Pro League f/ball season kicks off today... at last

After a delay of a week because referees refused to offer their services citing money owed to them, the Pro League football season gets going today with W Connection playing Starworld Strikers at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. But two-times champions CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh will begin their quest for a three-peat when they host South West Drillers in their first round match at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo from 6 pm tomorrow. And, in another first round encounter, Arima/Morvant Fire will oppose North East Stars at the Larry Gomes Stadium also tomorrow, from 6 pm. Jabloteh will field a majority of players who were instrumental in their Pro League triumphs in 2002 and 2003 — captain Angus Eve, fellow midfielders Otis Seaton, Trent Noel, Kerry Baptiste, Travis Mulraine, Josh Johnson; defenders Nigel Daniel, Ian Gray, Cyd Gray and Ansil Elcock; strikers Kerry Noray and Devon Mitchell.

Striker Nigel “Croc” Pierre and Keyeno Thomas, who joined Jabloteh from the  “Eastern Lions” Joe Public last October, are also expected to feature in tomorrow’s match. Also expected to play a big part are the midfield pair of Kerwyn “Hardest” Jemmott and Stokely Mason, who moved from W Connection during the off-season; and ex-Crab Connection captain Joseph Peters who, according to club chairman Jerry Hospedales, has improved on his discipline since he left Jabloteh in 2001. But the defending champs will have to do without coach Ricky Hill (currently home in England on personal business), two players who left on overseas contracts — former captain and goalkeeper Kelvin Jack who is now at Reading in the English First Division, and striker Cornell Glen, who is now a member of MLS club New York/New Jersey Metrostars. National Under-23 goalie Daurance Williams and new recruit Mikhel Peters, a former St Mary’s College player, will share duties between the uprights this season.

Other members expected to feature in the senior division this year are TT Under-23 players Ronald Primus (defender) and Michael Celestine (midfielder), and Jabloteh U-20 strike pair of Jerol Forbes and Ijanna Mark. Drillers, a combination of South West Institute of Football (SWIF) and Point Fortin Civic Centre, will field a youthful team this season, under the captaincy of defender Jace Peters and coach Brian Williams. National defender Larry McDonald will also be in the squad, while midfielders Kevon Clement and Nicholson Thomas have ended their loan spells and have returned to W Connection. Another team which will feature a number of up-and-coming players is W Connection. The “Savonetta Boys” will be without regular captain Reynold Carrington, who retired from active duty in January, TT Under-23 captain Silvio Spann and defender Kenwyne Jones, currently on trials in Europe, Jemmott, Mason, Lyndon “Chubby” Andrews (currently with Starworld Strikers), Arnold Dwarika (on loan to Chinese club Beijing Guoan), midfielders Gefferson Goulart and Ronaldo Viana (on loan to FC Zeleznik in Yugoslavia).

Players likely to feature heavily in the Connection’s lineup include goalies Alejandro Figueroa and Jan-Michael Williams; defenders David Atiba Charles, Rawle Fletcher and Elijah Joseph; TT U-23 members Jason Marcano, Clyde Leon, Lyndon Diaz and Kendall Davis; veteran St Lucian forward Titus Elva and new recruits — strikers Ellis Dyette (Caledonia AIA), Andre Toussaint (Joe Public) and midfielder Raymond Parris (Joe Public). Connection will host Starworld at Couva, with Starworld adding to the fold Andrews, 2003 topscorer Randolph Jerome from North East Stars and ex-national defender Shurland David from Caledonia AIA. But the core of the team remains the same — captain Sherwyn Julien, brother Sean (both ex-TT players), Kester Cornwall, Wesley Webb, Dale Saunders, Bevon Lewis, Marc Borde, Adrian Nunez, Jefferson George, Errol Charles, Jamaican striker Nicholas Addlery and temperamental goalie Marvin Phillip, with Michael Grayson remaining as coach.

The combined Arima Fire-Caledonia outfit (now called Arima-Morvant Fire) will be coached by Jamaal Shabazz.The team will possess from the old Fire squad, Peter Ramon-Fortune, Ashford Leggerton, Alvis Faure Diaz, Uz Taylor, Anthony Haynes, Brent Antoine and Ramould Aguillera and, from the former Caledonia lineup, Randy Ramcharan, Conrad Smith, Densil Theobald, Mark Small, Michael Woods, Ryan Stewart and the Botswana duo of Kagiso Tshelameste and Mogogi Gabonamong. North East Stars have replaced Jerome with Joe Public striker Ochieng Abosi and added defender Howard Lowe from Caledonia, but the core of the team remains the same — Jerren Nixon, Kevin Jeffrey, Trevor Nottingham, 2003 MVP and captain Charles Pollard, Kendall Velox, Anthony Wolfe, Glenton Wolfe, Kayode McKinnon, Carey Harris and Abassi McPherson.


"Pro League f/ball season kicks off today… at last"

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