KINGSTON, Jamaica – You could say that the 2017 Scotiabank CONCACAF League was a good lesson learned for Portmore United.
In last season’s inaugural event, the Jamaican side was eliminated in the first round in a penalty shootout by Panama’s Plaza Amador following a 1-1 draw on aggregate.
A year later in the SCL Round of 16, the club is poised to reach the quarterfinals with either a draw or a win after claiming a 2-1 first leg win last week over Costa Rica’s Santos de Guapiles.
For Portmore United Head Coach Shavar Thomas, the experience of last year’s SCL has made a difference in this season’s campaign.
“This team is growing. Last season we played in this competition against Plaza Amador from Panama and we were hampered a bit,” said Thomas in his pre-match press conference.
“This year we are more prepared and you see the benefits of being prepared and being ready,” added Thomas.
Still, Thomas expects a fierce battle in Thursday’s second leg in Jamaica against last year’s SCL finalists.
“Even though we have an advantage, we expect Santos to come out and try to get us on the back foot, but we’re prepared for that and we’re most definitely ready. Going into this leg it’s about staying focused, closing things out and advancing to the next round,” said Thomas.
While Thomas feels like the home crowd in Kingston’s National Stadium can provide his team a lift, he knows that the Tico visitors will not be intimidated.
“This is international football. Whether you are home or away there really isn’t an advantage because you are talking about professionals. These guys go everywhere and play football. Playing away is normal. But we hope our fans come out to support us,” concluded Thomas.