Pro League club W Connection defeated Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 in the final of the CFU Club Champions Cup on Sunday night at the Marvin Lee Stadium to be crowned ‘champions of the Caribbean’.
Pro League clubs continue to prove their competence at regional level when in the earlier match, San Juan Jabloteh claimed the Caribbean’s last berth in next season’s CONCACAF Champions League after beating Tempete FC of Haiti 2-1 in the third-place game.
Both Connection and Islanders had clinched berths in the Champions League with their Caribbean semi-final victories on Friday.
But in the CFU title match, Jonathan Frias scored twice in the first 21 minutes to pace W Connection over the Islanders, which reached the semifinals of this past season’s Champions League before being eliminated by Cruz Azul.
Pablo Nunez scored in the 36th minute for the Islanders, which finished the game without manager Colin Clarke.
The former Northern Ireland international was ejected in the 59th minute for using obscene language at the fourth official.
Meantime W Connection ended the match as champions of the Caribbean for a third time in the club’s 10 year history. Connection were winners in 2002 and 2006 and runners-up in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
In the earlier match Cyrano Glen opened the scoring in the 33rd and Elton John added his second goal in three days in the 44th to provide all the scoring Jabloteth needed.
Jabloteh’s Karlon Murray knocked in an own-goal to cut the lead to one goal, but the victory gave Trinidad two teams in the 24-team Champions League field.
Jabloteh’s addition increases the number of qualified teams to 14 for next season’s 2009/2010 Champions League, which will begin July 28 with the first leg of the Preliminary Round.
W Connection win third CFU Club Championship.
By: Ian Prescott (T&T Express).
W Connection became one of the most successful-ever Caribbean teams when they won a third Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship on Sunday night-the most by any team.
But they are yet to emulate the feat achieved by the great Defence Force teams who were twice crowned CONCACAF champions (1978 & 1985).
Caribbean champs in 2002, 2006 and 2009, W Connection are still looking for a first CONCACAF title, but they took the first step towards that goal two nights ago at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya, where they survived a second half onslaught before defeating Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 in the 2009 CFU Club Championship final.
Just 12 years in existence, W Connection have now qualified for the 2009-2010 CONCACAF Champions League, which begins with a preliminary round on July 28, and they have also surpassed the two Caribbean titles won by Joe Public (1998 & 2001) since the tournament began in 1997.
W Connection's third hold on the Caribbean Cup was earned in hard-fought fashion against the Islanders, who refused to lie down, even when trailing by two goals after just 21 minutes.
The Puerto Rico club, surprising semi-finalists in the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League, made many changes to the line-up which stopped Tempete FC of Haiti 2-0 in last Friday's CFU semi-final at Macoya.
W Connection had a dream start in the final, getting a brace from Dominican Republic striker Jonathan Frias to take an early lead.
The tiny Frias had W Connection ahead at 1-0 in just the seventh minute when putting away the rebound after Islanders' goalkeeper Chris McCellan parried a shot from Brazilian Williama Olivera into his path.
And the keeper was partially responsible for Frias' second goal in the 21st when he violently shoved the forward in the back, resulting in the ball hitting the back of Frias' head and looping into the goal.
On most days, Frias would have had little hope of beating the lanky keeper to a cross ball.
Despite falling well behind, the Islanders never dropped their heads and were always in the game. They were able to get a goal back in the 35th minute when catching the T&T Pro League team napping from a free-kick.
Jamaican referee Colin Campbell allowed the kick to be quickly taken and although Connection keeper Marvin Phillip stopped the initial shot, playmaker Pablo Martin was free to put the ball in from the centre of goal to make the score 2-1.
The second half saw W Connection under even more pressure. By that time the Puerto Ricans had three T&T players on the field--left back Nigel Henry, midfielder Kevin Villoreal and striker Kendall Jadgeosingh. And the pressure seemed to have done its job when soon after coming onto the field Kelvin Modeste pulled down Puerto Rico's Fabrice Noel. Penalty!!
Up stepped Petter Villegas to take the kick, but the midfielder shot wide, without even troubling the well-beaten goalkeeper.
