HydroTech Central FC will represent the Trinidad and Tobago Pro League in the semifinal round of the 2018 Club Championship after the “Couva Sharks” held on for a gutsy 1-0 win over Dominican Republic outfit, Atlántico FC, yesterday at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Atlántico, unbeaten in the competition until yesterday, needed a draw before kick-off—which would have not only ensured their progress but also eliminated Central.
Instead, the hosts fell 1-0 to the spirited Sharks whose grit, shape and fitness spoke well for the work done by rookie coach and ex-national stand-out Stern John.
John, who took over as Central head coach last season and is assistant to Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at present, had roughly three weeks to get his squad ready for battle. Only three players from his starting team had represented the Sharks in the 2017 Pro League season.
At the final whistle, it was an own goal that separated the two teams as Atlántico defender Yoan Melo inadvertently turned home an effort from Central midfielder Darren “Chucky” Mitchell.
It was no more than Central deserved and God knows how the visitors didn’t go ahead in the 12th minute when a Jason Marcano header from close range was met with a brilliant save from opposing custodian Cristian Blanco. Blanco, an Argentine, was one of seven South American players in the Atlántico squad.
Marcano, who scored twice in Central’s 3-0 win over Haiti’s Racing FC, should have done better with his second headed attempt in the 61st minute when he contrived to direct a Tyrone Charles cross straight at Blanco in the 61st minute.
It looked to be a costly miss as the Dominican Republic team threw numbers forward and would have conjured an equaliser in the 67th minute but for a goalline clearance by Central right-back Anthony Wolfe.
It got worse for the visitors as the referee awarded the hosts a penalty in the 71st minute, only for ex-Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 goalkeeper Montel Joseph to produce a flying save to his right to deny Argentine forward Joel Perucci.
Atlántico would not get close again as defenders Carlyle Mitchell and Taryk Sampson dealt capably with a late aerial bombardment while veteran midfielder Densill Theobald, his energetic sidekick Rhondel Gibson and the wily Marcano and Charles protected the ball well and ran the clock down at every opportunity.
In the closing minutes, the hosts totally lost their composure as Blanco had to be dragged away from confronting Marcano—after the Arima native went down one time too many, as far the South American goalkeeper was concerned, for medical attention—while Atlántico players tried to provoke physical confrontations all over the field.
There was a late red card too as Colombian defender Yeison Murillo hauled Mitchell (D) to the ground when the latter player looked to be clean through on goal during a counter attack.
In the end, the result arguably owed as much to know-how and experience as anything else with the likes of Theobald, Marcano, Wolfe, Neptune, Charles and the Mitchells showing the value of their globe-trotting expeditions, successfully defying the intimidating atmosphere in Santiago.
Central will now join Dominican Republic team Club Atlético Pantoja and Jamaican clubs Arnett Gardens and Portmore United FC in the regional semifinals.
The eventual overall champion will represent the Caribbean in the CONCACAF Champions League while second and third will face Central American opposition in the second tier league competition.
The fourth-placed team from the Caribbean semifinals will face the winner of the Caribbean’s tier two club competition—which includes teams from Suriname and Guyana—for the final berth in the CONCACAF League.
At present, Central FC managing director Brent Sancho is trying to negotiate a long-term deal with HydroTech to sponsor the club or buy it outright.
Central FC general manager David Muhammad, who was hired by HydroTech, did not commit his company to continuing its sponsorship of the Sharks—which has reached roughly TT$250,000 already. However, he said that dialogue will continue between the two parties.
“The team’s performance was excellent [in the Dominican Republic,” Muhammad told Wired868. “Coach Stern John did very well to assemble a group of players and mould them into a working squad with an incredible chemistry and sense of collective understanding. We look forward to the next stage.”
W Connection, the Pro League’s other representative in the Caribbean tournament, were eliminated at home in Group A, having finished bottom of the table.
Central FC (4-2-3-1): 30.Montel Joseph (GK); 17.Anthony Wolfe, 12.Taryk Sampson, 5.Carlyle Mitchell (captain), 22.Jameel Neptune; 13.Rhondel Gibson, 18.Densill Theobald (vice-captain); 27.Nathan Lewis, 11.Darren Mitchell, 9.Tyrone Charles (15.Kaydion Gabriel 80); 19.Jason Marcano (3.Tyrik John 89).
