Central in must-win situations after losing group opener against Portmore

​Photo: Central FC starting line-up ahead of their opening Group B clash of the 2018 Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship against Portmore United on Feb. 7, 2018. (Photo courtesy concacaf.com / Alfonso Conde)

Two-time former champions Central FC must win their two remaining Group B matches of the 2018 Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship if the Couva Sharks are to qualify for the semi-finals after losing 2-0 to Jamaica’s Portmore United in their opener on Wednesday at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Second half goals from Jamaica international Ricardo Morris and Jermie Lynch put Portmore in the group lead, ahead – by goal-difference – of hosts Atlantico FC who edged Haiti’s Racing FC 2-1 in the second game on Wednesday.

Engelbert Briceño fired Atlántico ahead from the penalty spot in the 7th minute before Jarol Herrera cushioned the Dominican Republic champions 2-0 nine minutes later.

Racing’s Charles Bendy reduced the deficit three minutes before the half hour mark but it wasn’t enough to avoid the Haitians defeat.

Central, meanwhile, had fallen behind two minutes into the second half when Morris fired in a second rebound past goalkeeper Montel Joseph who had put the initial attempt from above the box of the crossbar before a follow up strike cannoned off the upright.

It was a disappointing restart for Central, a side only put together in weeks and by far looked the better of the two sides in the first half.

Lynch then put the match out of Central’s reach four minutes from time when he capitalized on indecision by the Sharks in defence.

Portmore, who beat Central to a third place finish last season, currently leads the Jamaica Red Stripe 2017-18 season while the Couva Sharks, though three-time former Pro League champions, are currently out of season and off a campaign that saw them finish their lowest—second from bottom in 2017.

Central head coach Stern John, who took charge midway through last season in the Pro League, turned to three of his former World Cup 2006 teammates Cornell Glen, Densill Theobald and Anthony Wolfe among thirteen signings made for the Caribbean group stage.

Theobald and Wolfe started against the Jamaicans along with Tyrone Charles, Nathan Lewis and Jameel Neptune, who, like Carlyle Mitchell, joined the Sharks for the purpose of the Caribbean group stage along with regulars Jason Marcano, Kaydion Gabriel and Tyryk Sampson.

And according to Bsportsfan.com the Couva Sharks had 82 dangerous attacks, four shots on target and eight off target compared to Portmore’s 49, 4 and 3 respectively.

Central will return to play against Racing on Friday before facing Atlántico on Sunday in the final group game.

The top two teams from Group B will join Group A winner Club Atletico Pantoja (Dominican Republic) and runner-up Arnett Gardens (Jamaica) in the CCC finals, with the champion gaining a place in the 2019 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, while the runner-up and third place finishers will qualify for the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.

The fourth-place side will face the winner of the Tier 2 tournament -- Caribbean Club Shield -- in a playoff to determine the third club that will represent the Caribbean in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.  The Tier 2 champion, however, must comply with the minimum CONCACAF Club Licensing requirements to secure participation.

Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship 2018
Group B (Dominican Republic)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Central FC 0 v Portmore United FC 2 (Ricardo Morris 47’, Jermie Lynch 86’), Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlantico FC 2 (Engelbert Briceño 7’, Jarol Herrera 16’) v Racing FC 1 (Charles Bendy 27’), Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Friday, February 9, 2018    
Racing FC (HAI) v Central FC (T&T), 5pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlantico FC (DOM) v Portmore United FC (JAM), 8pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Sunday, February 11, 2018
Portmore United FC (JAM) v Racing FC (HAI), 5pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic;

Atlantico FC (DOM) v Central FC (TRI), 8pm, Estadio Cibao, Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Group A (Trinidad)

Wednesday 31 January 2018
Club Atletico Pantoja 0 vs Arnett Gardens 0, at Ato Boldon Stadium;

W Connection 0 vs Real Hope Football Academy 1 (Jeudy Johnson 2’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

Friday, February 2, 2018        
Real Hope FA 0 vs Atletico Pantoja 3 (Luis Espinal 35’, Armando Maita 40’, 59’), at Ato Boldon Stadium.

W Connection 2 (Marcus Joseph 2’, 13) vs Arnett Gardens 1 (Fabien Reid 61’ pen.), at Ato Boldon Stadium. 

Sunday, February 4, 2018
Arnett Gardens FC 4 (Fabien Reid 65’, 86’ pen., 90’+2, Leon Strickland 90’) v Real Hope FA 0,5pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad;

W Connection FC 0 v Club Atletico Pantoja 3 (Luis Espinal 27’, Armando Maita 30’, Juan Carlos López 65’ pen.), 8pm, Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, Trinidad.