Bankers Insurance Central FC will defend their Caribbean Club Championship crown in Sunday’s regional final in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. And, once again, bitter Couva rivals, DIRECTV W Connection, will be their opponent.
Both Pro League clubs maintained Trinidad and Tobago’s dominance in the Caribbean competition last night, as they got through the semifinal round and, in the process, assured themselves of berths in the 2016/17 CONCACAF Champions League competition.
For the second year running, Central needed penalties to squeeze past Haitian outfit Don Bosco FC, after both teams were goalless after 90 minutes and locked at 1-1 following extra time.
Sean De Silva registered Central’s lone goal from a free kick in the 93rd minute while Kerlins Georges equalised with a penalty in the 104th minute.
The “Couva Sharks” had an unlikely hero in the end as, with first choice goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams missing through injury and his deputy Akel Clarke hurt last night, former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Team captain Javon Sample came off the bench to make two crucial saves in the shootout.
It kept Central in the hunt for Dale Saunders’ first title, since he replaced Ross Russell as head coach last December.
In the other semifinal game, Alvin Jones banged in an early free kick and Shahdon Winchester scored in first half stoppage time as Connection held off Jamaican club, Arnett Gardens, 2-0 to get to the Caribbean Cup final.
In local Digicel Pro Bowl action, St Ann’s Rangers shocked Club Sando 3-0 and Morvant Caledonia edged Point Fortin Civic 5-3 on kicks from the penalty mark to advance to the quarterfinal stage.
All three Rangers goals came in the first half as Anslem Jackson notched a double in the 6th and 29th minutes while Sedate McLean scored in the 35th minute, as Sando could not muster a response at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Morvant Caledonia’s Guyanese hitman Sheldon Holder carried over his form from his outfit’s successful Lucozade Sport Goal Shield run, as he opened the scoring in the 51st minute. But Juma Clarence equalised for Civic in the 75th minute as the game went to a shootout.
The “Eastern Stallions” did not miss a single effort to emerge 5-3 winners and book a place in next week’s Pro Bowl quarterfinal round.
Caribbean Club Championship
(Friday April 29)
Central FC 1 (Sean De Silva 93), Don Bosco FC 1 (Kerlins Georges 104 pen) in Port-au-Prince;
*—Central won 4-2 on kicks from the penalty mark;
W Connection 2 (Alvin Jones 2, Shahdon Winchester 45), Arnett Gardens 0 in Port-au-Prince;
Digicel Pro Bowl
(Friday April 29)
St Ann’s Rangers 3 (Anslem Jackson 6, 29, Sedale McLean 35), Club Sando 0 at Ato Boldon Stadium;
Morvant Caledonia United 1 (Sheldon Holder 51), Point Fortin Civic 1 (Juma Clarence 75) at Ato Boldon Stadium;
*—Morvant Caledonia won 5-3 on kicks from the penalty mark.