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(SNO) — Vieux Fort’s Platinum Football Club, the 2018 Saint Lucia Football Association Inc. First Division champions, are getting set for a big regional challenge.
As winners of the island’s top club tournament, Platinum will be competing in the 2019 Concacaf Caribbean Club Shield.
This year, the 13-team Club Shield will be played in Curaçao, with the matches to be played at the Ergilio Hato Stadium and Stadion dr. Antoine Maduro in Willemstad from April 5-15.
In last week’s (Jan. 11) draw in Miami, United States of America, the southern champions were pulled into an all-Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States group, Group C, where they will face Hoppers from Antigua and Barbuda, and Rams Village Superstars from St Kitts and Nevis. The winners and runners-up of each of four groups will advance to the quarter-finals.
Led from the bench by veteran coach Emmanuel Bellas, Platinum features national players such as goalkeeper Viannie George from Micoud, central defender Bernard ‘Sadam’ Edward, midfield dynamo Gregson President, young Antonius Myers, and Desruisseaux striker Delan Neptune.
The club had its first training session on Monday (Jan. 15) in preparation for the CCCS. Bellas said that the focus will be on ensuring that Platinum plays to its strengths, and that the players hold themselves to high standards, as they will be flag bearers for the nation.
Said Bellas: “I am one of those coaches who only plays football on the day. The most important thing is for us to just get ourselves ready for those persons we are coming up against. I don’t know too much about them, we will try to find out more about them, but our emphasis will be on being the best we can be. I am keeping an open mind as to whether the club can and should strengthen ahead of the tournament, we will cross that bridge when we come to it, but we are happy with the resources we have at our disposal for the time being.
“We have to always remember, and we will reinforce that concept to our players, that it is not Platinum that is going and play in that Concacaf tournament, but rather, it is Saint Lucia that is being represented. And if we are representing Saint Lucia, we must lift our games, and represent Saint Lucia with pride, and to the best of our abilities!”
Platinum has received $25,000 from the local football association towards their trip overseas.
The winner of the 2019 Concacaf Caribbean Shield, provided it fulfills the Concacaf Regional Club Licensing criteria, will have the opportunity to face the fourth-place finisher of the 2019 Flow Concacaf Caribbean Club Championship in a playoff match to determine the fourth Caribbean representative in the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf League.
The 2019 CCCS will be the second edition of the tournament after a successful inaugural event in 2018 in which Club Franciscain emerged as champion thanks to a 2-1 victory over Inter Moengotapoe of Suriname in the Final.
The Martinique side then went on to defeat Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago, 2-1, in the playoff match to qualify for the 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf League.