Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team captain Kenwyne Jones’ protracted transfer to Pro League champions, Central FC, appears to be concluded after the Couva-based club announced his capture today.
Jones, who spent the first half of 2016 with Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates, was said to have completed his move to new United States Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise, Atlanta United, before immediately joining the “Couva Sharks” on loan.
Atlanta will compete in its maiden professional season in 2017 and the 31-year-old Jones is not due to join his MLS employers until next January.
Central, via press release, said Jones will represent their team in the interim. The former England Premier League forward may also be joined by former Sunderland teammate and 37-year-old ex-World Cup 2006 teammate, Carlos Edwards, according to the Pro League club.
Edwards has been out of contract since leaving England League One club, Millwall, in June. Both Edwards and Jones were teammates with Central managing director and ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho and assistant coach Stern John at the Germany World Cup.
They are now available to play on Tuesday 16 August when Central hosts MLS team, Sporting Kansas City, from 8pm in CONCACAF Champions League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
The Sharks lost 1-0 to Vancouver Whitecaps on 2 August and will be desperate to get a result on Tuesday, as only the group winner advances to the next round.
The following is an interview conducted by the Central media team, in conjunction with MiStore, with Jones:
CFC: Kenwyne, many people may have been surprised by your choice of clubs. Can you tell us why you chose to join Atlanta United?
Kenwyne Jones: I think I just wanted a fresh challenge. Playing in England was great, but after so many years I thought it would be good to use my experience to build something new. Atlanta have great plans and I love the city. Joining Atlanta gave me the chance to influence football in that city and help to build their brand. It’s a very exciting opportunity.
CFC: But why accept a loan to Central FC?
KJ: I had received interest from various clubs around the world including England. But there were several factors that, combined, made Central the right choice for me. First, I wanted to be closer to the national team with the World Cup qualifiers approaching. Being based in T&T will give me a lot more access to [Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach] Stephen Hart without the pressure from foreign clubs [who don’t want] to allow you to leave too early. Also, the journey does affect your performance.
Secondly, I wanted the chance to play Champions League football. While we all know that UEFA Champions League is the premier club tournament, the SCCL is growing year by year. Having never played MLS football, this gives me the chance to play a few games against MLS opponents to prepare myself for the upcoming season. Its a great opportunity for me to introduce myself to the MLS public and hopefully increase the interest in Atlanta United.
Of course, another reason is that it’s great to be at home for a few months. I’ve been overseas for more than 10 years so it feels great to live and play at home for a while. Brent [Sancho], Stern [John] and Dale [Saunders] are former team mates and that’s a formidable combination for a Pro League club. Their results speak for themselves. I am proud to be playing with the Caribbean champions and I’ve loved training with the guys, many of whom I know from the national team.
CFC: Do you think the standard of the Pro League is beneath your ability?
KJ: Well, first off, one man doesn’t make a team. You only get from every game what you put in. I approach training and games just the same whether Pro League or EPL. Of course, some teams will be better than others, but generally you have to look at your own performance first. I think the Pro League is unfairly criticised. Pro League teams’ record in the Caribbean Club Championships shows that the top Pro League teams have quality. The step up to becoming real challengers in the Champions League requires much more than the clubs can provide.
I’m very disappointed at seeing the low level of support at games. Football is our number one sport yet people prefer to sit in a bar watching Barcelona. Obviously, we’re all interested in watching the world’s top teams, but football supporting is about participation. You need to attend games and influence the outcome. I was amazed at the Vancouver game to see 1,500 people behave like they were in a library! There was no buzz. The crowd only reacted when Central made a bad pass or lost the ball.
In England, supporters—men, women and children—will turn up at our stadium to shovel snow off the pitch so the game can play. They don’t get paid, they just love their team and want to help. Local supporters need to get involved more. Once we can improve attendances, TV will want to cover the games. That, in turn, will help to finance clubs and attract sponsors. While clubs, and the league, have their part to play, the football public must also step up.
CFC: Do you see the Pro League as important to our national football development?
KJ: Of course. Look at how many of our national players began with Pro League clubs. The professional league gave me my start. Many Caribbean countries would love a professional league. We just don’t appreciate it enough. You need to be training and playing 24/7 to make the grade. You can’t do this properly if you have to go to work and train later. Also, the league gives you access to the CFU and CONCACAF football, which is great experience and helps player development.
