Trinidad and Tobago stretched their unbeaten run to seven matches but had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Haiti in their opening match of their 2012 Caribbean Cup Finals at the Antigua Recreation Ground, St John’s on Friday night.
The result left T&T tied on one point with the Haitians but trailing Dominican Republic who pulled off a surprised come from behind 2-1 win against the hosts Antigua/Barbuda in the evening’s second encounter.
The results left T&T in the race to secure a semi-final spot but also set up a gripping affair on Sunday as the “Soca Warriors” will need nothing less than a victory to take the pressure off while the hosts must win to stay alive in the competition.
Earning a point still turned out better than the 2-0 loss to Cuba in the 2012 Finals in Martinique and skipper Jan Michael Williams and company must still believe in the their chances of securing a place at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
T&T started with Vietnam-based Willis Plaza as the lone man up top with Kevin Molino in left midfield, Hughtun Hector on the right, Ataullah Guerra, Joevin Jones and Densill Theobald in the middle, with a back four of Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David and Daneil Cyrus.
Plaza, in his first start for T&T, had the first try at goal in the seventh minute but failed to connect to a low cross from the left by Joevin Jones. Guerra also missed a header from the six yard box following a free kick from 20 yards out.
Haiti took some time to find their stride and T&T saw more of the ball but failed to capitalize and seize the early initiative.
When Haiti did settle, they managed to create a couple dangerous opportunities, one by Peter Germain that was well hit but went over.
T&T were utilizing the sides of the pitch well and managed at least six good crosses into the box in the opening 45 minutes but no efforts on goal resulted to cause any trouble for goalkeeper Jhony Placide.
They had a scare just before half time when Fritznel Lois controlled and turned well only to direct his right footed effort wide of the left post from the centre of the penalty area.
Seven minutes into the second half Leonel St Preux forced Williams to save low on his left post as Haiti tried to break the deadlock.
Slovak-based winger Lester Peltier was introduced for T&T in the second half but had didn’t have much impact on the attack, managing a couple efforts that didn’t cause any problems for the opposition.
Hughtun Hector had T&T’s best attempt at goal in the second half when his powerful spank from the edge of the box forced Placide to push over bar.
Peltier should have done better when Jones slipped one to him just inside the area but he hurried off his shot which ended up behind the goal.
Haiti were not to be outdone and managed some decent openings but could not find a way through a solid T&T backline on the evening.
Co-head coach Hutson Charles was partly satisfied with the point but said he had hoped for a sharper showing from his troops.
“The game was a tough one. Tactically wise I thought we could have been better,” Charles told TTFF Media.
“I thought we should have made better use of our chances in the first half which could have put us in a better position as the match went on,” he added. “A point is not a bad result but I would have much preferred three points to start the tournament.”
He explained the reason behind opting to leave forwards Jamal Gay, Devorn Jorsling and Richard Roy on the bench.
“Tactically we prepared for Haiti and we thought this was the way to approach the game. We managed to create the chances but we didn’t put them away. We’ll review this as we head into the other match which we know we obviously need to win at this stage.”
T&T faces Antigua from 8pm on Sunday at the ARG.
T&T: - 1.Jan Michael Williams (capt), 2.Aubrey David, 3.Joevin Jones, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 7.Hughtun Hector, 8.Ataullah Guerra (11.Kevon Carter 73rd), 10.Kevin Molino (Yellow 23) (16.Keyon Edwards 81st), 14.Willis Plaza (12.Lester Peltier 46th) 17.Daneil Cyrus, 18.Densill Theobald, 20.Seon Power.
Unused Subs: – 21.Marvin Phillips, 6.Kareem Moses, 13.Richard Roy, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 15.Jamal Gay, 4.Curtis Gonzales.
Coaches: - Hutson Charles/Jamal Shabazz (T&T).
Haiti: - 1.Jhony Placide (capt), 2.Jn Sony Alcenat, 4.Peter Germain, 5.Meschack Jerome, 7.Fucien Brunel, 8.Judelin Aveska, 9.Leonel St Preux (17.Vaniel Surin 81st) 13.Constant Monuma (Yellow 24), 14.Pascal Millien (3.Garry Rubin 63rd), 18.Fritznel Lois, 20.Olrish Saurel (Yellow 90).
Coach: - Antonio Cantero (Cuba).
Attendance: - 150.
P W D L F A Pts
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Trinidad & Tobago 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Haiti 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Antigua & Barbuda 1 0 0 1 1 2 0
Referee: Valdin Ledgister (Jamaica).
Assistant 1: Kedlee Powell (Jamaica).
Assistant 2: Swason Owen (Cayman Islands).
Fourth Official: Kevin Thomas (Jamaica).
Hard match for T&T
Soca Warriors draw Caribbean Cup opener with Haiti
By Ian Prescott (Express).
Trinidad and Tobago have a history of hard football matches against Haiti. Friday's opening match of the 2012 Caribbean Cup was no different, the teams battling to a tough goalless draw at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG) here.
Still, the match produced more intense football than the Dominican Republic's surprise 2-1 win over the hosts, Antigua and Barbuda in the second match.
However, T&T's "Soca Warriors" will have to start winning tonight to advance to the second round. From 7pm, they face aging, limited Antigua and Barbuda who are on the brink of elimination and will thus fight for their lives before their home fans.
First match winners the Dominican Republic have a stiffer test against Haiti at 5 p.m.
"I think it will be very interesting because we have to come away with three points," T&T's joint head coach Jamaal Shabazz said of the Antigua match. "It wasn't a bad first outing, we just have to reorganise and come again."
On Friday, Haiti wanted victory as much as Trinidad and Tobago.
It was not always pretty. The match was initially played at a frenzied pace, with no one getting time to settle. Testing bounce made control particularly difficult and put any defender who allowed the ball to bounce in trouble.
"The game was a tough one. Tactically-wise I thought we could have been better," said head-coach No.1, Hutson Charles.
"I thought we should have made better use of our chances in the first half which could have put us in a better position as the match went on. A point is not a bad result, but I would have much preferred three points to start the tournament."
T&T started with the now regular 4-5-1 formation spearheaded by Vietnam-based striker Willis Plaza at the top, while Ataullah Guerra, Joevin Jones, Densill Theobald, Kevin Molino and Hughtun Hector made up the midfield five.
Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David and Daneil Cyrus were the back four, ahead of goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams. Slovakia-based Lester Peltier, Keyon Edwards and Kevon Carter also came on in the second half.
Central midfielder Theobald struggled with the initial pace of the game, was deliberately hassled, and lost a few of his passes. Hector also struggled with his first touch and did not always look committed to defending, while right-back Cyrus always looked vulnerable to Pascal Millien's runs up the flanks, and was sometimes also too willing to run forward.
T&T looked the better team in the first half, without putting away the couple chances they created , while Haiti did their best work early in the second session.
Midfielder Guerra should have scored Trinidad and Tobago's best chance, a free header in the 12th minute, but put Hector's cross to close to Haitian keeper Jhony Placide, who barely touched the ball wide.
Moments later, Plaza also missed from close-up, while Hector had a second half shot pushed over by the Haitian captain Placide, in the 60th after cutting atop the penalty area and shooting powerfully.
In the end, though, a draw seemed a fair result.