Sports

Thomas, Williams plotting path to Caribbean Club Championship title

Saturday, May 05, 2018

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Portmore United FC Head Coach Shavar Thomas is a greedy man.

Just days after landing the first major trophy of his fledgling coaching career, when he guided his team to their sixth hold on the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL), the 37-year-old is on the hunt for more silverware.

The 2017-2018 top flight champions, along with last season's champions Arnett Gardens, will co-host the final round of the FLOW CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championships at Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex, beginning Friday. May 11.

Both Portmore United and Arnett Gardens will be hoping to make it beyond the semi-finals and into the final which will be played on Sunday, May 13 at the same venue, but they will have to get by Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic and Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago, respectively, to set up what would be a dream final for local fans.

For Thomas, reaching this stage of the competition has come with a number of benefits for both him and his players.

“Like I have been saying all week, it is another chance for us to win another trophy, as well as showcase our talent on an international platform. Hosting this competition puts us in a good situation,” he said.

Having a big squad and by playing close attention to the exertion of each player, the former Reggae Boy says everyone is fresh and ready to go.

“Fatigue is not a factor. If you look throughout the season we have been rotating players, we track the minutes each and every one of them plays, so I am not worried about fatigue,” he explained.

Having qualified for the competition by finishing second last season, Portmore designed their season to cope with added football beyond the end of RSPL period.

“Most definitely. Even when we had a break in February and we went off to play the club championship round, we were watching and rotating players, watching the minutes they played and all of that — so it is something that we have been prepared for,” said Thomas, the former Reggae Boyz captain.

“Jermie Lynch and even our top scorer (Javon) East, at one point he hit one of those bad patches where he wasn't scoring, and in the semi-final they came up trumps for us. It's all about who is ready, who is in form. These guys, they put in the work every day, so I am not worried.”

Thomas has watched tapes of his opponent for next Friday and is sure that the task of getting beyond them will not be an easy one.

“We are expecting good competition (from) Atletico Pantoja... I watched them in a couple of tapes and they are a good team. I have seen them play against Club Atlantico in a final last year. Even though they lost, they were the better team, I think,” he stated.

“Central is really organised, a solid team. We played against them in the last round (and) even though we got by them 2-0, they were a really solid team... they have a couple of international players that play for Trinidad and a couple players that have played overseas as well, so they are a solid team,” he said of the team that Arnett Gardens will line up against, also next week Friday.

“We know Arnett Gardens, we know what they are gonna bring, especially playing in their stadium with their fans behind them. They are a very exciting team and on any given day they can beat any team, no matter the quality of the team. So we expect a good quality competition,” noted Thomas.

The Portmore coach said that should his club and Arnett Gardens make it all the way to the final, that would send a strong message.

“That would speak well for Jamaica itself and the quality that we have and the teams that we have here, so that would speak well if both teams get in the final. I am pretty sure that the Arnett fans are relishing a finals rematch, being that it didn't happen this year in the Red Stripe Premier League,” he concluded.

The Arnett plan is very simple, and that is to take it one game at a time.

“Our expectation is to go as far as possible... we plan to go to the final and take it from there,” said assistant Coach Eugene Williams.

Having missed out on the Premier League final, rest and recovery have been paramount for the Arnett Gardens players who have not been engaged in national duties over the last few weeks.

Winning the competition is the only acceptable result for Arnett Gardens since they are playing hosts, said Williams.

“We have to go out there and win because we are the hosts and we are the home team. For Arnett Gardens to be in the final is good support for the sponsors so we have to go out there and do our best. I expect my team to reach the final,” he noted.

Having matched up against the team from the Dominican Republic in the previous round, Arnett know what to expect.

“We played Club Atletico Pantoja in the last round in the Dominican Republic and we know that they are a good, professional unit,”Williams stated.

A former Arnett Gardens player himself, Williams believes that his club will provide the perfect atmosphere to host the final round of this prestigious tournament.

“There was a lot of disappointment for us not going to the Premier League final, but the support is always there and you couldn't ask for a better venue to host the games,” he ended.

Portmore United will tackle Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic in the first game on Friday starting at 6:00 pm, while Arnett Gardens will go up against Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago in the feature game at 9:00 pm.


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