Hart: We proved ‘em wrong, “Everyone wrote this team off back at home”
Those were the post match comments made by Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart after his team got past Cuba 2-0 on Sunday at the University of Phoenix Stadium to secure its place in the quarter finals with a game in hand.The victory left the “Soca Warriors” atop Group C with a maximum six points, two points ahead of Mexico which could only muster a 0-0 draw with Guatemala in the second game of the double header at the indoor stadium which was filled to near capacity with some 63,000 fans in attendance.
The progress to the quarter finals was also the first time T&T reached the knockout stage with a game to spare in the group phase.
Hart stressed the importance of T&T advancing out of the group stage.
“I think it was important for us to qualify. No one gave us any chance back home … to even win a game. That’s what they were saying,” Hart said in the post match press conference.
“It’s important for the people, for the young players back at home, it’s important for our football. I cannot tell you how important it is for us to get to the quarter final. And I am very happy for these young players because they believed in me. I showed faith in them and they were rewarded tonight,” Hart added.
Hart, according to CONCACAF also became the second coach after Bruce Arena to qualify a team four times to the knockout phase. Arena guided the US while Hart did it twice with Canada and now T&T.
T&T started confidently and controlled the pace of the game from early on. Hart brought defender Mekeil Williams, Lester Peltier and Andre Boucaud into his starting team, allowing Khaleem Hyland, first game scorer Cordell Cato and Aubrey David to sit this one out at the start.
Similar to the 3-1 win over Guatemala, it didn’t take too long for T&T to draw first blood and it was Sheldon Bateau again who spurred Hart’s men on. A long ball into the box from Williams (M) was well met by Peltier but his effort was denied by Diosvelis Guerra and the ball fell into the path of Bateau who rammed home the rebound to push TT ahead in the 16th minute. It was the second goal in as many games for Bateau and he became the third player to score in successive games for T&T at the Gold Cup, following Arnold Dwarika in 2000 and Jerren Nixon in 1998.
Cuba, with 16 players available, had their good moments and didn’t look intent on lying down. Williams failed to clean up an Arial Martinez free kick and Radanfah Abu Bakr had to avert danger.
Just as Cuba appeared to be easing into stride, T&T doubled their advantage when a long throw from the right by Daneil Cyrus was not dealt with by the Cuban defence and Boucaud half volleyed with his right foot past a hapless Cuban custodian on 42 minutes.
T&T were comfortable at 2-0 but lost Williams who went down with a hamstring injury after advancing to make a stop and had to be replaced by Marvin Phillip.
The Cubans kept busy and looked capable of making a game out of it but T&T were stead and solid. There was nothing that would deny them on the evening. Jones was his usual busy self, giving a lot of effort and was unlucky with a couple goal attempts. Joevin Jones enjoyed another polished showing and while Ataulla Guerra is yet to find proper footing, he will be looking to pick up momentum.
Midfielder Kevan George was also strong in the midfield while the backline looked rock solid and didn’t allow the opposition much looks at goal.
T&T will be without Boucaud for the Mexico game on two yellow cards.
If T&T tops Group C after their encounter with Mexico on Wednesday in Charlotte, for the “quarters” they could end up facing either Haiti, Honduras or El Salvador in New Jersey on July 19th. A second place finish in the group could pit them against El Salvador or Costa Rica.
Results (Group C)
T&T 2 v Cuba 0
Mexico 0 v Guatemala 0
Trinidad and Tobago: - 21.Jan-Michael Williams (1.Marvin Phillip 44th); 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams, 14.Andre Boucaud (Yellow 28), 19.Kevan George, 3.Joevin Jones, 11.Ataullah Guerra (20.Keron Cummings 67th), 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (Yellow 51), 23.Lester Peltier (13.Cordell Cato 90th).
Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 7.Jonathan Glenn, 18.Yohance Marshall,8.Khaleem Hyland, 10.Willis Plaza, 12.Kadeem Corbin, 15.Dwane James, 16.Rundell Winchester
Coach: Stephen Hart.
Cuba: - 21.Diosvelis Guerra; 2.Andy Vaquero, 15.Adrian Diz Pe (Yellow 15), 6.Yaisnier Napoles, 5.Jorge Luis Clavelo; 8.Alberto Gomez (17.Liban Dairon Perez 68th); 3.Yenier Marquez (capt), 9.Maikel Reyes, 18.Daniel Luis (16.Hanier Dranguet 79th); 22.Alain Cervantes (7.Dario Suarez 61st), 10.Ariel Martinez (Yellow 65).
Unused substitutes: 1.Sandy Sanchez (GK), 14.Aricheel Hernandez, 4.Angel Horta, 13.Jorge Luis Corrales, 19.Yasmany Lopez, 23.Felix Guerra, 20.Armando Coroneaux.
Coach: Walter Rosales.
P W D L F A Pts
T&T 2 2 0 0 5 1 6
Mexico 2 1 1 0 6 0 4
Guatemala 2 0 1 1 1 3 1
Cuba 2 0 0 1 0 8 0
VIEW GAME HIGHLIGHTS
VIEW HART AT POST GAME PRESS CONFERENCE
VIEW POST MATCH REACTIONS FROM T&T PLAYERS
Trinidad defeats Cuba, advances to quarterfinals
GLENDALE, Arizona –Trinidad & Tobago (2-0-0, 6 points) sealed a spot in the knockout stage of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup with a 2-0 win over Cuba (0-0-2, 0 points) on Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Mexico (1-0-0, 3 points) can progress as well with a win against Guatemala (0-0-1, 0 points) in the second game of a Group C doubleheader later in the evening.
Sheldon Bateau and Andre Boucaud each scored in the first half for the Soca Warriors, who won consecutive games in the Gold Cup for the first time in 15 years.
Trinidad took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute, when Bateau hammered home from near the penalty spot. Cuba goalkeeper Diosvelis Guerra blocked Lester Peltier’s attempted 10-yard chip, but the ball fell to a charging Bateau for his second goal of the competition.
Boucaud doubled the advantage in the 43rd minute. The 30-year-old fired inside the right post with his right foot from 17-yards out after long throw-in into the box from the right side was headed in his direction by Cuba captain Yenier Marquez.
Cuba nearly halved the deficit just before halftime, but Maikel Reyes’ effort was saved by sliding goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who was injured on the play and was replaced by Marvin Phillip.
Scoring opportunities were at a premium in the second half as Trinidad closed out the match with only its second shutout in 25 all-time Gold Cup outings.
The Soca Warriors return to action on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they will face Mexico in a potential group-deciding showdown. Cuba will take on Guatemala in the first of the doubleheader.
NOTES: Sheldon Bateau became the first Trinidadian to score in two consecutive Gold Cup games since Arnold Dwarika in 2000.