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Foreign legion: Central FC fly in 12 players on three-week contracts for Caribbean Cup

Central FC will attempt to become the first club in Caribbean history to win three successive regional titles when the final round of the Caribbean Club Championships gets going on Sunday 14 May. And the “Couva Sharks” will seek to do so with possibly up to a dozen players who could have left the country again before the Pro League season kicks off on 26 May 2017.

Operations director Kevin Harrison confirmed that Central retained just eight first team players from last season and have compensated for those departures with bulk imports.

Photo: Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson grimaces after making a save for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds. Thompson will represent Central FC at the 2017 Caribbean Club Championships. (Copyright AP)
Photo: Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson grimaces after making a save for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
Thompson will represent Central FC at the 2017 Caribbean Club Championships.
(Copyright AP)

At present, United States midfielder Graham Smith, Jamaican goalkeeper Ryan Thompson, Haitian central defender Simil Fresnel and Antiguan defender Vashami Allen are registered to represent Central at the Caribbean Club Championships. Thompson has seven senior international caps for Jamaica  while the 20-year-old Allen has two senior international caps and is considered a hot prospect for Antigua and Barbuda.

San Juan Jabloteh open the final round of the regional competition with a clash against Haitian outfit Racing FC at 5:30pm while Central face Antiguan team Grenades FC from 8pm in a Hasely Crawford Stadium double header.

Apart from the four new foreign imports, the Sharks are awaiting international clearance for a further five English players, two Haitians and a Gambian player.

All 12, according to Harrison, will be able to play in the Caribbean’s marquee club competition, be paid and leave Trinidad without requiring work permits from the Ministry of National Security.

“The work permit rule says foreigners can come and work for up to 30 days without a work permit,” Harrison told Wired868. “So they will be here and gone before the 30 days expire.”

Photo: Central FC operations manager Kevin Harrison is also the former Advisor to ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho. (Copyright Lime.TT)
Photo: Central FC operations manager Kevin Harrison is also the former Advisor to ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho.
(Copyright Lime.TT)

Since the Pro League season starts after the Caribbean Club Championship is completed, the long distance dozen can play in the tournament that serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League without ever actually representing Central in Trinidad and Tobago’s domestic competition. Wired868 was unable to reach Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene for comment.

However, Harrison said Central will consider offering three month contracts to any of the international players who impress, which could see them remain until August so they can compete in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage if necessary.

CONCACAF pays teams US$40,000 for each away match once they get to the Champions League group stage.

“Before they left their countries to come here, we made sure they had all the documents they need [for us to apply for their work permits] like certificates of character from their local police and so on,” said Harrison. “So they brought those things just in case we kept them.

“Once they have applied for their work permits, they can be registered for the Pro League and play. So it is no problem.”

Coincidentally, Harrison anticipates that it would take at least four months for players to actually receive their work permits, once their applications are successful. It means that, apart from the first 30 days, the foreign players may be able to play for Central but not to be paid salaries.

Photo: Antigua and Barbuda defender Vashami Allen. (Copyright CONCACAF)
Photo: Antigua and Barbuda defender Vashami Allen.
(Copyright CONCACAF)

“Last year, [athletes] got work permit exemptions that took just three weeks to process but that has been scrapped and now it can take up to four months to get your permit approved,” said Harrison. “So they will be able to play in the Pro League but we won’t be able to pay them a wage. We can only give them a stipend until they get a work permit.”

It is, Wired868 noted, a situation that might suit a club that has often been accused of reneging on promised salaries and bonuses for players and staff. Harrison insisted that using loopholes to exploit foreign labour was the last thing on his mind.

“I guess you can be cynical and say that [it will save us money],” said Harrison. “But we still have to pay for their work permit applications, which are TT$1,000 each and we have to pay for their accommodation. So it is not like they are not costing us anything.

“If you want to be cynical, you can say we are saving some money but we are not looking at that because that will be immoral.”

