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DEFENCE Force and W Connection were the only winners on Tuesday night as the other three matches ended goalless when round one, match day four concluded in the TT Pro League.
W Connection scored two early goals to eventually defeat Terminix La Horquetta Rangers 3-1 at the Ato Boldon Stadium. The home team Connection was awarded a penalty in the third minute of the game and St Lucian defender, Kurt Fredrick slapped it home, beating goalkeeper Jabari St Hillaire for the early one nil lead. Twenty minutes later, Connection's Jevaughn Humphrey was in the right spot at the right time to tap in the goal from a free-kick to double their lead which they carried into halftime.
Rangers began pressing their opponents on the resumption of the second half and they were rewarded with a goal from Keron Cummins when his shot slipped through the hands of Jason Belfon and trickled over the line. Seeking an equaliser, Rangers kept applying the pressure but against the run of play, the Savonetta Boys were awarded a corner. Michael Gem Gordon rose above everyone else to score a header from the corner kick which dented the hopes of the visiting Rangers and sealed the 3-1 victory for his team.
Police FC and national goalkeeper Adrian Foncette was outstanding between the uprights making several point-blank saves throughout the match against Central FC. The lawmen controlled the match for the majority of the opening half but couldn't find a way through Central's stubborn defence. Foncette made a smart save from Jameel Antoine in the 33rd minute. That chance gifted Central some energy as shortly after Noel Williams' shot went inches wide of Foncette's goal. In the last minute of the half, Foncette was called upon once again to make another crucial save, this time denying youngster Che Benny. The second half saw both teams playing high intensity football but lacked quality in the decisive end of the field resulting in the game ending in a goalless draw.
Defence Force remained perfect after three matches as they etched out a one nil victory over AC Port of Spain, at the Diego Martin Sports Complex. Long-standing Army player and captain, Jerwyn Balthazar tapped in the winner in the 70th minute from a Brent Sam cross.
There was a goal draught at the Hasely Crawford Stadium as both matches between San Juan Jabloteh and Point Fortin Civic as well as Morvant Caledonia United and Tiger Tank Club Sando ended in a draw.
La Horquetta Recreation Ground
Central Fc vs Tiger Tanks Club Sando -6pm
Terminix La Horquetta Rangers vs San Juan Jabloteh - 8pm
Hasely Crawford Stadium
Police fc vs Point Fortin Civic -6pm
Defence Force vs W. Connection -8pm
Larry Gomes Stadium
Cunupia Fc vs Morvant/ Caledonia United 3:30pm
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IF withdrawn cyclists Njisane Phillip and Keron Bramble have a change of heart and return to training at the National Cycling Velodrome, Couva, on Thursday, TT coach Erin Hartwell will resume his Men’s Team Sprint programme in a last-minute attempt to secure qualification at the 2020 Olympic Games.
Although an uphill task, Hartwell is certain TT can still qualify for its Olympic Team Sprint debut, but admitted the absence of both athletes, over the past three weeks, places an additional challenge on the squad’s competitive progress.
“I am going to go to work tomorrow (Thursday) with who shows up and work towards the final World Cup and World Championships,” he said. “Is it too late? No. Are we afforded to miss any time? Absolutely not. If an athlete missed two or three weeks of training when we need to be performing at our best, that poses a challenge.”
According to the veteran cycling coach, the World Championships offers the highest number of Olympic qualifier points available to competing nations. Presently, TT sit in tenth position (5,610 points) on the UCI Olympic Men’s Team Sprint rankings. However, only the top eight nations advance.
TT currently trail eighth ranked Poland (6,173pts) by 563 points while Russian Federation (6,135pts) sit in ninth position. There is a possibility Russia can be removed due to ongoing World Anti-Doping Association issues. Whether they are omitted or not, TT would still have to work hard to get into eighth position.
Hartwell added, “If mathematically we had no chance, I would have pulled that plug a long time ago. But that’s not the case. The reality is, as a national team, we have a responsibility to continue pursuing Olympic qualification as long as it’s numerically viable and realistic.”
Following their decision to absent themselves from all pre-Olympic training and qualifier competitions, both cyclists claim TT’s Team Sprint Olympic dreams are virtually over. The pair believes TT’s only chances of qualifying are to capture a podium place at the World Cup and a top-five finish at ‘Worlds’, a task deemed unattainable by the two.
The national coach however, disagreed and insisted there are several unpredictable scenarios which can still go in favour of TT’s Olympic berth, if we put our best foot forward.
“We have to ride to the absolute best of our ability, be on point and we might need some help from other teams. The reality of racing is anything can happen. Crashes, false starts, guys having great and even poor performances, that’s the nature of competition. I’ve been hearing talk that ‘Qualifying is impossible’, that is not the case. I run the numbers every day and I did it again on Tuesday night. I’ve looked at multiple scenarios and of course we still stand a chance,” he reiterated.
When asked if the cyclists’ recent actions have put a strain on athlete/administration relations, the 50-year-old two-time American Olympic cycling medallist opted to maintain a professional approach.
