Trinidad and Tobago senior men, spurred on by three well taken goals from Cornell Glen, Carlyle Mitchell and Aikim Andrews overcame Nicaragua 3-1 in the second of two international friendlies at the National Football Stadium in Managua on Friday night.
As was the case in Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat, T&T found themselves trailing in the first half as Daniel Cadena placed his shot past Adrian Foncette to put the hosts 1-0 ahead the 25th minute after some untidy work at the back by T&T. But the visitors were much didn’t let their opponents pull away this time as Tom Saintfiet’s men maintained good organisation and shape and created far better openings than in Tuesday’s match.
Saintfiet introduced Glen, Tyrone Charles, Carlyle Mitchell and midfield workhorse Kevan George into his starting team and it paid dividends. Glen and Mitchell got on the scoresheet while Charles looked the part alongside George in the midfield, both men putting in a solid shift on the artificial surface.
Defender Maurice Forde made his second straight appearance but couldn’t do much about the opening goal as Jaime Moreno left him on the surface before squaring for Cadena to slot past Foncette for the go ahead item.
Glen would trouble the Nicaraguan defence after, managing two back to back attempts at goal but goalkeeper Diedrich Tellez was up to the task both times.
But the former Columbus Crew striker would make it count soon after. Mitchell played on a diagonal ball on the right of the box for a lurking Glen and he kept his balance to volley into the turf and past Tellez for the equaliser in the 37th minute.
Six minutes after the interval, Glen won a free kick midway into the opponents half and Hector floated one in for Mitchell to clinically convert with a neat glancing header to put T&T 2-1 ahead.
T&T were not being troubled at this point but Nicaragua still managed a couple looks on goal as the half progressed. But T&T would pull further away as Mitchell tussled with three defenders inside the area, going down in the process before the ball came out for Andrews who took one touch before striking a superb right footed volley into the far left corner to push T&T 3-1 ahead.
Substitutes Daneil Cyrus and Shahdon Winchester muffed further opportunities for T&T but Saintfiet and his men would surely be leaving Managua for Port of Spain with some level of satisfaction on Saturday morning.
Saintfiet’s Post-Match Comments
“As a coach you want to win every match and I was very disappointed after the first match that we lost 2-1. I felt the players deserve more for the effort. So it was very important I think in my mind and in the players mind to get a good result before we travel back.
“It was the last game of 2016 and if we could win this match we would be in a stronger psychological mood to start the competition against Suriname and Haiti. And it think it was a very clear good performance not only tactically but also physically and mentally where we proved today that we could win this match and the result will help us naturally in the near future,” Saintfiet said.
He commended more than handful of players for their efforts.
“It’s always difficult to say because we also have to respect the players that played last Tuesday. They also played quite well last match. Today the guys who came in like Kevan George, Carlyle Mitchell, Tyrone Charles and Cornell Glen did fantastic but it’s not only them, it’s a whole team performance. Even after the changes I have to think of players like Aikim Andrews and other players who performed well. I think we as a team don’t have one, two, three big players but we have a team performance of 20-23 players who are playing on a high level. Sure today some players showed that they deserved to be on the national team. I think some were a little bit out of selection for a long period and they wanted to prove something and I hope in the coming weeks they can continue that.”
He spoke of the value of the two-week training camp including the two friendlies in Managua.
“I think it’s very important and I am very happy that the Association could organise these matches in a short period of time. People sometimes people forget that I am only two and half, three weeks in Trinidad and that I saw only a few league matches and I had not a lot of time to select and to find the right players for the coming weeks. So this two-week training camp plus these two friendly matches helped me a lot to know which players are ready, which system is best and how we can be prepared for Suriname and Haiti. I am a very happy coach that we use these days between Christmas and New Years to prepare our team because we have made a lot of steps forward.”
T&T resumes preparations on Sunday evening ahead of their CFU Gold Cup playoff encounter against Suriname on Wednesday January 4th from 7pm at the Ato Boldon Stadium.
Tickets for the upcoming Gold Cup playoff matches are now on sale at all Lotto Locations nationwide.There are three in one season tickets for the three matches costing $$100 for adults and $45 for children. Single match tickets cost $50 for Adults and $20 for children. TTFA Season Pass holders can access the games at no additional cost. Those TTFA Season Passes which includes access to the World Cup qualifiers also, are available at First Citizen’s Banks nationwide.
Trinidad and Tobago - 22.Adrian Foncette; 11.Carlos Edwards (capt) (4.Curtis Gonzales 69th), 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 17.Maurice Ford, 15.Hughtun Hector (16.Alvin Jones 72nd), 19.Kevan George, 8.Nathan Lewis (18.Aikim Andrews 53rd), 14.Hashim Arcia (5.Daneil Cyrus 81st), 7.Tyrone Charles (23.Jomal Williams 81st - Yellow 89), 13.Cornell Glen (Yellow 18) (10.Shahdon Winchester 75th).
Unused substitutes: Glenroy Samuel (GK); 9.Akeem Roach, 20.Trevin Caesar, Aubrey David (sidelined with injury).
Coach - Tom Saintfiet (BEL).
Nicaragua - Diedrich Tellez; Elvis Figueroa (Juan Barrera 67th), Josue Quijano, Manuel Rosas (capt), Marlon Lopez, Luis Copete (Oscar López 46th), Luis Peralta (Jason Coronel 46th - Yellow 51), Bryan Garcia (Lesther Jarquin 39th), Érick Téllez, Jaime Moreno (Armando Zepeda 65th), Daniel Cadena (Bryan Bonilla 46th).
Coach - Henry Duarte (CRC).
Referee - Oscar Davila (Nicaragua).
T&T defeats Nicaragua 3-1 - Game Highlights
Saintfiet's Post Match Reactions after 3-1 win over Nicaragua