Last update: 10-Dec-2013 10:54 am
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Caledonia hopes to break Comunicaciones in CCL
Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA will go after its first ever victory in the Concacaf Champions League (CCL) when it entertains Guatemala’s Deportivo Comunicaciones from 8 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, tonight.
Currently, the Morvant/Laventille-based club is bottom of its three-team Group Six pool without a point after a 3-1 away loss to Mexico’s Toluca last month on the opening day of the tournament.
Since then the Mexicans also won away to Comunicaciones, 2-1 to lead with maximum six points, putting pressure on both Caledonia and their Guatemalan visitors to go all out for a win tonight.
The 64-year-old Guatemala City based club, nearly twice the age of the 34 year-old Caledonia, is the second most successful Guatemalan club behind CSD Municipal and is considered the most popular in that country.
Caledonia, on the other hand, the 2012-13 Digicel Pro League runners-up behind winners Defence Force, have been gaining popularity over the years with a number of domestic knockout and T&TFA Trophy titles, and are also the 2012 Caribbean Football Union champions.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Caledonia technical director/coach Jamaal Shabazz was quick to point out that a loss for either team [on Thursday] will put us out, so this makes the contest very interesting.
He added, “Comunicaciones played a very physical game against Toluca and I expect them to be just as aggressive against us.”
Caledonia, which debuted in the CCL last season, finishing winless at the bottom of its group involving Major League Soccer (MLS) club Seattle Sounders and Honduran outfit CD Marathón, hunts an improved showing this time around.
Last season, Caledonia competing in the CCL group stages only managed one point, in a 0-0 draw at home to CD Marathon while tasting defeat in the away leg, 1-2 and in both ties with the Seattle Sounders, by similar 3-1 margins.
For this year’s competition, Caledonia and DirecTV W Connection, the other T&T club in this season’s CCL, had different routes to qualifying.
W Connection topped its three-team round-robin series involving Caledonia and Antigua Barracuda with four points from a 4-0 drubbing of its local rival and a 0-0 draw with the visitors.
Caledonia then defeated Barracuda 3-1 for second spot and a home-and-away playoff with Jamaica’s Portmore United, which it won after 1-0 in the first-leg and a 2-2 draw in the other with both matches being played in T&T. Portmore was second in its qualifying group which was won by first-time CCL qualifiers, Valencia, of Haiti.
However, this was followed by the loss to Toluca, which now has the local club in a must-win situation.
“Its got to be now,” s Shabazz. “We are taking the experience as it comes. We qualified for this (Champions) League and now we are here, its time to earn our keep.
“We need to work hard and play with passion and desire, and let the result come out of our efforts and performance.”
Shabazz named a 19-man squad for the Comunicaciones contest which includes goalkeepers, Grenadian, Shemel Louison and Glenroy Samuel, Antiguan Akeem Thomas, Nuru Muhammad, Noel Williams, Kareem Joseph, Aubrey David, Jamaal Smith, Stephan David, Keyon Edwards, Argentine-born Canadian Miguel Alejandro Romeo, Nathan Lewis, new midfield signing Tyrone Charles, Marcus Ambrose, Abdullah Phillips, Jamal Gay, Densill Theobald, Aaron Lester and Keron Betelmy.
“We have a good spirit in the team and a strong group feeling to succeed,” shared the Caledonia boss. “We had warm up matches against W Connection (2-1 win) and Defence Force (1-1 draw) and look forward to (Thursday’s) game.
Following today’s encounter, Caledonia will host Toluca on Wednesday September 18 at Mucurapo, then travel to Guatemala on Wednesday September 25 against Comunicaciones at the Estadio Cementos Progreso. Toluca and Comunicaciones will later wrap up the group matches against each other on Wednesday October 23, in Mexico City.
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