Keeper Phillip then kept W Connection ahead soon after with a flying tip to brilliantly keep out John Krause's header.
As with all their matches to date this season, Connection have not been finishing games strongly, but they defended doggedly to win the title on Sunday.
W CONNECTION: 21-Marvin Phillip, 2-William Oliveira, 4-Renato Pereira, 3-Kern Cupid, 5-Elijah Joseph (capt), 10-Jonathan Frias, 17-Hughtun Hector (23-Keryn Navarro 90th), 19-Andrei Pacheco, 33-Christian Viveros (16-Kelvin Modeste 46th), 41-Gerrard Williams, 30-Matthew Bartholomew (40-Keron Cummings 81st).
SUBS: 1-Miguel Lloyd (GK), 13-Nickcolson Thomas, 25-Igor Santos, 15-Eder Arias.
PUERTO RICO ISLANDERS: 31-Chris McClellan; 4-Nigel Henry, 12-John Krause, 19-Kevon Villaroel, 6-Alexis Revera (11-Nicholas Addlery 85th); 10-Petter Villegas (capt), 16-Kyle Veris, 17-Andres Cabrero (23-Kendall Jagdeosingh 67th), 7-Sean Fraser, 9-Martin Nunez (22-Jonny Steele 67th); 13-Fabrice Noel.
SUBS: 1-Bill Gaudette, 20-John Hansen, 5-Noah Delgado, 3-James Marcelin, 2-Scott Jones, 15-Sandi Gbandi.
Connection declare trophy chase.
CFU champs target CONCACAF.
By: Lasana Liburd (T&T Express).
W. Connection collected their first major gong of the 2009 season and immediately declared their intention to take more silverware back to their Couva headquarters this year.
Connection, the most successful club of the Trinidad and Tobago professional era, hardly need an excuse to target trophies but recognition of their tenth anniversary as a pro outfit coupled by the recent Pro League stranglehold of rivals CLICO San Juan Jabloteh appeared to have stirred new desire into the club.
Connection's 2-1 triumph over Puerto Rico Islanders in Sunday's 2009 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship final in Macoya was, according to coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, only the beginning.
"This year is our tenth anniversary as a club and we have set ourselves targets," said Fevrier, in the post-game press conference. "Being Caribbean champions is one of them. Being CONCACAF champions was always a dream of ours and we think this (season) is a chance to do it.
"We have not won the Pro League since 2005 and we want to win that too."
Fevrier is wary of the pitfalls of a dual chase for Pro League and CONCACAF honours and urged club president David J Williams to help him strengthen his squad.
"I still feel we need more quality to do better in this competition," he said. "We need a big squad but there is a financial aspect As I told the president, we have to see how best we can strengthen because we saw the problems Joe Public had last year (in the CONCACAF tournament)."
Fevrier was also displeased with the 2009 Digicel Pro League fixtures that will force Connection and Jabloteh to play four games within a week as the two clubs resume domestic duties. He expects that both teams would struggle physically today.
"The people doing the fixtures must be more sensitive towards the players," said the St Lucian and former Trinidad and Tobago national coach. "We have just represented the country and the Pro League and Jabloteh and us should play on Wednesday and not Tuesday.
"I watched Jabloteh (on Sunday) and their key players had to come off because they were dead on their feet It will be an uphill battle for us (today)."
Still, Connection do hope to benefit from the feel good factor of their CFU triumph. The fact that Connection's triumph came against the Islanders, the 2008/09 CONCACAF semi-finalists, arguably added gloss to their fourth Caribbean title in eight years.
The Islanders, who compete in the second tier of the United States' leagues, made eight changes to the squad that beat Haitian club, Tempete, in the CFU semi-finals on Friday and were punished with an early, opportunistic double by Dominican Republic striker Jonathan Frias.
The Puerto Rican club, who have four Trinidad and Tobago players on their roster, have rarely enjoyed success against teams from the twin island republic. Connection eliminated the Islanders in Puerto Rico in 2006, while they fell to Joe Public in 2007 although they did manage a 1-0 aggregate win over Jabloteh last year.
