CALEDONIA AIA’S dream of someday being best team in the world has not faded a bit following the 3-1 defeat against Mexico’s Deportivo Toluca on the opening night of the 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League group stage on August 6.
The Morvant/Laventille club still has an extremely long way to go in accomplishing that dream of being the best team in the world, but remains focussed on every step towards its ultimate goal.
Edgar Benitez (24th minute), Miguel Almazan (30th) and Raul Nava (60th) were on target for Toluca at the Estadio Nemesio Díez which stands 8,793 feet above sea level —an altitude favouring home teams against any foreign opponent, and Toluca’s unbeaten form in nine of 10 all-time Champions League home games (7-2-1) attests to the altitude advantage.
Also the 96-year-old Toluca were already four matches into their domestic Liga Mexico season prior to the Caledonia clash, while a 10-day Colombia training camp inclusive of three practice matches were the Morvant/Laventille club’s preparation main-points.
“Toluca was more experienced and better able to execute their game plan on the night,” explained long-serving Caledonia technical director/coach Jamaal Shabazz.
“Of course the altitude was a big factor, but if we had three more days preparation at high altitude I feel certain the game would have been closer. But two goals down and an away goal to our credit, the race is far from over.”
Montserrat signing and second-half substitute, striker Julian Wade was the scorer of Caledonia’s vital away goal in the 88th minute against the 10-time Liga Mexico champions.
Caledonia, occupying Group Six with Toluca and Guatemala’s CSD Comunicaciones, will next host the Guatemalans on August 29 from 8 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, one week after Comunicaciones and Toluca tie on August 22.
“The challenge is to harness the players and staff into a fighting force that would go beyond belief and saying the right things,” said Shabazz, the former Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago coach.”
This season marks a second consecutive Champions League appearance for Caledonia, as well as TT Pro League compatriot DIRECTV W Connection, which was also defeated 3-1 in their opening Group One match away to Panama’s Arabe Unido.
Shabazz pointed out, “we had some good moments in the game (against Toluca) where we created some scoring chances. And at times our defensive organisation forced Toluca to go right back.
But we still need to work more on pressurising the ball and operating as a block to regain possession.”
Shabazz remains confident as his team prepares for the home game against Comunicaciones and the start of the domestic 2013-14 Digicel Pro League championship which is expected to begin at the end of August.
After hosting Comunicaciones on August 29, Caledonia will then host Toluca on September 18 in the second leg. And on September 25 the Morvant/Laventille club will travel to Guatemala to wrap up its Group Six matches against Comunicaciones.