Javon East enjoying Saprissa’s Central American Cup run
IN BIG Concacaf matches, the cream always seems to rise to the top and leading the pack in the 2023 Concacaf Central American Cup group stage was Deportivo Saprissa forward Javon East.
The 28-year-old Jamaican striker was exceptional for the Monstruo Morado, helping his side finish in first-place in Group A. East scored three goals from eight shots in 251 minutes of play over the course of his team’s four matches and completed nearly 65 per cent of his passes.
For his efforts, East is Concacaf’s Game-Changer for the 2023 Concacaf Central American Cup group stage.
“I’m grateful for the credit and it adds a little bit of motivation to push even harder for the future games coming up in Concacaf,” said East in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com
“I’m thankful. I’m happy as a player that I know I’m doing something right and people are watching and seeing my talent and giving me credit for it. I’m grateful for that,” added East.
East believes that the relationships forged both on and off the field have contributed greatly to Saprissa’s success in the competition.
“It’s a family first. It’s more important that we are a family on and off the field. It is carrying over inside the game and we are doing pretty well in Concacaf. We are qualified to the next round and we just have to take it a game at a time and see where it goes,” said East.
Perhaps on paper, East’s most impressive outing was in a 5-0 win versus Coban Imperial in which he scored two goals. However, he points to the opening 1-0 victory against Cartagines as his best performance of the group stage.
“I think the first game was my best game, not because I scored one goal in that game, but because of the number of chances I created. So normally as a striker, I like to see how many more chances I create, more than how many I score,” said East.
Saprissa will now turn their attention to the knockout stage and will face a very tough opponent in Real Esteli of Nicaragua in the quarterfinals. East knows that the Costa Rican side will have to be at their best over the two legs.
“[Real Esteli] are a team that has improved over the years. I watched them in their first game and their last game. I didn’t know that we were going to play that team, but I was watching the game and they are very impressive. I give them their respect. We have to prepare mentally and physically for that battle, because it’s going to be a tough one,” said East.
East cautioned against entertaining thoughts of winning the inaugural Central American Cup, or even qualifying for next year’s Concacaf Champions Cup. Instead, he stressed that Saprissa are only thinking about next week’s first leg in Nicaragua and nothing else.
“I’m not thinking about winning [the tournament] as yet because you have to take it game by game. It is a step-by-step situation. It is a long tournament, plus we have games in the domestic tournament here and cup games, so we have to focus on each game that comes our way.
“The Champions Cup would be a lot for us and we want to aim for the bigger picture, but we are not thinking about that yet. The first game is in Nicaragua, so we have to think about the first game before we even think about the second one,” said East.
Throughout his career, East has had a knack of finding the back of the net in big Concacaf club competitions. He fired in two goals for Jamaican side Portmore United in the 2018 Concacaf League, and then scored again for Costa Rican club Santos de Guapiles in the 2021 Concacaf League.
Now, two years later, East has another three goals in Concacaf competition. He can’t help but smile when he talks about netting a goal under the bright lights of Concacaf.
“As a player you have to prepare for the big games. Internationally, you’re playing against the best teams of the region, so I always prepare as a player whether the team is tough or not and it just comes out in the games.”
Courtesy of concacaf.com