CFC: Do you think that you will help increase interest in the Pro League?
KJ: Without wanting to sound arrogant, yes, I do believe there will be more interest. I also think that it will help to spread the Pro League brand overseas. I’d really like to think that I can help to develop the league by attracting more spectators and sponsors. In the end, I owe my career to the start I received in this league so I’d like to influence a change in how Trinis relate to the league.
CFC: Do you think Central are able to compete with the likes of Vancouver and Kansas City?
KJ: After training with the lads, I could see that lack of match fitness was an issue against Whitecaps. They were totally beatable and had they played Central last May, Central would have won that game. I was also impressed with Sean de Silva who played despite suffering from Zika. That kind of determination impresses me and I believe we can get a result against Kansas and get some points on the road.
I expect Kansas to take four points from Whitecaps so we need to win two games out of the three remaining games. Once we get some decent practice games under our belts, I’m confident we can turn in a top performance.
CONCACAF Champions League schedule
(Tuesday, 16 August, 2016)
Central FC (TRI) v Sporting Kansas City (USA), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago;
(Thursday, 25 August, 2016)
W Connection (TRI) v Honduras Progreso (HON), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad and Tobago;
(Wednesday, 28 September, 2016)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CAN) v Central FC (TRI), 10pm, BC Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada;
(Thursday, 29 September, 2016)
Honduras Progreso (HON) v W Connection (TRI), 10pm, Estadio Francisco Morazan, San Pedro Sula, Honduras;
(Wednesday, 19 October, 2016)
Sporting Kansas City (USA) v Central FC (TRI), 8pm, Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS, USA;
(Thursday, 20 October, 2016)
Pumas UNAM (MEX) v W Connection (TRI), 10pm, Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Mexico City, Mexico.
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Not an issue….any thing to bring a level of business imperatives and direction for the assets ( players).
And meh good friend and baller for life Wayne Mandeville when Gordon Pierre organize the meeting to get the Players Association finally up and running in our sweet country I will definitely like you to come on board with your expertise eh, really looking forward to see you again after so many years eh.
Meh family Savitri Maharaj find me a gorgeous and intelligent woman living in Central nah, because that is the only way I will go back to the Ato Boldin Stadium to watch football eh, and she also needs to be living close to the field eh. Them really good yes. hahahaha
Hhmm..I think Kevin Harrison might be able to help out there yes.
They need to play the games in the Hasley Crawford Stadium Steeuuppss . Them really good yes.
Trinidad doh end at the lighthouse eh…allyuh really good yes
Our choice was Hasely Crawford, but people bigger than us decided on Ato! Them really good, yes.
Why the HCS Mango Kevin?
Kirwin Weston three main reasons: the teams, officials and match commissioners are all staying in Port of Spain so it’s easier to make a 10 minute drive than a 45 minute one. Secondly, as games are on a weekday, we feel certain that we would double the crowd if the game was in town. We even had sponsors wanting to organize after game lines on the avenue, but that wouldn’t work so well in Couva. In some ways, Ato should make sense but the reality is that there would be a bigger crowd at HC with people taking a lime after work and coming to the game in town.
Thirdly, we have to pay for the visitors ground transport. To carry them to Couva they have to leave at 5pm and return around 11.30pm. You pay PTSC by the hour. If it was at HC the cost would be several thousand cheaper if you include the reduction in cost for police escort.
Them really good yes.
Ok cool. Traffic is uncertain too going from POS to Couva.
If Couva thereabouts had good hotels and transportation it may have been more convenient for Ato.
Sando has lots of good hotels and access to Couva is not so bad.
If you looking to save money Savitri you’ll go every length
And Sando is far cheaper than tong
There’s Cara Suites in Claxton Bay as well
They need to build some hotels in Couva or guest houses especially for the football purposes Steeuuppps Them really good yes.
Couva is not in the bush inno and the transport links are not bad either. Cara Suites is a top hotel, Tradewinds is not bad either and both have good access to the highway and/or Couva. St Margaret’s Police Station are used to escorting traffic through CBay out to the highway.
