Next week is the draw for the CFU Club Championship, which starts in March and runs until mid-May. The top three teams advance to the 2009-10 CONCACAF Champions League. Once again CFU has changed the format from previous seasons. Instead of group matches played on a neutral site, there will be two-leg matches in the first and quarterfinal rounds and single-match semifinal, third-place and final matches in Trinidad & Tobago.
Puerto Rico Islanders and San Juan Jabloteh have received byes to the quarterfinal round, ostensibly because teams from Puerto Rico and Trinidad & Tobago have progressed the furthest among the Caribbean representatives in this season’s Champions League.
The remaining teams are in two pools:
|Pool A||Pool B|
|W Connection (T&T)||SV Racing (Aruba)|
|Portmore United (Jamaica)||SV Britannia (Aruba)|
|Tempete FC (Haiti)||Sevilla FC (Puerto Rico)|
|Cavaly SA (Haiti)||CSD Barber (Curacao)|
|Inter Moengotapoe (Suriname)||Alpha United (Guyana)|
|Hoppers FC (Antigua)||Centre Bath Estate (Dominica)|
Now if you look at the list of eligible teams for this year’s competition, there are no representatives from Anguilla, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Maarten, St. Vincent & Grenadines, Turks & Caicos Islands, or US Virgin Islands. All of these associations, with the exception of Cuba, declined to participate in the previous CFU club championships or entered a team and immediately withdrew afterward. It would be interesting to find out why Cuba did not enter a team this time around, or the reasons Aruba and Haiti have multiple entries but Jamaica and Suriname only one.
I still don’t think CFU are in the clear when the competition starts. I would not be surprised at all if at least two of the first-round ties see some alteration in the match schedule, whether it’s both matches played in one country, neutral site matches, or a single match.
UPDATE: Haiti has two championship tournaments per season, which is why they have two entrants (Cavaly won the Opening and Tempete the Closing). I don’t think that’s the case for Aruba.