Caledonia AIA's Julian Wade (left) celebrates after scoring against host Toluca in a CONCACAF Champions League match on August 6, 2013, at the Estadio Nemesio Diez. (Photo: Mexsport)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Trinidad & Tobago’s Caledonia AIA is leaving nothing to chance in the 2014 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship as it begins the quest for a third consecutive appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Though in the midst of a testing domestic campaign, the 2012 CFU champion is hoping strong preparation will result in something special over the next few days.
“The team has consistently prepared for all-case scenarios which is to say, we work hard and strategically and consistently prepare ourselves with a wide a base as possible,” said Louis Lee Sing, the club’s president. “In that regard, we feel not withstanding how difficult the opposition might be, given our own programmes at home base, we are fairly confident that wherever we go we will give a good account of ourselves.”
Caledonia, which was founded nearly 35 years ago, is a team in transition. As a result, it has struggled in the TT Pro League and a four-game winless streak sees it in seventh place, just two places from bottom.
Vital core performers such as striker Jamal Gay, midfielder Akim Armstrong and defender Aubrey David will miss the CFU tournament. David recently was loaned to Finland’s FF Jaro, while Armstrong and Gay are on trials with clubs in the same country.
Youth players Nical Stephens, Kyle Bartholomew and Jameel Neptune have been called in to reinforce the squad.
Despite the challenges, Lee Sing remained optimistic.
“We cannot anticipate a result because we play a game from the start whistle to the final whistle and in doing so we never let up.” Lee Sing expressed. “I am optimistic, not withstanding where we are in our domestic competition that in facing all comers we are likely to do well.”
“We are nowhere near where we have been in the last three years [in the league]. We are going through a phase where we are blooding new talent. We have lost some of our key players to international contracts and we are doing what we have to do rebuild as we continue our domestic season.”
Caledonia opens CFU play in Group 2 on Friday in Haiti against host AS Mirebalais, before taking on Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe (March 23) and Waterhouse of Jamaica (March 25).
Each of the three group winners will join Haiti’s Valencia – which was given a bye – in the semifinals. The eventual finalists and the winner of the match for third place will qualify for the 2014-15 CCL.