CELEBRATION TIME: The new champions of the Digicel Pro League Directv W Connection celebrate with the Digicel Brand Ambassadors after beating former champs Defence Force 4-1 on Tuesday at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, to capture the title. W Connection won $1 million in prize money. —Photo: Dave Persad
...Last year’s champs Defence Force dethroned
Ian Prescott firstname.lastname@example.org
Directv W Connection are indeed one in a million. Most W Connection players might never see a million dollars, but all had that million-dollar feeling on Tuesday night, after capturing the 2013-2014 Digicel Pro League title, by beating last season’s champions Defence Force 4-1 at Ato Boldon Stadium.
In claiming a fifth Pro League title, the Savonetta Boys, also created a piece of history as well by becoming the first Pro League millionaire club and winning the $1 million prize on offer this season. Between them, W Connection and Defence Force have dominated the Pro League over the last four years by winning two titles apiece.
Tuesday results also ensured they fill the top two spots, following a goalless draw between third-placed Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh earlier. W Connection have an unassailable 50 points from 22 matches, and one more match left in the season, while Defence Force have 44 points and an outstanding match against San Juan Jabloteh.
On bent knees, Connection owner David John Williams said: “Thanks guys” to his players and technical staff after Tuesday’s win, while head-coach Stuart Charles Fevrier credited both Williams and the players for what has become a great season, in which they also won the Digicel Charity Shield, FA Trophy and Toyota Classic.
“I give the players a lot of credit because it was an emphatic result, four goals to one,” Fevrier said. “It shows that we deserve to be champions because we led from day one, and over two games we got the better of the champions.
This year was one of the most competitive seasons of the Pro League.
“The million dollars first prize was a huge incentive for everyone. So, I hope that continues,” veteran St Lucian coach Fevrier added. “Army kept winning once they began playing again and it boiled down to a virtual two-game final between us and them.”
In the other camp, a highly-admirable effort to win the competition in memory of fallen comrade Kevon Carter, fell marginally short. It was a season in which two football soldiers, Rawle Fletcher and Carter both died, while self imposed exile kept the Army footballers from training and playing in January. But, having recovered so well, assistant-coach Marvin Gordon blamed only a lack of collective discipline for the defeat.
However, late season injuries also left Army head-coach Ross Russell without key players Jerwyn Baltazar, Dave Long, Aklie Edwards and Jemel Sebro and into making changes. Among them, starting hugely promising, but probably not quite yet ready youngsters like Akeem Roach, in the two most important matches of the season. Assistant-coach Marvin Gordon feel the Army championship was lost in the first half against Connection.
“It was won and lost in the first forty-five minutes. We just didn’t show up,” Gordon declared. “I think the attitude of the guys and the discipline to defend as a team in the first 45 minutes was terrible.” Gordon was correct. By the half, W Connection built a formidable 3-1 advantage which they defended well in the second half, before Joevin Jones completed a double on the night when scoring a fourth goal against a by then spent Defence Force squad.
Defence Force were found napping and allowed Surinamese attacker Steffano Risjell free reign to shot and score from atop the penalty area in the fourth minute. Defence Force took over. But, after surviving a spell of Army pressure, W Connection doubled the lead at 2-0 in the 31st minute, when on the counter-attack, Joevin Jones put in Risjell’s pass from the centre of the penalty area.
Josimar Belgrave converted Kerry Joseph’s pass in similar fashion to pull the Army closer at 2-1 in the 37th minute, but almost from the restart W Connection were up 3-1 when Hasim Arcia wrong-footed keeper Graham with a low shotside-footed shot into the corner in the 38th minute.
Veteran Silvio Spann also tested the Army keeper with a couple free-kicks. The second half saw W Connection successfully defending everything the Army threw at them, before Jones chipped the keeper from a wide position in the 86th minute to finally end all Army resistance.
DIGICEL PRO LEAGUE RESULTS
W Connection 4 (Stefano Rijssell 4, Joevin Jones 31 & 86, Hachim Arcia 38) Defence Force 1 (Josimar Belgrave 37) Central FC 0 San Juan Jabloteh 0
TEAM P W D L GF GA GD Points
Direct TV W Connection 23 14 7 2 49 18 31 49
Defence Force 23 14 3 6 47 31 16 45
Central FC 23 11 9 3 46 21 25 42
Point Fortin Civic FC 23 12 3 8 35 24 11 39
North East Stars 22 10 6 6 24 17 7 36
Caledonia AIA 22 7 6 9 32 35 -3 27
Police FC 23 8 3 12 30 41 -11 27
San Juan Jabloteh 23 3 4 16 22 53 -31 13
St. Ann’s Rangers 22 2 1 19 19 64 -45 7