen all at the Sangre Grande club.
Defence Force and Connection will get the party started on Sunday. Central FC’s debut should not be too long after that.
T&T’s 2012/13 Pro League clubs:
Caledonia AIA, Central FC, Defence Force, North East Stars, Police, St Ann’s Rangers, T&TEC, W Connection,
T&T’s former professional teams:
Doc’s Khelwalaas, Fire Services, Futgof, Joe Public, Ma Pau, Point Fortin Civic Centre, San Juan Jabloteh, South End, South West Institute of Football (renamed South West Drillers), Starworld Strikers, Tobago United, United Petrotrin.