Pro League leaders Central FC will need to defeat Alpha United on Sunday at the latter’s home turf to stay alive in the Caribbean Club Championship. The “Couva Sharks” failed to match or better Alpha United’s opening result as a Willis Plaza double steered Central to a 2-0 win over Surinamese outfit, Inter Moengotapoe, this afternoon at the Providence Stadium in Guyana.
Alpha defeated Inter 3-0 at the same venue on Wednesday with goals from the Guyana international pair of Daniel Wilson and club captain Gregory Richardson and a crucial stoppage time finish from Grenada international Kithson Bain.
Alpha and Central will meet from 4 pm on Sunday in the final Group 1 match and the Couva-based outfit needs a win to advance to the Caribbean semifinals. If Central draw or lose on Sunday, they would be eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions League qualifiers after just two matches.
In Trinidad, DIRECTV W Connection are in the opposite position after an emphatic 7-1 win over the Guyana Defence Force on Wednesday night at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. The Guyanese soldiers rebounded today to hold Antiguan outfit, SAP FC, 2-2 in Couva, which means Connection would also advance to the next round with just a point on Sunday.
Connection and SAP FC square off in the Group 2 decider from 6 pm on Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The winner of Group 1 and 2 will face each other next month in the Caribbean Club Championship semifinal. The winner qualifies automatically for the Champions League and would contest the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship final while the two semifinal losers will fight for sole remaining berth to the CONCACAF competition.
Former England World Cup player Terry Fenwick made his official competitive return at the helm of Central’s coaching staff in Georgetown today after, in a farcical episode, his employers forgot to register him for their last Pro League outing against San Juan Jabloteh.
Fenwick, who left Central for a brief and calamitous stint in Belgium last June, wasted no time in altering his predecessor Zoran Vranes’ set-up as their 3-5-2 formation was replaced with 4-4-2. While Elton John, Akeem Benjamin and Jamal Jack all received new roles within the line-up and veteran Marvin Oliver and midfielder Sean De Silva found themselves, at least temporarily, outside the first XI.
Central won again today but they will not know until Sunday whether it was enough.
After a goalless first half, Plaza put the Sharks ahead in the 53rd minute after some good wing play from 20-year-old Nathaniel Garcia, the elder brother of Netherlands-bound youth star Levi Garcia. It was Plaza’s first goal in five matches.
Four minutes layer, Plaza doubled Central’s advantage with a precise volley.
But the Pro League team could not conjure up a crucial third goal.
“We are disappointed,” said Central captain Leston Paul, after the match. “We are disappointed. We should have scored more but at the end of the day, we got the three points.
“That’s all that matters.”
Only a win would do for the Sharks on Sunday now. Connection could make do with a draw against SAP this weekend.
Central FC: Jan-Michael Williams; Kaydion Gabriel, Akeem Benjamin, Elton John, Kevon Villaroel (Keion Goodridge 55); Leston Paul, Jamal Jack; Darren Mitchell (Sean De Silva 70), Ataulla Guerra, Nathaniel Garcia (Jason Marcano 62); Willis Plaza.
Coach: Terry Fenwick
CFU Group Stage fixtures
(Wed Apr 15)
Alpha United 3 (Daniel Wilson 26, Gregory Richardson 56, Kithson Bain 90), Inter Moengotapoe 0, 4 pm, Group 1, Providence Stadium, Georgetown;
W Connection 7 (Akeem Garcia 18, Shahdon Winchester 20, 25, Hashim Arcia 32, 46, 82, Jerrel Britto 40), Guyana D/Force 1 (Delroy Fraser 90), Group 2, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva;
(Fri Apr 17)
Central FC 2 (Willis Plaza 53, 57), Inter Moengotapoe 0, Group 1, Providence Stadium, Georgetown;
Guyana D/Force 2, SAP FC 2, 6 pm, Group 2, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Sun Apr 19)
Alpha United v Central FC, 4 pm, Group 1, Providence Stadium, Georgetown;
W Connection v SAP FC, 6 pm, Group 2, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva;