Warriors survive to fight another day
Trinidad and Tobago men's national football team has booked a place in the semi-final stage of the 2012 Caribbean Cup after scraping past the Dominican Republic 2-1 at the Antigua Recreation Ground, St John's Antigua.
However, despite beating the Spanish speaking Caribbean island, T&T had to wait for the match between Haiti and Antigua to finish before they could celebrate. And with the Haitians getting the better of the host 1-0 it guaranteed T&T a place alongside Haiti in the semi-final stage of the Caribbean Cup and a place in next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup in July.
Defence Force winger Kevon Carter opened the scoring for T&T in the 14th minute of the game. Carter made a good run down the right flank and took a weak shot at goal which bounce of the DR keeper awkwardly and went into the back of the net that gave T&T a 1-0 lead.
Dominican Republic refused to lay down as they increased their pace and kept pressuring T&T, that had some good moments as well, but was lucky not to have concede a goal before going into the break.
Identical to the game against Antigua, within 7 minutes of the restart the Dominican Republic team equalised through Kelvin Rodríguez to tie up the score. This gave them hope as a draw would have sent them through.
Surprisingly, Dominican Republic looked a bit more fluid in their attack and piled on the pressure while T&T had a few good moments especially from their midfield, but they still did not look too confident with the ball especially in the final third of the field.
T&T strikers are yet to score a goal in the tournament and with the ineffectiveness of using one striker, this made it worst for the Warriors. Not the mention the desperate long balls, which made the affair a bit frustrating to watch especially if you are a T&T fan. Dominican Republic meanwhile, looked the part as they were the more organised team for longer periods of the game.
Former W Connection striker Jonathan Frías was a constant threat to T&T and had it not been for Jan-Michael Williams heroics, the Dominican Republic could have scored a few goals.
Later on in the second half T&T started to build momentum and pressed for the winner which eventually came in the 71st minute via substitute Kevin Molino. The number 10 tapped in a rebound after Curtis Gonzales powerful shot from outside the area was parried away by former W Connection goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd.
Ataullah Guerra also came close to scoring with a rocket of a shot that crashed off the woodwork and Keyon Edwards also muffed an excellent opportunity to seal the win. In the last 10 minutes of the game T&T started to play like true Warriors and stepped up the tempo, but they could not find the back of the net and held on to win the game 2-1.
The Soca Warriors will now have to wait and see who they will face from Group B which will be concluded tomorrow. The semi-final games are schedule to kickoff December 14th.
Meanwhile, T&T has not qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup since 2007. They also hold the record for the most Caribbean titles (8th). Will the Warriors bring home the 2012 trophy and its 9th title? Only time will tell. French Guiana is one of the surprise packages of the tournament thus far, while Martinique and Jamaica are capable candidates as well.
Trinidad & Tobago: - 1.Jan-Michael Williams (capt); 17.Daneil Cyrus, 20.Seon Power, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 2.Aubrey David (Yellow 40); 4.Curtis Gonzales (Yellow 78), 18.Densill Theobald, 11.Kevon Carter (Yellow 28) (10.Kevin Molino 66th), 8.Ataullah Guerra (18.Keyon Edwards 81st), 3.Joevin Jones, 9.Devorn Jorsling (14.Willis Plaza 71st).
Coach: - Jamal Shabazz & Hutson Charles (TRI).
Dominican Republic: - Miguel Lloyd; César García, César Ledesm, Hansley Martinez, Eduardo Acevedo, Heinz Barmettler, Rafael Leonardo (Carlos Martinez 71st), Kelvin Rodríguez, Pedro Nuñez (Erick Azuna 62nd), Jonathan Faña Frias, Domingo Peralta (Yellow 33) (Jimmy Reyes 73rd).
Coach: - Clemente Hernández (Cuba).
Referee: - Kevin Thomas (Jamaica).
P W D L F A Pts
Haiti 3 2 1 0 3 1 7
Trinidad & Tobago 3 1 1 1 2 3 4
Antigua & Barbuda 3 1 0 2 3 3 3
Dominican Republic 3 1 0 2 4 5 3
Trinidad squeezes past Dominican Republic.
Trinidad & Tobago staved off elimination and did what was necessary to stay alive in the finals of Caribbean Cup, defeating the Dominican Republic 2-1 on Tuesday at the Antigua Recreation Ground.
The result moved the Soca Warriors into a temporary share of first-place tie on four points in Group A with Haiti, which will face host Antigua and Barbuda later in the evening.
A Haitian win will eliminate Antigua and ensure that Trinidad qualifies for its first CONCACAF Gold Cup since 2007, as well as advance to the Caribbean semifinals.
Trinidad took a 14th minute lead, when Kevon Carter's shot was initially saved by Dominican goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd. The ball, though, took an awkward bounce and rolled into the net.
It was the third straight game that the Dominican Republic fell behind first, a distressing problem that would haunt it on this occasion, especially with so much at stake.
