Last season’s Toyota Classic Cup competition produced a fairy tale run for Super League outfit, Stokely Vale, and introduced the wider public to then 18-year-old Tobago star Rundell Winchester.
There will be a chance for lower league teams to strut their stuff on the big stage again from Friday November 8 as the 2013 edition of the competition kicks off on Friday with double headers in Couva and Macoya.
Pro League CEO, Dexter Skeene, says the Toyota Classic is a critical part of the League’s calendar. The competition’s first prize is $50,000 while the runner-up will pocket $20,000.
“In addition to being a unique tournament which encompasses the Super League clubs, it provides a gauge as to the development of the clubs,” said Skeene, “as well as offering synergies and development of the working relationship between the League and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.”
Arguably, the pick of the first round pits defending Classic champions North East Stars against the Super League’s second placed team, Guaya United, at the Guayaguayare Secondary School Ground from 3.30 pm on Sunday November 10.
Super League leaders, Club Sando, should also provide a stern challenge to sixth placed Pro League outfit, Police FC, when they meet from 8 pm in the second game of an Ato Boldon Stadium double header on Friday night.
Club Sando coach Anthony Streete, a former head coach at St Ann’s Rangers and an assistant with DIRECTV W Connection, is looking forward to it.
“All the teams in the Super League want to clash with the Pro League teams,” said Streete. “It augurs well for the competition because the Pro League teams will be out for a tough battle this (time around); we guarantee that…
“It’s so nice to be here because we have been waiting for this a long, long time. We want to compete with the Pro League teams because that’s the objective of our club – to get into the Pro League.
“We come here to show what Club Sando (is made of) and this would be the ideal trophy to take home to Sando. The people of Sando want to do good things, and I joined the team to do good things; and this is a good stepping stone to (showcase) ourselves.”
The other Super League teams involved in the 2013 Toyota Classic competition are Malabar FC, Real Maracas, 1976 FC Phoenix and Stokely Vale.
(See below for 2013 Toyota Classic fixtures)
In other Pro League news, San Juan Jabloteh captain Kerry Baptiste and Central FC attacker Rundell Winchester were each named Wendy’s Player of the Month for September and October respectively in the first individual prize giving ceremony of the 2013/14 season.
DIRECTV W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier and Central FC coach Terry Fenwick were also adjudged the Blue Water Coaches of the Month for September and October respectively.
The prizes were selected after votes from journalists, Pro League match commissioners and coaches.
Baptiste, who scored four times in his opening two games and 10 goals in seven outings this season, inspired an inexperienced Jabloteh team to the First Citizens Cup semi-finals while the seventh placed “San Juan Kings” are just three points behind second placed Point Fortin Civic but enjoy a game in hand.
Winchester, who made his international debut for Trinidad and Tobago against New Zealand in October, also helped Central to its maiden top flight award with a MVP performance as the “Couva Sharks” edged Defence Force in the First Citizens Cup final.
“It feels good to continue working hard, playing football and achieving all this,” said Winchester, who swapped Stokely Vale for Central in January. “It feels sooo good; from where I came from to now. But it is always about working hard for me and putting my best foot forward.”
Fenwick was also celebrated for his success in the First Citizens Cup while Fevrier’s Connection team has won all five of its League fixtures so far this season.
2013 Toyota Classic fixtures
Round of 16
(Friday 8 November)
W Connection vs Real Maracas, 6 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Club Sando vs Police FC, 8 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
1976 FC Phoenix vs Defence Force, 6 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
Caledonia AIA vs St Ann’s Rangers, 8 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
(Saturday 9 November)
Point Fortin Civic vs Stokely Vale, 3:30 pm, Mahaica Stadium;
Central FC vs Joe Public, 6 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
Malabar FC vs San Juan Jabloteh, 8 pm, Marvin Lee Stadium;
(Sunday 10 November)
Guaya United vs North East Stars, 3:30 pm, Guayaguayare Secondary ground.