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Central F.C. will travel to Haiti by boat to defend CFU title.
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Caribbean Club Champions, Central F.C. are organising a boat cruise to help fund the defence of their title in Haiti at the end of April.

The Chaguanas based club have been joined in the semi-final of the 2016 Caribbean Club Championship by last season’s losing finalist, W.Connection, and Haitian outfit, Don Bosco FC who The Sharks defeated in the 2015 semi-final. The fourth team in the semi-finals is Arnett Gardens of Jamaica, who will face W Connection, while Central and Don Bosco FC replay last season’s game.

Semi-Final winners will advance to the final, guaranteed of a place in the CONCACAF Champions League while the losing teams will face each other in the third place play off in which only the winner will advance to the Champions League.

While the CFU will provide accommodation for the teams in Haiti and award US$5,000 towards travel costs, Sharks Managing Director, Brent Sancho said it’s not nearly enough.

“The flights alone will cost TT$130,000 and we also have to overnight in Curacao. So we have to raise at least TT$100,000 in the next four weeks”

Sancho said that the club could have saved over TT$50,000 had they received outstanding monies they are owed. “There was a special offer which provided direct flights at only TT$70,000, but we only had three days to decide and 14 days to make payment. It was impossible to commit as we have no guarantee that we will receive the required funds.”

“It’s all about cashflow” said Sancho “Until we can receive our outstanding funds, every day is a struggle”

Central F.C. have never lost a game in the CFU Club Championships and were unbeaten in 15 games this season, including their recent CFU trip to Jamaica, until they lost to Police through an own goal on 1st April.

The club will be hosting a boat ride, named “Bitten”, on April 23rd on the MV Harbour Master boarding at 11 pm. “We have been fortunate that once again Corporate T&T have stepped forward to help the club” said Sancho. “We hope to raise at least $50,000 from the boat ride. We are inviting corporate leaders to step up and purchase some tickets for distribution to their staff”

Sancho said that guest artists have not yet been finalised, but he is confident that “Bitten” will be a great night and may become an annual event. “We are appealing to top artists to step forward and volunteer to perform to assist us” said Sancho.

As usual, Central F.C. will be flying the flag for T&T on and off the pitch while in Haiti. “The people of Haiti have suffered badly over the last decade and while we are there we hope to liaise with United Nations to visit an orphanage with our players and bring a little cheer. It’s something that our players are used to now. While it gives them a break from the tension and monotony of being in camp, it also, on a personal level, develops their understanding of life outside of Trinidad & Tobago and increases their empathy for those less fortunate.”

Sancho said the club will have one or two more fundraising efforts before they depart on 27th April. However, the club also need to focus on retaining their Pro League title. The Sharks are 4 points clear at the top of the league with a game in hand and 6 games remaining.

“Obviously we were upset about the loss to Police” said Sancho “But, of course, no unbeaten run can last forever. Winning 9 straight games, including two in Jamaica, was indicative of the work put in on the training field.”

Sancho said, however, that the timing of the defeat could be fortuitous. “It was a wakeup call to the lads, who may have become a little complacent. But if we had to lose a game, then that was the right one to lose. We still have breathing space at the top of the league and we now enter the Lucozade Goal Shield. If we can go the next 6 or 7 games unbeaten we would retain the Lucozade Goal Shield, our Caribbean Club Championship and probably our league title as well! Tuesdays game against W.Connection could be instrumental in deciding the destination of this seasons title”

The club welcomed back national striker, Rundell Winchester against Police FC, who spent a season on loan to MLS club Portland Timbers.

“Rundell is a great addition to the squad for the final third of the season. His pace and power are awesome” But Sancho warned the returning Tobagonian that there are no automatic picks. “We’ve been scoring freely from all over the field, so goals are not a problem. Winchester has to buy in to our style of play which requires 100% effort for 90 plus minutes. Physically he is more than capable, but we will see how he fares mentally. There’s no room for players who switch off during the game. “

Sancho added that Winchester could be devastating in Haiti and this is his chance to regain his place in the National team.

Anyone requiring tickets for “Bitten” should contact the club via its Central F.C. Fan Club facebook page.