SV Inter Moengo-tapoe (Suriname) have pulled out of Group One of the Caribbean Football Union Caribbean Club Championships to be played in Trinidad and Tobago, while Antigua Baraccudas who had also indicated their intention to pull out, have got sponsorship and now want back in.
The 2013 Caribbean Club Championships are not exactly vying for top honours for their organisation.
Up to a couple days ago, defending Caribbean champions Caledonia AIA were set to travel to Jamaica for an opening match on April 26, but had no idea who they face. All other teams are similarly in the dark.
“We not going Jamaica again,” coach Jerry Moe said yesterday. “We heard that we are now playing in Trinidad. We now hear that some of the teams didn’t have money to travel so that there are now two Jamaican teams in the Jamaican legs, and we will be playing here instead of going to Jamaica.”
Moe had unofficial word that AIA will open the tournament on Friday against defending T&T Pro League champions W Connection, who they beat on penalties in the 2012 final. And there has been a similar late juggle with other teams, with Puerto Rican champs Bayamon going to Jamaica instead of T&T.
Later, Caledonia manager Ricarda Nelson was able to confirm that Haitian team Baltimore Sportif would play Antigua Baraccudas in Friday’s opening match (6 p.m.), while the two local teams will meet two hours later in the Ato Boldon Stadium doubleheader.
Despite the utter confusion, newly-elected CFU general secretary, Antiguan Damien Hughes, says the tournament is definitely on.
“There have been some both mitigating and aggravating circumstance involving withdrawals and so on, and we have had to rework the fixtures,” said Hughes, who added that CFU’S role was organising fixtures and officials, while host clubs organise venues. But the tournament is on – no doubt about that.”
Match days are March 26, 26 and 30th,” said Hughes who said CFU is also constrained by new CONCACAF rules which make the tournament only open to professional football clubs.
Eight teams are competing in the 2013 version of the CFU Club Championship are divided in two groups of four teams each. The top team from each group qualifies directly to the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League. Group runners-up qualify to a playoff round to determine third entrant to the 2013-14 Champions League. The third-place playoff must be completed by May.
Three-time Caribbean champions and four-time runners-up W Connection will coordinate the local leg to be played at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. But owner David John-Williams, expressed disgust with the CFU.
According to a release sent by CFU, it will be the responsibility of the host team to prepare the venue and provide ground transportation, and where possible the CFU will assist. Teams are responsible for their own accommodation. But John-Williams said it has been difficult doing anything, when they are not sure if anyone was coming or not.
“As the host club we would have coordinated the venue and so on, while clubs would have taken care of their airfare and accommodations,” John-Williams said. “But we have heard nothing from CFU. We just don’t know what is going on. We have gotten nothing official from them, except an occasional e-mail.”
Hughes said some confusion may have arisen because he and CFU president Gordon Derrick were abroad in Panama for the CONCACAF Congress, in which an Intergrity Committee report listed allegations of fraud against former CFU president Jack Warner, who led the organisaion for 28 consecutive years between 1983-2011.
“We were in Congress (Panama City) all of last week and that put us back a bit stated Hughes, who up to yesterday failed to confirm that Portsmouth had replaced Inter Moengo-tapoe or that the Antigua Baraccudas owned by CFU president Derrick had dropped out, then returned to the competition.
Former CFU general secretary Harold Taylor said that while there may be some funding issues with the CFU, the organisation of the tournament is not unlike what happened in the recent past, when there were two-leg playoffs. Taylor says CFU acted as facilitators of clubs getting to the CONCACAF tournament, rather than actual organisers of the tournament.
“Competing at the CFU Championship is always difficult for clubs because they have to spend a lot of money, especially if they don’t win, and they might not get a return on what they put out.”
“At CFU level the clubs would basically say ‘take care of me when I an in Trinidad and I will take care of you when you in Jamaica’. The big goal really is achieved by getting to the CONCACAF round where they will get some assistance (financial).”
W Connection, Caledonia kick off CFU campaign Friday
T&T Guardian Reports.
Despite regulations preventing two teams from the same country meeting at the preliminary stage, TT Pro League’s W Connection and Caledonia AIA were yesterday announced as two of four teams to contest Group One of the CFU Club Championship, and will meet as early as Friday.
Defending champion, Caledonia AIA and three-time winner W Connection will face each other for the second time in a week, at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, in the second match of a double-header. Kick off is at 8 pm.
Fixtures were released to clubs after 5 pm last evening, just four days before the first match of the group stage.
W Connection and Caledonia’s 8 pm clash will follow a double-header opener between Antigua and Barbuda-based USL Pro club Antigua Barracuda and Haitian league third-place finisher Baltimore SC, carded for a 6 pm kickoff.
The clash between the two T&T giants is nevertheless expected to bring thrills as W Connection seeks to exact revenge over Caledonia, which took the title last year (4-3 on penalty kicks) at the expense of the “Savonnetta Boys,” following a 1-1 draw at full time.
Both Caledonia, which won the title for the first time last year with a win over W Connection, and the latter were expected to compete in the tournament preliminary round from April 24 and May 1 in Kingston, Jamaica, and Trinidad, respectively.
At stake in the 15th edition of the CFU Club Championship are three spots available for qualification to the 2013-2014 Concacaf Champions League. The top two teams will advance to the semifinal, where they will meet the respective winner and runner-up of Group 2, which comprises Valencia (Haiti), Boys’ Town FC (Jamaica), Bayamon FC (Puerto Rico) and Inter Moengotapoe (Suriname).
CFU Group One fixtures
All matches will be played at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva
Antigua barracuda v Baltimore SC, 6 pm
W Connection v Caledonia AIA, 8 pm
Caledonia AIA v Baltimore SC, 6 pm
W Connection v Antigua Barracuda, 8 pm
Caledonia AIA v Antigua Barracuda, 6 pm
W Connection v Baltimore Sc, 8 pm