Home team Trinidad & Tobago proved why they are the most successful team in regional football with a three goal burst in 19 minutes en route to a close 3-2 win (video) over upstarts Antigua & Barbuda in Group H Stage 2 action of the Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC) at the Marvin Lee Stadium on Wednesday night.
Watched by a large home crowd, which included the Tassa Drummers and the Brass and Rhythm sections blurting out many of T&T’s Soca hits, the Soca Warriors continued their good run of form which rolled over from the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign with another victory.
Lots of credit must be given to Antigua & Barbuda though, for taking the fight to the Trini team for the most part. The Twin Island Republic’s experience and patience eventually carrying them to victory as Antigua cracked under pressure.
Trinidad looked very shaky in the first half, with the visitors showing that they were out to prove that they can match the levels of their Twin Island counterparts and they did an excellent job of taking the fight to the Soca Warriors.
Antigua could have opened the scoring in the 10th minute if they had capitalised on a blunder committed by T&T goal keeper Marvin Phillip, who failed to gather the ball which bounced over his head, but the defense was in the right place at the right time. T&T responded almost immediately when a powerfully struck shot by Cornell Glen grazed the cross bar.
But it was not long before the Antiguans were rewarded for dominating their opponents. In a triangle play, Justine Cochrane picked up the ball deep in T&T’s half, passed it to his captain George Dublin who in turn laid it onto Peter Byers for him to head home past the advancing Phillip in the 24th minute, a shocking lead which silenced the home crowd.
The tall and sturdy built Antiguans continued to grow in confidence and were out hustling the Soca Warriors.
T&T were not giving up though, and on the few occasions when they got into striking range, solid work at the back by the Antiguans nullified those attempts.
One could have sensed that the home team never expected the kind of challenge they were receiving from Antigua & Barbuda. This was confirmed when T&T Head Coach, Fransisco Maturana, was forced to make a double change five minutes before half time. Anthony Wolfe and Aurtis Whitley made way for Scott Sealy and veteran Arnold Dwarika.
The remaining minutes in the half did not present much time for the subs to get going but the move had started to show some change in the attack of the home team.
The break served as a good respite for the players as the first half action was intense. But the second half saw a different approach from the Soca Warriors who began to assert themselves, urged on by their supporters.
Antigua & Barbuda began to lose focus while T&T started to take control. Sixty-nine (69) minutes into the game, Cornell Glen pulled them level, heading the ball past Keita De Castro in goal for Antigua & Barbuda.
The equaliser brought new life into Trinidad’s play and Antigua were not able to settle as four minutes later, substitute Dwarika, also known as the magician, worked his magic for T&T’s second goal and the lead.
Sensing that the Antiguans were cracking under the steady pressure, the home team brought on fresh legs in the 78th minute, Andre Toussaint replacing Glenn upfront to loud cheers from the crowd.
Toussaint did not disappoint his fans and team at all. Two minutes to full time, the nippy forward worked his way to the top of the box, was cornered by two defenders, but saw that he had enough space to shoot the ball past the flat footed De Castro.
That goal had a dagger like effect on the Antiguans who were now under pressure to curtail the flow of goals.
They were able to tuck in another for good measure in the final minute of added on time (90+2) compliments of substitute Randolph Burton who was introduced in the 84th minute, but it was too late for a comeback. The win takes Trinidad to the top of the points table on 3 with Guyana and St. Kitts & Nevis tied in second with one each.
Trinidad and Tobago: 21.Marvin Phillip, 2.Clyde Leon, 4.Makan Hislop, 5.Keyeno Thomas, 6.Khaleem Hyland, 7.Anthony Wolfe (11.Scott Sealy 40th), 9.Aurtis Whitley (capt) (15.Arnold Dwarika 40th), 13.Cornell Glen (10.Andre Toussaint 78th), 16.Seon Power, 17.Aklie Edwards, 19.Keon Daniel.
Subs: 1.Glenroy Samuel, 3.Avery John, 8.Cyd Gray, 14.Julius James.
