KINGSTON, Jamaica --- Shavar Thomas has had a glorious coaching stint at Jamaica’s Premier League champion Portmore United.
In his relatively young coaching career, he has led the club to back-to-back national titles with the last coming this past season.
But the icing on the cake came on Thursday night when Portmore earned direct qualification to the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League (SCCL) after topping the FLOW Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship.
To book its place in the confederation’s glossy club tournament for the 2020 edition, Portmore staved off the challenge of Jamaican rival Waterhouse F.C. in Thursday night’s finale at the Stadium East field in Kingston.
That game ended 1-1, which saw Portmore ending on seven points to Waterhouse’s five. AS Capoise, who defeated Haitian counterpart Real Hope 3-2 in the curtain-raiser, finished third on four points. Real hope ended at the bottom without a point.
Waterhouse and AS Capoise will contest the Scotiabank Concacaf League (SCL), while Real Hope will face Concacaf Club Shield champion Suriname’s SV Robinhood at Stadium East on Sunday with the winner advancing to the SCL.
Meanwhile, Portmore’s Thomas was in seventh heaven when he spoke with concacaf.com after his club achieved the feat of competing in the region’s marquee club competition.
"It has been a fantastic journey these past two years working with a talented and very disciplined crop of players. Of course, having played at Portmore United before my career in MLS, I knew what to expect in terms of the level of professionalism and discipline at the organization day in, day out.
“Portmore United has always been a big picture club that is always setting lofty goals and holding all and sundry to the fire, so to speak. We didn't realize the objective of qualifying for the 2019 edition of the Champions League, but we have managed to achieve it for 2020 by winning the 2019 Flow Caribbean Club Championship last evening (Thursday),” said a beaming Thomas.
Sadly, Portmore will have to carry on without the former Reggae Boyz captain as he is about to take up a post as head coach of the senior men’s team of neighbor the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to share the experience with the team for next season as I've accepted an offer to be part of the national program set up in Turks & Caicos FA. However, I'll be rooting for the team,” he said.
Portmore administrator, Rohn Rainford, weighed in on the club’s fantastic season. "Portmore United has achieved one of its best seasons in the club's history by winning the Parish KO competition, the Red Stripe Premier League and culminated with being crowned champions of the Caribbean.
“We have planned and worked meticulously and with scarce resources, relatively speaking, to achieve what we have,” he noted.
Rainford believes Portmore’s achievement is living testimony to what’s possible and credited a recalibrated club competition platform by Concacaf for the success of the club.
“Concacaf has done a very good job with the restructuring of club football through its club licensing program, and we are starting to see the benefits, especially at the regional level.
“The Concacaf Champions League is the pinnacle for club football across our region and Portmore United wants to be able to rub shoulders consistently with the 'big boys.' We know it's an even higher level on and off the pitch, but we aspire with optimism and enthusiasm,” he said.
On course to its unprecedented SCCL qualification to the 2020 season, Portmore defeated Real Hope 1-0 and AS Capoise by the identical scoreline, before being held 1-1 by Waterhouse in the Caribbean Club Championship’s curtain call.