Unused substitutes: 1.Javon Sample (GK), 7.Saleem Henry, 10.Keron Cummings, 8.Cornell Glen, 24.Jules Lee, 26.Trevin Latapy, 29.Jesse Joseph.
Coach: Stern John
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Congrats to Mitchie and Nathan.
congrats to all at Central FC..well done… Lasana Liburd…seeing that you mentioned the goalkeeper Joseph as a national U23 player..can you list the full U23 squad and staff ?? ( lol..plz )
I said “former” Gary Hector. Lol. He was part of squad with Neveal Hackshaw, Nathaniel Garcia and Ricardo John.
Lasana Liburd lol…
Nathan Lewis needs to get that experience out there. How old is he …will he be available for the next world cup?
He’s 27. Will be 28 this July.
That is young in Trinidad it have men debuting at 29 so he safe
Oh well. That’s progress. Good luck to both players.
Well Carlyle Mitchell and Nathan Lewis wouldn’t be representing Central FC in the final round.
What division is that?
USL. The division beneath MLS.
Same division with Ataulla Guerra, Neveal Hackshaw, Kevan George, Shannon Gomez, Jamal Jack, Justin Hoyte, Kareem Moses, Greg Ranjitsingh etc.
That’s a living. No problem.
Ok so now our players have to prove themselves in the USL division in order to move up to the top division the MLS well at least our younger players and playing now in a real organized professional league with plenty more crowd support eh, they will now be ready and on point to represent our Soca Warriors hopefully. Good luck fellas and continue to keep our flag flying very high.
Nigel Myers & Jelani Peters at Toronto FC 2 and Noah Power at red bulls 2 I think
And I believe unless he changed club of late – George team was NASL
still crazy looking back except Hoyte who was forced to give up ?? to get his usl contract how now of the Warriors USL contingent got a look in by Lawrence during qualifiers
Lasana Liburd Keith Look LoyKirwin Weston Roneil K Walcott Brent Bennett
Noah Powder has left Red Bulls II. Peters was also training with Toronto’s first team during pre-season. Kevan George has moved to Charlotte Independence.
Travis Mulraine leave we pro league alone lol
How does a player get up to international standard if he isn’t given many opportunities if being overlooked Lasana Liburd? How would he know the difference between club football which most know about compare to international ?
Thanks you Lasana Liburd .
Nigel, judging from what I’ve seen from veterans like Jason Marcano, Densill Theobald and Anthony Wolfe in this competition. “We” really need to have a think about when is too early to start writing players off as “over the hill.”
In what context? Representing the national team?
Well to begin with, Marcano never got a fair shot in terms of national team selection. But as we both know, playing in the CCC and at international level are two different things. As a matter of fact, look what does happen with our club teams when they end up in the CONCACAF Champions League. I wouldn’t get excited because of their performances over the last week.
Nigel judging from how we are playing in the Caribbean these days, I hadda feel relieved with that yes. Lol. But you’re right. I will hold my hand a little longer.
The difference is speed of thought and play. Effective transition and organized and tenacious defending from front to back. And ofcourse taking our chances when we get it or them. Problem is we dont face that level of intensity often enough of at all in the pro league. But we need to get used to that intensity to be able get it right
Whats next for central Lasana Liburd?
I’m not sure when the next stage is Travis. Pro League starts in late April. Next step for Central is finding money to pay players and staff for March!
Ive heard the pro league starts in may. We ll see . Smh
Travis, I met the Pro League chairman during under-20 womens tournament and asked him. He said first week in April.
Then I asked a staffer and he said middle of April. Then when I was interviewing Jamaal he said late April.
Now you saying May… the pro league does kill me yes! ???
LoL. Well i Hope its starts according to plan for a change
Not a man call an actual date yet eh. Our Pro League starts on Trini time! ???
Every year, some foreign scout or journalist contacts me and asks for Pro League fixtures and I just have to Steups.
To do what Lasana waste their time