Caledonia AIA boss Jamaal Shabazz made no excuse over his team’s 2-5 Digicel Pro Bowl Final defeat against Defence Force last Thursday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The defeat came a day before the Morvant/Laventille club’s departure for the Cayman Islands to contest two-time defending champions Puerto Rico Islanders (May 21) and host side George Town (May 23) in the Caribbean Football Union Club(CFU) Championship Group Four matches after the group was reduced to three teams following the pullout of Haitian club Baltimore.
“It’s hard to tell, but regardless of what [our players] were focusing on its no excuse. I thought Defence Force did very well and credit to them,” responded Shabazz when the question of his players’ focus ahead of the CFU Club Championship matches was posed.
“I think the guys were mature enough to separate the issues,” continued the Caledonia coach. “Yes we wanted to win (the Digicel Pro Bowl), but we didn’t win. Truly the more important thing is to qualify out of the CFU Club Championship.”
Kareem Joseph and substitute Trevin Caesar were the scorers for Caledonia while a pair of goals by Defence Force striker Richard Roy and one each from Ross Russell Jr., Glynn Franklyn and Jerwyn Balthazar did the damage on Thursday night, halting the Morvant/Laventille club chase of a fourth domestic title this season having won the First Citizens Cup, FA Trophy and Lucozade Sport Goal Shield.
Shabazz explained that he started the in-form players last Thursday but added that unused defenders Radanfah Abu Bakr and Nuru Abdullah Muhammad are just a couple of changes expected in the team this week in the Cayman Islands.
Caledonia is seeking one of two remaining spots in the CFU Club Championship final-four round which already has Group Five teams W Connection and Antigua Barracudas.
The top three teams of the final-four round will advance into next season’s CONCACAF Champions’ League.
Three titles, a chance of lifting the CFU title still alive and even advancing to representing Trinidad and Tobago at next season’s CONCACAF Champions’ League, Shabazz describes it, “… a new time for Caledonia.”
“We can only go from strength to strength because we have gained a lot of confidence this season winning three Finals after reaching four,” he said. “I think we narrowly missed out on winning the League as well (by finishing two points behind the winners W Connection), so this is good for us. This is a new time for Caledonia AIA and a time for us to really get back into the community and revive the spirits of the people.”
Caribbean Football Union Club Championship
T.E Mc Field Sports Centre, George Town, Cayman Islands
Monday 21 May
Caledonia AIA vs Puerto Rico Islanders
Wednesday 23 May
Caledonia AIA vs George Town