Harrison claimed that the foreign players will earn roughly US$750 (TT$5,000) a month—when the work permit law allows them to be paid—plus accommodation. Central hope the Haitian players, in particular, win moves to Europe as soon as possible, which will be dream opportunities for the French-speaking islanders but also means that the Couva-based Pro League club could earn a tidy profit for employees that they paid just one month’s salary.

Photo: Central FC chairman and ex-Sport Minister and Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC chairman and ex-Sport Minister and Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star and Central coach Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The foreign legion apart, Central retained just six regular first team players from their 2016/17 conquest who are: midfielders Nathaniel Garcia and Sean De Silva, defenders Kaydion Gabriel and Keston George and attackers Jason Marcano and Johan Peltier.

Tyrik John, the son of assistant coach and record Trinidad and Tobago goal scorer Stern John, has also remained after breaking into the team late last season. And so has Guyanese goalkeeper Akil Clarke, who was often back-up to Soca Warriors custodian and new North East Stars recruit Jan-Michael Williams.

The other local players who joined the Sharks’ roster during the pre-season are defender Sean Bateau and international players Carlos Edwards, Taryk Sampson and Seon Power.

Club Sando and Trinidad and Tobago forward Akeem Roach was also at Central on loan but withdrew from the arrangement of his own volition and informed Sando that he will not sign a new deal when his current contract ends on 31 May 2017. Most likely, Roach will attempt to move abroad on a free transfer.

The rest of the current Central squad, according to Harrison, are mostly young locals. Central’s homegrown players were offered either three month or eight contracts. The latter deal will take the players to the end of the upcoming Pro League season, which finishes in December 2017.

Photo: Central FC goal scorers Jason Marcano (left) and Johan Peltier celebrate during their 2-0 win over Morvant Caledonia United in Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 20 December 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC goal scorers Jason Marcano (left) and Johan Peltier celebrate during their 2-0 win over Morvant Caledonia United in Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 20 December 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

The Sharks’ massive turnover of players is a markedly different philosophy to their neighbours, San Juan Jabloteh, who have kept the bulk of their squad from last season.

“I like a family atmosphere with players who are accustomed to each other,” Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey told Wired868. “I want chemistry and I want players to gel.”

Still, Jabloteh have sought to freshen things up tactically for the upcoming season. The “San Juan Kings” qualified for the Caribbean competition by virtue of their second place Pro League finish in 2015/16 but, earlier this year, they ended in third spot and trailed winners Central by a whopping 18 points.

Jeffrey’s response was to overhaul his offensive line-up, which meant that giant forward Jamal Gay was sacrificed for a faster, more direct approach.

“We want to be quicker and more direct and dynamic this season,” said Jeffrey. “So we have moved on most of the players who would slow the game down for guys who are quick and handle the ball better. If you look at the top teams in the world, you don’t see much hold-up play any more…

“Before I made this decision, I tried it in practice and used the players who like to hold it up against the players who are faster and like to pass and move. And every time, the players who play faster have won the game.”

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) tries to evade St Ann's Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip during Pro League action at the Barataria Recreation Ground on 2 April 2016. Phillip will also represent Jabloteh in 2017. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (left) tries to evade St Ann’s Rangers defender Shakiyl Phillip during Pro League action at the Barataria Recreation Ground on 2 April 2016.
Phillip will also represent Jabloteh in 2017.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

In fact, Jabloteh have not registered a single traditional forward for the Caribbean Club Championship.

Tricky Guyanese winger Vurlon Mills is likely to play as a “false nine” with workmanlike and versatile Jamaican midfielder Keithy Simpson behind him. Although, as always, lightening fast Soca Warriors winger Nathan Lewis should be key to their chances of success.

Jabloteh have six foreign players in their 21-man squad for the Caribbean competition, which also includes Grenada international goalkeeper Shemel Louison, Guyanese custodian Andrew Durant, Panamanian midfielder Jairo Lombardo and Jamaicans Adrian Reid and Damian Williams. Williams, a tidy midfield organiser, is the club captain while Reid is a solid defender and penalty specialist.

