Kingston, Jamaica - Even as Portmore United celebrates its auspicious first-leg 2-1 victory over Costa Rica’s Santos De Guapiles in the Scotiabank Concacaf League (SCL), the club’s coach Shavar Thomas urges cool heads by his players.
At the National Stadium of Costa Rica on Wednesday night, the Jamaican club took a big step towards historically advancing to the quarter-finals through goals from Javon East (14th minute) and Maalique Foster (18th). Pablo Airborne replied in the 80th minute to reduce the deficit as Santos heads to Kingston for the return showdown at National Stadium on Thursday. Match time is 6:30 p.m.
Santos De Guapiles was runner-up to Honduras’s CD Olimpia in the inaugural tournament in 2017.
“Our team was much better prepared than last season’s edition. However, the job is far from finished,” said Thomas, reacting to Wednesday’s win.
Portmore, he says, is not yet the finished product, but he is prepared to wager that the team will get better with each game.
“We’re still a work in progress and need to keep grounded while we continue our development. There are parts of our game we need to improve, individually and collectively.
“We have a competitive squad and will use the talents at our disposal as astutely as possible. Now that the first leg is finished, all the players understand they have to keep working diligently as no one is guaranteed anything. That has always been part of the Portmore philosophy,” said Thomas, a former Jamaica defender.
He noted that the more youthful makeup of the current squad is in and of itself a driving force.
“We’re an even younger unit than last season given the significant roster turnover, and we appreciate that the growth needle can go much higher, but we will remain humble and patient,” said the former Kansas City Wizards ace.
Thomas’ Portmore, which is contesting the SCL with fellow Jamaican club Arnett Gardens, has expressed regret that Red Stripe Premier League rivals lost its opening game 3-0, going down to Panama’s Arabe Unido on Tuesday in Panama.
“We feel Arnett's disappointment, but we believe with better finishing, their team could have had a much better result in Panama, so we’re optimistic they can turn it around.
“They created clear-cut chances, and this should be an inspiration for their second leg preparation. Our hope is for both teams to advance to the next round - the quarter-final stage,” Thomas ended.
Portmore was eliminated at the first-round stage of last year’s first edition of the SCL, losing out 5-4 to Panama’s Plaza Amador after both clubs had ended 1-1 in their home-and-away play-offs.