Trinidad and Tobago will not be represented in Concacaf’s first- or second-tier club competitions this season, after TT Pro League club Central FC were eliminated 2-1 by amateur Martinique team, Club Franciscain, in a play-off contest tonight in Kingston, Jamaica.
The defeat means that, for just the second time in the past decade, a Trinidad and Tobago club will not be represented at Concacaf level.
The result is, arguably, another blow to the image of the Pro League. A Martinique team has never advanced to the Confederation’s top competition—in part because the French islanders league had not even been invited to take part.
However, in an effort to encourage participation, Concacaf created a second-tier Caribbean club competition for, according to the website of the governing body, “up-and-coming leagues, working their way towards full professional standards.”
Club Franciscain won the inaugural Tier Two Caribbean Club Championship to find themselves pitted against the “Couva Sharks.”
Yet, despite opening the scoring through former 2006 World Cup squad player Anthony Wolfe, Central could not hold on to their lead and trailed 2-1 by the halftime interval.
And although coach Stern John fielded 13 players tonight with international experience—including nine players called up by National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence since he took the post in 2017—the Sharks could not dismantle the Martinican amateurs.
It was the third successive defeat for Central in their disastrous tour of Jamaica when a solitary win would have taken them into the next phase.
Operations director Kevin Harrison pointed to the team’s lack of match fitness as a factor in their poor performances and, ironically, one of the reasons the Pro League changed its calendar was to ensure that local clubs were in mid-season when they tackled the giants of North and Central America in Concacaf.
Instead, they find themselves unable to get past the Caribbean—and Central still advanced further than W Connection who were eliminated in the first round despite having home advantage.
The Sharks will now turn their attentions to the upcoming Pro League season, which kicks off on 1 June.
(Central FC squad)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip, Keinol Paul;
Defenders: Daneil Cyrus, Taryk Sampson, Kaydion Gabriel, Anthony Wolfe, Jameel Neptune;
Midfielders: Akim Armstrong, Jared London, Duane Muckette, Densill Theobald, Darren Mitchell, Rondell Gibson, Keron Cummings, Tyrone Charles;
Forwards: Jamal Creighton, Jason Marcano, Johan Peltier.