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Connection start C/League with six teenagers; Mekeil Williams joins exodus

DIRECTV W Connection travelled to Mexico yesterday with six teenagers and 14 players under the age of 23 as the “Savonetta Boys” start their 2015/16 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League campaign with a fresh-faced squad.

Photo: W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean (left) barks orders at his squad while right back Shannon Gomez (right) prepares to take a throw during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final. Looking on is Central FC coach Terry Fenwick. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection assistant coach Earl Jean (left) barks orders at his squad while right back Shannon Gomez (right) prepares to take a throw during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final.
Looking on is Central FC coach Terry Fenwick.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Connection face reigning and five time Liga MX Champions, Santos Laguna, tomorrow from 10 pm at the 30,000-seater Corona Stadium in Torreon.

Only five Connection players, Colombia utility player Felipe Ocoro Viveros, St Kitts and Nevis ball-winner Gerard Williams, St Lucia wing back Kurt Frederick and the Trinidad and Tobago duo of playmaker Jomal Williams and journeyman goalkeeper Aquelius Sylvester, have more than two full Pro League seasons under their belt.

Versatile 21-year-old defender Alvin Jones, who captained the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team at the 2015 Pan American Games, is another survivor from the Connection squad which lifted the 2013/14 Pro League title.

Otherwise, coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier will put his faith in youth to compensate for another exodus of senior players.

Last season’s top scorer, Jerrel Britto, moved to Guatemalan top flight club, Deportivo Malacateco, on a free transfer while captain and “Soca Warriors” defender Mekeil Williams joined Antigua GFC on loan.

Photo: North East Stars attacker Kennedy Hinkson (right) tries to outrun W Connection defender and captain Mekeil Williams during the 2015 Pro Bowl quarterfinals. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars attacker Kennedy Hinkson (right) tries to outrun W Connection defender and captain Mekeil Williams during the 2015 Pro Bowl quarterfinals.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Playmaker Hashim Arcia is already in training with the Defence Force in lieu of a move there while Trinidad and Tobago international defender Daneil Cyrus and forward Shahdon Winchester are awaiting moves abroad.

Colombia midfielder Stiven Reyes failed to agree terms on a new deal while St Lucia players Tremain Paul and Devaughn Elliot are out of contract.

In their places, ex-Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team players Shannon Gomez, Aikim Andrews and Maurice Ford will be expected to play key roles alongside Pan Am Games teammates left back Triston Hodge and attacker Neil Benjamin Jr.

Benjamin, whose senior career has been plagued with injuries, is recovering from a hamstring injury at present.

“Every player we put on our roster, we believe in their ability,” W Connection chairman David John Williams told Wired868. “I like to go back to the 2011/12 season when nobody gave us a chance. Jomal (Williams), Joevin (Jones), Shahdon (Winchester) and Britto were teenagers then and we won the league.”

Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) takes on Police FC utility player Elijah Belgrave during a 2013/14 Pro League fixture. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Dimitrie Apai (right) takes on Police FC utility player Elijah Belgrave during a 2013/14 Pro League fixture.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Twenty-one year old Surinamese attacker Dimitrie Apai, who sparkled on his Pro League debut season two years ago, should be another important player to Connection’s chances of success this season, although he is returning from a long-term injury.

Another teenaged winger, ex-National Under-20 player Akeem “Froggy” Garcia, is still recovering from a knee injury but also showed promise at senior level last season.

The 2014 Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) Premier League MVP and ex-National Under-20 Team playmaker, Jabari Mitchell, has also committed himself to Connection this season and is with the squad in Mexico.

Williams is not sure if the 18-year-old Mitchell will skip Upper Six at Naparima College but he does not expect the talented schoolboy to return to the SSFL.

Gomez left Form Six at St Augustine Secondary to turn pro last season.

