Beaten 2009 finalist Defence Force and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA will both start as favourites to advance to this year’s Lucozade Sport Goal Shield final in seven days time when semifinal matches take place today. However, standing in their way in the double-header at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella from 6 pm, will be first-round giant killer, St Ann’s Rangers, and T&TEC. In tonight’s opener, Rangers, which stunned 2009 winner and reigning Digicel T&T Pro League champion, W Connection 1-0 in its quarterfinal, comes up against Defence Force, which whipped Adams’ Construction San Juan Ltd, 4-1 in its match. But while the Ross Russell-coached “Teteron Boys” will be confident of reaching a second final this season, having defeated Rangers 4-1, 3-1 and 2-1 already this campaign, the St Ann’s hunters are hoping to add another big scalp to its list of upsets as it eyes a spot in the final as well. Commenting on his team’s previous matches with Defence Force, new Rangers coach and former team assistant, Dean Pacheco, made it clear that the military men will be up against a different team. “When we lost those matches, the team was in transformation from the last coach (Anthony Streete). This time we have a lot more younger players and since I’ve taken over, our players are now beginning to mesh together.”
Looking ahead to the meeting with Defence Force, who were beaten finalists in the T&T Football Federation FA competition last month, Pacheco, a former national midfielder said his team is definitely looking for another surprise result. “This is a good chance for us to win a title this season. It’s a lot shorter than the League and only eight teams. The players all want to go on to win the tournament and we all want to win it for the club owners.” Pacheco a former Defence Force and Rangers player added: “The last time we met, we probably threw away eight goals, so this time it’s about keeping the ball away from them and putting away our chances.” Two hours later, T&TEC coach Dexter Cyrus and his team will have a chance to settle a score with Caledonia, which defeated them in the First Citizens Cup final last November and also denied them the league title with a 3-2 beating on the final match day of the season last month. T&TEC booted defending champion DirecTV North East Stars 4-3 on penalty-kicks after a 1-1 quarterfinal draw and now Cyrus says his team is well rested and ready for Caledonia, which has come out on top in three of four meetings this season. “We are really looking forward to Friday’s game. We have been very consistent this season. We were actually the most consistent team, finishing second in the League, First Citizens Cup and Toyota Classic. We are in a position now to win on Friday and reach another final and go on to actually win silverware,” he said.
Venue: Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
Defence Force vs St Ann’s Rangers, 6 pm.
T&TEC FC vs Caledonia, 8 pm.