Trinidad and Tobago will not be going to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup despite a happy birthday hattrick performance by forward Shahdon Winchester as Haiti pulled off a come from behind 4-3 victory over the hosts in the final CFU fifth place playoff match at the Ato Boldon Stadium on Sunday evening.
Needing to win by two clear goals to advance to the playoff with the Central American fifth placed team, T&T got a dream start when Winchester turned in a Nathan Lewis right side delivery in the 46th second of the match to put T&T 1-0 ahead.
T&T were left in the position of needing to win by two clear goals after losing 2-1 to Suriname on Wednesday and earlier losing 2-0 to Martinique in Fort-de-France in October.
Following the early goal on Sunday, Winchester had another chance to double the lead but saw his shot deflected and pushed wide by the Haitian goalie, from inside the 18, after he was sent through by Andre Boucaud in the 15th.
As Haiti struggled to handle to uptempo T&T start, Radanfah Abu Bakr brought the best out of goalkeeper Guerry Romondt who had to push over his powerful header from Tyrone Charles left sider corner in the 14th minute. So shaken were the Haitians by the T&T surge, that moments after that save Lewis had to point out to Ramondt that the resulting corner was actually being taken from the opposite end as the ‘keeper bounced in anticipation of a left side corner.
But lady luck would smile on the visitors when Aruban referee Ricangel De Leca ruled a free kick in Haiti’s favour when clearly Maurice Ford appeared to have been infringed. Haiti took the free kick quickly with T&T napping at the back and Derrick Ettienne curled a right footer into the corner past a hapless Adrian Foncette on 20 minutes. Moments earlier Carlos Edwards went down and had to be taken off with a groin strain and the T&T contingent complained that Haiti offered no fair play by failing to play the ball back to the hosts.
T&T would hit back in the 25th minute when De Leca blew against Romondt and gave a free kick to T&T inside the penalty area which an alert Andrews took quickly, slipping to an unmarked Winchester to side foot into the net for a 2-1 T&T lead. The Haitians protested vigorously, resulting in their equipment manager Jhonny Michel being ejected from the team bench.
The seesaw battle continued as Haiti grabbed a 39th minute equalizer when Kervens Belfort headed home on the near post from a left side corner. Two minutes later, Winchester, once again receiving a ball in a good position, got a shot off from a ball floated in from the right by Andrews but the effort was blocked by a Haitian defender.
Head Coach Tom Saintfiet introduced Cornell Glen early in the second half to bolster the T&T attack as T&T went in search of a two goal lead. Andrews had two cracks at goal, one saved and the other whizzing over the cross bar. Foncette pulled off a good save near the end to keep the scores tied and T&T took their feet off the gas realising that it was becoming harder to get the two-goal cushion as the clock ticked away. Haiti at least continued in good spirits as an own goal which could have led to a 3-2 win for them would also have sent them through on a better goal difference. But they stayed in the game and later put it out of T&T’s reach.
T&T went close early in extra time while Winchester also forced Romondt to save in the 103rd minute. Six minutes later, Romondt denied Lewis, pushing his cross off the crossbar.
T&T dwindled as extra time progressed and Haiti sealed the win with headed goals by Belfort, a glancing header in the 111th and Andrew Jean Baptiste in the 117th minute. Both deliveries came from the left by Herold Charles.
Winchester grabbed his hattrick in between both goals when he dragged one home to tie the scores at 3-3 in the 112th after Abu Bakr, playing up top at the time, flicked one onto him.
At final whistle, Haiti prevailed 4-3 and they will now await the fifth placed finisher from the Central American qualifiers later this month.
Sainfiet later complimented his players for the fighting effort but was not pleased with the way the goals were conceded.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Adrian Foncette; 2. Aubrey David: 11.Carlos Edwards (capt) (16.Alvin Jones 21st), 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr (vice-capt) (Yellow 88), 7.Tyrone Charles 17.Maurice Ford (15.Hughtun Hector 91st), 19.Kevan George, 14.Andre Boucaud; 8.Nathan Lewis, 18.Aikim Andrews (20.Trevin Caesar 68th), (13.Cornell Glen 56th); 10.Shahdon Winchester (Yellow 40).
Subs not used: 21.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 5.Hashim Arcia, 9.Akeem Roach.
Head Coach: Tom Saintfiet (Belgium).
Haiti: 1.Guerry Romondt; 21.Samuel Pompée (Yellow 85), 16.Andrew Jean-Baptiste, 3.Mechack Jérôme (capt), 22.Christian Alex; 9.Kervens Fils Belfort (5.Romilaire Ambroise 114th); 10.Hérold Charles, 15.Sébastien Thuriere (19.Listner Pierre-Louis 18th - Yellow 23), 17.Wilguens Aristilde; 11.Derrick Etienne (Yellow 88) (2.Paulson Pierre 92nd), 18.Jonel Désiré.
Subs not used: 23.Valendi Odelus (GK), 4.Handy Delice, 6.Waldo Vernet, 8.Roberto Louima.
Head Coach: Jean Claude Josaphat (Haiti).
P W D L F A Pts
Haiti 2 2 0 0 8 5 6
Suriname 2 1 0 1 4 5 3
T&T 2 0 0 2 4 6 0
Match Highlights - Trinidad and Tobago vs Haiti
Saintfiet's Post Match Reactions after 4-3 defeat to Haiti
Note - Winchester celebrated his 25th birthday in fine style, netting a hat-trick against the Haitians. Happy birthday Shahdon from the SWO.