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Cibao put Central FC on alert with Jekyll and Hyde showing; Portmore KO Racing Club

Well, that was interesting. Trinidad and Tobago Pro League teams, Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh, had their own way for the opening double header of the Caribbean Club Championship’s final group stage on Sunday night.

But Jamaica’s Portmore United and the Dominican Republic’s Cibao FC did just enough to ensure that they will not be taken for granted at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain tomorrow night when they square off against the host teams with a CONCACAF Champions League spot at stake.

Photo: Cibao FC winger Patrick Soko (centre) charges past Grenades FC players (from right) Zaccheus Polius, Karanja Mack and Blake Thompson during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Cibao FC winger Patrick Soko (centre) charges past Grenades FC players (from right) Zaccheus Polius, Karanja Mack and Blake Thompson during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Last night, Portmore eliminated Haiti’s Racing Club FC while Cibao were held 2-2 by Antigua’s Grenades FC in a see-saw affair. It means that Central, the defending regional champions, and Jabloteh can both advance to the 2017 Caribbean finals with draws tomorrow.

Jabloteh face Portmore from 5.30pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium while Central and Cibao clash from 8pm at the same venue.

A 17th minute item from winger Ricardo Morris was all that differentiated Portmore and Racing yesterday. Portmore players were appealing for a free kick when Cleon Pryce was tripped at the edge of the opposing box, as Morris swooped on the loose ball. Turks and Caicos Island referee Gianni Ascani shrewdly allowed the advantage and the Jamaican drove the ball into the roof of the Racing net for the opener.

It might easily have become 2-0 in the 44th minute as Portmore striker Javon East met a right side Henrico Ricketts cross with a firm header that crashed against the Racing bar.

In the end, though, Portmore were grateful to their own custodian, Shaven-Sean Paul, as he clawed away a header from Racing right back Ernso Senatus in the 83rd minute, as the Jamaican team held on for the win.

Photo: Portmore United winger Cleon Pryce (left) tries to escape from a challenge by a Racing Club defender during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Portmore United winger Cleon Pryce (left) tries to escape from a challenge by a Racing Club defender during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

The result meant that Portmore, along with Jabloteh, will at least advance to the CONCACAF League, which is CONCACAF’s answer to the Europa League and is a rung below the Champions League.

The CONCACAF League comprises of 16 teams, which are the second, third and fourth placed clubs from Honduras, Panama, El Salvador and the Caribbean respectively along with the first and second placed Nicaragua teams, the third and fourth placed Costa Rica teams and the Belize champions.

Only the CONCACAF League winner will advance to the CONCACAF Champions League.

It means that the most realistic chance of a Caribbean club getting to the Champions League is by winning the regional tournament outright.

Portmore, like Racing and Grenades, looked short of the match tempo necessary to stretch Pro League opposition let alone opponents from North or Central America.

Team captain Ewan Grandison made his presence felt in the centre of the Portmore midfield while East was a willing runner upfront and Morris and playmaker Sue-Lae McCalla were also decent in possession.

But Jabloteh, rugged and compact in defence, should be able to cope with the Jamaicans’ offence while the locals  play at a tempo that would discomfort Portmore—albeit intermittently.

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh attacker Julio Noel (foreground) tries to hold off a challenge from a Racing Club opponent during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017. Jabloteh won 2-0. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh attacker Julio Noel (foreground) tries to hold off a challenge from a Racing Club opponent during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017.
Jabloteh won 2-0.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

So unless coach Linval Dixon can pull a rabbit out of the hat on Thursday, Jabloteh start as favourites.

Cibao are a far more interesting prospect. In Haitian playmaker Charles Herold Jr, the Dominican Republic club arguably possess the finest conductor in the competition. While inverted wingers Patrick Soko and Woodensky “Babalito” Cherenfant, who are from Cameroon and Haiti respectively, have the pace, strength and single-minded ambition to unnerve defenders.

On Tuesday night, though, their finishing was on par with a fete match team.

True, Grenades goalkeeper Prince Walter made a couple fine stops. But it was almost farcical that the Dominican Republic team were not four goals ahead by the interval.

Goals were inevitable though and Babalito finally soothed frayed nerves with a quick-fire double in the 53rd and 56th minutes, as he finished off a threaded pass from Herold before doubling their advantage off a Rafael Flores assist.

Herold missed the chance to stretch the lead to three goals when he struck the post in the 78th minute.

Cibao were coasting to the finish line when, five minutes from the final whistle, Grenades snatched a goal out of nothing as Tevaughn Harriette prodded home from close range after trading passes—straight through the centre of the opposing defence—with teammate Steve Smith.

