12 Oct 2006
- Written by Touches
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I arrived at 5:45pm, and was greeted by a fairly large crowd. However this crowd was comprised mainly of secondary school children, loitering around the gates and entrance to the stadium.
The same two gates were open and after proceeding through the turnstile I headed up to the WN spot and met the crew. All the usual suspects were present and accounted for, and they were all bored and disappointed at the spectacle on the field. Trinidad and Tobago under 20 were playing Barbados under 20 and apparently our under 20 side has plenty licks to get unless a significant improvement is made. The players looked awkward, lacked technique, body size and cohesion. But our opponents were no better, in fact a comment was made that our under 17 team would beat both these teams easily.
My highlight of this game came when the TT forward took a ball, waltzed through the heart of the Bimshire defence beat the keeper and while walking towards an open goal decided to “gallery” heself lil bit and do a roly poly on the goal line. However his piece of skill was appreciated by all and sundry including the Panamanian players warming up in the grassed area behind the goal.
This game finished a bit late and before the under 20 players walked off the field the TT senior team were on the pitch doing their warm-up drills. The Panama team had already warmed up behind the goal and retreated to the dressing room. TT’s warm up was the same…starting 11 one side, subs another, keepers doing their routine. Shuttles, carioca runs, stretching and small sided possession games the order of the day.
At this time Gilbert O Connor Jr. the WN regional rep and forumite Troy Piloy made the WN presence felt by hanging the WN banner “Blood, Sweat and Fete” on the stadium fence near the 18 yard line.
Anil Roberts announced the team line up and after the teams took the field we were asked to stand for His Excellency President Maxwell Richards to greet the teams and to present a commemorative award to Stern John on his 100th cap for TT. When Oliver Camps the TTFF representative was announced he was greeted to a barrage of Boos and comments of “pay the players dey money” from fans in the crowd.
The starting line up for TT was as follows:
TT playing a 4-4-2 formation
Williams in goal, a back four of Gray, Lawrence, Dwayne Jack from Tobago, and Avery John.
The Midfield was Samuel, Birchall, Trent Noel and Edwards, up front Kenywne Jones and Stern John who was given the captains armband for the match.
The game kicks off and for much of the 90 minutes Joga Bonita was not on display. It was a very forgettable game and was in stark contrast to the performance against St Vincent a few days earlier. What was apparent is that Dwight Yorke’s presence in the midfield is sorely missed. The leadership qualities, the control of the tempo of the game, his decisive passing and ball winning abilities were all missing and his replacement Trent Noel flattered to deceive. Noel and the other local player Jack were completely out of their league and the gap between local based and foreign based was quite glaring. They were unable to handle the pace and physical nature of the Panama players and Jack in particular had a very poor game causing many moments of panic in the back for keeper Williams. Poor clearances, selling guns, and some horrendous back passes to Williams under pressure did not endear him to the fans and from early the fans were calling for him and Noel to be subbed.
The referee and his assistants from Suriname were making some questionable calls. This week was world sight week and at half time hampers were given out by Ferreira’s Optical to fans. Both the ref and his assistants would have benefited from the contents of these hampers because at times many were trying to figure out what game they were watching. Some flagrant fouls, hand ball offenses, offside calls etc were missed and yet other petty infractions were called, the ref was consistent however in his handling of the game.
The first TT goal scoring opportunity came within the first 10 seconds of the game. The ball is touched off, some neat interplay between Birchall and Edwards on the wing, a bullet cross comes in, keeper flaps……….open goal…..and Stern arrives a second too late when it looked like he would open the scoring. This set the stadium tongues wagging. The Stern supporters led by Troy Piloy, defended their Champion, while the haters and skeptics alike….yours truly included, were not surprised and expected nothing less from our top scoring fwd.
TT were then lucky to not concede a goal and Jack and Lawrence had plenty problems in the back. Avery had a poor game by his standards, missing balls, giving away possession and Cyd looked like he was back to his Gold Cup days making some simple errors, to his credit however he tracked back well and recovered adequately whenever he messed up.
Williams time after time had to come off his line to make crucial clearances to thwart the Panamanian forwards, he is quick, speedy and has good foot skills and chest control. He was called more than once to handle a tricky back pass from Jack and he ran out and chested a few balls past lurking Panamanian forwards when he stepped out his area. His distribution is impeccable and he threw some balls the length of the field with pinpoint accuracy. He also has a good kicking technique and sprang a few counter attacks. In short an excellent prospect for the future and I prefer him to Kelvin Jack seems to have lost his place. Avery John also seems to have lost his place to Nigel Daniel.
The first goal came in the 33rd minute courtesy Kenwyne Jones. A back pass from the Panamanian stopper was intercepted. All credit must go to Jones for hustling the ball, and for his burst of speed…the boy is quick and he neatly toe poked the ball home leaving the poor keeper stranded.
TT then got a good spell of possession but the crisp passing, long balls, flank play and penetrative attack was not evident. Birchall was not supported by Noel and did not get any opportunities to shoot at goal. He only got one in the first half and it was collected in the face by a Panamanian defender.
The second goal came a few minutes later with some neat interplay on the left flank. Avery passed to ball to Stern who trapped screened. Spun on a dime and threaded a ball perfectly to Colin Samuel who made an overlapping run catching the Panamanian defence flat footed. 1 v 1 with the Keeper and Samuel showed his finishing skills. 2-0 TT and with the momentum in our favour we should have killed off the game. However the fellas started to slack orf, Panama shifted into second and third gear and a run up and cross later. A player out jumps Lawrence and Jack beats and knocks down Williams in the process, heads the ball and Goal…..score now 2-1.
At the half the WN crew unfurled the "Big Flag" and gave the fans a treat. Some fans were a little too overenthusiastic holding on to the flag and pulling on it when they were given instructions to simply "let it go"..... Anil Roberts gave us a bligh on the P.A. sytem as well as the Tassa Group that was providing the riddim.
That was basically it. The second half was devoid of action and the chances that fell to Stern in the 6 yard box all four or five of them were missed.
Jack was replaced by Atiba Charles, Kenwyne got kicked down and was replaced by Jason Scotland, Birchall was replaced by Nigel Daniel who played center midfield and Kerry Baptiste came in for Trent Noel.
Final score 2-1.
After the game the Warriors were presented a cheque by Dr. Iva Gloudon for $80,000 TT. This was the amount raised by the Warrior Appreciation fund given by the fans.
The team then waved to the fans and went down the tunnel.
I do not think that this team should be disbanded, there is potential and presently we have a complete product, all that is needed is fine tuning and the identification of a few replacements. It would be a shame if we have to start all over from scratch.
In terms of quality Williams is definitely one for the future and Nigel Daniel. The rest are not up to mark and if we are to make 2010, the rest of the locals have to step up Big Time.
I do hope the matter with Jack, the players and the TTFF is resolved and our team remains intact.
Until next time.