Sport

Confident Portmore depart for Caribbean Club Championship

BY SHERDON COWAN
Observer staff reporter
cowans@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

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Riding high on their rich vein of form, Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) leaders Portmore United seem poised for a high quality showing at this year's edition of the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships.

The former Premier League champions and last year's beaten finalist were slated to depart the island yesterday evening for the Dominican Republic via Panama, where they will contest Group B of the tournament scheduled to begin today and end on Sunday.

They will square off against Central FC (Trinidad and Tobago), Racing des Gonaives (Haiti) and host club Atlántico (Dominican Republic) for one of two qualifying spots from the group.

Though no strangers to this level of competition, they will be taking nothing for granted, said Head Coach Shavar Thomas, and will aim being to hit the ground running when they open against Central FC tomorrow.

They will then tackle Atlántico on Friday before closing against Racing des Gonaives on Sunday, as they seek to improve on their third-place finish from last year's staging.

“This is an international tournament, so when teams make it from their national competition it means they must be doing something good to get to this level. So we are not expecting any easy games because none of these teams will lie down and play dead, so it is just for us to go out there and have faith, trust in what we are doing and win these games,” Thomas told the Jamaica Observer prior to departure.

“So we definitely want to start the tournament well on Wednesday evening, which would set the tone for the rest of the tournament, and beyond that we want to end the tournament on top by beating all three teams. We have been putting in the work on and off the field and the players are focused on the job at hand,” he added.

With national players Ricardo Morris, Javon East and Maalique Foster available from the Reggae Boyz two-match outing in Turkey recently, they are expected to add impetus to Portmore's thrust.

Their return has given Thomas added confidence as the quality of his team is now a perfect balance of youth and experience, especially given the key roles played by young players Shai Smith and Venton Evans, among others, in their absence.

“We had a good session on Sunday, which was our second session having all the players back together, so the vibes is good and we welcome back the players from the national team. So we are definitely in high spirits and looking forward to some good performances.

“These guys come in every day and push each other and ensure that each player is held accountable for his performance and the work that they put out on the day and we are pleased that they have that cohesiveness and understanding as a team,” Thomas noted.

“I must give credit to the entire Portmore staff and support staff because the coach, player and manager relationship is a really good one, so the guys are in good spirits right now and ready to go,” the former national defender ended.

The top two teams from the group will advance to the final stage scheduled to start in May. The champions of the Caribbean Club Championships will gain automatic qualification to the 2019 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

Squad: Ewan Grandison (captain), Eric Edwards (GK), Kemar Foster (GK), Rosario Harriott, Damano Solomon, Andre Dyce, Roberto Johnson, Osani Ricketts, Kemar Phillpotts, Chevany Willis, Roshane Sharpe, Henrico Ricketts, Saneekie Burton, Venton Evans, Maalique Foster, Javon East, Shai Smith, Ricardo Morris, Jermie Lynch, Kemo Gayle.

Officials: Shavar Thomas (head coach), Kevin Deer (assistant coach), Simona Mahfouz (physiotherapist), Ronald Watson (equipment manager), Rohn Rainford (club administrator).

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