DIRECTV W Connection qualified for the 2013-2014 CONCACAF Champions’ League on Tuesday night following a goalless affair against Antigua and Barbuda USL Pro outfit Barracuda FC wrapping up Group One of the Caribbean qualifiers at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
The 0-0 stalemate fastened Connection, 4-0 winners over Caledonia in the opening day (Friday), at the top the three team group with 4 points to automatically qualify for a second consecutive CONCACAF tournament.
Meanwhile Caledonia, 3 points in second, will move into the playoffs in May against the second finishing team of Group Two simultaneously hosted in Jamaican at the Tony Spaulding Sports Complex.
While Barracuda, 3-1 losers to Caledonia on day two (Sunday), exited the qualifiers with just a consolation point in bottom position.
It was clear that Connection, also looking ahead to Friday’s Lucozade Sport Goal Shield Final at the Marvin Lee Stadium against North East Stars, showed no urgency against the Barracudas.
The Stuart Charles Fevrier coached-Connection sunk into its own half in the opening period which allowed high playing Barracuda to throw everything forward, but crucial interceptions by the ‘Savonetta Boys’ backline marshaled by Daneil Cyrus and companied by Leslie Joel Russell, Kurt Frederick and Christian Viveros saw little work required by goalkeeper Alejandro Figueroa.
Barracudas had their effort at goal in the 13th minute from an Olrish Saurel freekick which failed to trouble Figueroa after Surinamese referee Johannes Dolaini blew a foul against Cyrus for a high boot near the face of Tamorley Thomas just outside the area.
Later in the 51st minute Saurel tested the Connection Colombian goalie in another dead-ball situation, this time 35 yards out, and forced Figueroa to make a save, putting it out for a corner.
But it was Connection’s Andrei Pacheco that wasted a sweet opportunity four minutes before the break.
The midfielder blasted disappointingly high and wide from above the area on his favoured left boot after running onto a dissecting pass by Hashim Arcia to beat the Barracuda backline.
And eleven minutes into the second period roaming midfielder Joevin Jones, scorer of a double against Caledonia on Friday, swiveled a rare strike high and wide.
Then from a perfect Jones’ cross in the 62nd minute following a promising buildup started by substitute Jomal Williams, Arcia spilled his header overbar when he climbed between two Barracuda defenders.
The Antiguans also lapsed on rare chances.
Eugine Kirwan who started in placed of Rolston Phoenix as the only change in the Barracuda’s squad from Sunday’s defeat against Caledonia, seemed surprised in the 66th minute when a lofted ball from the middle fell into his path with the goal in sight, and he struck wide from the vicinity of the six yard area.
Two minutes later teammate Andre Manders, scorer of Barracuda’s lone item of the qualifiers, also missed the target after connecting to a Randolph Burton squared a pass across the area.
But failing to break the deadlock twelve minutes from time was Jones in another grand Connection opportunity.
Set free by a ball over the top, Jones had goalkeeper Molvin James at his mercy from the right of the six yard area.
But he played into the James favour by circling the ball in attempt to find his gifted left boot before being dispossessed in a play that had trouble for the Antiguans written all over it.
Goalless it stood in the end; a positive result for Connection through to the CCL while Caledonia goes into a two-match playoff against the second finishing team of the Jamaica group which includes Haitian club Valencia SC, Puerto Rican club Bayamon FC and home teams Boys Town FC and Portmore United.
Prior to Tuesday’s final round of matches Valencia held the top spot with 6 points from two matches and needed just a draw against Boys Town in the second match, following the Portmore and Bayamon clash in the opening match.
W Connection (T&T) 0—0 Barracuda FC (Antigua and Barbuda)
W Connection—Alejandro Figueroa, Clyde Leon (capt.), Daneil Cyrus (Yellow Card), Gerrard Williams, Hashim Arcia (Jerrel Britto 75th), Andrei Pacheco (Jomal Williams 54th), Leslie Joel Russell, Christian Viveros (Yellow Card), Stefano Rijssel (Yellow Card), Kurt Frederick, Joevin Jones.
Unused substitutes—Aquelius Sylvester, Jelani Grosvenor, Eligah Joseph, Alvin Jones, Tremain Jean Paul, Silvio Spann, Neil Benjamin Jr.
Technical Director/Head Coach—Stuart Charles Fevrier.
Barracuda FC—Molvin James, George Dublin (capt.), Toric Robinson, Olrish Saurel (Yellow Card), Karanja Mack, Eugine Kirwan, Tamorley Thomas, Randolph Burton (Yellow Card) (Lloyd Jeremy 90th), Lawson Robinson (Yellow Card), Hazeley Pyle (Omarie Daniel 86th), Andre Manders.
Unused substitutes—Corey Wisenhunt, Jamoy Stevens, Rolston Phoenix, Alex Phillip.