Antigua & Barbuda: 1.Keita De Castro, 17.George Dublin (capt), 2.Ranja Christian, 3.Brian Samuel, 5.Garfield Gonsalves (12.Randolph Burton 84th), 6.Damien Farrell, 7.Gason Gregory, 9.Roy Gregory, 14.Mikele Leigertwood, 15.Justin Cochrane (13.Lennon Julian 74th), 16.Peter Byers.
Subs: 4.Karanja Mack, 10.Desmond Bleau, 18.Javid Joseph.
Referee: Antonius Pinas (Suriname).
Trinidad & Tobago v Antigua & Barbuda
3 Goals Scored 2
10 Shots on Target 6
4 Shots off Target 3
11 Fouls Commited 12
9 Corners 3
4 Offsides 6
3 Yellow Cards 1
0 Red Cards 0
Warriors win 3-2 in Caribbean Cup qualifier.
By: Ian Prescott (Express).
After Barack Obama won the United States presidential election to become the first African-American to hold the top office, tiny Antigua-Barbuda might have believed anything was possible on Wednesday night when they faced the overwhelming task of trying to defeat Trinidad and Tobago in their Digicel Caribbean Championships (DCC) Group H qualifier at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.
Exactly how do politics tie in with Caribbean football? Well, it's about dreams.
Antigua-Barbuda had suffered six defeats in seven meetings with T&T, including huge 11-1 (1972) and 7-0 (1992) setbacks. But when they last met in a 2005 friendly in St John's, the home team came away improbable 2-1 victors.
However, while Obama's success was still a hot topic on Wednesday, Antigua-Barbuda's campaign to earn a first victory over the Soca Warriors in competition fell just short.
Trinidad and Tobago ran out grateful 3-2 winners, but grossly under-performed and were trailing for 67 minutes, before rallying in the second half to win the match.
The same Antigua-Barbuda team had struggled against the National Under-20s a week ago, coming from two goals down to earn a draw, before going down 4-1 to a Tobago XI in their final pre-tournament warm-up.
The lethargic showing by T&T's senior footballers left their Colombian head coach Francisco Maturana in sarcastic mood when asked to explain an early double change he made when introducing 35-year-old veteran midfielder Arnold Dwarika for captain Aurtis Whitley, and also bringing on USA-based striker Scott Sealy for Anthony Wolfe after just 39 minutes.
"In the first 30 minutes, I could have taken off all 11 players," Maturana declared. "There was definitely no rhythm. The first game is always difficult in a competition like this, that is why the victory is always important. I like to win...but not in any way and for me, personally, it seem the team is not how I want it."
Still, the victory put T&Tatop the group after Guyana and St Kitts-Nevis drew 1-1 in the opening match of the series. Another win over St Kitts-Nevis today at the Marvin Lee Stadium will seal Trinidad and Tobago's qualification for the eight-team Digicel Caribbean Championship Finals to be played in Jamaica from December 3-14.
On Wednesday, Maturana gave recently injured defender Seon Power and Whitley some match time, at the expense of World Cup defenders Cyd Gray and Avery John.
Antigua-Barbuda looked heading for a heavy defeat early on, but after a handful of missed chances, mainly from striker Cornell Glen and Wolfe, the Soca Warriors were behind as early as the 23rd minute. Striker Peter "Biggie" Byers gave the visitors the lead, when outpacing the defenders and heading the ball past goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
For long periods, Trinidad and Tobago' s football looked aimless, while the Antiguan tactic was to play long balls for Byers to chase.
Mikele Leigertwood also scored, but from an offside position, and ten minutes into the second half Justin Cochrine crashed a powerful shot off the T&T crossbar.
Eventually, Glen pulled the hosts level at 1-1 in the 67th when powerfully heading home Keon Daniel's cross, then Daniel's throughball gave T&T a second goal in the 72nd when Dwarika hit low past Antiguan keeper Keita De Castro.
Another substitute, Andre Toussaint, then made it 3-1 in the 88th minute, with a piece of trickery followed by a low shot to the far post. But, T&T's shaky defence leaked another goal in added-on-time, allowing substitute striker Randolph Burton to score from six yards. Coach Maturana will expect a better showing this evening.