Forwards Jamal Charles and Malik St. Prix each scored a goal during Sunday’s hard-fought effort by W Connection to defeat Suriname’s Inter Meongotapoe 3-1 and secure a spot in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship 2016 semi-finals, to be contested on April 29.
The 31-year-old Trinidad and Tobago international Hector, who spent the last half decade in Vietnam with the V-League’s Song Lam Nghe An then Hanoi T&T, welcomed time and space in the middle to calibrate before blasting the ball into the top corner of goalkeeper Orbrendo Huiswoud for a 3-0 Connection lead.
“Hector has always been an intelligent player,” W Connection technical director/head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier told ttproleague.com after the game. “He is a born and bred W Connection player having never played professionally with another club in Trinidad.”
Charles-Fevrier, though, was disappointed in the manner in which his side conceded in stoppage-time when Inter substitute Kareem Kwasie latched onto a head-on by a teammate before beating goalkeeper Julani Archibald from close up to pull back a consolation item for the visitors.
“The goal we conceded was a soft goal,” said the Connection coach. “Two of our players went for the same ball and as a result of that we had no cover, causing the goal. I was very disappointed especially at that time of the game. I would have liked the 3-0 score at that stage.
“Although they had just as much possession as us, they never created a clear-cut goal-scoring opportunity. They got a penalty which was an accidental handball.”
The longstanding Connection coach added, “Today’s game was about qualifying for the next round. To qualify we needed a win or a draw and we would have taken it anyhow.
“It was a hard game. I always knew it was going to be a hard game [against Inter Moengo Tapoe]. They have some very athletic and strong players and they worked very hard tonight. But we are a more experienced team than them, we are a more professional team, and I believe that’s why we were able to contain them and win the game.”
Connection completed Group 1 with maximum 9 points, while Inter Moengotapoe (6 points), Dominican Republic’s Atlantico FC (3 points) and Guadeloupe’s CS Moulien (0 points) finished second, third and fourth, respectively.
Atlantico defeated 9-man Moulien 4-0 in the earlier game of Sunday’s double-header to salvage some level of pride.
Atlantico forward Leinner Perez scored in either side of the break, netting in the 17th and 53rd minutes, before supplying a tricky feed to captain Cristian Casseres to score the Dominican’s third item on 59 minutes, moments after Moulien’s second half substitute Stephane Amadiah was ejected by a second yellow card.
Wuiswell Isea wrapped up Atlantico’s scoring in the 62nd minute by beating Moulien goalkeeper Kevin Ajax from distance. Moulien’s frustration boiled over 20 minutes later when defender and captain Felix Siar was shown his second yellow card of the game when he struck the face of Atlantico substitute forward Jose Arturo.
“We were the best team in all of the four teams and we deserve to be in the [semi-final] round,” added Charles-Fevrier, whose “Savonetta Boys” also defeated Atlantico 4-2 and Moulien 5-1.
Jamal Charles put Connection ahead 1-0 after ten minutes against Inter when he directed in a Kurt Frederick cross at goalkeeper Huiswoud’s near post for his fourth goal of the tournament.
The 19-year-old Grenadian Charles, who, previous to the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship, never scored a Connection goal, scored a game-winning double against Atlantico as a substitute and also scored the opening item against Moulien as a starting replacement for suspended forward Shahdon Winchester.
Winchester returned to play for Connection who were forced into a premature substitution against Inter after just 24 minutes when star midfielder Jomal Williams, with 3 goals in the tournament, walked off with what seemed a groin injury.
Meanwhile Inter were entirely without Suriname international and ex-W Connection forward Stefano Rijssel, who was suspended on cards accumulation. The visitors, though, were tenacious and threw everything at Connection but just couldn’t level the score, even from the penalty spot, after Charles’ opening item.
Connection’s 24-year-old St Kitts/Nevis international goalkeeper Julani Archibald, who produced a superb one-handed diving save to put behind an Emilio Limon strike in the 16th minute, made a world class penalty save in the 77 minute to deny Patrick Jimmy after Guyanese referee Sherwin Johnson ruled a handball against the “Savonetta Boys”’ captain Alvin Jones.
That failed attempt would later haunt Inter when 20-year-old Connection substitute Malik St. Prix, just one minute onto the pitch, made it 2-0 in the 81st minute. St. Lucia international Frederick, one of Connection’s top performers of the tournament, fired low from distance, only to find the boot of St. Prix who beat Huiswoud from inside the box for his second goal of the tournament before Hector made it 3-0.
Huiswoud, who earlier thwarted efforts by Jomal, his Suriname countryman Dimitrie Apai and Hector, was no match for latter’s 90th minute strike.
Apai, who missed the target by inches on three occasions, can consider himself unlucky not to get on the scoresheet but would have his chance again on the Caribbean stage in the final round as Connection attempts an eight Concacaf berth.
Connection, four-time Caribbean champions, must await the winners of Group 4 to know their semi-final opponent. Haiti’s America FC, Jamaica’s Arnett Gardens FC, Suriname’s SV Notch and hosts Club Atletico Pantoja will contest the group in Dominican Republic from March 2-6 with the top team advancing to meet Connection.
Defending champions Central FC will travel to Jamaica to compete in Group 3 (March 9-13) to be contested by hosts Montego Bay United and Cayman Islands team Scholars International SC. The winners will meet Group 2 winners Don Bosco FC of Haiti in the semi-final round on April 29. The semi-final round winners will advance into the final on May 1.
The final round will also determine the three Caribbean berths at the 2016/17 Concacaf Champions League.
Club Sportif Moulien 0 vs Atlantico FC 4 (Leinner Perez 17’, 53’, Cristian Casseres 59’, Wuiswell Isea 62’)
W Connection 3 (Jamal Charles 10’, Malik St. Prix 81’, Hughtun Hector 90’) vs Inter Moengo Tapoe 1 (Kareem Kwasie 90’+2)
W Connection: 18.Julani Archibald; 2.Kurt Frederick, 3.Gerard Williams, 5.Triston Hodge, 14.Andre Toussaint (43.Malik St. Prix 80th minute), 10.Jomal Williams (9.Shahdon Winchester 24th minute), 12.Dimitrie Apai, 13.Hughtun Hector, 16.Alvin Jones (Capt.), 20.Jamal Charles (26.Paolo De La Guardia Alvarez 68th minute), 25.Daneil Cyrus
Unused substitutes: 1.Terrence Lewis (GK), 4.Maurice Ford, 8.Briel Thomas, 35.Keston Julien, 46.Anfernee Frederick, 34.Jabari Mitchell
Coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Inter Moengotapoe: 30.Orbrendo Huiswoud; 4.Jürmen Vallei, 5.Patrick Jimmy (Capt.), 8.Gregory Pokie, 9.Giovanny Waal, 10.Ives Vlijter (15.Claudio Pinas 70th minute), 20.Romeo Kastiel (2.Anduelo Amoeferie 75th minute), 21.Emilio Limon, 80.Romano Dennis (11.Kareem Kwasie 64th minute), 99.Naldo Kwasie, 69.Joël Baja
Unused substitutes: 1.Rudolph Daniel (GK), 7.Izaak Carvalho Pantoja, 17.Saviero Gazon,
Coach: Jeroe Hesron
Referee: Sherwin Johnson (GUY)