His opponents are Haiti’s Racing FC and Jamaica’s Portmore United—two teams deep into their respective domestic national leagues. His side, San Juan Jabloteh, meanwhile are currently only in pre-season.
But Keith Jeffrey, the technical director/head coach of Jabloteh, is unfazed by the challenge his side faces in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship 2017 final round to be hosted in Trinidad from May 14 – 21 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“We have to win at all costs,” Jeffrey said last week. “We are representing Trinidad (and Tobago) in this tournament. Racing are second in the Haiti League and Portmore just qualified for the Jamaica League big four. So it’s a situation where we will have to make up with home advantage—the 12th man. It’s always difficult when you are out of competition but we are not making excuses.”
One year ago Jabloteh, under the guidance of Jeffrey, secured a second-place finish in the 2015-16 Pro League to qualify for this season’s edition of the Caribbean Club Championship—the qualifier tournament to the Concacaf Champions League—their first return to the competition since 2009.
Jabloteh, the 2003 Caribbean champions, made an impressive return, cruising out of the first round group stage last March with wins over St. Maarten’s Flames United (9-0), Guadeloupe’s Club Sportif Moulien (4-1) and hosts System 3 Sporting Academy (1-0) in St. Vincent to enter the final round as the seeded team of Group B where they must take on Racing on 14 May and Portmore on 18 May.
Central FC, the two-time reigning Caribbean champions, received a bye to the final round and heads Group A where they must face Grenades FC of Antigua on 14 May and Cibao FC of Dominica Republic on 18 May. (See full schedule below)
The top team out of each final round group will contest Caribbean title match on May 21, with the champions earning automatic qualification into next season’s newly re-formatted Concacaf Champions League, which commences in February 2018.
The second, third and fourth place finishing teams in the CFU tournament will join 13 Central American teams in the Confederation’s newly launched club championship which kicks off in August. The overall champion team of the club championship for Caribbean and Central American clubs will also qualifying for next season’s Concacaf Champions League.
“We would like it to be an all-Trinidad final on May 21,” Jeffrey continued. “But if that doesn’t happen, we want to make sure at least one Trinidad team makes it to the final.”
Last year Central FC defended the Caribbean crown by prevailing over rivals W Connection in the final for a second consecutive time.
Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship 2017 (Final Round)
All matches will be contested at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Trinidad
(Sunday, May 14, 2017)
San Juan Jabloteh vs Racing FC—5:30pm (Group B)
Central FC vs Grenades FC—8pm (Group A)
(Tuesday, May 16, 2017)
Portmore United vs Racing FC—5:30pm (Group B)
Cibao vs Grenades—8pm (Group A)
(Thursday, May 18, 2017)
San Juan Jabloteh vs Portmore United—5:30pm (Group B)
Central FC vs Cibao—8pm (Group A)
(Sunday, May 21, 2017)
Group A runners-up vs Group B runners-up—5pm
Group A winners vs Group B winners—8pm