Knowing that it needed at least a draw to have any hope of progressing, the Dominicans went on the offensive. The more urgent play almost paid dividends in the 36th minute, but a goal by Kerbi Rodriguez was disallowed for offside.
A minute later, a shot from point-blank range by the prolific Jonathan Faña Frias was well saved by Trinidadian goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams.
The equalizer would finally come seven minutes after the break. Faña Frias somehow managed to square the ball back into play from an acute angle at the end line to Rodriguez, who hit it past Williams. It was Rodriguez's second goal of the finals.
That moment of hope was short lived. Lloyd saved a thunderbolt of a shot from Curtis Gonzales, but he could not hold on and the rebound was spilled towards substitute Kevin Molino. The 22-year-old took advantage of the 71st minute error to hammer the ball into the back of the net for the game winner.
After being shutout for 194 minutes in the tournament, Trinidad managed to put two goals past the Dominican Republic, which was officially eliminated.
T&T seals first Gold Cup qualification since 2007.
By Shaun Fuentes (TTFF).
Trinidad and Tobago secured its first qualification for the CONCACAF Gold Cup since 2007 through a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dominican Republic coupled with Haiti’s 1-0 win over Antigua/Barbuda in their closing group matches in the 2012 Caribbean Cup Finals at the Antigua Recreation Ground in St John’s.
There were huge scenes of relief and celebration in the T&T camp when the final whistle was blown to end Haiti’s fixture as a 19th minute goal by Jean-Philippe Peguero proved to be one of the deciding factors in T&T’s passage to the semi-finals.
In the earlier game which kicked off under blistering heat at 5pm, Kevon Carter netted in the 19th minute to put T&T 1-0 ahead and Kevin Molino came off the bench to grab the winner in the 71st minute. The final Group A table read Haiti on top with six points with T&T second on four and Antigua and Dominican Republic on three each.
“It was a victory we worked really hard for and then we had to sit and also play the second game from in the stands. Both games were dog fights. We took care of our job in the first game and then we were actually defending the Haitian goal from the stands,” Co-head coach Jamal Shabazz told TTFF Media.
“This is what the Almighty had in store for us and the victory and the qualification is not just for this tournament but for everything that the staff, the players and football fraternity has gone through in the past few years. We will move on and grow from this. Our ultimate goal was to qualify for the Gold Cup and we have achieved that.
“We will go into the semi-finals and give it our best shot and try to bring the Cup back to Trinidad and Tobago but we have to be realistic about where our football is at the moment and not expect miracles over a short space of time. This is a work in progress,” he added.
Skipper Jan Michael Williams was just as elated, saying “I’m happy moreso because of what this means for our football because we’ve been down for some time. Failing to advance in the World Cup qualifiers was a major blow and I was part of the squad that missed out on two successive Gold Cups.
But I also played in the 2007 Gold Cup so I know what the experience is like and I’m pleased that these guys can now experience that because it’s a major step for us in our attempt to climb the football ladder again.”
T&T started the game with the changes from the one that lost to Antigua on Sunday with Devorn Jorsling, Curtis Gonzales and Kevon Carter coming into the mix. Those changes worked as Molino coming off the bench proved critical as well. Gonzales started at right back but switched to central midfield and Cyrus moved back into a more defensive role after starting on the left flank.
The game saw a purposeful start from T&T, knowing fully well that a win was required but Dominican Republic proved to be a much improved side from the one that lost 9-0 to T&T in 2008 and they gave the “Soca Warriors” a run for their money on the evening.
Carter put T&T ahead with an effort which goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd couldn’t hold onto. T&T lost their momentum after the go ahead item and Dominican Republic began to take control, maintaining possession and offering a lot going forward against a T&T team desperate to hold onto their advantage.
Jonathan Frias was a threat in attack and his ex-W Connection teammate Jan-Michael Williams would do well to deny him on two occasions, one being near the end of the game when anything other than a fine stop by Williams could have seen T&T’s chances blown away.
Frias did have an assist on the equalizer in the 52nd minute when his cross was connected with by Kerbi Rodriguez.
T&T had to lift their game and the introduction of Molino brought some life into the attack. Keyon Edwards was introduced to assist Densill Theobald in the midfield while Willis Plaza also came on.
The eight-time champions would get their vital winner when Gonzales had a crack at goal and Molino ran on to stab home the rebound after Lloyd’s partial stop.
T&T had a couple more opportunities to kill off their opponents, one being an attempt by Ataullah Guerra which crashed off the woodwork and then another by Edwards which he directed high and wide.
Players of both T&T and Haiti celebrated together after the game as the Haitians were happy to have gotten one over their Antiguan opponents which knocked them out of the 2014 World Cup race.
Additionally, Haiti’s 2-1 win over T&T in the 1974 World Cup qualifier remains a much told tale, now at least both results on Sunday night will be a refreshing addition to the T&T archives.