2015 got off to a positive start for Central F.C. and Head Coach Zoran Vranes as he welcomed former T&T U-20 defender, Uriah Bentick to The Sharks squad.
Bentick, who spent last season with U.S. club Carolina Railhawks, last teamed up with Vranes in 2009, when he was part of the squad that took part in the U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
“It’s great to be able to bring players of Uriah’s calibre into the Pro League” said Vranes, a former T&T national team coach. “Of course, it’s extra special for me as he was a key element of my Under 20 squad which performed so well in 2009.”
Bentick, a former St Anthony’s student, who hails from Laventille, spent 6 years in the U.S.A. where he attended Liberty University for 4 years, representing their Liberty Flames team and earning many plaudits including selection for various all-star teams.
After leaving University, Bentick was drafted by MLS outfit, Philadelphia Union, but failed to earn a contract. Instead, he joined USL team, Wilmington Hammerheads. Quoted on mlssoccer.com as “having the tools to become a good defender” and “he won’t be beaten for strength”, Bentick was signed by Carolina Railhawks for the 2014 season.
“Uriah is a big, strong, naturally left footed defender” said Central F.C. Managing Director, Brent Sancho.
“Signing him is a continuation of our policy of tracking down excellent T&T footballers who are overseas and have never played in the Pro League.” said the former T&T World Cup defender.
“Just like Yohance Marshall last season, we hope that Stephen Hart will get lots of opportunities to see Uriah play and bring him into the national squad.”
Sancho explained that while Central F.C.’s first intentions when signing players is to increase the standard of the squad and win trophies, there are additional benefits for the club and the national team.
“Obviously, Central F.C. would be happy to find Uriah a club overseas to further develop his career. But also, Stephen Hart does not get the opportunity to see Trini players overseas play week in week out. So by bringing these boys home we can help to increase the talent pool available to Stephen. I am very confident that Uriah will soon be forcing his way into Stephens plans” said Sancho.
Sancho also admitted that a good performance in the Pro League and the Caribbean Club Championship will add value to Bentick and may attract transfer fees to the club. “Of course, a professional football club must develop an income from player sales.
Youth development is so difficult in T&T with players frequently slowing their development by returning to school football. However, our policy of bringing home players from outside of T&T could reap rewards. Even if we let the player go for free, we are still building the Central F.C. – and T&T – brands overseas.”
Sancho added that Bentick is only one of several signings The Sharks will make during the January transfer window. “We are constantly working to raise the overall quality of our squad” said Sancho.
“We will see the return of Willis Plaza and Rundell Winchester and we have several foreign internationals on trial with us. It may seem ambitious, but we are building a squad strong enough to compete in the CONCACAF Champions League in August. That’s not to say that we are arrogant or over confident about progressing from the CFU Club Championships, but if we do, we must be prepared for the next challenge.”
Sancho did go as far as saying that he felt that Central F.C. and W. Connection are strong enough to compete with the best of the Caribbean.
“The Pro League is improving and most teams are very hard to beat. This sometimes gives the impression that the Pro League is not of good quality. But, in fact, it’s the opposite. The competition in T&T is tough and the season is a battle of attrition. This helps to build strong squads which are essential when competing overseas.”
Central F.C. return to Pro League action on Friday when they take on Point Fortin at Ato Boldon Stadium at 8 p.m.