Trinidad & Tobago (1W-0D-2L, 3 points) secured its first points in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, earning a 1-0 win over visiting Panama (1-1-1, 4) on Friday at Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Kevin Molino struck for the game’s only goal in the 37th minute, when he beat goalkeeper Jaime Penedo with a right-footed effort from outside the box.
The victory was Dennis Lawrence’s first for the Soca Warriors in a competitive match, since replacing Tom Saintfiet as head coach slightly more than two months ago. Lawrence, who started in all three of T&T’s matches in the 2006 World Cup, was previously an assistant under Roberto Martinez at Wigan, Everton and Belgium.
T&T improved to 5-0-0 all-time in World Cup Qualifying against Panama, which is winless in three of its last four Russia 2018 encounters and has scored only two goals over that stretch.
Two other CONCACAF Hexagonal matches will be played later in the evening: Mexico-Costa Rica and USA-Honduras.
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Kevin Molino 37), Panama 0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
Mexico 2 (Javier Hernandez 5, Nester Araujo 45), Costa Rica 0 at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico City;
United States 6 (Sebastian LLetget 5, Michael Bradley 27, Clint Dempsey 32, 49, 54, Christian Pulisic 46), Honduras 0 at the Avaya Stadium, California.
Trinidad and Tobago: 21.Jan-Michael Williams; 11.Carlos Edwards, 25.Curtis Gonzales, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 17.Mekeil Williams; 19.Kevan George, 8.Khaleem Hyland; 7.Cordell Cato (16.Levi Garcia 64th), 10.Kevin Molino (13.Hughtun Hector 79th), 3.Joevin Jones; 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (20.Jamille Boatswain 83rd).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 22.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 12.Hashim Arcia, 14.Andre Boucaud, 18.Tristan Hodge, 23.Leston Paul, 26.Willis Plaza, 27.Nathan Lewis.
Coach: Dennis Lawrence
Panama: 1.Jaime Penedo; 13.Adolfo Machado (2.Michael Amir 74th - Yellow 80), 23.Felipe Baloy (capt), 5.Roman Torres, 17.Luis Ovalle; 21.Amilcar Henriquez; 8.Edgar Barcenas (9.Gabriel Torres 63rd), 11.Armando Cooper, 20.Anibal Godoy, 19.Alberto Quintero (18.Luis Tejada 57th); 22.Abdiel Arroyo.
Unused substitutes: 12.Jose Calderon (GK), 3.Jan Carlos, 4.Roderick Miller, 7.Oscar Villarreal, 10.Alejandro Taylor, 14.Miguel Camargo, 16.Josiel Nunez, 15.Eric Davis.
Coach: Hernan Gomez.
P W D L F A Pts
Mexico 3 2 1 0 4 1 7
Costa Rica 3 2 0 1 6 2 6
Panama 3 1 1 1 1 1 4
United States 3 1 0 2 7 6 3
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 0 2 2 5 3
Honduras 3 1 0 2 3 8 3
Next up on March 28, 2017 (home teams listed first)
Trinidad & Tobago v Mexico
Panama v USA
Honduras v Costa Rica
Molino makes Hasely Crawford Stadium dance, T&T edge Panama 1-0 to restore WCQ dreams.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
A pinpoint low strike from Trinidad and Tobago attacking midfielder Kevin Molino breathed fresh life into the Soca Warriors’ Russia 2018 World Cup campaign tonight as they edged Panama 1-0 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
It also marked a triumphant debut for former World Cup 2006 defender Dennis Lawrence who made his first outing as a head coach tonight.
There was the odd flutter at the back but, largely, it was a serene outing for Trinidad and Tobago who defended resolutely and never looked in danger of a third successive CONCACAF Hex defeat.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams targeted four points from his team’s two home matches against Panama tonight and Mexico on Tuesday—but few thought it was a realistic ask. That might be about to change though.
There were roughly 6,000 spectators at the Hasely Crawford Stadium at kick-off and, by halftime, there were barely 10,000 patrons in a venue built for 23,000. It was a huge drop off in attendance that should prompt some soul-searching within the local football body.
But, more importantly, the Warriors showed up.
On paper, Lawrence had a crisis at centre-back with Radanfah Abu Bakr and Carlyle Mitchell injured and Sheldon Bateau suspended. In their places, he started two Pro League players, Daneil Cyrus and Curtis Gonzales. The latter defender was making his first appearance of the World Cup campaign while the former’s calamitous form was partly responsible for Trinidad and Tobago’s woeful start in the Hex.