All six represented the club last season while, Lombardo apart, the rest have campaigned in the Pro League for between three to 10 years.

Jabloteh should also add Venezuelan winger Jose Parra to their ranks in time for the Pro League. But in talented young locals like Kadeem Corbin, Josiah Trimmingham, Micah Lansiquot, Shakiyl Phillip and Aquil Campbell, the Kings believe they have an exciting project for the future.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team midfielder Micah Lansiquot controls the ball during a practice game against St Ann's Rangers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team midfielder Micah Lansiquot controls the ball during a practice game against St Ann’s Rangers at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Warriors defender Carlyle Mitchell and former Trinity College East attacking midfielder Sean Bonval should also join the Jabloteh team as soon as they recover from injury.

“I looked at [Jamaican team] Portmore via SportsMax and I think we will do well against them,” said Jeffrey. “We are at home and expect to have the backing of the crowd and we are accustomed to the Hasely Crawford Stadium. We also have a good idea of what Jamaican and Haiti teams can do.

“I know Central have brought in a lot of foreigners on loan but I stick to chemistry and I believe that will take us far.”

Jabloteh and Central are drawn in two different groups and the two winners will contest the final. The Caribbean champion automatically qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League which kicks off in February 2018 while the remaining three teams will play in the CONCACAF League, which runs from August to October 2017.

The CONCACAF League winner will advance to next year’s Champions League.

For different reasons, it should be an intriguing battle for either Pro League team.

Photo: Former Pittsburgh Panthers defensive midfielder Graham Smith will represent Central FC at the 2017 Caribbean Club Championships.
Photo: Former Pittsburgh Panthers defensive midfielder Graham Smith will represent Central FC at the 2017 Caribbean Club Championships.

(Teams)

San Juan Jabloteh

Goalkeepers: Shemel Louison, Andrew Durant, Javon Sample;

Defenders: Adrian Reid, Akeem Benjamin, Jevon Morris, Kion Joseph, Shakiyl Phillip, Josiah Trimmingham;

Midfielders: Damian Williams, Elijah Manners, Micah Lansiquot, Keithy Simpson;

Attackers: Aquil Campbell, Nathan Lewis, Jairo Lombardo, Kennedy Hinkson, Julio Noel, Hayden Tinto, Kadeem Corbin, Vurlon Mills.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh defender Adrian Reid (left) tries to force his way past two opponents during Pro League action against Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 1 November 2016. Jabloteh won 3-2. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh defender Adrian Reid (left) tries to force his way past two opponents during Pro League action against Police FC at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 1 November 2016.
Jabloteh won 3-2.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Central FC (so far)

Goalkeepers: Ryan Thompson, Akil Clarke;

Defenders: Carlos Edwards, Kaydion Gabriel, Keston George, Taryk Sampson, Seon Power, Sean Bateau, Simil Fresnel, Vashami Allen;

Midfielders: Sean De Silva, Nathaniel Garcia, Graham Smith;

Attackers: Jason Marcano, Johan Peltier, Tyrik John.

Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (left) chases Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia during the Digicel Charity Shield on 10 September 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling (left) chases Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia during the Digicel Charity Shield on 10 September 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

2017 Caribbean Club Championship fixtures

Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain

(Sunday 14 May)

San Juan Jabloteh vs Racing FC (Haiti), Group B, 5:30pm;

Central FC vs Grenades FC (Antigua), Group A, 8pm;

(Tuesday 16 May)

Portmore United (Jamaica) vs Racing FC (Haiti), Group B, 5:30pm;

Cibao FC (Dominican Rep) vs Grenades FC (Antigua), Group A, 8pm.