Kevin, for future reference: We need to expose people to more of the country. Parking around that stadium is atrocious. There are loads of practice grounds all over the country. No wonder the turn out for these games are poor, only those in the fraternity will attend
Savitri Maharaj you’re preaching to the choir! You need to be telling the people who run football, not me!
Lolol…so AB stadium was as good choice then? Maybe decisions need to be made earlier so clubs can also plan better for their training sessions, accommodation etc. How can Central book hotel rooms in POS without knowing where the game is being played?
Sorry, it wasnt Central but MLS teams you said…still cannot understand that thinking
The turn out for the games are poor because we are not a football country eh, only when our national team is representing. Them really good yes.
Well there need to be a “Las Vegas Trip” aka Aripita avenue where the football officials and visitors can have some fun after the football eh, hahahaha
Hahaha…there are loads of bars/restauants in the Couva/Preysal area uncle…allyuh need to leave tong for a few hours, experience the hospitality and warmth of the people south of that “bridge”. Allyuh really good yes
Ok then ah coming to see the game on Tuesday then eh, so you and your partener in crime Kirwin Weston can come out and lime to eh hahahaha
No probs uncle
Savitri Maharaj unfortunately, the teams book their own hotels. So far, all 3 MLS teams have selected Hyatt. Officials usually prefer to be fairly close to the Teams hotels. Also, remember that we selected HC and hotels were booked for location to HC.
Personally, I find the Ato Boldon Stadium is the hardest ground in the country to get to as a commuter. I’m sure anyone who has travelled there will back me up.
It is easier to catch a taxi to the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella (coming from north or east Trinidad) than to go to Couva.
That stadium will always suffer for spectators in my opinion until they get a better transport route to the ground.
Lasana Liburd to be fair, getting there is tricky, but trying to travel home after the game is not only very difficult, it’s very dangerous!
I won’t doubt that. I travelled there once and it was very tough. But I got a lift after the game. I know Roneil K Walcott has had to travel a few times and knows the strain.
Yes I know the strain all too well :/. It’s inconvenient to say the least.
If you’re travelling by taxi, yes it is..people in Central lock up early now and to be fair, I wouldnt travel anywhere at night now.
So here’s the thing: PTSC are supposed to provide a SERVICE. Public transport is not supposed to be profit generating. It’s paid for by the taxpayer to serve the taxpayer. If there is an event where people will require transport, shouldn’t they put on at least a shuttle service to and from Couva and Chaguanas?
Savitri parking in the other stadia worse than HCS. Mannie Ramjohn and AB carpark worse than a tasker road
Lasana you let Roneil hit you that shake ? I tired see that man jumping in young ladies cars to and fro the Ato Boldon stadium.
Them really good yes
Mango, you eh coming no wey. Me and Savitri know you too well.
Nah Kirwin,I’e been there a few times and AB have plenty parking and no wreckers
I was now going and tell you we getting set up Kirwin.
He cya reach HCS when he promise you think he coming to Couva? Uncle Earl you really good yes
Kirwin I choke with that one yes :'(
The girl too Roneil =D
Ato Boldon horrible to park Savitri Maharaj. Not the usual area, the other parking spaces horrible
Lol. A lot of football supporters travel Savitri. This ent a middle class or upper middle class sport. That’s one of the problems the Pro League and other football competitions have these days.
Kirwin tell Barrackpore to get back to winning ways nah :/
Lol…I know what you say Lasana but a lot of them could get a ride…and we never had a reliable public transport.
Hmmm. I’m sure people will turn out initially to see KJ. Not sure about October/November
Any word on the value of these contracts?
Was under the impression that Central has some money woes with outstanding payments to staff etc…
Good news with the all-important Guatemala game just a few weeks away! I will encourage my pardnuhs in Sunday Sweat to go to the game Tuesday…looking forward to the Carlos interview.
The Central release said Kenwyne Jones may play alongside Carlos Edwards for Central. Turns out Carlos is not signed (yet) though.
Ok thanks for that clarification…but I still look forward to hearing whats motivated him (Carlos) to come back home to play and his future plans eg does he see himself retiring here.
They also need to sign Kelvin Jack the same to eh. Them really good yes. hahaha