Defence Force head coach Ross Russell isn’t playing the blame game following the team’s failure to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions’ League and CFU Club Championship fourth placed finish.
Last Wednesday in Guyana the soldiers suffered a 4-2 kicks from the penalty spot defeat following a goalless draw against Haitian side Tempete FC in the semi-final round of the 2011 Caribbean Football Union Club Championship failing to earn an automatic spot into next season’s Champions’ League.
The Ross Russell coached side then had a second chance to qualify against Guyanese side Alpha United in the CFU third place playoff on Friday night.
However following a 1-1 draw, Defence Force flopped again on kicks from the penalty spot suffering, this time a 4-3 defeat.
Former Caledonia AIA forward Dwight Peters gave Alpha United the lead in the 52nd minute then converted one of the penalties to give the Guyanese club the victory.
Richard Roy equalized in the 58th minute for Defence Force, which was hurt by the expulsion on Kurt Williams in the first minute of second-half injury time with his second yellow card.
“Kicks from the penalty spot have been a problem for us, even in the (TT Pro) League last season,” said Russell. “It seems to be a phobia to the players. We train to win the match after ninety minutes so going into penalty kicks seems to be a little disappointing for the players.”
But speaking on his team’s general performance in the Guyana stage of the CFU Club Championship, Russell said his players were simply worn out.
“It is clear, that coming off the long domestic season, we needed three to four weeks rest before entering such a tournament like the Club Championship,” said Russell who guided the soldiers to the 2010-2011 Digicel Pro League Championship.
“It’s not that the Club Championship is a much greater level than the Pro League, because none of the teams really outplayed us. It’s just that we didn’t have the energy in the final turn. We just had enough to carry us through.
“Coming off a long season affected us. We played flat and nothing like the way we played in the (Digicel Pro) League Championship,” added the Defence Force coach.
Puerto Rico Islanders finished as CFU Club Champions for a second time in a row defeating Tempete 3-1 in Friday’s Final.
Former W Connection striker Jonathon Fana Frias scored an extra time double to subdue the Haitians.
Defence Force will now enjoy a week off before returning to the training pitch next week to begin its 2011-2012 pre-season.