Defence Force, under coach Ross Russell, have a 100-percent record thus far and will be fancying their chances against Tobago United, who are in eighth spot on the 11-team standings.
But the league leaders will have to miss influential captain and right- back Corey Rivers, and striker Kevon Carter, who are both suspended for this match.
The second and third-placed teams on the points table will be in action today, in the “Super Friday” double-header, scheduled for the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.
Third-placed Ma Pau will square off against table-proppers Police at 6 pm while, two hours later, second-placed W Connection will meet mid- table outfit Caledonia AIA.
Two other matches are on the agenda tomorrow, with fourth-placed Joe Public (who recently signed teenaged striker Andell Noray from Tobago-based club 1976 FC Phoenix) squaring off against St Ann’s Rangers at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima while, at Marabella, fifth-placed San Juan Jabloteh will face FC South End.
Tomorrow, the Rangers-Joe Public meeting will start at 4 pm, the Tobago-Defence Force battle will kick off at 5 pm and the South End — Jabloteh clash will begin at 8 pm. In related news, DirecTV North East Stars, who are on a bye this weekend, confirmed that American Rod Underwood is the first coaching casualty of the season.
The 42-year-old Underwood, who was hired as the team’s coach, on a two-year-long deal, on April 16, was allegedly fired last Friday night, after the squad allowed reigning champs Joe Public to rebound from a 2- 0 half-time deficit to prevail 3-2. But the North East club finally confirmed the rumours yesterday, on an article on the Pro League website (the team won two games and lost three, in their nine outings this season).
According to player-Chief Executive Officer Brent Sancho: “Our split was through mutual consent. We both realised that parting ways was in the best interest in the club moving forward.”
Underwood, the first American to serve as coach of a Pro League club, played for New Mexico Chiles, Albuquerque Geckos and New Orleans Gamblers before he was appointed player-coach at Chiles in 1994.
He later coached at Geckos, South Carolina Shamrocks, Georgia State University, Portland Timbers (as an assistant) and Cleveland City Stars before joining the North East technical team. Underwood, who joined Guyanese James McLean, Miguel Hackett, Everard “Gally” Cummings and Clint Marcelle as past coaches of North East, was saddled with the oldest team in the League — Sancho, Charles Pollard, Michael Woods, Leslie Fitzpatrick, Carey Harris, Errol McFarlane, Arnold Dwarika, Gary Glasgow and Randolph Jerome are all over the age of 30.
Shurland David, the 35-year-old ex-national defender, who had 43 international caps and stints with Joe Public, Jabloteh, Caledonia, the defunct Starworld Strikers and Canadian club Ottawa Wizards, will serve as the interim coach of North East.
But Sancho noted that the club is in the quest of seeking a new coach.
“Club president Darryl Mahabir and I have already initiated discussions with regards to a new coach,” he said. “We want a coach that would understand the vision of North East Stars and keep within that vision whether local or foreign. “We have already begun receiving resumes for the position because people are understanding that North East Stars is a club on the up.” He also stated that new players will be injected to breath new life in the sixth-placed team.
“We are always on the lookout for new players and have been receiving interests. We would definitely shake things up a bit as we continue assessments in taking the club forward,” he ended.