Club Sando coach Angus Eve is thrilled by the return of the prestigious Trinidad and Tobago FA Trophy after a two-year hiatus—with the new 2017/18 edition, involving 64 teams, commencing on September 16.
“Excited, the word is,” said Eve, one of the few men to celebrate, both as a player and a coach, the FA Trophy—the oldest football tournament in Trinidad and Tobago dating back to 1927.
Eve led his former club North East Stars to the FA Trophy — the last time it was contested — in 2014/2015, edging former winners W Connection 5-4 on penalties at the Ato Boldon Stadium on March 29 2015 in the title match following a 0-0 draw. “I didn’t remember I was the last winning coach,” Eve joked. “The tournament hasn’t been around a long time.
“But it’s great to have it back. I don’t know about the prestige in Trinidad and Tobago, but it is one of the oldest trophies in world football and has with it a lot of prestige in places like England. But I do believe it is something prestigious for a coach to win the Trinidad and Tobago FA Trophy.”
This season’s FA Trophy competition will involve all 10 Pro League clubs (W Connection, Club Sando, San Juan Jabloteh, Central FC, Defence Force FC, Point Fortin Civic, Morvant Caledonia United, St. Ann’s Rangers); all 19 Super League teams; six teams from each of the five zonal associations (Northern FA, Eastern FA, Central FA, Southern FA and Tobago FA), and five from the Eastern Counties Football Union.
Tournament organisers, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), will host the first round draw on August 22 at its office at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva. Teams and home venues are to be submitted by August 18.
“There has been a lot of rant and rave from Super League clubs (the second tier of Trinidad and Tobago football) in terms of their level of football. So this is another opportunity for us in the Pro League to show we are still the dominant league in the country,” continued Eve.
Since the debut of the professional teams into the FA Trophy competition in 1999, clubs from the former Professional Football League (PFL) and the current Pro League have won the trophy in all but 2006 when WASA became surprise winners. WASA defeated two top flight clubs including North East Stars 4-2 on penalties in the final following a 3-3 draw.
“The FA Trophy also gives smaller teams an opportunity against the bigger clubs from the Pro League and Super League and they are motivated because it gives them a feather in their cap with win. It’s a good opportunity for them to measure themselves against bigger opponents. A good game on the day and they can suddenly be in a final.”
Eve said that while his focus is on the Pro League title, where his Club Sando are currently second behind W Connection, but tied on points, the FA Trophy gives him a fresh challenge.
“I want to win the (Pro) League now, having won the FA Trophy and other titles in the past. But the FA Trophy gives me a fresh challenge with Club Sando who haven’t won anything (as a top flight team). We will balance our regular schedule and the FA Trophy as best as we can because we want challenge for trophies.”
At present all Pro League matches are suspended till September 8 to facilitate the Trinidad and Tobago national team preparations for the final phase of the FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign which includes an international friendly against Jamaica in Trinidad on August 24.
“I don’t believe in stopping our league for the national team,” said Eve. “The Mexico don’t stop. The MLS (Major League Soccer) don’t stop. And the championship in England don’t stop. I understand we don’t have big squads but with just 18 league games this season, stopping the league breaks the momentum of the competition as well as the development of players.”
Eve, this week, resigned his position as first vice-president of the Northern FA, to concentrate more on his roles as coach of Club Sando and coach of Naparima College, who won a number of titles over the last three SSFL season’s with.
“I’ve learned a lot under the leadership of (NFA president) Anthony Harford, and guys like Peter Rampersad who have been long-serving members around the TTFA, and it augurs well for me when I plan to return to football administration later on. But I’ve taken a personal decision to try and concentrate more on my coaching at this time,” ended the Sando coach.