KINGSTON, Jamaica.- Central FC goalkeeper Marvin Phillip is anticipating tomorrow's Flow Caribbean Club Championship semi-final encounter against Arnett Gardens to be a difficult contest but not one which is beyond his team.
The Trinidad and Tobago national team goalkeeper are in Kingston preparing under head coach Stern John as the past Caribbean club champions gear up for Friday's encounter against Arnett at the Anthony Spaulding Sports Complex. The other competing teams are Club Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic and Jamaica's Portmore United.
"The team has shaped nicely with our preparations over the past two weeks under the guidance of our head coach Stern John and now we're raring to go in our first match tomorrow," Phillip told Concacaf.com on Thursday.
He spoke about the rivalry between Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica over the years, adding that it creates a highly competitive atmosphere anytime teams from the two islands are clashing whether it be at the club or international level.
"The game tomorrow against Arnett is going to be a very tough encounter especially knowing the history behind Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica teams. It's been a bitter rivalry but a good one and we have to be prepared for anything tomorrow," added Phillip who has 65 international caps for T&T.
Phillip and his Trinidad and Tobago national teammate Daneil Cyrus spoke of the importance of competing at the Caribbean Club Championship level and relishes the opportunity of playing in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League or CONCACAF League stage.
"I think it is very important for Central FC to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League. Being here at the Caribbean championship level is already an accomplishment but we want to go further. This will be a significant boost for our club and for club football in Trinidad and Tobago especially considering the challenges the T&T Pro League is facing at home with regards to financial support. With Central doing well here and making it to the Champions League or the CONCACAF League will be a big step up and allow players to showcase themselves at a higher level before a greater global audience," Phillip said.
Cyrus is a former Trinidad and Tobago Under 20 and Under 23 player and has made 74 international appearances for his country's national senior team. He played with Honduras club Juticalpa FC this season before making the switch to Central and has also played with Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer. But the prospects of playing in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League is a major incentive for him, having already experienced it with W Connection FC.
"It is a great opportunity to keep Trinidad and Tobago football on a map. The Champions League is the biggest competition at club level in CONCACAF. We want to conquer the Caribbean again but we also want to climb the ladder towards the Champions League. It will be a great opportunity for the players as well to play on the biggest club stage in the Confederation. I think a winning performance by Central FC will do a lot for club football in Trinidad and Tobago," Cyrus said.
The winners of Friday's semi-final classes will meet in Sunday's final to determine the Concacaf Caribbean champions as well as which team advances to the 2019 Concacaf Champions League. The Caribbean Club Championships runners-up will be given a second opportunity to qualify for the Concacaf Champions League, through the Concacaf League.