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Haiti’s Real Hope Football Academy, a spirited bunch of youngsters led by their 35-year-old captain Eyma Jean, held on for a narrow 1-0 win over hosts W Connection to start at the top of Group A on the opening night of the 2018 Concacaf Caribbean Club Champion.

Jeudy Thompson, a former Haiti Under-20 midfielder, snatched what turned out the winner after just two minutes to turn Real Hope into reality with maximum three points against an under-strength Connection side at the Home of Football, Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, Trinidad on Wednesday.

“It was a really disappointing evening for us from the point of view that we had so many chances and didn’t end with a win …or even a draw,” said Connection head coach Stuart Charles Fevrier.

“We definitely should not have lost the game,” he continued. “Clearly we were the better team but our finishing let us down.”

Fevrier, though, added that despite the disappointment, the game still had a lot of positives for his side. “We were consistent throughout with good ball circulation. Our defence kept the defensive shape and we did well in creating many chances.”

Earlier, Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens, reduced to ten men after captain Oneil Thompson was ejected on a second yellow card with half hour left, had held Dominican Republic’s Club Atletico Pantoja to a goalless stalemate.

Arnett Gardens and Pantoja currently sit second and third respectively with a point each while multiple-time former Caribbean champions Connection are bottom without a point.

Fevrier combined former Trinidad and Tobago Under-20 teammates Kadeem Corbin and Akeem Garcia and veteran utility player Kennedy Hinkson – three recent additions due to a shortage of player personnel – in offence, but it was Thompson who produced the go-ahead goal on the opposite end with the help of a rusty opening by the hosts.

A giveaway then some sloppy defending to Johnson beating goalkeeper Julani Archibald from the left for a lead which the Haitians held to the dressing room at the break then to the final whistle thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Louis Valendi Odelus and the woodwork.

“It was a very soft goal,” Fevrier bemoaned. “And apart from that they never really got behind us again.”

Even with Corbin, a player remembered for his Caribbean U20 winning hat-trick for a 3-0 score against Haiti in the 2014 Final in Trinidad, Connection were unable break down the tenacity of the youthful Real Hope side that had luck and, at times, the whistle in their favour.

Six minutes into the second half Corbin failed to make contact to a low Kurt Frederick feed across the six yard area before the ball was cleared behind by Hope’s defence. Then from the resulting corner Jesus Perez, who like Frederick recently returned to the Savonetta Boys, saw his improvised effort flash over the Haitians bar.

That bar would come into action ten minutes from time. Frederick’s header off an Alvin Jones corner cannoned back into play to Connection’s added surprise after Odelus had brilliantly put behind a powerful left footed attempt Marcus Joseph who was played into the attack by teenaged substitute Jevaughn Humphrey.

Joseph had another attempt but that flashed overbar.

Much earlier, Jones attempted to pick out Corbin at the back post but the T&T international’s cross was not met. Corbin then failed to control deep a deep Joseph cross into the area to his own frustration before being replaced injured.

Hinkson too couldn’t produce the equaliser. The ex-North East Stars and San Juan Jabloteh had worked his way into the Haitians area near the end but was escorted out of touch by his marker without attempting a shot. 

And after 17-year-old Humphrey’s shot towards goal was cleared behind at the death, it was certain that absolutely nothing Connection tried would result in the ball ending in the back of the opponents’ net.

“The new players still need time to know and improve on our style of play, but in saying that they did well to create many chances,” said Fevrier.

Real Hope, however, had made their rare chance count.

Connection will return to action against Arnett Gardens on Friday from 8pm at the Couva venue after Real Hope and Pantoja lock horns from 5pm.

“We have two games left and I am confident we are capable of achieving the [needed] results. We will try to prepare our players best as possible for the remaining games,” ended the Connection coach.

The top two teams from the Group stage will progress to the Caribbean final round in May—which consists of the semi-final and final stages—while automatically earning spots on the Concacaf stage.

The overall Caribbean champions will earn region’s automatic spot at the Concacaf Champions League while the second, third and fourth-place finishers will compete at the Concacaf League for Central American and Caribbean clubs.

CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship 2018
Group A (Trinidad) results
Wednesday 31 January 2018

Club Atletico Pantoja 0 vs Arnett Gardens 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

W Connection 0 vs Real Hope Football Academy 1 (Jeudy Thompson 2'), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Teams at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Wednesday
Game 1
Club Atletico Pantoja:
3.Pedro Muñoz (Yellow Card), 4.Yefferson Moreira, 7.Luis Espinal, 8.Jesus Quintero, 10.Leandro Silva (20.Jonathan Faña 46th minute), 16.Robert Rosado (13.Jean Walnes Innocent 82nd minute), 17.Armando Maita, 18.Brian Calabrese (9.Darly Batista 56th minute), 21.Nicolas Rebollo (Capt.), 23.Odalis Baez (GK), 32.Eduardo Centeno.

Unused substitutes: 1.Wisaldy Rivera (GK); 15.Danny Guillen, 26.Carlos Rossell, 28.Ronaldo Vasquez.

Coach: Lenin Jose Bastidas Bello

Arnett Gardens: 40.Damion Hyatt (GK); 3.Lennox Russell (15.Ranike Anderson 63rd minute), 5.Renae Lloyd, 8.Vishinul Harris (Yellow Card), 9.Marvin Morgan (11.Kemal Malcolm 75th minute, 12.Jabeur Johnson, 13.Fabien Reid, 16.Jamar Martin, 17.Kenniel Hyde, 20.Oneil Thompson (Capt.) (Yellow + Yellow = Red Card), 21.Al Nesbeth (19.Tamar Edwards 21st minute) (Yellow Card).

Unused substitutes: 7.Jason Moore, 27.Steve Clarke, 33.Leon Strickland, 55.Shamarley Clayton (GK).

Coach: Jerome Waite

Referee: Ricangel De Leca (ARU)
Assistant Referee 1: Kevin Stephens (GUY)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelaar (SUR)
Fourth Official: Gladwyn Johnson (GUY)
Referee Assessor: Jaggernath Goolcharan (TRI)
Match Commissioner: Egbert Lacle (ARU)

Game 2
W Connection:
18.Julani Archibald (GK); 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Triston Hodge, 6.Kevon Goddard, 7.Akeem Garcia (17.Jevaughn Humphrey 64th minute), 9.Kadeem Corbin (19.Briel Thomas 66th minute), 15.Jesus Perez, 16.Alvin Jones (Capt.), 23.Kennedy Hinkson (8.Jameel Antoine 79th minute), 99.Marcus Joseph.

Unused substitutes: 14.Quinn Rodney, 21.Ronell Paul, 26.Isaiah Garcia, 30.Shaquille John, 33.Jason Belfon (GK).

Coach: Stuart Charles Fevrier

Real Hope FA: 1.Odelus Louis Valendi (GK); 3.Bissainthe Bicou (20.Cineus Renel 80th minute), 4.Edmund Patrick, 5.Jean Eyma (Capt.), 6.Dunel Blaise, 7.Nerlin St. Vil (11.Schneider Desamours 80th minute), 9.Ronaldo Damus, 10.Jeudy Johnson (12.Exavier Naldory Joseph Rams 91st minute), 14.Wendy St. Felix, 15.Denilson Pierre, 22.Jean Jackinto.

Unused substitutes: 2.Paul Fernandes, 13.Phlippe Junior Toussaint, 16.Vertus Wolf, 25.Max Djivenel Fleuricien (GK).

Coach: Sonche Pierre

Referee: Oscar Macias (MEX)
Assistant Referee 1: Henri Pupiro (NCA)
Assistant Referee 2: Michael Barwegen (CAN)
Fourth Official: Juan Gabriel Calderon (CRC)
Referee Assessor: Omario Contreras (BLZ)
Match Commissioner: Glenn Etienne (DMA)

Upcoming games

W Connection 0 vs Real Hope Football Academy 1 (), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Friday, February 2, 2018
Real Hope FA (HAI) v Club Atletico Pantoja (DOM), 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad;

W Connection FC (T&T) v Arnett Gardens FC (JAM), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad.

Sunday, February 4, 2018
Arnett Gardens FC (JAM) v Real Hope FA (HAI), 5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad;

W Connection FC (T&T) v Club Atletico Pantoja (DOM), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad.


Originally published on ttproleague.com