(Thursday 18 May)

San Juan Jabloteh vs Portmore United (Jamaica), Group B, 5:30pm;

Central FC vs Cibao FC (Dominican Republic), Group A, 8pm;

Photo: Central FC winger Jason Marcano (centre) tries to find a way past San Juan Jabloteh players Fabian Reid (right) and Garth Thomas during 2015 Pro League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. (Courtesy Kerlon Orr/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC winger Jason Marcano (centre) tries to find a way past San Juan Jabloteh players Fabian Reid (right) and Garth Thomas during 2015 Pro League action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
(Courtesy Kerlon Orr/CA-images/Wired868)

(Sunday 21 May)

CFU Third Place Play Off

Group A runner-up vs Group B runner-up, 5pm;

Caribbean Club Championships final

Group A winner v Group B winner, 8pm.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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95 comments

  1. the league structure needs a complete overhaul, on and off the park

    as for Central’s recruitment drive, I was of the opinion that short-term contracts like that were illegal, excepting injury cover

    maybe the competition has separate rules, but I would hate to be pushed aside for a guy who wasn’t part of our plans long term

  2. And the Ceo of the professional league Dexter Skeene just continues to let the owners of the teams continue with their madness instead of defending the players rights. Them really good yes

  3. Yeah and remember when they also hire the pedophile Coach Graham Rix who had to run from our sweet country when he was exposed eh Them really good yes

  4. The only reason that association was formed was to go after jw nothing else the big crook bring the insurance,/ Piper to fool the masses and he settle now get woman and realise is third world people here so it easy to rip them off

  5. And just imagine that these are the same two individuals that was supposed to be running the professional players Association in our sweet country eh to defend the players rights etc, etc etc. Them really good yes

  6. It’s always the same thing with you crooks always telling lies and one sided stories to cover your asses . Not one truthful word can ever be told in the mediation meeting for lg is a bunch of lies to make his parents and I look bad to try and justify the dishonest tactic you used to trap a 16 yr old. What sickens me is you crooks are both parents but you continue to rip people kids off but mark my words karma is a bitch you crooks day will come soon

  7. What do we do about pretend agents who advise players to walk out of a contract to travel to a joke trial overseas and return without any work? Would that guy have received legal advice? These people must be kept away from football. How many employers tell you that you have succeeded in your job application, here’s your contract, take it to your lawyer, have a little think and come back to me? Meantime, every pro league club issues the exact same approved contract. The only difference is the front sheet which states length of contract, salary and any other tens such as accommodation (with free wifi and unlimited door keys if applicable) and clubs option to extend contract. If players need a lawyer to help them understand those items, then they can of course gain advice.

  8. And hence the reason why the English men/ local owners will always continue going to the banks smiling steeuuppss. Them really good yes.

  9. In fact they hate lawyers, or parents or any advisers to read it, ask Dion Sosa

  10. And could you imagine that some of these professional teams telling our players that they have to read their contracts and return it in half hour signed eh the players wasn’t even given enough time eh to consult with a lawyer eh. Them really good yes

  11. Does anyone in the TT Pro League besides he obvious care about the growth of T&T Football?

    Or is winning this Pro League the pinnacle of their thoughts?

  12. – Over the weekend I linked up with one of my faithful and loyal player for life and he was sharing with me about the ordeals that he had to endure while representing one of the professional teams in our sweet country and even when he left the team and the owner had to continue honoring his contract while representing another team the owner when the both teams met said to his players. Alyuh see that young baller there , he is the most educated baller that I have ever came across because he understood about the contracts etc, etc, and this is what I told him, well thanks to your education is the reason why they cannot bamboozled your thinking and your welfare eh . Them really good yes.

  13. So why some of the owners of the professional teams in our sweet country just cannot be honest and be full of plenty integrity when it comes to the welfare of our footballers in our sweet country. I wonder when will the lies and the exploitation will finally come to and end ? Them really good yes.

  14. Look forward to seeing the action.

  15. Each club would employ methods to treat with the reality of their situation. Sponsorship from league and club standpoint is difficult , Central has come up with a creative angle, one who is not faced with the wage bill at the end of month can afford to be cynical and scoff at these efforts. But those who put in the monies understand it.

