Tyrone Charles scored off his head to seal San Juan Jabloteh's place in the Final Round of the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship—the region's qualifying tournament to the newly re-formatted CONCACAF club platform—with a 1-0 win over Group E host team System 3 Sport Academy on Sunday at Victoria Park in Kingstown, St. Vincent.
Jabloteh finished with maximum 9 points and ahead of, in descending order, Guadeloupe's Club Sportif Moulien (6 points), System 3 Sport Academy (3 points) and Sint Maarten's Flames United (0 point), to join another Trinidad and Tobago Pro League side, Central FC, in the Final Round to be hosted in Trinidad from May 14 - 21.
Central, the two-time Caribbean holders, received a bye to the final round as defending champions. While Jabloteh becomes the latest team to qualify for the Final Round after Haiti’s Racing FC (Group A), Dominica Republic’s Cibao FC (Group B) and Antigua and Barbuda side Grenades FC (Group C).
Puerto Rico Islanders, Jamaica’s Portmore United, Cayman Islands’ Scholars International and Suriname’s SV Transvaal will tackle each other in Group D in Puerto Rico from March 14 - 19 for the sixth and final berth into the Final Round which will be contested in two groups of three, each headed by Central and Jabloteh.
Both Final Round group winners will contest each other for the Club Championship title and Caribbean's spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Teams finishing second, third and fourth in the Caribbean Club Championship will join 13 Central American teams in the newly launched club championship tournament – set to begin in August – to battle for a trophy which guarantees the winner a place in the CONCACAF Champions League where they will join 15 other teams.
In the previous two seasons, Central FC defeated fellow Trinidad and Tobago Pro League compatriot W Connection in both Caribbean finals.
“We want it to be an all-Trinidad and Tobago final [again],” said San Juan Jabloteh head coach Keith Jeffrey, looking ahead to the 2017 Final Round. “We want to continue doing well in the tournament and we want to wish Central the very best also in the big six (Final Round).
“Both Central and Jabloteh being in the Final Round tells the rest of the Caribbean that the [Trinidad and Tobago] Pro League is the place to be. Our league is very competitive and we have the best players in the Caribbean.”
Flames United, Club Sportif Moulien and System 3 Sport Academy are the champions of their respective country, said Jeffrey.
“Our supporters back home and our community expected us to take full nine points and we are happy to be returning home having achieved in full—topping the group and with 9 points. We wanted to do well for Trinidad and Tobago and by extension the Pro League.”
Jabloteh were in control of Group E, with wins over Flames United and Moulien 9-0 and 4-1 respectively, ahead of Sunday’s final game against the hosts System 3 Sport Academy who, backed by their home supporters, did put up a valiant effort according to Jeffrey.
The decisive item arrived on 64 minutes for Jabloteh when Tyrone Charles, for his second goal of the tournament, headed into the back of System 3 Sport Academy’s net off an Elijah Manners corner.
But Jeffrey felt his side should have “finished off” the Vincentians by the first half.
“This was the best performance by System 3 during the tournament,” Jeffrey said. “They [also] had a good 12th-man in the home crowd but we should have finished them off since in the first half.”
Jeffrey had to do without injured striker Jamal Gay and suspended Jamaican defensive midfielder Damian Williams, who picked up a direct red card against Moulien on Friday. The Jabloteh coach also opted to start the fresher legs of Charles and Kadeem Corbin for star performers Panamanian Jairo Lombardo and Verlon Mills respectively, while veteran Keyon Edwards started in place of the unavailable Williams.
Jabloteh will return to Trinidad on today. Midfielders Tyrone Charles and Nathan Lewis will re-join the Trinidad and Tobago national team training squad preparing, under coach Dennis Lawrence, for crucial FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifiers against Panama and Mexico on March 24 and 28 respectively at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain.
Jeffrey, though, explained that his work has only just begun with the new Pro League season set to start in May, the same month his side, along with three-time reigning Pro League champions Central FC, must compete with the Caribbean's best-of-the-best for the regional crown and a place in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Group E Results
Club Sportif Moulien 8 vs Flames United 0, at Victoria Park, St. Vincent;
System 3 Sport Academy 0 vs San Juan Jabloteh 1 (Tyrone Charles 64’), at Victoria Park, St. Vincent.
San Juan Jabloteh team vs Club Sportif Moulien: - Andrew Durrant (GK), Damian Williams (Capt.) (Red Card), Akeem Benjamin (Josiah Trimmingham), Jevon Morris, Adrian Reid, Kion Joseph, Elijah Manners, Keithy Simpson, Jairo Lombardo (Tyrone Charles), Nathan Lewis, Vurlon Mills (Micah Lansiquot).
Group E Standings
# Team MP W D L GF GA GD Points
1 San Juan Jabloteh 3 3 0 0 14 1 +13 9
2 Club Sportif Moulien 3 2 0 1 13 4 +9 6
3 System 3 Sport Club 3 1 0 2 9 7 +2 3
4 Flames United 3 0 0 3 2 26 -24 0