Defending Digicel Pro League champions Defence Force will return to action next Tuesday against Central FC from 6 p.m. at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The “Army” footballers return to action a month after the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force pulled them from competing in sporting activities due to the rising crime situation. The suspension came following Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call to use every possible resource in the fight against the disturbing spike in violent crime. Yesterday, TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene confirmed the Army’s return to football action.
` “The League is pleased to welcome back the Defence Force into the fold,” said TT Pro League CEO Skeene. “The Defence Force is a critical aspect to the Pro League given their history and tradition in Trinidad and Tobago football. We have been in contract with the Minister of Nation Security (Gary Griffith) and the Minister of Sport (Anil Roberts) and we are thankful for their support and understanding.”
Defence Force are one of two teams that will represent T&T in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship, which serves as the Caribbean qualifying phase to the Concacaf Champions League. Defence Force will contest Group 3 of the Club Championship hosted in Jamaica from March 21-25, against Guyana’s Alpha United, Suriname’s Sporting Vereniging Notch, and home-team Habour View FC.
“We will definitely be ready for the CFU,” said assistant coach Marvin Gordon. “We want to go and top our group and advance to the next stage of qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League. We are very confident in our players at the moment, for the tasks ahead. Our players love playing football and being away for the last month, they now have the hunger and thirst to get back to it.”
But Gordon admits that it will not be easy for the defending league champions to be immediately ready to continue their defence of the Pro League title due to the long absence from the playing field. They are seventh on the nine-team table with 13 points, 20 away from leaders W Connection (33 points). But they have seven games in hand, inclusive of one against W Connection.
“Honestly it will be an uphill battle,” accepted Gordon. “But we are confident in ourselves.
The soldiers returned to the training pitch yesterday afternoon under head coach Ross Russell and Gordon.
“Our main goal is winning back the league and qualifying for the Concacaf Champions League,” Gordon continued.
“At present W Connection are dropping vital points, and if we take it one game at a time and treat every game as a final, I believe we can defend our title. It won’t be easy though, because we are aware that the league is very competitive and every team wants to win just as bad as us.”