  16. Amarica and China used the same principle,but and that’s a big but, they used star names .players who were internationally known,I don’t think the same will happen here when Herman Brown plays for Centeal

  17. Guess they are implying the locals aren’t up to par? 12 foreigners?
    Sounds like a big mafia. I am almost certain, there will one day be a probe into these transactions- Hope it doesn’t affect our national team.

  18. Carlos who right thinking footballer leaving all those so called big teams academies to sign a 3 week contact to play in a league with no money no crowd support no nothing where they can play in Europe to get seen

  19. Might be time for Skeene and the TTPL to implement a cap on foreign players – Especially if dollars from government subventions are going to be used to pay them. We should also establish minimum criteria that foreign players should meet before being able to ply their trade in tnt. At minimum they should meet one of the following requirements: prior professional footballing experience; previously represented their country at the youth or senior level; played at the college level.

  20. Lmfao if the so called players you bringing were at those clubs mentioned academies and coming to play for central FC for a month they either have to be real shit or desperate for football

  21. It does seem that Central are condemned for whatever decisions they make. While every team looking to win CFU usually stacks their squad with short term foreign imports – including Jabloteh, Joe Public and W. Connection, Central publicly had a policy of 100% Trini wherever possible and, aside from Defence Force, are the only team to win CFU with a totally local 11 players. Now we’re trying something different. Bringing players who were at academies at Man Utd, Man City, Chelsea, West Ham. Players who played for Wolves, Sheffield United. Foreign internationals and exciting young Caribbean talents to supplement our local boys and help improve their professionalism. This should be creating a buzz where people want to come and watch the games and take a look. But instead, more criticism and idiot comments from predictable quarters. Jabloteh have foreigners, so why not criticize them? Is their no pride in a T&T club trying to make history? Is their no interest in trying to raise the standard of local football, which is actually more admired outside of T&T than by local football fans? People talk about Pro League being boring, poor standard etc. Yet we try to develop interest and it’s still negative? Steups.

  22. Central won the same tournament in 2015 with one foreign player, in 2016 with 0 foreign players. Most teams in the tournament routinely recruit foreign players just for this tournament. The Antiguan team has several Jamaicans, D.R. has several Haitians. This is the first time Central has ever had more than 3 foreigners on its roster to my knowledge. There is a limit to number of non caricom players allowed in Pro League, but not CFU.

  23. Does not also say “only if the job cannot be done by a local” ?

  24. Lmao…..if yuh ain’t cheating yuh ain’t trying

  25. So do our local Clubs care about the development of our youths, or just trying anything to win. Isn’t the purpose of having a professional League to raise our standards.

    What does it say if I can bring a legion of players for 30 days, every so often?

    That local players are not worthy of playing in the league.

    The league needs to make a stance on how many foreigners a team can play during the season.

  26. Yes, under the Immigration Act Ch 18:01 Reg. 10 (1) (c).

  27. Didn’t CONCACAF bump up the $40,000.00 to $70-80,000? And while it does seem like much…we don’t have direct airfare to most locations which puts Caribbean teams at a financial & logistical disadvantage.

  28. Just a correction: only the winning team qualifies for champions league in February. Runners up qualify for the concacaf league in August against Central American teams. Winner of that qualifies for champions league also. Similar to the Europa Cup.

  29. Your boy Saintfiet was here longer than Dem contacts Lasana Liburd

  30. What manner of madness is this? Isn’t there a limit to how many players you can list as squad players?

  31. Hahah lol

    Kevin Harrison really?

  32. Have 10 days in football too?

  33. Praying it works out for the players signing those super short term contracts..

  34. Ok. Thanks Nicole Ulerie. 😉

  35. That’s actually correct…they can however only do it once..after that they must get a work permit

  36. Ohhh..I thought a visitor’s entry stamp prohibits you from working