Caribbean: CFU Club Championship 2011 Preview
The 2011 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Club Championship kicks off on Thursday, March 10th. Puerto Rico Islanders, the 2010 title holders, will begin their campaign in the second round. The tournament has switched to a straight knockout format, as opposed to the league stages which took up the first half of the competition last season, in the hope that the event will see more exciting football. But, as seems to happen regularly in this competition, a couple of teams have had to pull out before a ball has been kicked.
There were seven matches scheduled to take place in the next fortnight but due to financial pressures two teams, Bassa Sports Club from Antigua & Barbuda along with Dominican champions Centre Bath Estate, have had to withdraw. This has allowed both teams’ first round opponents, Guyana’s champions Alpha United and Haitian title holders Tempête FC, to qualify for the next stage by virtue of a walkover. Of the five two-legged ties that will go ahead the stakes will be high in the game involving Northern United All Stars (St Lucia) and Walking Bout Company (Suriname) as the winner will progress to meet Puerto Rico Islanders, who became the first team from outside Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica to win the competition last year. The Islanders’ compatriots River Plate, who won their national title in 2009-10, will hope to emulate their neighbours’ achievements but they have had to give up home advantage in the first leg of their clash with Bodden Town with the Cayman Islands outfit schedule to host both legs.
Defence Force, CFU title winners in 2001, will begin their attempts at winning a second title against Bermuda champions Dandy Town Hornets who very nearly had to forfeit their place in the competition due to lack of funds. Defence Force are the big favourites to progress as they are one of the top clubs in the region as well as national champions of Trinidad & Tobago. Caledonia AIA, who finished five points behind Defence Force in the 2010 T&T Pro League, face off against Newtown United from St Kitts & Nevis whilst the final match of the round involves Suriname champions Inter Moengotapoe and Guyanan runners-up Milerock FC.
The two-legged ties will be played over an eleven day period from March 10th-20th.