La Vega take Dominican laurels
La Vega, a club located in the central plains of the island where football nearly rivals baseball for sporting supremacy, won the Dominican Republic's 2006 championship with a 2-1 win over arch-rivals San Cristobal in the play-off final at the Parque del Este Stadium in the capital of Santo Domingo on Sunday.
Goals from Mario Perez and Alberto Diaz in each half were enough to see off San Cristobal and sealed the deal for La Vega, who beat Nagua in the semi-finals and Salcedo in the quarter-final round.
The 2006 championship is the 37th year of the Dominican top flight and the La Vega region has proven a hot spot for the game of football - still in its infancy - in the Dominican Republic. The team, from the central region of the Caribbean island nation that shares its land space with Haiti and has long been eclipsed by their neighbours in footballing terms, finished the 2006 'regular season' with a bang after bossing the table for much of the year.
Although baseball is still the main sport in the country, football has been gaining in popularity in recent years. The country's FA was founded in 1953 and affiliated to FIFA just five years later. Regional and continental titles have eluded the country at national-team level, but they have regularly participated in pre-qualifying competitions for FIFA World Cup qualifying and CONCACAF Gold Cups.
With a number of players from champions La Vega in the national team, the Dominicans most recently tumbled out of Group H of Caribbean pre-qualifying for next year's CONCACAF Championship (the Gold Cup). Despite the setback, they did manage an impressive 2-0 win over Antigua and Barbuda to finish second place in the group.