T&T Pro League club, Central FC failed in its third and final attempt to qualify for 2018 Concacaf League after falling to Martiniquan Club Franciscain 2-1 in the team’s play-off encounter in Kingston, Jamaica, on Wednesday night.
Central FC, Caribbean Football Union Club champions of 2015 and 2016, and fourth-placed finishers of 2017 which earned them a place at last season’s inaugural Concacaf League for Central American and Caribbean teams, took the lead for the second straight match in the 15th minute courtesy former T&T World Cup striker, Anthony Wolfe who beat goalkeeper Didier Sully from a tight angle on the left after Tyrone Charles towered in the French islanders’ box to head on a Duane Muckette free-kick to the veteran-attacker-turned-defender.
However, in the 26th minute, Djenhael Mainge latched onto captain Stephane Abaul’s diagonal feed into the box before hitting low past the T&T custodian Marvin Phillip to get two-time reigning Martinique champions level.
And on the stroke of half-time, a lapse in concentration by Wolfe allowed Johnny Marajo a free move in the Central box which the Franciscain midfielder made full use of by curling his effort past Phillip for a 2-1 lead after he had rocked the crossbar earlier in the contest.
It was the third loss from as many matches at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, in Jamaica for the former two-time Caribbean Football Union Club champions, Central FC which first went under to Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens 2-0 in their Concacaf League qualifying semifinals on Friday last and then 2-1 in their third-place play-off to another Jamaica outfit, Portmore United on Sunday with Duane Muckette scoring an early goal for the T&T club.
To their credit, the Stern John-coached Central FC was able to put up some spirited performances over the three matches even though the local Pro League season doesn’t kick off until June 1 while Arnett Gardens and Portmore United, both qualified to the second-tier of the Concacaf League as second and third placed finishers were both at the end of their 2017/2018 Jamaican domestic Premier League competitions.
However, Central FC was still expected to qualify to the Concacaf League with a victory against the Martiniquans, who qualified to the play-off as the winner of a second-tier qualifying competition, the Caribbean Cup Shield
Dominican Republic’s Atletico Pantoja defeated Arnett Gardens 6-5 on penalty-kicks in the Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship final after a goalless deadlock to claim the title and will compete in the top flight of the Concacaf League against the top teams from USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and the other major Central American nations.
For their win, Atletico Club Pantoja earned themselves U$50,000 while Arnett Gardens got $30,000 and Portmore United and Central FC, both US$15,000.
In the second-tier final which was played on April 21, the Caribbean Cup Shield, Club Franciscain battled past Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe 2-1.
This after the Martinquans defeated Real Rincon 2-0 and Moengotapoe hammered Nacional 4-0 in their respective semifinals on April 19. Real Rincon grabbed third with a 3-1 win over Nacional.
Central FC, owned by former T&T World Cup defender and Minister of Sports, Brent Sancho was awarded the Fair Play trophy at the end of the first stage of the competition on Sunday, while the Golden Glove Award went controversially to Pantoja’s goalkeeper Odalis Baez who conceded three goals in the semifinal compared to Damian Hyatt of Arnett Gardens who kept a clean sheet in both games.
The Golden Boot went to Luis Espinal of Pantoja, who scored twice against Portmore United in the semifinal.
Club Franciscain 2 v Central FC 1.
Central FC: 1.Marvin Phillip; 17.Anthony Wolfe, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 9.Tyrone Charles, 12.Taryk Sampson, 13.Rhondel Gibson, 15.Kaydion Gabriel, 22.Jameel Neptune, 18.Densill Theobald (capt) 27.Duane Muckette, 19.Jason Marcano.
Substitutes From: 30.Keino Paul (GK), 26.Jared London, 10.Keron Cummings, 7.Johan Peltier, 24.Jamal Creighton, 11.Darren Mitchell, 8.Akim Armstrong.
Coach: Stern John.
View Full Game Here.
Central suffer embarrassing elimination; Pro League team kayoed by Martinique amateurs.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago will not be represented in Concacaf’s first- or second-tier club competitions this season, after TT Pro League club Central FC were eliminated 2-1 by amateur Martinique team, Club Franciscain, in a play-off contest tonight in Kingston, Jamaica.
The defeat means that, for just the second time in the past decade, a Trinidad and Tobago club will not be represented at Concacaf level.
The result is, arguably, another blow to the image of the Pro League. A Martinique team has never advanced to the Confederation’s top competition—in part because the French islanders league had not even been invited to take part.
However, in an effort to encourage participation, Concacaf created a second-tier Caribbean club competition for, according to the website of the governing body, “up-and-coming leagues, working their way towards full professional standards.”
Club Franciscain won the inaugural Tier Two Caribbean Club Championship to find themselves pitted against the “Couva Sharks.”
Yet, despite opening the scoring through former 2006 World Cup squad player Anthony Wolfe, Central could not hold on to their lead and trailed 2-1 by the halftime interval.
And although coach Stern John fielded 13 players tonight with international experience—including nine players called up by National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence since he took the post in 2017—the Sharks could not dismantle the Martinican amateurs.
It was the third successive defeat for Central in their disastrous tour of Jamaica when a solitary win would have taken them into the next phase.
Operations director Kevin Harrison pointed to the team’s lack of match fitness as a factor in their poor performances and, ironically, one of the reasons the Pro League changed its calendar was to ensure that local clubs were in mid-season when they tackled the giants of North and Central America in Concacaf.
Instead, they find themselves unable to get past the Caribbean—and Central still advanced further than W Connection who were eliminated in the first round despite having home advantage.
The Sharks will now turn their attentions to the upcoming Pro League season, which kicks off on 1 June.
(Central FC squad)
Goalkeepers: Marvin Phillip, Keinol Paul;
Defenders: Daneil Cyrus, Taryk Sampson, Kaydion Gabriel, Anthony Wolfe, Jameel Neptune;
Midfielders: Akim Armstrong, Jared London, Duane Muckette, Densill Theobald, Darren Mitchell, Rondell Gibson, Keron Cummings, Tyrone Charles;
Forwards: Jamal Creighton, Jason Marcano, Johan Peltier.