Curacao's Centro Dominguito arrived in Santiago, Dominican Republic on Wednesday with a few objectives in mind as they look ahead to their participation in the inaugural CONCACAF Caribbean Shield.
Contesting Group C of the eleven-team tournament alongside Cayon Rockets, Bodden Town and Club Franciscain, the Curacao champions are aiming to qualify for the CONCACAF League and also have their sights on future CONCACAF Champions League participation. According to head coach Igemar Pierternella, the club hopes to emulate the success of the Curacao national team which qualified for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
"We are here to make a good impression and a strong statement. Football in Curacao is constantly developing and welcome these type of tournaments because it gives us more exposure to top level competition in Concacaf," Pierternella said.
"Our players want to be on a high level. Curacao qualified for the last Gold Cup and it was a big encouragement for our country and now with this opportunity for the club to participate in the CONCACAF Shield is another step in the right direction for us," he added.
Pierternella believes that the Confederation's efforts to help clubs with their development through tournaments such as the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield and the Club Licensing programme will play an integral part in aiding clubs in their drive to attain higher standards.
"Yes of course, all of these activities and initiatives will help us along the way because every project, every course, every tournament is going to promote the game and improve our level of play and the way we see the game and prepare for it," Pierternella added.
Dominguito defender Soranley Tomsjansen is encouraged by the club's success so far but mentioned that they will not settle for a mere appearance in the Caribbean Shield.
"We are happy to be here but it's a lot more than just playing in the competition. We want to go all the way. If we can capture the Shield then it will be a great boost for the club and for football in Curacao. And better yet, we can go onto bigger competitions like the CONCACAF League. For us as players, it's a special achievement to play on a high level and now we think that with hard work and strong performances, the sky is the limit for us," said Tomsjansen who has also represented Curacao' national team in the past.
The top team from each of the three groups plus the best second placed team will advance to the semi-finals of the Caribbean Shield. The winner of the 2018 CONCACAF Caribbean Club Shield, once it fulfills CONCACAF Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2018 Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match, to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF League.
The Final of the CONCACAF Caribbean Shield will be played on April 21st at the Estadio Cibao FC in Santiago.
The Caribbean Club Shield is a newly launched championship forming the base of the CONCACAF club competition platform. It features eleven teams from eleven different Member Association leagues, all of which are working with CONCACAF's Development Department towards a long-term vision to professionalize the club game across the region.