Sat, Feb
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2008 Champions San Juan JablotehBig dreams, small budgets clash
Part I

With the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Champions’ Cup, Pro League Championship, Courts Pro Bowl, First Citizens Cup, Toyota Classic and the prestigious FA Trophy titles all to play for this season, local professional clubs are licking their lips for the taste of glory in 2009.
However, they all face the serious challenge of financial worries. Powerhouses Clico San Juan Jabloteh and W Connection will be on top of the list with the Concacaf Champions’ League at the pinnacle of their aspirations as both teams advance into the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Champions’ Cup which kicks off later this year after finishing first and second respectively in the TT Pro League last season.

Jabloteh won the CFU title back in 2003, however, failed to advance into the Concacaf Champions’ League group stage in 2004 falling under to Chicago Fire 6-5 on aggregate. While W Connection had two shots at making it into the Champions' League group stage in 2003 and 2007—in 2003 the Savonetta Boys were edged out in the quarterfinals 6-5 on aggregate against Club Toluca and in 2007 Mexican club CD Guadalajara advanced 4-2 on aggregate against the Pro League side. All in all the Pro League giants are no virgins when it comes to taking the CFU Champions’ Cup and 2009 can see them advance into the Concacaf Champions' League qualifying stage.

Following last season's performance by Joe Public—two-time winners of the CFU Champions’ Cup—defeating MLS Club New England Revolution on aggregate 6:1 to advance into the Champions’ League group stage, eyebrows were raised and a fresh sense of motivating for both Jabloteh and W Connection to do the same this time around. Both Jabloteh and W Connection have a lifelong dream to represent Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean to a wider extent at the World Club Championship—a championship that the very best in the world desire. English powerhouse Manchester United recently grabbed the 2009 title as the World Champions.

However, with the loss of major sponsor CL Financial—currently on the bankrupt bench—Clico San Juan Jabloteh are facing the probability of major financial cutbacks which could doubt over their CFU Champions' Cup appearance this season which cuts a huge budget and don’t ask about moving onto the Concacaf stage. Current head coach Terry Fenwick previous to the club's disappointing news of their major sponsor Clico falling bankrupt said that the Concacaf Champions League is on top of their goals this season and that he believes his team will do astoundingly well. Now with the financial cutbacks faced by the club there focus is mainly on survival. Jabloteh targets a hattrick of League Championships in 2009 following wins in 2007 and 2008. It would give them their fifth overall Championship as the leading professional club in Trinidad and Tobago.

Coach Fenwick said that he will also like to see more knockout titles come their way in 2009 following successes in the 2009 Toyota Classic and Lucozade Sport Big Six titles and that they are going to overcome the challenges now faced by the club. Jabloteh are expected to carry through with the pre-season plan of a trip to Miami in March as they prepare for the vigorous season ahead as he leads a young bunch into 2009 featuring players such as Elton John, Lester Peltier and Jerol Forbes. Their bitter rivals W Connection were disappointed of last season's one title in the First Citizens Cup and Coach Stuart Charles Fevrier is aiming at the big heist in 2009 of grabbing all major trophies and a top class performance in the Champions League.

W Connection are financially secured mainly by the pocket of owner/president David John-Williams but with the global financial recession on the minds of every businessman, says that he too puts a lid on the high spending. “We have to be a bit resourceful at the moment,” said John-Williams. “We have cut our budget tremendously this season. We think that we have dept in our academies and this is where we will be focusing on getting new players into our roster.” Last season W Connection's key signing was Colombian Oscar Torijano however John-Williams was able to say that there are no new big signing on their minds at the moment. He further explained that their pre-season preparation will of course be hampered by the budget cuts with no destination finalised just yet.