Central FC will be without veteran playmaker Marvin Oliver for tomorrow’s Toyota Classic Cup Round of 16 contest with Point Fortin Civic, after the inspirational dreadlocked midfielder was suspended for a bizarre internal matter.
The “Couva Sharks” face Point Fortin Civic from 8 pm on Friday night in the second match of a double header at the Mahaica Oval. DIRECTV W Connection square off with Club Sando in the earlier fixture from 5.30 pm at the same venue.
However, coach Ross Russell will not have Oliver’s services for the knock out match, due to the 40-year-old player’s reaction to a club fine.
Several Central players did not return from the dressing room to collect their silver medals after their 2-1 loss to bitter Couva rivals, W Connection, in the 2015 First Citizens Bank Cup final on October 30.
Central CEO Brent Sancho and operations director Kevin Harrison were said to be furious at the snub and letters were allegedly relayed to the entire squad through manager Kevin Jeffrey.
Those who did not collect medals were fined five percent of their salaries, without hearings, while those who picked up their medals were warned not to copy their less graceful teammates.
According to an anonymous source, Oliver threw the letter on the ground and the club management responded by suspending him for one week.
Since the disciplinary letters merely informed the players of the club’s unilateral decision, Oliver could, arguably, be said to have been suspended for littering.
Thus far, Harrison has not responded to a request for comment from Wired868 while Jeffrey could not be reached.
The impasse is the latest sign of unease between the players and directors at Central, which first surfaced two months ago. Twenty-four of the squad’s 29 players signed petitions in September that urged SIS directors not to allow Harrison and Sancho back at the club with allegations of financial misconduct hanging over their heads.
Instead, SIS essentially washed their hands of all responsibility for the club and handed the reins to the new managerial triumvirate of Sancho, Harrison and Bankers Insurance CEO Vance Gabriel.
Since then, Central have paid off and released former football operations manager Anthony Rougier and technical director Zoran Vranes. Rougier is now director of football at Fyzabad Secondary.
On the field, the club’s results remain largely positive though.
Central are joint top of the Pro League with seven points from three games while they finished second in the First Citizens Cup.
Despite Oliver’s absence, Russell received a boost this week as attacking midfielder Ataulla Guerra returned to full training and he is expected to play against Civic tomorrow.
Central goalkeeper and captain Jan-Michael Williams and striker Willis Plaza will both feature too before they jet off on Saturday to prepare for Trinidad and Tobago’s upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Guatemala and the United States on November 13 and 17 respectively.
Upcoming Toyota Classic Cup fixtures
Friday November 6
W Connection v Club Sando, 5.30 pm, Mahaica Oval;
Point Fortin Civic v Central FC, 8 pm, Mahaica Oval;
(Saturday November 7)
St Ann’s Rangers v Defence Force, 3 pm, Larry Gomes Stadium;
(Sunday November 8)
Police FC v Guaya United, 3 pm, Guayaguayare Recreation Ground;
Marabella CC v S/Juan Jabloteh, 3 pm, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.