Based on the random draw format, the three-time (1999, 2000 and 2002) winners, W Connection, joined seven other clubs in the First Round and will face fellow TT Pro League club and 2003 FA Trophy winners North East Stars from 6 pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
Other First Round match-ups include Point Fortin Civic Centre against 2006 FA winners WASA FC from 3.30 pm at Mahaica Oval, Point Fortin; Carapichaima East Secondary against Marabella Family Crisis Centre from 3.30 pm at Carapichaima East Ground; and La Horquetta SA against Police FC (Northern Football Association) from 5 pm at the La Horquetta Recreation Ground.
The four winners will move into the draw for the Round of 32 to be played on December 12.
The Round of 16 will be played on December 19 before heading into the Christmas break. The tournament resumes on January 9 with the quarter-final round.
For the second straight year, a total of 36 participating teams were selected for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF)-run FA Trophy with four teams coming in from the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL), hence the First Round which cuts the number of teams down to the Round of 32.
Since the formation of the TT Pro League in 2002, only one team outside the professional league has won the FA Trophy. Surprise winners WASA FC of the Super League defeated North East Stars 4-2 on penalties following a 3-3 draw to lift the title in 2006.
Now with the First Round in effect because of the increased number of participating teams, one of the tournament’s top contenders (W Connection or North East Stars) will not make it through to the Round of 32.
“I can’t dispute the way they do the fixtures,” W Connection President David John-Williams told www.ttproleague.com when asked his opinion on the relatively new tournament format. “I think that’s the history about the FA competition, where any team can meet any team.”
Commenting on his team’s chances to lift the title after a decade, John-Williams said, “we are capable of winning the FA. We are capable of winning any competition. We have reached six FA finals winning it three times. It’s now a situation where we are against North East Stars on Wednesday and must win to go on because it’s a knockout tournament.
“The nature of the FA Trophy is that other teams are motivated, and while we want to win every competition, we must respect that other teams can play as well,” ended the W Connection owner.
Commenting on the situation where W Connection or North East Stars will not reach the Round of 32, Competitions and Tournament Committee at the TTFF Neville Ferguson told www.ttproleague.com, “It’s an open draw. I don’t think it would damage the competition.”
Ferguson explained that the First Round is simple to cut the number of teams back to 32 adding, “the knockout competitions must go in a particular way and if you give teams a bye, ideally it must be in the first round.”
He also shared that the experiment of the TTFF to include SSFL was a good one in giving the youngsters the opportunity to play and compete against the other teams such as Pro teams and so on.