Shabazz admits: Work needed to catch up with the rest of Concacaf

Caledonia defender Aubrey David against ComunicacionesAlthough believing that Caledonia AIA weren’t outclassed by Concacaf Champions League group stage opponent CSD Comunicaciones of Guatemala in a 3-0 defeat last Thursday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Head Coach Jamaal Shabazz admitted that there is a gap between Caribbean clubs and those of North and Central America.

“I thought that we had our chances to get the ball in the back of the net,” the Caledonia boss said during the post match press conference.

“On four occasions we had clear-cut chances. I think the score line made it look as if they were far superior to us. But the truth and in fact, they weren’t that superior to us. It’s just that the margin for error at Concacaf level, as appose to Pro League level … or the Caribbean level, is so slim. It is a learning curve for us to take.

“We showed that we had the ability to get behind them, but we showed that we lacked the final pass, and the final tuck away in goal. I thought we didn’t do that well in that aspect of the game.  But in terms of competing with them and keeping our shape and getting behind them, I thought we showed that we are able to play in this (Champions) league.

“But still you can see there is a lot of work for us to do to catch up with the rest of Concacaf. The practice of exercising tactical discipline at another level of the game is something we are still learning.”

Learning it is, as Caledonia in its second consecutive and overall CCL campaign, remains at the bottom of Group 6 without a point and out of the race for a quarterfinal spot.

After two matches, Mexico’s Deportivo Toluca leads the group with maximum 6 points, and thanks to a hat-trick scored by Liverpool FC’s Luis Suarez’s older brother Paolo against Caledonia, the Guatemalan club remains in the race with 3 points.

Caledonia, defeated 3-1 in Mexico against Toluca in the first leg, will welcome the Mexicans on Wednesday 18 September at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, and then travel to Guatemala on Wednesday 25 September against Comunicaciones at the Estadio Cementos Progreso. Toluca and Comunicaciones will later wrap up the group matches against each other on Wednesday 23 October at the Nemesio Díez Riega, Toluca, Mexico.

“It’s our second time around in the Champions League and we are learning as the games progress,” Shabazz added. “We welcome the two [remaining] games.

“We still have to consider who we are, and whom we represent. We represent Trinidad and Tobago … we represent Morvant/Laventille … we represent the Caribbean and we have two valuable games at a very high level in which to gather experience and try to give a performance and raise our level of play.”