|Bahrain||Trinidad & Tobago|
|Dennis Lawrence (49')|
World Cup Qualifier
|2005-11-16||National Stadium||Riffa, Bahrain||35000|
Soca Warriors vanquish Bahrain's World Cup dream
|A second half Dennis Lawrence header ended Bahrain’s hopes of
qualifying to the 2006 World Cup finals as Trinidad and Tobago won the
AFC-CONCACAF Play-off second leg 1-0 to advance to Germany 2-1 on
Suspensions compelled Bahrain coach Luka Peruzovic to make two changes from the side that drew 1-1 last Saturday although ultimately it was the naturalised Belgian’s overly defensive tactics that would cost them rather than the absence defensive mainstay Abdulla Marzoq and influential skipper Mohammed Salmeen, who were replaced by Mohammed Juma and Ala’a Hubail respectively.
Peruzovic’s opposite number Leo Beenhakker also made two changes dropping veteran winger Russell Latapay and Yokohama FC midfielder Silvio Spann and bringing in defender Cyd Gray and forward Kenwynne Jones, who earned a starting berth after impressing when he came on for Stern John in the last ten minutes of the first leg.
Spann’s time on the bench lasted just 21 minutes when he came on to replace Chirs Birchall, whose stunning 76th minute strike in Port of Spain quickly cancelled out Salman Issa’s opener.
Birchall limped off after failing to shake off an injury sustained after being accidentally caught by Hussain Baba 13 minutes into a tentative first half that the visitors dominated without actually looking particularly impressive.
Trinidad and Tobago’s best chance of the half came in the 32nd minute when star striker Stern John skilfully turned defender Sayed Mohammed only to be denied his 13th goal of their Germany 2006 qualifying campaign by Bahrain keeper Ali Hassan who flung himself bravely at the feet of the Derby County dangerman.
Despite having the advantage of the away goal Peruzovic was adamant that his side would not play for the goalless draw although Bahrain seemed content to absorb the pressure and hoof the ball forward to Hussain Ali, who was ploughing a lonely furrow up front, with his Al Gharrafa teammate Ala’a Hubai dropping deep to take over Salmeen’s creative mantle.
With five minutes of the half remaining Bahrain were almost gifted the opener thanks to a goalkeeping howler from Kelvin Jack, who let an innocuous long ball bounce over his head and towards an unguarded net.
Thankfully for the erratic Dundee keeper, Marvin Andrews, who also plays his club football in Scotland with Rangers, had covered enough ground to nod the ball over the bar and out for a corner.
That corner came to nothing but Trinidad and Tobago’s first of the second half did as Lawrence emphatically headed home Dwight Yorke’s flag kick six minutes after the restart.
With Trinidad and Tobago now 2-1 up on aggregate Bahrain were compelled to change their negative tactics and become more adventurous and after struggling to make inroads they almost drew level on the hour mark.
A minute after being fouled by Cyd Gray, which earned the defender a yellow card, Ala’a Hubail poked the ball wide after stretching to get on the end of a free-kick launched hopefully into the opposition’s box.
Two minutes later another yellow card for Trinidad and Tobago and another near miss from Bahrain.
Andrews became the third player from his team to go in the referee’s notebook following Gray and Yorke, after a clumsy challenge on Sayed Mahmood but Hussain Ali scuffed the resulting free-kick inches past Jack’s right hand post
Beenhakker introduced Latapy in place of the ineffectual Jones and the Falkirk winger started a move that lead to the ball crashing off the Bahrain crossbar with ten minutes left to play.
With their World Cup dream slipping fast, Bahrain’s frustration boiled over.
Firstly after tempers flared following a ferocious two footed lunge from Talal Yusuf as the visitors attempted to run down the clock at the corner flag and then when Bahrain were denied the equaliser after Hussain Ali flicked the ball over the head of Jack as the keeper released it to punt it up field and scored into an empty net.
Replays show that Jack did not have his hands on the ball but referee Oscar Ruiz was quick to blow the whistle prompting the Bahrainis to angrily jostle the Colombian.
With order restored and the home side reduced to ten men following Hussain Baba’s red card, Bahrain had one final push and Hussain Ali came agonisingly close to the goal that would send the match into extra-time.
But Ali’s sharp turn and blistering snap shot brought out a world class, one-handed save from Jack, who for the best part of 90 minutes had provided the home fans with one or two moments of comic relief with some bizarre keeping.
But as the much-travelled 29-year-old, who has been keeping former Newcastle and West Ham United keeper Shaka Hislop on the bench, displayed some phenomenal reflexes when it mattered most…no Bahraini was laughing.
|24.||Cyd Gray 59 '|
|21' Silvio Spann|
|82' Ian Cox|
|19.||Dwight Yorke (capt.) 55 '|
|78' Russell Latapy|
|10.||Russell Latapy 89 '|
|21'||Silvio Spann for Christopher Birchall|
|78'||Russell Latapy for Kenwyne Jones|
|82'||Ian Cox for Carlos Edwards|