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John says thanks to players
Stern John, the Central FC coach is crediting his players for back-to-back wins in Group B of the CONCACAF Caribbean Club Championship in the Dominican Republic last week that enabled them a place in the final round of the tournament.
The Central 'Sharks' as they are affectionately called, stormed from an opening game defeat against Jamaica's Portmore United 0-2 to beat Haiti's Racing 3-0 and Atlantico of the host nation 1-0 at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago.
John, an ex national striker who is also the current assistant coach to Dennis Lawrence on the Men's Senior team said, “The key factor for us winning the game against Atlantico was showing character because we had a number of players really sick and even vomiting a couple hours before the game. I knew we had the quality to compete at this level but it was a good feeling to see the players digging deep."
“This is a massive win for the club. When we first started preparation for this tournament which was about a month ago, my main aim was putting a team together to compete. We were in our off season and my main concern was getting the boys up to a decent fitness level so that we could at least come and compete. The players worked their socks off to get to this point and they deserved a lot of credit for the results.”
The central Sharks first had to rebound from a period of uncertainty in the T&T Pro League, caused by a mass exodus of players and coaches due to financial hardships. But the involvement of Hydro Tech Limited steadied the ship and enabled them to overcome a disastrous loss last week Wednesday to win consecutive matches. Marcus Joseph fired in a double and Tyrone Charles another in a 3-0 win over the Haitians, before an own goal by Yoan Melo was sufficient for the Sharks to prevail over Atlantico on Sunday and finish on top the standings with six points.
According to John, “We lost the first match but then we rallied together as a team and we came back and won the second game. Then we knew we had it in us to get the result in the final game. We had a lot of guys who were sick with some of the guys suffering from food poisoning and stomach virus. So they showed a lot of character to put that aside and come out and grind out the results in the last two games.”
“Credit also has to go to some of the senior players as Carlyle Mitchell who was maybe the MVP of the tournament and Densill Theobald, as well as the youngster Rhondell Gibson who stepped in and did a job for us. The whole atmosphere around the club was really good and that’s a good sign for us" the former Birmingham City and Sunderland striker explained.
Central FC now joins Portmore United, Atletico Pantoja (Dominican Republic) and Arnett Gardens (Jamaica) in the Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship final, with the winner gaining a place in the 2019 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.
The runner-up and third place finishers will qualify for the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League. The fourth-place side will face the winner of the Tier 2 tournament — Caribbean Club Shield — in a play-off to determine the third club that will represent the Caribbean in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.
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