Kicks from the spot sealed Caledonia AIA its first ever regional trophy, as the Morvant-based club copped the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship at the expense of fellow TT Pro League club W Connection, after both teams played to a 1-1 draw in a two-hour encounter, on Thursday night. It was the second fixture of a double-header, played at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella, which followed the third-place playoff. USL Pro club Puerto Rico Islanders secured the final Concacaf Champions League (CCL) spot, with a 2-0 win over Antigua Barracuda. The second fixture, however, was not as forthright as the evening’s opener. Both TT Pro clubs Caledonia and Connection, which already sealed their places in next month’s CCL, attempted to sift out each other, and early opportunities for either team were replied to by equal responses thrown in the opposite direction.
It was evident that spectators were in for a long night of football. Several more efforts in the first half for W Connection, however, may have given the “Savonnetta Boys” the edge. Connection attackers Hashim Arcia, Kern Cupid and Joevin Jones all had sights of goal, but did not look likely to take a lead. A tense atmosphere in the southern arena was testament to the historic occasion, and despite the venue losing electrical power several times throughout the night, even as early as 15 minutes into the first half, the 22 players managed to kept their concentration throughout. Caledonia scored the first goal of the match in the first 15-minute period of extra time through Radanfah Abu Bakr, a defender, who headed in a powerful effort in the 98th minute of play. It was his second goal in as many matches in the tournament.
However, just before the end of the first half of extra time, W Connection got the all important leveller through a Clyde Leon penalty. Despite another couple of opportunities, no further goals were scored from open play and the match went to penalty kicks. Caledonia and Connection both converted their first penalty kicks through Walter Moore and Leon, respectively. Cupid, who took Connection’s second shot, saw his effort missed, while the last kick-taker for W Connection, Peltier, had his shot saved by Samuel, who deserved many a merit for his achievement in goal at such a tender age. Former national midfielder Stephan David stepped up and converted the fourth and decisive penalty for Caledonia, which complemented an excellent season for the 32-year-old Caledonia club. The two teams were rewarded only two days prior with a spot in the final, not only assuring one team a chance at taking the trophy, but also a spot in the CCL, which would at least serve as some consolation to the three-time CFU champions. Caledonia’s win means they join American MLS club Seattle Sounders and Honduras’ Marathon, in a three-team group in the Concacaf competition, while W Connection faces Mexico’s Chivas de Guadalajara and Guatemala’s Xelaju after finishing runner-up. Third placed Puerto Rico Islanders will take on David Beckham and LA Galaxy, as well as Isidro Metapan from El Salvador.
CFU Club Championship Final
Caledonia AIA 1 (Radanfah Abu Bark 98th) vs W Connection 1 (Clyde Leon 104th)- Caledonia won 4-3 on kicks from the penalty spot
CFU Club Championship Third Place Playoff
Puerto Rico Islanders 2 (Joshua Hansen, Jonathan Frias Fana pen) vs Antigua Barracuda 0