Thirty-nine-year-old Central FC veteran Marvin Oliver rolled back the years this evening with a double on the opening day of the 2013/14 Digicel Pro League season as the “Couva Sharks” romped to a 7-0 trouncing of St Ann’s Rangers at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya.
The margin of victory bettered Central’s previous Pro League best score of 6-0, which also came against Rangers on 21 February 2014.
Not a bad way for the 64-year-old Yugoslavia-born Zoran Vranes to start his competitive coaching career with the Sharks after last weekend’s 1-0 loss to DIRECTV W Connection in the Digicel Charity Shield.
In the second game of the Macoya double header, Police FC and San Juan Jabloteh played to a goalless draw in a keenly tested affair that lacked an end product.
It meant that Central supporters were the ones with the bright smiles on Friday night as they considered what the new season might bring.
Central is run by managing director Brent Sancho but the club became synonymous with fiery English coach Terry Fenwick who steered the Sharks for the past year and a half before departing for CS Visé in the Belgium third division during the off season.
By all reports, life at Visé is anything but smooth these days.
Former Central attackers Willis Plaza and Rundell Winchester, who both joined Visé in July, were in the stands tonight and will seek a route back in the Pro League after going three months without pay in Belgium. Defenders Elton John and Kevon Villaroel have reportedly decided to tough it out in Europe with the hope of an upswing in fortunes there.
Whatever Fenwick’s own future prospects might be, Vranes wasted little time in getting to work on his own legacy.
Central playmaker Ataullah Guerra was not risked as he is recovering from a fever while midfielder Leston Paul was also unavailable through injury. But this was an evening to think about who did play as new acquisitions Jean-Luc Rochford, Marcelle Francois and Qian Grosvenor went straight into the starting line-up while midfielder Sean De Silva, who was barely used by Fenwick last season, got license to roam in Central’s 3-5-2 formation.
Central will get sterner tests than a typically inexperienced and youthful St Ann’s Rangers team, which was without Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin.
But the concentration and tempo of the Sharks over the 90 minutes still deserved commendation. Rangers barely had a sniff.
Dwight Quintero opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a bullet into the roof of the net off a Jason Marcano cross inside the opposing penalty area.
De Silva, a former two-time World Youth Cup player, had a hand in the next three Central goals. Twice, Oliver, who played as a sweeper in a three-man defence, met De Silva’s set pieces with controlled, precise headed finishes while Marcano dribbled Trevin Latapy to drive home from the edge of the area as the Sharks led 4-0 at the break.
Trinidad and Tobago national head coach Stephen Hart voiced his frustration at 16-year-old winger Levi Garcia’s decision to represent Shiva Boys HC in the SSFL Premier Division rather than Central FC at Pro League level. It is a concern that Central shares.
But there was some consolation for the Sharks as Garcia’s 20-year-old brother, Nathaniel, came off the bench to mark his competitive Central debut with a goal within four minutes.
A minute had not elapsed when Garcia (N) had his first attempt at goal as he lunged at a Darren Mitchell cross but failed to divert his attempt on target. But, in the 69th minute, the versatile attacker got on the score sheet as he chested over the goal line after Rangers goalkeeper Christopher Biggette failed to hold on to a blast from Central winger Kaydion Gabriel.
And Garcia (N) nearly brought the house down with an encore in the 75th minute as he danced past three Rangers players, including the goalkeeper, but failed to complete the easy bit as he hit into the side netting.
De Silva and Gabriel rounded off the scoring though to cap an industrious team performance.
De Silva beat Biggette with a crisp low drive to his right from the edge of the area while Gabriel sent a screamer past the 18-year-old goalkeeper at his near post from an acute angle.
There was one moment of concern for Central as “Soca Warriors” goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams hobbled off the field with a slight hamstring strain in the 79th minute and was replaced by national under-20 substitute Javon Sample.
Still, as far as opening statements go, tonight’s outing would probably do nicely for Vranes and his hungry Sharks.
Central FC: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK) (1.Javon Sample (GK) 69); 5.Akeem Benjamin, 10.Marvin Oliver, 17.Marcelle Francois, 11.Darren Mitchell (27.Shaquille Williams 76), 14.Jean-Luc Rochford, 8.Sean De Silva, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 9.Qian Grosvenor, 7.Jason Marcano, 99.Dwight Quintero (19.Nathaniel Garcia 65).
Unused substitutes: 3.Keion Goodridge, 13.Seon Thomas, 23.Denzil Daniel, 45.Ataullah Guerra.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
St Ann’s Rangers: 22.Christopher Biggette (GK); 3.Al Davidson, 4.Jelani Peters (captain), 5.Chad Clinton (6.Shaquille Moses 73), 7.Trevin Latapy, 9.Keron Cornwall (21.Keon Peters 58), 16.David Williams, 19.Shomari Antoine, 23.Craig Wilson, 27.Nathan Julien (8.Sedale McLean 46), 28.Jared Bennett.
Unused substitutes: 25.Jesse Peters (GK), 17.Keron Alexander, 20.Shem Alexander, 24.Kasheem Webb.
Coach: Jason Spence
Referee: Crystal Sobers
Pro League results
(Fri Sep 26)
Central FC 7 (Dwight Quintero 17, Marvin Oliver 24, 35, Jason Marcano 30, Nathaniel Garcia 69, Sean De Silva 73, Kaydion Gabriel 81), St Ann’s Rangers 0 at Macoya
Police FC 0, San Juan Jabloteh 0 at Macoya