Cibao FC players (pictured) celebrate with the trophy after defeating San Juan Jabloteh in the Caribbean Club Championship final on May 21, 2017, in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago. (Photo: CA-Images)
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad & Tobago – Characterizing Cibao FC as an overnight sensation is not entirely accurate, but it’s close.
After just two years of existence, the Dominican Republic-based club defeated San Juan Jabloteh 1-0 in the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship (CCC) final on Sunday night to qualify for the 2018 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. Richard Dabas’ 30th-minute goal proved to make the historic difference
“The truth is that I’m in the clouds. As a professional, being champion of the Caribbean is the maximum here in Cibao,” head coach Albert Benaiges said after the game. “I wait for what the future that holds for us.
“The key has been the work of the team, the unity between the players. We have spent a lot of time working and I think that is the result of what we were all looking for.”
Benaiges came to Cibao after more than 20 incredibly successful years with the FC Barcelona youth program in Spain and stints working in player development with Al Wasi (United Arab Emirates) and Guadalajara (Mexico).
He has no desire, however, to look back.
“Barcelona is a thing of the past,” Benaiges finished. “I am now in Cibao. We have three teams of young players. We have a first team that is the winner of the Caribbean and I am only thinking about the players we have. Barcelona was a beautiful experience, but it is passed. I am now in Cibao. I am happy and we are starting a football school there in Cibao, so that these players can make the jump to the first team.”
Overall, in 2017 CCC play, Cibao went unbeaten in six games, posting a 4W-2D-0L record and scoring 22 goals.