|Trinidad & Tobago||Azerbaijan|
|Scott Sealy (41')|
|2005-01-21||Hasely Crawford Stadium||Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago||0|
T&T edge Azerbaijan 1-0
|IF THEY had not realised it before, their 1-0 triumph over Azerbaijan
on Friday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium should have showed the "Soca
Warriors" the amount of work still needed if they are to be ready for
their February 9 World Cup final round qualifying clash with the United
The senior national football squad would be glad for the win over coach Carlos Alberto's team in the first of two international friendlies and the first of four warm-up matches before they face the US, but they would need more than that against stronger opponents.
Assistant coach David Nakhid certainly had it right in saying after the match that the encounter was not a particularly great game, but that a win would always be good for the team's confidence.
Coach Bertille St Clair's usual optimism conveyed a state of transition where his team would be working to find the right balance in the squad, especially in the troublesome midfield, yet the solution does not quite seem close enough.
The margin of victory could have been a bit larger for the Warriors, but once again indecision and hesitancy were the instruments of their limitations, striker Scott Sealy proving to be the only player to take advantage of a shaky Azerbaijan defence.
T&T got the better start, looking to go on the attack from the opening whistle. But, even early on, their passing let them down, as Azerbaijan tried to close down the midfield.
The speed of the T&T midfield had its advantages, though, as Azerbaijan responded by increasing the tempo, which gave the Warriors room to move through the middle.
T&T's first chance came when Cornell Glen ran onto the ball in the penalty area and slotted home in the 21st minute, but he was ruled offside.
Brazil-born Jose Luis Seabra, in his first game for the Soca Warriors, settled comfortably in the left midfield position and had some good passes inside, including a cross into the area three minutes later, which all but found Gary Glasgow.
But Glasgow, recently back from injury, looked out of touch in the match, missing some golden opportunities, even at point-blank range.
The Azerbaijan players looked good coming forward, with a solid build-up through a succession of passes and could have proved much more troublesome for the hosts with a more menacing attack.
Still, diminutive striker Nadir Nabiyev had his share of chances, with some searching runs into T&T goalkeeper Daurance Williams's area.
The hosts failed to finish some promising plays in the first half, but just when it seemed the opening period would bear no fruit from either team, Sealy found the mark, slamming home a parry by opposing goalie Rauf Mehdiyev on the right of the six-metre box after Anton Pierre's booming drive forced the initial save.
The second half produced more of the same, but Seabra began to struggle a bit on the left, while the forwards failed to capitalise on some threatening positions, Glasgow, in particular, missing out in some promising plays.
Azerbaijan had their best chance through a 59th minute free kick from Ismayil Mammadov, whose 23-metre curling effort had Williams diving at full stretch to preserve T&T's lead.
One of the bright spots for the home team in the match, though, was the defence, who could take credit for quelling most of the Azerbaijan advances.
Veteran T&T utilility player Anthony Rougier was able to take advantage of the slower visitors late in the match, with swift counter-attacks in the 82nd, then 84th minutes, but passes to Glasgow on each occasion were badly controlled.
Marlon Rojas had an interception on the left in the 88th, crossing to Glasgow in the penalty area, but the attacking midfielder only turned back into a crowd of defenders.
Azerbaijan had a last attempt at an equaliser in injury time, Nabiyev forcing Williams to tip the ball over the crossbar.
But their failure to find the net would mean Azerbaijan have all to play for when they meet the Soca Warriors again today at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella from 3.30 p.m.
T&T-Daurance Williams, Jan Michael Williams, Marlon Rojas, Derek King, Anton Pierre, Atiba Charles, Cyd Gray, Anthony Rougier, Avery John, Leslie Fitzpatrick, Angus Eve, Jose Seabra, Michael Celestine, Nigel Pierre, Densil Theobald, Scott Sealy, Cornell Glen, Gary Glasgow.
Azerbaijan-Rauf Mehdiyev, Mikayil Yusifov, Rafail Amirbeyov, Rail Melikov, Samir Abbasov, Aftandil Hajiyev, Mahir Shukurov, Ilgar Abdulrahmanov, Â Aslan Karimov, Ismayil Mammadov, Agil Mammadov. Rashad Abdullayev, Vasif Hagverdiyev, Nadir Nabiyev. Vugar Nadirov, Daniel Akhyanov.
|Derek King (capt.)|
|Bertille St. Clair|
|0'||Cyd Gray for Leslie Fitzpatrick|
|0'||Densill Theobald for Jose Seabra|
|0'||Angus Eve for Scott Sealy|
|0'||Nigel Pierre for Cornell Glen|