T&T’s two-time Caribbean Club Champions Central FC will set off for Jamaica to compete at the 2018 Flow CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship Finals in Kingston this week.
After being blanked financial support by Government through the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs, and corporate T&T, the club’s owner and managing director Brent Sancho told Guardian Media Sports yesterday he has had to fork out between $200,000 - $300,000 to ensure the team’s bills, inclusive of airfare, salaries for players and technical staff, and other costs for preparation, are covered.
“It’s unfortunate that no one saw it fit to come out and support a group of people who will be representing the country. When I saw this I told myself I couldn’t embarrass my country like this, as we will be the only team that will not be there.
“Even the Jamaican teams are hyped about it, so to prevent the country being disgraced like that, I decided to dig into my own pocket,” Sancho explained.
The former national defender will capitalise on an offer by Caribbean Airlines for a discount of seven per cent for 24 persons to the destination. He said he’s hopeful that government’s monetary support for pro league teams will help him when they return.
The Central ‘Sharks’ which won the CFU Club Championship back in 2015 and 2016 as well as consecutive T&T Pro League titles in 2014-15, 2015-16 and 2016-17, the first club to do so, will wing out in Wednesday ahead of its opening game on Friday against Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens in one of two semi-final matches at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex.
Portmore United will face Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic in the other semi-final encounter.
The winners of both semi-finals will meet in the final on Sunday, May 13, to determine the Caribbean champions which will automatically advance to the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League.
The runners-up will advance to the CONCACAF League while the third-place finishers will also have a final opportunity to qualify for the CONCACAF League through a play-off with CONCACAF Caribbean Shield winners Club Franciscain of Martinique.
Team coach Stern John said his team’s preparations have been intensive.
“The preparations have been okay. We have faced some financial constraints but we’ve gotten on with the job.
“We have some experienced players coming back into the fray and they are hungry for success.
“They want to go to Jamaica and win this Caribbean title and advance to the CONCACAF Champions League,” John said.
Two integral members from the team’s success in the previous round, T&T internationals Carlyle Mitchell and Nathan Lewis have moved onto USL club Indy Eleven.
But they have snapped up defender Daneil Cyrus and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who are current T&T senior team members, while the veteran duo of Densill Theobald and Anthony Wolfe, two members of the T&T’s 2006 World Cup in Germany, are also in the squad for the matches.
LISTEN: Brent talks in depth about what are the growing pains in the initial stages of the CONCACAF National League. He also gives more insight on some of the issues that have always been present for Caribbean sides in terms of logistics. Brent also discussed the positives of this entire process for the growth of the game in the region.
He also talks about the problems at the youth level in Trinidad & Tobago and how they need to be rectified after the aftermath of the Jack Warner era at that country’s FA.
All this and more as Brent talks Champions League and also goes into some great detail of that night on Couva when Trinidad turned a “meaningless match” into “a must-win” and how the “Wow, we won factor” against the United States wasn’t felt by the players until the following day.
CLICK HERE to listen to the podcast.