“I was hired to do a job. My emotions and personal feelings are irrelevant. I’ve got one thing to do and that’s to perform with the athletes that are capable of doing so and interested in doing so. Whether a relationship has been damaged or not, it’s inconsequential. The athletes are eligible to compete for the national team, and they are willing to come to training, and do so. Then, we move forward,” Hartwell concluded.
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A single item by Ryan Jordan helped Morvant Caledonia United surge to the top of the T&T Pro League following a 1-0 win over San Juan Jabloteh at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo on Friday night.
The game appeared to be heading towards a goalless stalemate when Jordan found the net in the 97th minute to secure maximum points, which sent the Morvant team to seven points overall on the standings.
Caledonia now holds a mere one-point lead over second-placed Defence Force, who defeated Cunupia FC 3-2 on Saturday.
Third-place Police FC, the recent First Citizens Cup winners, were also in winner’s row on Friday night.
In the opening match of a doubleheader at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Balmain, Couva, against Tiger Tank Club Sando, the Lawmen made their intentions known as early as the 13th minute when Keion Wilson fired them ahead.
The southerners later were able to contain their opponents until the 77th minute when Wilson got his team’s second item for a two-goal cushion. However, the Lawmen, known for having the steadiest defence in local football presently, could do nothing when Skaqkeem Joseph found the net in the 93rd minute for a 1-2 result that propelled the Lawmen into third spot on the table on six points, with an inferior goal difference to the Army.
Meanwhile, in the second game in Couva, multiple-times Pro League winners W Connection Football Club were held 1-1 by Central FC for a share of the points.
Connection, known as the Savonetta Boys by their fans, were still attempting to come to terms with the untimely passing of their influential young striker Shahdon Winchester, who was laid to rest the day before the match after his death in an accident two weeks ago.
Still, W Connection managed to take the lead in the encounter from Michael ‘Gem’ Gordon in the 27th minute. They enjoyed that advantage for most of the match until Sean Bonval found the equaliser in the 79th minute for the Central Sharks to deny Connection their first win of the season.
Afterwards, Connection CEO Renee John-Williams said, “We have played two games and have drawn them both. The season is a short one and while we cannot afford to drop points on any game, I am confident that we can find ourselves back to winning ways soon. We are in a rebuilding phase and we have a relatively young team, sprinkled with experienced ones. We like to win but we are patient and confident in the capabilities of our young charges.”
In another game at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, AC Port-of-Spain sealed fifth position on the standings despite a 1-1 tie with Point Fortin Civic. The Port-of-Spain men, who were previously North East Stars, went ahead in the 21st minute via John-Paul Rochford, before Ronell Paul found the equaliser in the 56th minute for a share of the points.
Meanwhile, in a lone contest at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima yesterday, Defence Force moved to second by defeating Cunupia FC 3-2.
Army’s influential striker Devorn Jorsling began a see-saw affair by handing his team the lead in the 28th.
But Rafael Marstre put Cunupia back on level terms with a 35th minute item and Dwane James pushed the central men in front for the first time in the match in the 65th minute.
However, two unanswered goals in the 82nd and 87th sealed the win for the Army Coast-Guard Combination team.
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TT cyclist, Alexi Costa opened her 2020 competitive campaign with an impressive third place finish at the Feria de Manizales Cycling Circuit, in Colombia, on Monday.
The seasoned road cyclist is currently in South America preparing for her competitive debut with American-based CWA Professional Women’s Racing Team, in March. Costa has been training there for the past four weeks and showed grit in her first competitive showing by securing a coveted podium place.
Following her deeply inspiring performance, Costa expressed elation and was pleased to reap the rewards of her hard work and dedication.
“I’m super happy because my goal was to get on the podium,” she told Newsday from her Colombian base, on Monday. “Especially because the town we are in is 2100m of altitude, which is even higher than where I’ve been training for the last month, so I knew it was going be a bit harder. A win would have been amazing but I’m content with my third”
The Heatwave cyclist has been using the off-season to get in some additional time on the road as she gears up to join her new team-mates in March. Costa presently trains alongside her Colombian boyfriend Dennis Ramirez, who has been living and racing in the US for the past six years.
She credited the scenic but challenging routes which force her to push herself even further, especially at altitude.
“The training has been really beneficial because I'm training in altitude every day,” Costa added. “It's a really nice change to train in Colombia because the views are just amazing and there’s a lot of climbing which is great for me. I think climbing is one of my weak spots so it augers well for my development as an athlete. Dennis and I get to push each other while out training.”
Costa conquered the gruelling seven lap, 35km circuit race trailing eventual winner Diana Carolina and silver medallist, Daniela Arboleda, both of the host nation.
The TT representative is expected to return home from her training camp on January 13. Upon her arrival, Costa will compete on the local road circuit for the next eight weeks before she heads off to begin her professional cycling career on the US circuit.
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Here is a full list of the friendly fixtures and results happening in the time of the UEFA Nations League 2018/19 League Phase (times CET).