Club Franciscain of Martinique and Suriname’s Inter Moengotapoe will battle for honours in the final of the inaugural CONCACAF Caribbean Shield on Saturday at Estadio Cibao, Santiago after completing victories in their respective semi-final encounters on Thursday.
Both teams maintained their impressive record in the eleven-team competition with Inter proving to be too much for Deportivo Nacional of Aruba in the evening’s first semi-final outing with a 4-0 win while Franciscain scored second half goals to hold off Bonaire's Real Rincon 2-0 in the second matchup.
After defeating their fellow Group A opponent’s 5-0 in their tournament opener last Friday, Inter followed up with another convincing performance to book their spot in the final. But this time they had to wait until the 47th minute for the opening goal from Joel Baja after he nodded home a right side cross past goalkeeper Joe Gregorio Cruz from close up.
Romeo Kastiel doubled Inter’s lead on 54 minutes and the Surinamese club then punished Nacional in the 61st minute when Kastiel intercepted a poor pass at the back by a Nacional defender before calmly threading a ball through to the lurking Ives Vlijter who had the simple task of hitting past a hapless Cruz from inside the penalty box.
Kastiel then grabbed his second item after Miguel Darson latched onto a long pass on the left of the penalty box, before squaring for him to slot past Cruz in the 67th minute for a 4-0 lead.
Nacional tried to at least pull a goal back but to no avail and will now have to contest the third place playoff against Real Rincon of Bonaire on Saturday.
“This game was very difficult. The opponent played a strong defensive game in the first half. We had no time to really break them down but then the second half was a lot better for us,’ Franciscain assistant coach Josef Joekoe said. “At half time we told our players that we had to reorganise and must have a better game in the middle of the pitch. We came out better and we created the chances and put them away. Once we got the first goal we knew they would be under pressure and we would get more opportunities to score. We have played a very good tournament so far and now must we go for the Shield with a victory in the final,” Joekoe said.
In the evening’s second encounter, Franciscain and Bonaire’s Real Rincon showed early intentions of making a match out of it. Both outfits were solid in defence and created a fair share of opportunities on goal in the first half. Yann Thimon then went closest to putting Franciscain ahead in the second half when his shot on the turn was headed off the goal line by Serginho Makaai with goalkeeper Jonathan Frans out of his goal. But Rincon suffered a setback when Robert Fitzgerald Frans was ejected for a second yellow card offence in the 22nd minute
Franciscain would break the deadlock in the 68th minute with a goal by Stephane Abaul. After a Rincon attack was broken down, Franciscain broke on the counter with Thimon making the run down the left before playing inside for Abaul who eluded a couple defenders before hitting into the left corner of the net with a right footed shot from near the penalty spot.
Four minutes later Jorick Ephestion completed the win with a well taken goal, running onto to collect a neat return pass on the right of the box before clinically shooting past the advancing Frans for a 2-0 lead. Six minutes later Rincon had a second player sent off when Yurick Seinpaal was given marching orders for a second bookable offence.
The closing minutes saw a few heated exchanges between both teams as Rincon tried to get themselves back into the contest but they will now look ahead to the third place match while Franciscain advances to the final against Inter Moengotapoe on Saturday from 8pm at Estadio Cibao.
Franciscain head coach Dominique Zaire later described the encounter as the toughest outing of the competition for his team so far.
“We had to play a strong game. The other team was very good and they fought a good game with us. We had to play to our best ability tonight. It was a very important victory for us because now we are into the final and we have a chance to achieve glory. The final will be very difficult because the club from Suriname has played very good football. So far this competition has been very good and it has a been an important experience for the club as it is on the international stage. This is very important for our development and now we will try our best to finish with success in the final on Saturday.” Zaire said.
His opposite number, Christopher Winklaar, Rincon’s head coach, was notably disappointed with the defeat but managed a smile as his team turned out their best ever showing in a CONCACAF competition.
“Today was a good match for us but the only problem was that we couldn’t get it right. We prepared really hard for this competition and it helped us to get to the semi-finals. We had two players sent off which made it very difficult for us but we kept fighting. Our club is still very proud of our performance here even though we lost today. We are a small island and this a big achievement for us. Franciscain proved to be a very tough opponent today but I am pleased with the fight our players showed. Now we will try to finish with a victory and take the third place in our last game here,” Winklaar said.