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Photo: San Juan Jabloteh winger Nathan Lewis (right) races past Morvant Caledonia United right back Ordell Flemming in 2015/16 Pro League action. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868

Nathan Lewis and Keithy Simpson both grabbed hat-tricks as Trinidad and Tobago Pro League outfit San Juan Jabloteh dumped Sint Maarten’s Flames United 9-0 on Wednesday in the opening clash of Group E of the 2017 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship at Victoria Park in Kingstown, St. Vincent.

Trinidad and Tobago international, Lewis, completed his hat-trick in the first half with goals in the 21st, 40th and 44th minutes after Simpson opened the scoring in the 11th minute for the former Caribbean champions who took a 4-0 cushion into the break.

Jamaica national Simpson, who started along countrymen Damian Williams and Adrian Reid, made it 5-nil six minutes into the second half before completing his hat-trick on the hour mark--by which time Jabloteh were leading 7-0 inclusive of a 57th-minute item from Panamanian midfielder Jairo Lombardo.

Substitutes Tyrone Charles and Jamal Gay, who replaced Simpson and Guyana’s Verlon Mills respectively with twenty-three minutes left, completed the 9-0 rout with goals in the 72nd and 81st minutes, respectively.

Gay, however, will miss the remaining Group E fixtures against Guadeloupe’s Club Sportif Moulien on Friday (10 March) and host team System 3 Sport Academy on Sunday (12 March) due to a knee injury and is expected to be replaced by utility player Kennedy Hinkson.

Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey was happy for the victory but says his side were guilty of wasting a number of scoring opportunities.

“We could have been double the amount [at the end] but, like over the years without natural goal scorers, we weren't able to finish off the team early,” lamented the Jabloteh coach.

“Against Flames, who I would say can compete in the Super League (T&T’s second tier of football), we had around eight or nine chances in the first ten minutes but didn’t score.”

The result, however, put Jabloteh top of Group E but only ahead of Moulien by goal-difference, after the Guadeloupe outfit defeated System 3 Sporting Academy 4-0 in the second game of Wednesday’s Victoria Park double-header.

Jeffrey expects a tougher challenge from the Guadeloupe champions Moulien from 5:30pm on Friday in the virtual group final.

“I’ve had a look at them (Moulien) against the local side System 3 and they played a nice game and won 4-0,” Jeffrey said.

“It’s a virtual final for us on Friday. If we want to progress to the final six stage of the tournament we need to be more lethal. Our execution with and without the ball must also improve. Once we win on Friday we own Group E.”

A record 21 clubs from 12 countries, headed by two-time defending champions Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago, qualified for this season’s edition of the Caribbean Club Championship, which will determine the region’s representatives to CONCACAF’s expanded competitions platform.

The five group winners will advance to the final round of the Caribbean Club Championship, scheduled for May 14 – 21. Central, who received a bye as reigning champions, will host the final round in Trinidad.

Haiti’s Racing FC (Group A), Dominican Republic’s Cibao FC (Group B) and Antigua and Barbuda side Grenades FC (Group C) have already secured their final round berths after topping their respective groups. The final round will be played in two groups of three, with both group winners facing each other in the final. 

The champions of the Caribbean Club Championship earns a place in the newly re-formatted CONCACAF Champions League, while the second, third and fourth-placed clubs will participate in the Confederation’s newly launched club championship tournament for Caribbean and Central American clubs, which kicks off in August.

Group E Results

San Juan Jabloteh 9 (Keithy Simpson 11', 51', 60', Nathan Lewis 21', 40', 44', Jairo Lombardo 57', Tyrone Charles 72', Jamal Gay 81') vs Flames United 0, at Victoria Park, St. Vincent;

System 3 Sport Academy 0 vs Club Sportif Moulien 4, at Victoria Park, St. Vincent.

Group E Standings

#  Team                                            MP   W   D   L   GF   GA  GD   Points
1  San Juan Jabloteh                       1      1    0   0    9      0    +9     3
2  Club Sportif Moulien                       1      1    0   0   4      0    +4     3
3  System 3 Sport Club                      1      0    0   1    0      4    -4     0
4  Flames United                                 1      0     0   1   0     9    -9     0 

San Juan Jabloteh team vs Flames United

Javon Sample (GK), Damian Williams (capt.), Akeem Benjamin, Jevon Morris, Adrian Reid, Kion Joseph, Elijah Manners, Keithy Simpson (Tyrone Charles 67th minute), Jairo Lombardo (Kadeem Corbin 75th minute), Nathan Lewis, Vurlon Mills (Jamal Gay 67th minute).