Guyana's Alpha United poses for a team photo before its CONCACAF Champions League game against Herediano on July 26, 2011, in San Jose, Costa Rica. (Photo: Imagenes en Costa Rica)
GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Due to winning the league title in each of the last four years and playing in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League (CCL), recent history points to Alpha United being Guyana’s flagship team.
With the upcoming Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship – the Caribbean’s annual club championship that doubles as a CCL qualifying tournament -- as the vehicle of opportunity, The Hammer is looking to add a regional crown to its list of honors, as well as make a return to the confederation stage.
Alpha’s road back to the CCL starts on Friday with a Group 3 game against Trinidad & Tobago’s Defence Force, before facing host Harbour View two days later. Defence Force and Harbour View will square off on March 25. All games will be played at Harbour View Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. SV Notch of Suriname, which was originally in the group, withdrew from the competition.
Since the CFU event was launched in 1997, only clubs from Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Puerto Rico have emerged as champions.
How does Alpha United plan on breaking that monopoly?
Head coach Wayne ‘Wiggy’ Dover explained to CONCACAF.com that it is a step-by-step process that starts with a first-place finish in the opening round group.
“Now there is a much better situation where the clubs can qualify directly for the CONCACAF Champions League without playing in a playoff,” said Dover, whose team was eliminated by Costa Rica’s Herediano in the 2011-12 CCL preliminary round. “Our aim is to top the CFU group that we’re going to be playing in in Jamaica.”
The three group winners advance to the semifinals with Haiti’s Valencia, recipient of a bye. The two eventual finalists and winner of the match for third place qualify for the 2014-15 CCL.
Alpha United’s CFU Club Championship history
Alpha United made its CFU Club Championship debut in 2009, where it was eliminated in the first round by Tempete (Haiti), 3-1 on aggregate. The Hammer holds the distinction of being the first Guyanese club to qualify for the CCL by virtue of a top three finish in the 2011 event. Coincidentally, it had to overcome Defence Force 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw in the match for third place.
Alpha United - Players to Watch
Midfielders Dwight Peters, who is also team captain, and Dwain Jacobs have been solid pillars for the club. Jacobs returned to Alpha in January after leaving for Buxton United FC and, subsequently, Slingerz.
Gregory Richardson is the most experienced member of the side. The forward has seven career CCL goals (5 with Joe Public and 2 with the Puerto Rico Islanders) and is the first player from Guyana to debut in the USA’s Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids.
Grenada’s Kithson Bain, who played with and scored one goal for Trinidad’s Caledonia AIA in the current CCL, is on the roster along with Kirk Duckworth and Mark Miller (both formerly of Jamaica’s Humble Lions).