Caledonia skipper wants more energy vs Mexico’s Toluca
“More pride and intensity”.
That’s what Caledonia AIA midfielder and captain, Stephan David, has asked of his teammates for tonight’s Concacaf Champions League second leg clash with Mexican powerhouse Deportivo Toluca from 8 p.m. at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“We just have to take advantage of our opportunities and not be afraid,” said the veteran midfielder.
Caledonia, presently sitting at the bottom of Group 6 in the League without a point, are behind leaders Toluca (six points) and Guatemala’s CSD Comunicaciones (three points), and therefore out of the running for a quarter-final spot.
The Jamaal Shabazz coached-Caledonia, still in search of their first career Champions League win, were defeated 3-1 by Toluca in Mexico on August 6 at Estadio Nemesio Diez, which stands 8,793 feet above sea level—an altitude favouring home sides—and fell to a 3-0 home defeat against Comunicaciones on August 29 at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Edgar Benitez, Miguel Almazan and Raul Nava scored for Toluca in the first leg, while Caledonia’s Montserrat forward Julian Wade proved the Mexicans were penetrable by scoring a late goal.
And in the Comunicaciones contest, Paolo Suarez, the elder brother of Liverpool FC star, Luis Suarez, scored all three goals.
Yesterday, Shabazz named a 20-man squad for today’s contest, including goalkeepers Shemel Louison of Grenada and Glenroy Samuel, Antiguan defender Akeem Thomas, Argentinian Miguel Alejandro Romeo, Akim Armstrong—back from injury—and Champions League newcomers Kevaughn Connell and 31 year-old Grenadian striker Kithson Bain. National midfielder Densill Theobald is also in the squad, along with “Cali” regulars Abdallah Phillips, Jamal Gay and Keyon Edwards.
“Our backs are against the wall now,” added the 34 year-old David. “But we have three points to play for (today) and I think everyone is motivated and upbeat to get those three points.
“We need to get that win and three points for the people of Morvant/Laventille, for the country, and the Caribbean.”
David said that he hopes the home advantage is a strong one, with people coming out to support the club as the 12th man.
Domestically, Caledonia kicked off their Digicel Pro League 2013-14 campaign on Saturday with a disappointing 3-0 loss against rivals North East Stars at the “Hasely Crawford”.
“I think they scored their chances and took advantage of unforced errors, while we didn’t take advantage of our chances,” David said. “That’s what made the difference between North East Stars and us.”
But the Caledonia captain is confident that defeat will not affect the Morvant/Laventille team in today’s encounter.
“It’s a loss and we weren’t happy about it,” he acknowledged, “but this is Concacaf (Champions League) and the guys are focused. This is another competition entirely.”
Caledonia will next travel to Guatemala to wrap up their 2013-14 Champions League group stage against Comunicaciones at the Estadio Cementos Progreso September 29.
Shemel Louison, Glenroy Samuel, Akeem Thomas, Nuru Abdullah Muhammad, Aaron Lester, Noel Williams, Kareem Joseph, Aubrey David, Marcus Ambrose, Stephan David, Miguel Alejandro Romeo, Densill Theobald, Keron Bethelmy, Nathan Lewis, Abdallah Phillips, Jamal Gay, Keyon Edwards, Akim Armstrong, Kevaughn Connell, Kithson Bain.