Connection reasserted Caribbean dominance over the Puerto Ricans. "Winning this trophy will give us a boost," said Connection captain Elijah Joseph. St Ann's Rangers should test their resolve from 5 p.m. today at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
Connection to try and open account against Rangers.
By: Randy Bando (ttproleague).
Recently crowned CFU Club Champions W Connection will definitely try and transfer their CFU winning ways to their domestic league on Tuesday when they host St Ann’s rangers at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
W Connection got the better of fellow Pro League campaigners San Juan Jabloteh 2-1 in the semi-finals of the CFU tournament before beating Puerto Rico Islanders 2-1 in the final on Sunday to be crowned Champions of the Caribbean for a third time in the club’s 10 year history.
A first half double by Dominican Republic forward Jonathon Frias did the trick for coach Stewart Charles Fevrier against Islanders, however Connection didn’t have the same winning ways in their opening two Digicel Pro League matches.
They were beaten 2-1 against Jabloteh in Match Day One and held to a 1-1 draw against newcomers FC South End in Match Day Two failing to open a winning account.
Fevrier will surely think his time has come to open the account against St Ann’s based Rangers, another team failing to register a win after two match days.
With strikers Hughtun Hector and Frias coming off excellent CFU showings over the weekend, Fevrier should be confident.
Just as Connection, Rangers are with one point and inside the bottom half of the table following a 3-3 draw against returning Police FC and a 2-1 defeat against League leaders Jabloteh.
Both hungry for their first League victory, W Connection and St Ann’s Rangers will be a good contest on Tuesday in Round One Match Day Three.
That contest will be followed by another interesting clash as FC South End hosts Joe Public two hours later, 7pm.
South End may have lost 4-1 to Defence Force in their opening match, but the Anthony Rougier coached side rebounded with a promising 1-1 draw against Connection in Match Day Two.
They will be hoping for the same type of performance against Public, recently labelled the team to watch, following their performances against Caledonia AIA (3-2) in Match Day One and Defence Force (3-3) in Match Day Two.
Public’s Kerry Baptiste has been the most lethal thus far with three goals in two matches. His teammate Akeil Guevara has a goal in each match meaning that coach Derek King has the needed fire power to do damages this season.
Round Three Match Day Three continues at the Plymouth Recreation Ground, the Palo Seco Recreation Ground and the Larry Gomes Stadium on Tuesday.
Leaders Jabloteh may have lost to Connection last Friday in the CFU semi-finals but they are still a confident bunch after securing their place in the CONCACAF Champions League with a 2-1 win against Tempete FC of Haiti in the third place playoff.
Jabloteh are atop the standings, following 2-1 victories over W Connection and Rangers in Match Day One and Two respectively as the only team with maximum points.
They will travel to the sister isle to take on bottom of the table Tobago United at the Plymouth Recreation Ground and will be anticipating maximum points in defence of their Championship.
Deep south at the Palo Seco venue, home team United Petrotrin coming off a win—in their one match played—against Ma Pau SC in a 1-0 contest will be hoping their stars can do much better in front of their home support.
Police FC have proven that they are no walkover despite returning after missing the 2008 season, following a 3-3 draw against Rangers then a 2-1 win against Tobago United to sit second on the standings after two match days making Tuesday’s contest a good one.
Caledonia AIA without a point after just one match will be hoping to climb out of tenth when they host Ma Pau SC from 5pm at the Larry Gomes Stadium. Ma Pau are with 3 points after two matches following their 2-1 win against Tobago and 1-0 loss against United Petrotrin.
While Defence Force, the team with the well stocked ammunition registering seven goals in their first two matches, will be on a bye this Tuesday.
Round One Match Day Three
Tuesday 19 May 2009
Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
W Connection vs St Ann’s Rangers—5pm
FC South End vs Joe Public—7pm
Plymouth Recreation Ground
Tobago United vs San Juan Jabloteh—5pm
Palo Seco Recreation Ground
United Petrotrin vs Police FC—5pm
Larry Gomes Stadium
Caledonia AIA vs Ma Pau SC—5pm
Defence Force (bye)