By Rawle Toney
Even though Alpha “The Hammer” United lost to Pele via penalty in the recently-completed Mayor’s Cup tournament, club president Odinga Lumumba believes that his side will come out victorious in the upcoming Caribbean Football Union (CFU) club championship against Temptee Football Club of Haiti on Saturday.
The Hammer boys are set to become the first club from Guyana to participate in the tournament which will ultimately serve as a qualifier for the CONCACAF Champions League.
“I think we played well but failed to get the ball in the net on some clear scoring opportunities. The problem with the team is that they are yet to find the right combination up front with the strikers. But even though we lost I’m pleased with the team’s performance and this should not be used to measure the outcome of Saturday’s game,” said Lumumba.
He said further that a number of positives came out in the game, one being that his side can play under pressure.
“In the past people never saw Alpha playing from behind and on Sunday we showed that we can play with patience even though we were down which I think was good, but the problem like I said is the combination with the strikers. Our defense led by captain Charles Pollard and Howard Lowe is one of the best and the midfield is fairly ok, but if we don’t score we can’t win,” Lumumba noted.
After announcing their participation in the tournament last year, Lumumba and the club’s executives set out to build what is being called the ‘dream team’ of local football, since some of the country’s top players have been brought into the team.
One notable person is Pollard, a former national captain who was also named assistant coach and captain of the team.
Pollard agreed that the strikers have not been doing their job and he should know, since their loss to Pele, a club he piloted to their first Kashif and Shanghai title earlier this year.
“We played well but our forwards didn’t do the job. We will go back to the drawing board to get this right,” said the veteran defender who was adamant that they will rectify the problem in time for the game on Saturday.
Not much is known of the Haitian side which is set to arrive tomorrow, except that they are in the competition and since they too, like Alpha, aim to be victorious, a heated encounter is expected.
Meanwhile, Minister of Sport Dr. Frank Anthony will join Alpha tomorrow for lunch at the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) Camp Seweyo on the Linden-Soesdyke Highway, where they are encamped.
Saturday’s match will kick off at 7:30 pm at the famous Georgetown Cricket Club ground, but not before Pele and BK International Western Tigers battle it out in the curtain raiser from 4:30pm.
Alpha will then make the journey to the French-speaking island of Haiti on March 29 for the return fixture, which will wrap up the first round.
The second round action in the tournament will be on April 13 and 20 which will lead into the final Caribbean round from May 15 to 17 in Trinidad and Tobago. The top three Caribbean teams of this tournament will automatically qualify for the CONCACAF Champion’s League 2009/2010 edition.