Caribbean Club Championship opens Wednesday
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The Antigua Recreation Ground (pictured) in St. John's, Antigua & Barbuda, will host the opening matches of the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship on February 22, 2017.

JOHN’S, Antigua & Barbuda – The 2017 Caribbean Club Championship kicks off Wednesday with a Group A doubleheader at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

Racing FC (Haiti) will meet Inter Moengotapoe (Suriname) in the opener followed by a meeting between host Greenbay Hoppers (Antigua & Barbuda) and Bequia United (St. Vincent & the Grenadines).

Group A Schedule

Wednesday -- February 22, 2017
Racing FC v Inter Moengotapoe, 17:00
Greenbay Hoppers FC v Bequia United FC, 19:30 

Friday -- February 24, 2017
Bequia United FC v Racing FC, 17:00
Greenbay Hoppers FC v Inter Moengotapoe, 19:30

Sunday -- February 26, 2017
Inter Moengotapoe v Bequia United FC
Greenbay Hoppers FC v Racing FC, 19:30

"In order for our players, staff and club to get better, we must fight to play at the highest level in our region,” Bequia United head coach Kendale Mercury said of the competition’s importance.  “This starts with coming top two in our domestic Premier League, qualifying for the Caribbean Club Championship and making sure that we enter.  Our players break into our national team and our coaches improve on their coaching education locally, regionally and internationally.” 

A record 21 clubs from 12 countries – headed by Trinidad & Tobago’s Central FC, the two-time defending champion – have qualified for the 19th edition of the competition, which will determine the region’s representatives to CONCACAF’s expanded competitions platform.

The five group winners will advance to the final round, scheduled to be played from May 14-21. That final round will now be hosted in Trinidad & Tobago by Central FC, which will receive a bye to the final round. 

The champion of the Caribbean Club Championship earns a place in the newly re-formatted CONCACAF Champions League, while the second, third and fourth-placed clubs will participate in the Confederation’s newly launched club championship tournament for Caribbean and Central American teams, which kicks off in August.

The Caribbean Club Championship has been contested annually since 1997 (with the exception of 1999 and 2008), when United Petrotrin of Trinidad & Tobago captured the inaugural title.  A champion has been crowned 16 times, with DirecTV W Connection, also of Trinidad & Tobago, lifting the trophy a record three times.

Besides Central FC, the 2017 field includes two former Caribbean champions: San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad & Tobago) and Portmore United (Jamaica).  Additionally, Transvaal, a past CONCACAF club champion (1973, 1981) qualified for the event as runner-up in the 2015/16 Surinamese league.

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