Reigning champions Central FC and last season's runners-up W Connection will contest the 2016 final of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship – a rematch of last season's final – on Sunday at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
This after both Trinidadian clubs, Connection and Central, progressed from the Club Championship semi-final round on Friday at the same venue with wins over Jamaica's Arnett Gardens and hosts Don Bosco FC, respectively, to also qualify for next season's Concacaf Champions League 2016/17.
Connection, now into their seventh Club Championship final and are the most successful club in the tournament, were 2-0 winners over Arnett Gardens through first half goals from Alvin Jones and Shahdon Winchester.
Jones fired the “Savonetta Boys” ahead in only with 2nd minute of play before Winchester, following some good play by Jomal Williams, made it 2-0 in stoppage-time of the first half.
But Central, in a rematch of last season's semi-final against Don Bosco which needed penalty kicks to decide the winners, needed kicks from the penalty mark again to get past the Haitians after 120 minutes of play produced a 1-1 score.
Sean De Silva handed Central the lead in the third minute of extra time from a free kick but Don Bosco equalised through Kerlins Georges from the penalty spot in the 104th minute to send the game into the penalty shootout which the “Couva Sharks” won 4-2, thanks to two saves from goalkeeper Javon Sample who had replaced injured Akel Clarke during the second half of regular time.
Also on Sunday, Don Bosco and Arnett Gardens will battle in the Club Championship third place game to decide the third and final Caribbean berth into next season’s Concacaf Champions League.
Connection, who were defeated 2-1 in the final last season by debutants Central, were outright Caribbean champions in 2006 and 2009, and joint winners in 2001, 2002 and 2013 after no final rounds were contested following group play.
This season the Stuart Charles-Fevrier coached-Connection progressed from the group stage wins over Dominican Republic side Atlantico FC (4-2), Guadeloupe’s Club Sportif Moulien (5-1) and Suriname’s Inter Moengo Tapoe (3-1) when they hosted the Caribbean Club Championship 2016 Group 1 in Trinidad in February.
Central, now coached by former assistant coach Dale Saunders who is assisted by ex-Trinidad and Tobago internationals and 2006 World Cup members Stern John and Brent Sancho, who is also the club’s managing director, were also perfect in topping Group 3 contested in Jamaica in March with wins over Cayman Islands side Scholars International (6-0) and hosts Montego Bay United (1-0).
Don Bosco FC, hosted Group 2 in Haiti, and comfortably topped their group with wins over Bermuda side Somerset CC (5-0) and Guadeloupe’s La Gauloise de Basse-Terre (3-1), while Arnett Gardens topped Group 4 in Dominican Republic by defeating Haiti’s America FC (3-0), Suriname’s SV Notch (8-4) and host team Club Atletico Pantoja (1-0).
Caribbean Club Championship 2016
Stade Sylvio Cator, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Friday April 29
W Connection (T&T) 2 (Alvin Jones 2’, Shahdon Winchester 45’+) vs Arnett Gardens (Jamaica)
Don Bosco FC (Haiti) 1 (Sean De Silva 93’) vs Central FC (T&T) 1 (Kerlins Georges 104’)
Central won the game 4-2 on kicks from the spot)
Sunday May 1
Don Bosco FC vs Arnett Gardens
Central FC vs W Connection