Eight months after earning the right to represent Trinidad and Tobago and the Digicel Pro League at the 2013 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship, with the chance of advancing to next season's 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions' League, T&TEC FC have relinquished the opportunity other clubs drooled over.
Last season, T&TEC (39 points) secured one of two spots available for the Caribbean Club Championship by finishing second in the Digicel Pro League Championship, one point behind champions DIRECTV W Connection (40 points), and one point ahead of Caledonia AIA (38 points), achieved in just their debut season in the League.
Now following a disastrous six months into the new season, no funding and weeks of speculation over whether or not the "Electricity Boys" should compete in the Club Championship along with three-time winners W Connection, T&TEC has revealed in a letter to the Pro League that the club's present financial will not allow them to participate in the Caribbean tournament.
It is indeed a disappointing development for the coaching staff, headed by Dexter Cyrus, and players of T&TEC, but delightful news for 2012 Caribbean champions Caledonia AIA, who are now faced with a sprint to the March 8 registration deadline and US$1,000 registration fee.
While a much bigger challenge stands in acquiring sponsorship to cover expenses such as airfare and ground travel, hotel accommodation and meals for home-and-away arrangements in the Caribbean tournament, which runs between April and May.
Caledonia's third place finish last season, coupled with T&TEC's withdrawal, awards the Morvant-Laventille club the automatic opportunity now to defend the Caribbean title.
Caledonia's ambition to continuously represent Trinidad and Tobago and the region at the CONCACAF Champions' League remains the club's highest target. And in an interview with ttproleague.com back in January, Caledonia coach Jerry Moe said, "It's our ambition to always represent at the Champions' League."
Last season Caledonia made its Champions' League debut in a group that included Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Seattle Sounders and Honduran club CD Marathon, and finished with just one point from four matches.
Since then a lot has changed. Technical director/head coach Jamaal Shabazz has taken up a co-head coach role alongside Hutson Charles with the Trinidad and Tobago men's senior team, and while his ties remains with Caledonia, Moe has held most of the coaching responsibilities.
The club also acquired a number of new faces, such as Argentine midfielder Miguel Alejandro Romeo, Antiguan defender Akeem Thomas, Guyana's Vurlon Mills and Grenadian goalie Shemel Louison.