Central and Connection seek confidence booster ahead of final Concacaf Champions League fixture

​Central FC’s starting line-up ahead of their second-leg Group C clash of the Concacaf Champions League against Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place, Vancouver, Canada on Sep. 28, 2016. Vancouver Whitecaps won the game 4-1.

Issued on Thursday, October 13, 2016

With both teams already failing to make the next step in the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League (CCL), Caribbean powerhouses Central FC and W Connection chase pride in their final group game of the CCL next week.

Two-time reigning Caribbean Club champions Central FC will be away to Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit Sporting Kansas City on Oct. 19 at the Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, while Connection must travel to Mexico against Pumas UNAM on Oct. 20 at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario in Mexico City.

But first, Central and Connection are after domestic wins in the Digicel Pro League (DPL) before flying off for their final CCL fixture.

W Connection, with just one point after two league games, will play Club Sando on Friday from 6pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium, following which, Central, also the two-time reigning DPL champions and current 2016/17 leaders, will look to continue on their one hundred percent form after two games when they tackle Defence Force from 8pm at the Couva venue.

“We are on top in the Pro League and we want to continue with a win against Army (Defence Force),” said Central FC head coach Dale Saunders who has already led the Couva Sharks to wins over W Connection (2-1) and Club Sando (2-1).

“We want to leave to go Kansas on a high because we want to finish on a positive result [in the CCL]. But first we have to focus on Army. We knew that with the shorter [DPL] season for 2016/17 it was important to start strong if we are to defend our title. So we are focusing game by game to try and stay positive in our results.”

Connection meanwhile, are after their first win domestically and are coming of a 2-2 draw with Police FC last Tuesday.

“We want a victory [against Sando],” said Connection assistant coach Earl Jean, whose side sit third from the bottom on the DPL standings after two games. “We want the confidence going into the Concacaf game and we want to build for the season [domestically].

“The league is young still but with just two rounds we must give everything possible to try and get maximum points. We don’t want to stay too far from the [leading] pack.”

Jean said it is also important for the Savonetta Boys to win their final CCL game next week against Pumas. “The most important thing is to win the game. We don’t want to go out there to lay down—we want a good result.”

Competing out of season against teams CCL teams well into their respective domestic seasons, Central and Connection felt at a disadvantage and currently occupy bottom of Groups C and A, respectively, at the Concacaf tournament which kicks off in August.

But with the Pro League season shortened in 2016/17 (September 2016 to February 2017) to allow reverting the calendar to the April to December format in 2017, Trinidadian teams competing at next season’s CCL, once qualified, will be deep into their domestic season.

Vancouver Whitecaps (4W-0D-0L, 12), of the Major League Soccer (MLS), have long secured their place in the quarterfinals of this season’s CCL out of Group C with Sporting Kansas City and Central, both with a 0W-1D-2L record, left to try and salvage some pride.

Meanwhile in Group A, second positioned Pumas (2W-0D-1L, 6 points) are hoping to hurdle leaders Honduras Progreso (2W-1D-1L, 7 points) with a win or draw over Connection (0W-1D-2L, 1 point) to snatch a place into the quarterfinals of the CCL.

Upcoming Digicel Pro League 2016/17 fixtures
Round One Match Day Three
Friday, October 14, 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
W Connection vs Club Sando—6pm
Central FC vs Defence Force—8pm

Sunday, October 16, 2016
Morvant Recreation Ground, Park Street, Morvant
Morvant Caledonia United vs San Juan Jabloteh—4pm

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Ato Boldon Stadium
Ma Pau Stars vs St. Ann’s Rangers—6pm
Point Fortin Civic vs Police FC—8pm