Photo: Cibao FC winger Woodensky “Babalito” Cherenfant (right) leaves Grenades FC midfielder Teran Williams for dead during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Cibao FC winger Woodensky “Babalito” Cherenfant (right) leaves Grenades FC midfielder Teran Williams for dead during Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 16 May 2017.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

The Cibao outfit might have still been wondering what to make of the sudden show of defiance by the Antiguan club when, within seconds, Grenades struck again as Smith found space in the opposing area and his cross was inadvertently turned in by lunging defender Cesar “Danco” Garcia for an own goal and equaliser.

The game finished 2-2 and, if Central defeat Cibao by more than two clear goals, Grenades can still sneak into the CONCACAF League.

If Cibao play like they did for the first hour, though, it is the “Couva Sharks” who might find themselves fighting to advance to the Caribbean final on Sunday evening.

The possibilities should make for an interesting double header tomorrow.

Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel "Spanish" Garcia (centre) tries to caress a pass into the path of teammate Sean De Silva (far left) during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017. Looking on (from right) are Grenades FC players Rakeem Henry and Nazir McBurnette and referee Sherwin Moore. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC midfielder Nathaniel “Spanish” Garcia (centre) tries to caress a pass into the path of teammate Sean De Silva (far left) during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017.
Looking on (from right) are Grenades FC players Rakeem Henry and Nazir McBurnette and referee Sherwin Moore.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

2017 Caribbean Club Championship results

(Tuesday 16 May)

Portmore United 1 (Ricardo Morris 17), Racing FC 0, Group B, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Cibao FC 2 (Woodensky “Babalito” Cherenfant 53, 56), Grenades FC 2 (Tevaughn Harriette 85, Cesar “Danco” Garcia OG 86), Group A, Hasely Crawford Stadium.

(Sunday 14 May)

San Juan Jabloteh 2 (Nathan Lewis 50, Mitchelson Joseph OG 73), Racing FC 0, Group B, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Central FC 3 (Jason Marcano 38, Carlos Edwards 44, Nathaniel Garcia 85), Grenades FC 1 (Tevaughn Harriette 6), Group A, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (right) takes on an opponent from Racing Club during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017. Lewis scored the opener as Jabloteh won 2-0. (Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)
Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (right) takes on an opponent from Racing Club during 2017 Caribbean Club Championship action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 14 May 2017.
Lewis scored the opener as Jabloteh won 2-0.
(Courtesy Nicholas Bhajan/Wired868)

Upcoming fixtures

(Thursday 18 May)

San Juan Jabloteh vs Portmore United FC, Group B, 5:30pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Central FC vs Cibao FC, Group A, 8pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

(Sunday 21 May)

Group A runner-up vs Group B runner-up, CFU third place play off, 5pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium;

Group A winner v Group B winner, CFU finals, 8pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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23 comments

  1. Central down to ten men let’s see if they can hold on to the draw.

  2. Man just miss and open goal yes

  3. Not that we are blaming Central.

  4. Right. Lionel Messi’s middle name is Andres. Nobody will think it cute if a match commissioner decided to give that as his name instead though.

  5. Yes we saw that. Richard is his middle name.

  6. Well Ryan Thompson was listed as Richard Thompson for Central FC. Lol. I complained to Shaun Fuentes already who said he passed on concern to match commissioner.
    This isn’t totally new. We get it all the time for CFU games especially when Spanish or French teams are involved.
    Match commissioners or whoever is responsible can never tell which is supposed to be the surname and pass on wrong info to media.
    I always cross-check online. But I wonder how many media houses don’t and pass on that incorrect info to readers/listeners.

  7. Lol. I’ll talk to concacaf about teamsheets to ensure that’s corrected. Only reason I knew about the keeper is that he looked decent so I asked the coach!

  8. Half of the Racing Club’s team is given with surname first. The rest are in reverse order. The Grenades squad has several misspellings. The Cibao team is just a joke. They gave us one name for each player. Sometimes the first name, sometimes the surname, sometimes the nickname.
    But Kevin is right. I had the Racing goalkeeper there instead of the Grenades goalkeeper. I’ve adjusted.

  9. Not according to the team list Kevin. But I wouldn’t be surprised. Because apart from the Jabloteh squad, every single team sheet given to the media contained errors.

  10. Should be interesting tomorrow night. Most teams in CFU lose it after 30 odd Lasana lol

  11. Lasana Liburd under all the ole talk, how’s Man U (as my pardner says Man Ure ) playing today ?