Sport

Waterhouse ready for CONCACAF Champions League challenge

Saturday, June 07, 2014    

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WATERHOUSE FC, the losing finalists in the 2013-14 Red Stripe Premier League, are bracing for the challenge of facing some of the region's finest football teams at the CONCACAF Champions League set for later this year.

Over a week ago in Florida, the Jamaican club was drawn in Group 4 alongside DC United of United States Major League Soccer (MLS) and Tauro FC of Panama.

This stage of the Champions League is set to be contested in a home-and-away, round-robin format from August to October.

Only the top team in each of the eight groups will advance to the quarter-finals and Keith Sailsman, the manager of Waterhouse, is aware of the weight of such an undertaking.

"It is a very mammoth task to achieve that feat so we really have to dig deep," he told the Jamaica Observer.

"Anything we did before we have to do it twice because no team from the Caribbean has ever advanced to the second round. But we want to change that."

Earlier this year in Haiti, Waterhouse won all their games to top their Zone in the abbreviated Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship.

That showing came in the midst of a dominant run in the local league which saw them losing only once since January.

"The teams [in CONCACAF] will be better...but we are very upbeat and looking forward to this phase of the competition.

"The [disappointment of the] Premier League is behind us. We are still the top team in the Caribbean because of how well we did and we have qualified for the CFU Club Championship next season and we are seeded for that," Sailsman said.

Title-holders Cruz Azul of Mexico are in Group 6 with Alajuelense of Costa Rica and Chorrillo FC of Panama, while three other Mexican teams — Pachuca, Leon and Club America — are in Groups 1, 7 and 8.

Sailsman, who said the start of preseason training has been brought forward to June 9, believes the standard of play and level of organisation expected at the tournament will be beneficial to Waterhouse's players and staff.

"Usually preseason begins in July but because of this CONCACAF tournament we begin in June.

"We spoke about it and it is what we have ahead of us. We have a job to do so we just have to stick to the task. This is the highest aspect of the game and this is a new barrier for us. Even the CFU first round was an eye-opener for young players at

that level."

The Waterhouse manager suggested that new players may be brought in, and added that the CONCACAF Champions League will give the Waterhouse team the chance to showcase talent to scouts.

"Personally, I think we may need players. We may need to scout for one or two players to help us in this journey.

"There is the possibility of contracts for players, because it will be [shown] live on television. At the draw people were asking about Waterhouse because we really played some good football in getting there," said Sailsman.

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