Caledonia AIA resurrected its chance of qualifying for the 2013/2014 CONCACAF Champions’ League by defeating Antigua and Barbuda outfit Barracuda FC 3-1 on Sunday at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
The Morvant-Laventille club, 3 points from two games, now sits second behind TT Pro League compatriot DIRECTV W Connection football club (3 points) which defeated Caledonia 4-0 on Friday night in the first match of Group One Caribbean qualifiers to the CCL.
Caledonia rebounded from that defeat with first half goals by Jamal Gay and Densill Theobald, before substitute Keyon Edwards sealed the 3-1 win in the final minute of regulation time following a late item by Barracuda midfielder Andre Manders.
But Caledonia, hopeful of advancing into a two match play-off against the second finishing club of Group Two—simultaneously hosted in Jamaica, will now rely on a positive Connection result against the Antiguans on Tuesday from 6pm at the very same Couva venue.
A win or even a draw by Connection sends the second positioned Caledonia through to the playoff for a CCL spot. But a healthy enough win by Barracuda over Connection will definitely change the shape of Group One, and end Caledonia’s qualification.
It’s left to see how well Barracuda does against Connection and the 'Savonnetta Boys' in-credible-form Joevin Jones, scorer of two doubles against Caledonia in one week.
In Jamaica, home teams Portmore United and Boys Town FC are part of Group Two that includes Haitian club Valencia FC and Puerto Rico’s Bayamon FC.
The winners of Groups One and Two will automatically qualify for the Champions’ League, while the two second placed teams will play in a two-match playoff in May to decide the third and final Caribbean CCL spot.
Caledonia, with Technical Director Jamaal Shabazz making his first appearance back in the technical area for the club after four months—since taking up the joint Head Coach role with the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s Senior Team, had a few changes in its starting line-up from Friday’s defeat against W Connection.
Goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel, former Barracuda defender Akeem Thomas and midfielders Densill Theobald and Miguel Alejandro Romeo replaced Shemel Louision, Vurlon Mills and Keyon Edwards respectively.
Although looking a shadow of himself and no fault of his having been relegated to the bench in recent times, Caledonia’s Argentine midfielder Romeo was involved in both first half goals before being replaced by goalscorer Edwards 23 minutes from time.
It was from Romeo’s cross from the right in the 12th minute that Akim Armstrong headed towards goal for a comfortable knock in by Gay past goalkeeper Molvin James for a 1-0 advantage.
Then in the 34th minute Caledonia took a 2-0 cushion following Theobald’s wacked left-footed strike into the far netting after meeting a pass inside the area by Romeo.
And two minutes earlier from a Romeo cross, Aubrey David’s glancing header could have easily found the back of the net.
But Caledonia wasn’t in full control against Antigua Barracuda—the former employers of Central FC’s Peter Byers and Troy Dublin, Caledonia’s Akeem and Elvis Thomas.
With player/coach George Dublin giving a strong effort to marshal the backline, Barracuda had its opportunities up front.
Just fifteen minutes into the match Lawson Robinson sliding attempt to meet a ball before Caledonia goalie Samuel above the area, resulted in an effort on goal and hitting the upright.
And in the 23rd minute Robinson’s affair with the goal continued when he struck the crossbar from distance.
Four minutes earlier teammate Randolph Burton also warned Caledonia that the Barracudas can bite at goal, hitting an effort just overbar. But bite the Barracuda didn’t do shortly after, when a neat pass by Jamaican Toric Robinson set Burton free inside the area with only Samuel to beat. However he failed to find the back of the net.
Caledonia too, had its nervous moments in front of goal with goalscorer Gay hitting wide with goalkeeper James at his mercy in the 62nd minute after he was played goal wards by speedy winger Nathan Lewis.
Then in the 76th minute, less than a minute onto the pitch, midfielder Sherron Joseph was blanked a goal by Barracuda substitute defender Omarie Daniel who, as luck would have it, entered the pitch the same time as Joseph in the 75th minute.
Joseph guided an Armstrong low cross towards goal, and after beating the outstretched right glove of James, Daniel appeared in a flash to clear the ball off the line.
Barracuda survived another in the 83rd minute when a stinger by Aubrey David rattled the upright.
But the Barracudas resembling that of fluorescent zebra fishes on Sunday, rather than their traditional blue kits, finally got a goal in the 88th minute.
Andre Manders was well-positioned inside the area to take a neat touch before burying his strike to reduce the deficit 1-2 from close up past Samuel after his defense was left threaded by the somewhat blinding Barracuda outfits.
However in the 90th minute a Nathan Lewis cross was finished neatly by Edwards to restore Caledonia’s two-goal advantage and a 3-1 finish.
Caledonia AIA 3—1 Antigua Barracuda FC
Jamal Gay 21’, Densill Theobald 34’, Keyon Edwards 90’ ; Andre Manders 88’
Caledonia AIA—Glenroy Samuel, Stephan David (capt.), Aubrey David, Nuru Abdallah Muhammad (Aquil Selby 89th), Akeem Thomas, Kareem Joseph, Akim Armstrong, Densill Theobald, Miguel Alejandro Romeo (Keyon Edwards 67th), Jamal Gay (Sherron Joseph 75th), Nathan Lewis.
Unused substitutes—Shemel Louision, Colin Nelson, Aaron Lester, Odelle Armstrong, Nical Stephens, Vurlon Mills.
Technical Director—Jamaal Shabazz.
Barracuda FC—Molvin James, George Dublin (capt.), Toric Robinson, Olrish Saurel, Karanja Mack, Rolston Phoenix (Eugine Kirwan 65th), Tamorley Thomas, Randolph Burton (Alex Phillip 85th), Lawson Robinson, Hazeley Pyle (Omarie Daniel 75th), Andre Manders.
Unused substitutes—Corey Wisenhunt, Jamoy Stevens, Lloyd Jeremy.
P W D L F A Pts
W Connection 1 1 0 0 4 0 3
Caledonia AIA 2 1 0 1 3 5 3
Barracuda FC 1 0 0 1 1 3 0