It would be a stretch to say the pair were flawless tonight. But it was close enough. In truth, their jobs were made easier by a solid defensive shape that offered little space to their Central American opponents down the middle while full-backs Carlos Edwards and Mekeil Williams held their own on either flank.
In their last seven outings, Panama managed just five goals—and that included home matches against Belize, Nicaragua and El Salvador—and their lack of offensive presence haunted them again in Port-of-Spain.
Joevin Jones gave early warning that the hosts meant business with a dipping shot from 25 yards in the 13th minute, which needed to be helped over by opposing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo. Yet, it still seemed to be a pleasant surprise when Molino opened the scoring with a sweet, precise low effort from just outside the penalty area in the 37th minute.
It was Molino’s first appearance of the Hex after a two-match internal suspension for twice breaking the team’s curfew to party. Tonight, the dancehall king set the Hasely Crawford Stadium dancing.
Incidentally, Panama central defender Roman Torres was off the field attending to his footwear at the time. It was a costly wardrobe malfunction.
Alongside Molino, Kenwyne Jones rolled back the years with an energetic, bustling performance that stretched the opposing backline and created space for his namesake, Joevin, and the scorer to operate.
In the first half alone, Kenwyne probably made more sprints that he had in the last two games combined. It was always likely that the giant forward had more to contribute to his country’s cause once he returned to full fitness.
It was not a particular fluent performance yet from the Warriors—and Lawrence met most of his players for the first time just this week. But the hosts looked more dangerous for much of the game.
Molino ran on to a Kenwyne flick on in the 61st minute and Torres looked a fraction late with his shoulder challenge, as defender and attacker fell to the ground in a heap.
Penalties have been awarded for less. But Honduran referee Orlando Matamoros waved play on.
Then in the 67th minute came what might have been the play of the match.
Kenwyne chased a ball over the top and surprised opposing defender Felipe Baloy with his turn of pace. The sphere was about to roll across the goal line when the Atlanta United forward caught up to it and Baloy lunged in to block the expected cross.
Instead, Kenwyne chopped the ball inside of his opponent and Baloy went flying so far off the field that he might have needed a taxi to get back to the ground.
But then, with three Trinidad and Tobago attackers outnumbering the two Panamanian defenders in the area, Kenwyne tried to surprise the goalkeeper at his near post and hooked the ball disappointingly wide with his left foot.
Joevin and substitute Levi Garcia, who were waiting for the cross, were not impressed. For Kenwyne’s critics, it was the fuel they had been looking for.
However, the more knowledgeable football fans surely could not help but notice that Trinidad and Tobago are a far more dangerous team when the big number nine is playing well, even when he is not scoring.
The lineman’s flag denied Panama substitute Luis Tejada, who drove the ball between the legs of Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams in the 75th minute. And opposing midfielder Anibal Godoy had two decent looks in the last 15 minutes but failed to take either while Cyrus put hearts in mouth with a slash in his own box in the dying seconds of the game.
The last 10 minutes apart, though, Trinidad and Tobago deserved the win.
The Warriors remain second from bottom with three points but trail fourth-placed United States by just goal difference. And fourth is good enough for the FIFA Play-offs.
Mexico lead the group with seven points while Costa Rica are second with six. But only one point separates third-placed Panama (four points) and table-proppers Honduras (three points).
A draw against Mexico on Tuesday can keep the Warriors close to the pack, even as United States surge up the standings. A win over Mexico could move Trinidad and Tobago to fourth.
Only three of the 14 players used by Lawrence tonight are playing regular competitive football at present while eight of them are in either post-season or pre-season. It will be hard for them to maintain tonight’s energy levels in four days’ time.
Bateau is available again and Lawrence might consider making another change or two to freshen his team up. The six-foot-seven coach did little wrong tonight and he will no doubt relish the challenge.
Three Points in the Bag!
Trinidad and Tobago secured its first three points with a deserving 1-0 victory over Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in CONCACAF Final World Cup qualifying on Friday night.
A 37th minute goal by Minnesota United forward Kevin Molino did the job for the hosts before the home fans in Port of Spain.
Losers of their first two matches in the six-team final round home-and-away qualifiers to Costa Rica (0-2) and Honduras (1-3), T&T took to the field under the guidance of Dennis Lawrence in search of a first win.
And from early on, the hosts, skippered by striker Kenwyne Jones, asserted themselves against the visitors, just as coach Lawrence hoped.
Early on it was all one-way traffic with Seattle Sounders utility player Joevin Jones firing a free-kick over bar from just outside the 18-yard box in the fourth minute, while nine minutes later, the Carenage-born danger man had Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo Cano at full stretch to tip over a scorching effort from a left sided shot that looked destined to sneak in the underside of the crossbar.
