Defending Pro League champions DIRECTV W Connection started the new season in the same way that it ended the old one; and that is picking up trophies.
The Connection team sheet did not look as threatening without names like Joevin Jones, Stefano Rijssel, Neil Benjamin Jr, Daneil Cyrus and Alvin Jones. Yet the result was the same as the “Savonetta Boys” overcome bouts of intense pressure from a new-look Central FC to lift the Digicel Charity Shield trophy.
It was the third successive season that Connection won the season opener and, for the second time running, wily attacker Hashim Arcia was adjudged the man of the match.
Yesterday Arcia, usually a false nine, started in the role of midfield playmaker in place of Jones (J) who joined Finland team HJK before the transfer window closed. But it did not diminish Arcia’s predatory instincts as he surprised Central goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams at his near post for the only goal of the match in the 39th minute.
It meant that new Central coach Zoran Vranes, like his predecessor Terry Fenwick, started his tenure at the “Couva Sharks” with a loss to their bitter Couva rival.
Central started in a 3-5-2 formation that was Vranes’ trademark as a former Trinidad and Tobago youth and senior team coach. There were some familiar faces around the ex-Yugoslav youth player too as he used four former World Youth Cup players, Leston Paul, Sean De Silva, Jean-Luc Rochford and Qian Grosvenor, yesterday.
Another notable adjustment was the deployment of veteran playmaker Marvin Oliver as a defensive sweeper.
The adjustments seemed positive enough as Central bossed possession for long periods; only without looking particularly threatening.
True, Paul fluffed a straightforward opportunity after being sent clear in the 47th minute. But so did Connection attacker Aaquil Campbell who rifled an effort off the top of the bar after Oliver inadvertently cushioned the ball in his path at the edge of the six yard box.
The second half petered away amidst a flurry of late substitutions and there was no sign of the acrimony that often flared up during the meetings of the Couva clubs while the fiery Fenwick was at the helm.
At the final whistle, it was a case of déjà vu though. Connection was picking up another trophy.
Last season, the Savonetta Boys collected five of the seven local titles at stake including the million dollar league prize. They have already opened their account for the 2014/15 term.
W Connection (4-2-1-3): 18.Jelani Archibald (GK); 12.Jerrel Britto, 4.Jamil Joseph, 5.Mekeil Williams, 2.Kurt Frederick; 3.Gerard Williams (captain), 11.Tremain Paul; 14.Hashim Arcia; 30.Aaquil Campbell (36.Triston Hodge 83), 17.Jamal Clarence (32.Dimitrie Apai 80), 13.Devaughn Elliot (23.Keon Boucher 71).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 10.Yefer Lozano, 16.Anslem Jackson, 21.Levi Serries.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Central FC (3-5-2): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 17.Marcelle Francois, 10.Marvin Oliver, 5.Akeem Benjamin; 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 6.Leston Paul, 45.Ataullah Guerra (14.Jean-Luc Rochford 46), 8.Sean De Silva, 11.Darren Mitchell; 9.Qian Grosvenor (99.Dwight Quintero 46), 7.Jason Marcano (19.Nathaniel Garcia 76).
Unused substitutes: 30.Akel Clarke (GK), 13.Seon Thomas, 22.Samuel Delice, 23.Denzil Daniel.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
Referee: Rodphin Harris
Digicel Charity Shield
(Sat Sep 20)
W Connection 1 (Hashim Arcia 39), Central FC 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium