Kingston, Jamaica - Champions in 2015 and 2016, Trinidad and Tobago's Central FC takes on former Jamaican champions Arnett Gardens in one semi-final of the FLOW Caribbean Club Championship at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex in the Jamaican capital on Friday.
The game will be the second of a double-header and gets underway at 9:00 p.m. Jamaica time.
Local champions Portmore United and the Dominican Republic's Club Atletico Pantoja will face off in the other semi-final three hours earlier.
Both winners will meet on Sunday in a contest that will crown the Caribbean club champion and the right to play in the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2019. The losers of Friday's matches will battle for third-place, also on Sunday, with the winner from that fixture set for a berth in the Concacaf League. Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield champion Club Franciscain of Martinique will await the fourth-place team for a showdown for the final Caribbean spot to the Concacaf League.
Central FC coach Stern John is upbeat ahead of the Arnett Gardens meeting. "We have some experienced players coming back into the fray and they are hungry for success.... they want to go to Jamaica and win this Caribbean title and advance to the CONCACAF Champions League," John said.
"After the experience of winning the two previous competitions in 2015 and 2016 and then coming out on top on the previous round in the Dominican Republic, the boys are very eager to taste more success," he went on.
The former Soca Warrior striker shared that he has lost a couple of key players ahead of Friday's start to the play-offs, but he also made some some gains "We will be missing Carlyle Mitchell and Nathan Lewis who have gone on to play with clubs in the United States, but we also have some good experienced players coming into the set up such as defender Daneil Cyrus and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip who are both current members of the Trinidad and Tobago national team," noted John.
Arnett Gardens assistant coach Eugene Williams, too, has set his sights on going all the way, especially with the games scheduled for his club's Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex fortress.
"Our expectation is to go as far as possible... we plan to go to the final and take it from there. "We have to go out there and win because we are the hosts and we are the home team.
For Arnett Gardens to be in the final is good for the sponsors, so we have to go out there and do our best (and) I expect my team to reach the final. "There was a lot of disappointment for us not going to the Premier League final, but the support is always there and you couldn't ask for a better venue to host the games," noted Williams, a former Arnett standout.
The Kingston-based club will be looking to top goal-scorer Fabian Reid for inspiration. Also expected to figure prominently in the quest for their first regional crown are Oneil Thompson, Vishinul Harris, Renae Lloyd, Keniel Hyde and Marvin Morgan.