Panama managed to withstand the early pressure from T&T and on the half-hour mark created its best chance with striker Abdiel Arroyo heading wide of the target after being left unmarked in the Soca Warriors’ 18-yard box.
Urged on by coach Lawrence from the sidelines, Central defender Daneil Cyrus forced the ball up the centre of the field to Molino, who held off two challenges and from the edge of the 18-yard box, fired a low right-footed shot that nestled into the bottom right hand corner of the goal past Cano.
On the stroke of half-time Panama, who, like T&T, held the ball well in possession, had a chance to get on even terms from a free-kick. However, goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who up to that point was much busier with back passes from his team-mates, was equal to the task and parried away right-footed shot from Edgar Yoel Barcenas, with veteran right back Carlos Edwards on spot to head away the rebound for a corner.
The Panamanians started the second half in much brighter fashion and pinned T&T back for a few minutes, but the closest they came to a goal was a few wild flashes across the T&T penalty area which were easily dealt with.
At the other end, the lively Cordell Cato created a great chance for T&T to double its advantage in the 62nd, but after running almost 40 yards with the ball and finding a surging Molino, he could only fire into the body of Cano low down.
Four minutes later, Jones outran Panama captain and Last stopper Felipe Baloy.
However, he dragged a left-footed shot into the side netting. But that effort did not sum up a workman-like performance from the big man.
In the end, Molino’s strike was enough to secure T&T’s first three points in the final round on the road to Russia 2018, and a sure confidence booster ahead of Tuesday’s match against Mexico at the same venue from 7 pm, where coach Lawrence will look to add to his debut World Cup qualifying win.
Post Match Press Conference Lawrence speaks about the win
Post Match Reactions - Kenwyne Jones, Carlos Edwards and Mekeil Williams
Highlights - T&T defeats Panama 1-0 in World Cup Qualifier
Soca Warriors earned all 3 points.
By Alvin Corneal (Guardian).
After two matches in this competition, and three months of ultimate failure to cope with the needed quality of football to be played in the hexagonal, T&T has had the opportunity to see some level of improvement and a victory in game number three against Panama.
The expression of joy is obvious and was expected so long as the lads put their heads down and respond positively to their new Coach.
Even the statistics which emanated from the match, divulged that the percentage of ball possession of both teams saw the home country having two per cent more in the first half while Panama was three per cent more in the second half.
That statistic does not always make logical sense.
The Soca Warriors appeared to be directed to start the game from Keeper Jan Williams by using the wing defenders, just to ensure that they can begin a methodical possession and work their way towards the opportunity of using either Joevin Jones or Cordell Cato.
The ploy was impressive in the early stages and the tempo of the early minutes saw the effectiveness of the two speedsters.
It also caused Panama to follow suit with starting their possession game with their defense as well.
The principle was overdone and the possession game meant little for either one.
Thanks to Khaleem Hyland and Carlos Edwards for opening up passing options which included the use of Joevin on the left.
It was impressive and left the crowd with a feeling of methodical attacking from the flanks.
A few good chances came by because of this, and some penetrative opportunities through either side where Cato was also very assertive in his duties to discomfort the left wing back Quintero.
Two chances came by, the first with an attempted wall pass between Cato and Kevin Molino.
The Minnesota striker, who was enjoying the full use of the field with his mobility, failed to finish a half chance from within the penalty area.
Edwards was working well with a triangle that comprised Joevin and Kenwyne Jones.
The chemistry was attractive and effective.
The Panama defense may have been in panic mode for a while, seeing that their wing defenders Edgar Barcemas on the right and Quintero of the left were uncertain as to stop T&T flankers.
Then it came to fruition, when Hyland broke the slow methodical forward approach by our defense line and rushed forward, passing Olavve and Godoy before releasing an exquisite through pass into the pass of a diagonal run from Joevin and almost like clockwork, Molino started to plan for the third man running space just in time to stride into the path of Joevin’s pass.
The rest of his act was typical of his main area of strength.
He rushed towards a vacancy which was left by Armando Cooper, deceptively body shifted the main defender Torres and got enough space to hit his right footer clinically into the net. WOW.
The joys of the crowd brought an atmosphere which triggered off the teams as a whole, where skipper Kenywne was out jumping the Panamanian defenders and flicking diagonally backward to either Cato or Joevin.
It was attractive and gave a glimpse to the fans that there was more success for the Warriors.
A free kick just outside of the penalty area on a foul again Jones, brought an opportunity which may have excited both Hyland and the left footed J Jones.
Against the north easterly wind, my choice would have been hyland. But, who can deny Joevin a chance of sending his team further forward.