“He is not going back to (the SSFL),” said Williams. “I’m 100 percent sure. He is playing full time with Connection.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Jabari Mitchell plays the ball around a Curacao player during the 2014 Caribbean Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Jabari Mitchell plays the ball around a Curacao player during the 2014 Caribbean Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The baby of the squad is 16-year-old Presentation College (San Fernando) left back Keston Julien, who represented the Trinidad and Tobago National Under-17 Team earlier this year.

Connection also signed former Central FC and North East Stars midfielders Kevon Goddard and Kion Joseph respectively, who are both ex-Trinidad and Tobago national youth team players.

There was a considerable shrinkage in the number of Caribbean islanders at Connection with just five players from outside Trinidad and Tobago.

Nineteen year old Grenada striker Jamal Charles and 21-year-old Dominica holding midfielder Anfernee Frederick join the first team roster alongside 24-year-old St Kitts and Nevis goalkeeper Julani Archibald, Frederick and Williams (G).

Williams revealed that Benjamin, who is still recovering from injury, will not start against Santos tomorrow as the young Connection outfit faces the might of Mexico’s champion club.

Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (right) runs at Club Sando fullback Kemuel Rivers during the 2013 Toyota Cup. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Neil Benjamin Jr (right) runs at Club Sando fullback Kemuel Rivers during the 2013 Toyota Cup.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Central FC will also start their Champions League campaign from 10 pm on Thursday when the “Couva Sharks”, led by new coach Ross Russell, tackle United States’ MLS club, LA Galaxy.

The Sharks are still in Trinidad while they have not released their squad details yet.

(W Connection team)

Goalkeepers: Julani Archibald, Terrence Lewis, Aquelius Sylvester;

Defenders: Shannon Gomez, Alvin Jones, Maurice Ford, Felipe Ocoro Viveros, Triston Hodge, Keston Julien, Kurt Frederick;

Midfielders: Anfernee Frederick, Gerard Williams, Kion Joseph, Kevon Goddard, Jabari Mitchell, Jomal Williams;

Forwards: Jamal Charles, Aikim Andrews, Neil Benjamin Jr, Dimitrie Apai.

Staff: Stuart Charles Fevrier, Earl Jean, Eligah Joseph, Chandeo Boodoosingh and John Jerry.

Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (left) tries to keep the ball from Central FC veteran and captain Marvin Oliver during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection attacker Jomal Williams (left) tries to keep the ball from Central FC veteran and captain Marvin Oliver during the 2015 Caribbean Cup final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

2015/16 CONCACAF Champions League fixtures

(Home teams listed first)

Santos (Mex) v W Connection, August 4;

LA Galaxy (USA) v Central FC, August 6;

 

Saprissa (CRC) v W Connection, August 20;

Comunicaciones (GUA) v Central FC, August 27;

Photo: W Connection utility player Alvin Jones (right) evades SAP FC midfielder Okeem Challenger during 2015 Caribbean Club Championship action. (Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection utility player Alvin Jones (right) evades SAP FC midfielder Okeem Challenger during 2015 Caribbean Club Championship action.
(Courtesy Sinead Peters/Wired868)

W Connection v Saprissa (CRC), September 16;

Central FC v Comunicaciones (GUA), September 17;

 

W Connection v Santos (MEX), September 22;

Central FC v LA Galaxy, September 23.

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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16 comments

  1. Game time..

    9pm Mexican time 10 pm trini

  2. Wish them both all the very best. Put away your chances as they come.

  3. He gone & join a pan side now exodus!!!! Eh Shakira ??? Lmfao

  4. This is going to be real situations!

  5. Central having some travel issues

  6. Good showing to the both teams and never forget scoring the goals wins games. Blessings

  7. Central FC vs Galaxy is on channel 173(Fox Sports 2) at 10pm on the 6th August btw. It’s an additional channel via FLOW.

  8. Don’t know yet Darin Lewis. Central has gone very quiet. Will try to find out.

  9. Lasana Liburd. Is Marvin Oliver able to travel to LA with the team?

  10. Young talent always deserve that opportunity. …new vibes

  11. good to see they giving the young players the opportunity