Portmore and Arnett in Concacaf

Even though they have to make do with competing in the second-tier club competition in CONCACAF, both coaches of Arnett Gardens and Portmore United are nonetheless relishing the opportunity to strut their stuff on the international stage.

Both Jamaican clubs would have preferred to be contesting the prestigious CONCACAF Scotiabank Champions League, but missed out on that opportunity when they failed to lift the crown of the FLOW CONCACAF Caribbean Championship staged at Arnett's Anthony Spaulding home ground recently.

The home team had to settle for the runner-up spot after losing 6-5 on penalties to the Dominican Republic outfit Club Atletico Pantoja.

Portmore ended third in the tournament, edging Trinidad and Tobago's Central FC 2-1.

At the Scotiabank CONCACAF League draw in Miami last week, Arnett Gardens were drawn to face Panamanian outfit Club Deportivo Arabe Unido, while current Red Stripe Premier League champion Portmore were selected to get the ball rolling against Costa Rica's AD Santos de Guapiles, the 2017 beaten finalists.

Arnett Gardens head coach Jerome Waite, who attended the Miami draw event, believes there is a lot to be gained playing in the CONCACAF League, and that it sets the stage for young players to showcase their talent.

Teams here will know that they can not only compete for the Champions League, but the second-tier Concacaf League and add to that, you can also get good prize money.

Now that we have so many competitions being put forward in our region [it] can only help development and give many players in our region the opportunity to advance themselves. It goes without saying that the more you play outside of your country at a higher level, the more your players will improve, the coach told the Jamaica Observer recently.

Waite, who has led the south St Andrew-based club to their last Premier League title in 2016/2017 season, supports the view that regional clubs and national teams have seen more opportunities at development with CONCACAF's new subregional and confederation-wide competitions.

Concacaf is really doing a good job, and the Nations League coming up for the national teams throughout the region is something that will be electrifying because everybody will be given an opportunity to be a part of it.

This, plus the Caribbean Club Shield, the Caribbean Cup, the Concacaf Championships League and the Concacaf League, is all good for our region, as the more competitions put forward can only be good for our football, said Waite, Jamaica's assistant senior men's coach.

He said Arnett's opponent emerging from the CONCACAF League draw last Wednesday is “no doubt one of the strongest teams in this Concacaf competition.

Portmore, meantime, are qualifying for their second-consecutive Concacaf League. The successful Jamaican club, competing in the inaugural staging of the knockout competition, went down to Panama's Plaza Amador in the first round.

Now, the Shavar Thomas-coached club faces another tough test as it is pitted against AD Santos de Guapiles of Costa Rica.

As I have been saying over the weeks, when you are playing in international club competition at this stage there are no walkover teams.

We are relishing the challenge and our players will be ready when we come up against them in terms of our preparation, as this is the type of competitions we want to play year in, year out, said the former Reggae Boyz captain.

Thomas argued that participating in the CONCACAF League is in keeping with the club's goal of spreading its wings in creating the stage from which its players can market themselves.

This is the platform we can showcase our talent and the quality we possess at Portmore, and it is a big stage for the club as well to showcase what we have here in Jamaica, he noted.

Honduran club Olimpia is the defending CONCACAF League champions, getting the better of Santos de Guapiles 4-1 on penalties in the final.
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