He did not, but sent the ball skyrocketing way overbar.
I have a concern that we used ten defenders in the penalty area defending our goal.
That’s a misjudgment, if only because, in the event of gaining possession by our players, there would have been no release players, causing the Panamanians to collect the ball and continue to place pressure in our half of the field.
Secondly, defending players, even seven of them with strong aerial capability should be trusted to win the battle of the crossed balls against a Panama which consist of two five footers and a reluctant keeper to leave the line.
As it is on two situations saw five Warriors awaiting crossed balls against one pint size Henriguez, in the first instant, and substitute Tejada in the other.
Unbelievably, on both occasion saw the opposition got their heads before all else.
However, As we say, “God is a Trini” and he saved the day.
The team was much more organised that we had seen in the recent past and gave the impression that better performances could be on the horizon.
Molino fires T&T past Panama.
By Joel Bailey (Newsday).
KEVIN MOLINO’S past indiscretions were soon forgotten with a 37th minute goal to help Trinidad and Tobago beat Panama 1-0 and gain their first points in the 2018 FIFA World Cup CONCACAF Final Round campaign in a combative encounter last evening at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.
With Panama central defender Roman Torres off the field after losing his left shoe in a tangle with T&T captain Kenwyne Jones, the T&T attackers took full advantage with Molino taking a pass from Joevin Jones on the left, moving into vacant space centrally and slotting a right-footer to the bottom righthand corner of Jaime Cano’s net. It was Molino’s first goal and match of the current hexagonal campaign after serving a two-game suspension under former coach Stephen Hart for breaking team curfew. He did not play during the short reign of Belgian Tom Saintfiet.
The final whistle from Honduras referee Orlando Matamoros brought huge relief to newly installed T&T coach Dennis Lawrence as he was embraced by his huge technical staff at the end of a tense affair.
Lawrence, making his debut as a coach in competitive international football, reverted to the core of the players who featured in the previous qualifiers under Hart.
However, with centre-back Sheldon Bateau suspended and his regular sidekick Carlyle Mitchell injured, Curtis Gonzales was partnered with Daneil Cyrus in the central defensive positions while veteran Carlos Edwards took up Cyrus’ regular spot at right-back.
Joevin Jones had the first goal-scoring opportunity, in the fifth minute, when he won a freekick outside the penalty box and took it himself, but the left-footed effort ailed a few metres overbar.
Panama had a chance to open the scoring in the 12th minute, as striker Abdiel Arroyo slipped behind the defence to meet a cross from Anibal Godoy, but his header went wide.
There was end-to-end action at that stage of the game, with Joevin Jones, who had Kenwyne Jones and Cordell Cato in the box, deciding to take on the goalie and his effort was brilliantly tipped overbar by the alert Cano.
The game went into a brief lull, but Torres’ misfortune was taken advantage of by the goal-bound Molino who lashed his shot low to the goalkeeper’s right.
Panama midfielder Edgar Barcenas had a chance to restore parity, at the stroke of halftime, after he was fouled by Khaleem Hyland but his effort was pushed wide by an alert Jan-Michael Williams.
Panama had the bulk of chances in the second half but they were let down by their lack of firepower in the final third and a well-organised T&T backline.
Barcenas had an effort parried by Jan-Michael in the 53rd while his volley went sky-high three minutes later.
In a rare attacking move, Cato muscled his way through the Panama defence and fed Molino whose effort was held low to his left by Cano.
The much-maligned Kenwyne Jones did well to race on to a long clearance by Hyland but, after leaving Panama stopper Felipe Baloy for dead, he chose the wrong option and struck the side-netting.
Molino was taken off in the 80th as a precautionary measure after a muscle injury and the TT team held firm, despite concerted pressure from the Panama attackers.
Trinidad and Tobago will now turn their attention towards Tuesday’s game against Mexico, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, while Panama will be hosting the United States, also on Tuesday.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: Jan-Michael Williams; Daneil Cyrus, Curtis Gonzales, Mekeil Williams, Carlos Edwards; Kevan George, Khaleem Hyland, Joevin Jones, Cordell Cato (Levi Garcia 64th), Kevin Molino (Hughtun Hector 80th); Kenwyne Jones (capt) (Jamille Boatswain 84th).
PANAMA: Jaime Cano; Roman Torres, Felipe Baloy (capt), Luis Ovalle, Aldolfo Machado (Michael Murillo 74th); Amilcar Henriquez, Armando Cooper, Edgar Barcenas (Gabriel Torres 64th), Alberto Medina (Luis Tejada 59th), Anibal Godoy; Abdiel Arroyo.