Trinidad and Tobago Pro League clubs DIRECTV W Connection and Neal & Massy Caledonia will take different routes to the CONCACAF Champions League group stage but they can both get there.
Yesterday evening, a goalless draw between W Connection and Antigua Barracuda at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva meant that Connection finished on top of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) group and qualify automatically for the CONCACAF tournament.
Connection, the 2011/12 Digicel Pro League champion, took four points from its two fixtures after an opening 4-0 rout of Caledonia. Caledonia, who finished second after a 3-1 win over Barracuda on Sunday, must now battle Jamaica’s Portmore United for the lone remaining berth in a home and away tie later this month.
Portmore was second to Haiti’s Valencia in Group 2, which was played in Jamaica.
At Couva, Barracuda needed a handsome win to recover from an opening group loss and it always seemed improbable. The Antiguan visitors could claim to have restored some pride though as they mustered a point against the Caribbean’s most successful club since the turn of the millennium.
Versatile Connection attacker Andrei Pacheco should have put the host team ahead in the 35th minute but blasted high and wide after a clever through pass from teammate Hashim Arcia. It was a rare opportunity for the “Savonetta Boys.”
Barracuda, who sat off and tried to soak up pressure against Caledonia on Sunday, was more proactive yesterday as the third tier United States-based club pressed high and offered more variety to its attack.
Teenager flanker Eugene Kirwan had the Antiguans best chance but clumsily volleyed over the bar in the 61st minute, from inside the opposing penalty box, after a flick on from the industrious Tamorley Thomas.
Two minutes later, Barracuda striker Randolph Burton expertly teed up midfielder Andre Manders who also failed to keep his shot down.
There was little else to report in a game that fizzed out long before the final whistle as the Antiguans accepted their fate and Connection eased to the finish line.
Connection will be in action again on Friday when the Couva-based club meets North East Stars in the Lucozade Sport Goal Shield final at the Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya. It is almost certain to provide more excitement than yesterday’s CFU chore.
DIRECTV W Connection (4-2-1-3): 21.Alejandro Figueroa (GK); 25.Christian Viveros, 4.Daneil Cyrus, 19.Joel Russell, 32.Kurt Frederick; 12.Gerrard Williams, 8.Clyde Leon (Captain); 36.Joevin Jones; 26.Stefano Rijssel, 14.Hashim Arcia (31.Jerrel Britto 75), 17.Andrei Pacheco (29.Jomal Williams 53).
Unused substitutes: 22.Aquelius Sylvester (GK), 2.Jelani Grosvenor, 5.Elijah Joseph, 20.Silvio Spann, 39.Alvin Jones, 42.Tremain Paul, 65.Neil Benjamin Jr.
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Antigua Barracuda (4-4-1-1): 18.Molvin James (GK); 22.Hasely Pyle (24.Omarie Daniel 84), 3.Olrish Saurel, 17.George Dublin (captain), 4.Karanja Mack; 13.Tamorley Thomas, 2.Toric Robinson, 15.Lawson Robinson, 7.Eugine Kirwan; 29.Andre Manders; 14.Randolph Burton (19.Lloyd Jeremy 87).
Unused substitutes: 1.Corey Wisenhunt (GK), 6.Jamoy Stevens, 8.Alex Phillip, 10.Rolston Phoenix.
Coach: George Dublin
2013/14 CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers
(Fri Apr 26)
W Connection 4 (Joevin Jones 5, 81, Andrei Pacheco 26, Stefano Rijssel 89), Caledonia AIA 0 at Couva
(Sun Apr 28)
Caledonia AIA 3 (Jamal Gay 21, Densill Theobald 34, Keyon Edwards), Antigua Barracuda 1 (Andre Manders) at Couva
(Tue Apr 30)
W Connection 0, Antigua Barracuda 0 at Couva