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‘Lions’ to field new-look team

Wednesday, February 18 2009

click on pic to zoom in
DARYL WARNER...
DARYL WARNER...

THE “EASTERN Lions” Joe Public is clearly on a rebuilding stage as they look forward to the 2009 Pro League season, which is scheduled to begin in April.

The Macoya-based club will field a new-look squad, a stark contrast to the team who failed to win any major title in 2008.

Joe Public finished fifth in the league standings while they had an indifferent showing in the inaugural CONCACAF Champions League. And, to compound their misery, the “Eastern Lions” relinquished their hold of both the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) FA and the Toyota Classic crowns.

Among their new recruits are Hayden Tinto, Howard Lowe and Michael Woods from Caledonia AIA; Daurance Williams and Julien Landeau from CLICO San Juan Jabloteh; Teba McKnight from W Connection; and Akeem Parris from United Petrotrin.

After the “Eastern Lions” completed their 2008 season, they terminated the contracts of a number of players, including ex-national attackers Arnold Dwarika, Gary Glasgow, Lyndon “Chubby” Andrews and Kerry Noray, Dexter Thornhill, Silas Spann, Shane Calderon, as well as the Jamaican trio of Roen Nelson, Christopher Harvey and Wolry Wolfe.

During the latter stages of the season, the club also made a coaching change, with Barbadian Keith Griffith being sacked, while his then — assistant, ex-Trinidad and Tobago defender Derek King, took over the helm.

“Joe Public had a very productive and arduous season in 2008,” said the club’s managing director Daryl Warner. “But the goal now for 2009 and 2010 is really a rebuilding period.”

“We have had the Arnold Dwarikas and so forth that have gotten on in age and we want to focus more youthful team that will take us into the future,” Warner continued. “We will, of course, have little experience in our squad now which means that we don’t have any lofty aspirations for the next two years.”

But Warner was displeased over the team’s returns last season and is clearly looking for more silverware this year.

“There were obviously disappointments in not being able to defend our FA Trophy and Toyota Classic title last season,” noted Warner. “But I take great satisfaction and pride in serving the country, as well as the Caribbean, in the (CONCACAF) Champions’ League.

“Our goals this season would be a top three finish in the league (and) out of the four knockout competitions, we want the FA Trophy which has the most prestige and we also want to end W Connection’s hold on the First Citizens Cup.

Warner continued, “If these goals are obtained I’ll be a very happy man.

If not, I’ll still be a happy man because it’s a very youthful team and full of exuberance. But, as I’ve said before, I have no lofty aspirations.” Among the surviving players from 2008 are captain Dale Saunders, Colombian-born goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa, defenders Keyeno Thomas, Seon Power and Jason Springer, midfielder Kerry Baptiste and utility player Carlyle Mitchell.

The 35-year-old Saunders, a former TT midfielder, will also serve as King’s assistant during this season, taking over from Scotland’s Maurice O’Donnell.

In addition, with North East Stars absent from this year’s competition, a few of their players may be joining the “Eastern Lions”, including John Stewart, Keryn Navarro and Shawn Cooper.

He also revealed that ex-TT midfielder Travis Mulraine, who featured with Joe Public’s Super League team in 2008, will be the deputy to Ralph “Arab” Nelson in the 2009 Super League.

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