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2023/24 TTPFL Champions, AC Port of Spain
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AC PORT OF SPAIN are uncertain of returning to training tomorrow for the CONCACAF Caribbean Cup, the issue being the payment of salaries.

The Capital Boyz, newly crowned Trinidad and Tobago Premier Football League champions, open their 2024 CONCACAF Caribbean Cup group stage away to Haitian runners-up Quanaminthe FC at Estadio Moca in the Dominican Republic on Thursday, August 22.

Representing T&T are AC PoS and runners-up Police FC. The Lawmen also first see action on August 22 against Haitian champions Real Hope in Jamaica. Because of unrest in their country, both Haitian teams are playing their home matches at preferred away venues.

Police are placed in Group A along with 2024 Jamaican champions Cavalier FC, Real Hope and the still-to-be-decided winners of the CFU Club Shield, a competition in which T&T’s third-place Defence Force will compete.

Meanwhile, Group B contains both Dominican Republic winners Cibao FC and runners-up Moca FC; Ouanaminthe FC - who lost the Haitian championship playoff 4-2 on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw with Real Hope; AC PoS and the also-to-be-decided CFU Club Shield runners-up.

After taking a two-week break following the conclusion of the local season, the Capital Boyz are unsure about a planned resumption of training, carded for tomorrow, in preparation for the start of the Caribbean competition in August.

“We haven’t started back training yet, and that is the difficult part, because I don’t (think) some of the guys would have received their final (salary) payment from the Government, because the Government was paying the salary of the players through the TTFA (Trinidad and Tobago Football Association),” AC PoS assistant coach Gilbert Bateau stated.

Bateau added: “We had intended on restarting Monday. So, we have to wait on information from Ryan Nunes, the owner of the club. We had planned to give them a two-week break and resume by the 17th (June).”

The Capital Boyz may also have to do without two of their stars, with T&T midfielder Michel Poon-Angeron and Grenadian international striker Jamal Charles both getting overseas contracts. But the club is allowed to recruit others.

For AC Port of Spain, it is their second year in the competition, having represented T&T in 2023 as the local runners-up, along with former champions Defence Force. As per usual, the competition features ten clubs split into two groups of five, and will be played from August to December 2024. Three clubs will qualify for the 2025 CONCACAF Champions Cup.

Bateau feels that T&T football is in a better place overall at this time than in 2023 when local clubs took part in Caribbean Cup qualifying after an absence of years.

“We actually wanted to go back to the tournament to make amends this time around,” stated Bateau. “Tier One football (in Trinidad & Tobago) last year was the first after coming out of a pandemic, and when we went to the tournament, in some essence, it was like a rude awakening.”

Bateau believes that T&T representatives AC Port of Spain and Defence Force both suffered due to Government restrictions preventing football being played during the Covid-19 pandemic, while in other territories such as Jamaica, playing of the game resumed quite early.

Bateau said it was also a shock for the players, who despite playing quite well, could not manage a single win.

“We were coming out of a pandemic, and it is not unrealistic for the players to believe that they are the best thing in football, that’s what they normally believe,” Bateau said. “We (also) had some areas where we needed to fix, because in one of those games, we had 19 shots on goal and still lost the game.”

Meanwhile, CONCACAF has announced the schedule for the 2024 Caribbean Cup group stage. The regional cup competition serves as a qualifier for the Champions Cup and crowns the Caribbean’s club champions.

In this first round, clubs will play teams in their group once, for a total of four matches per club (two at home and two away) in the five scheduled weeks. After the group stage, the first and second place finishers in each group will advance to the knockout stage.

The knockout stage will include home-and-away play, starting with the semi-finals, followed by the third place match and the final, where the new champions of the Caribbean will be crowned.

CONCACAF CARIBBEAN CUP FIXTURES:

Tuesday, August 20

Mount Pleasant FA vs Cavalier FC - Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

Wednesday, August 21

Cibao FC vs Moca FC - Estadio Cibao FC, Santiago, Dominican Rep.

Thursday, August 22

Ouanaminthe FC vs AC Port of Spain - Estadio Moca 85, Moca, Dominican Rep.

Real Hope FA vs Miscellaneous Police FC - Sabina Park, Kingston, Jamaica

Group Stage Week 2

Tuesday, August 27

(TBC) CFU Club Shield Champions vs Mount Pleasant FA

Moca FC vs AC Port of Spain, Estadio Moca 85, Moca, Dominican Rep.


SOURCE: T&T Express