23 Feb 2012
- Written by CONCACAF.com
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Soca Warriors became seventh team to win their opening CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier.
Trinidad & Tobago became the seventh team from the Confederation to win its first-ever World Cup qualifier after defeating visiting Suriname, 4-1, at the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain on February 7, 1965 (for England 1966).
The Soca Warriors joined Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States as CONCACAF sides to win a qualifying match on the first try.
Founded in 1908 and one of the oldest football federations in the CONCACAF region, the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) did not become a official member of FIFA until the 1964 Ordinary Congress in Tokyo, Japan.Already a CONCACAF member two years earlier, Trinidad & Tobago had already played a total of 90 international matches, winning 50, since its formation prior to its first World Cup qualifier.
"It was an historic time for Trinidad & Tobago as we had just earned our independence from being a English colony (in 1962) and the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation had just become a FIFA member so it was a great experience and joyful moment for all of us," said Alvin Corneal, who scored the Soca Warriors' game-winning goal on that significant day."We had a great expectation leading up to the match as we knew Suriname was a very strong team with many players coming from clubs in the Netherlands.
"We were able to prepare for the challenge by playing against several English clubs prior to the qualifier and our standard style of play enabled us to work well in dominating the match (against Suriname) in order to obtain a favorable result."
After forward Jeff Gellineau had opened the scoring for Trinidad & Tobago in the first 60 seconds of the Group 2 match (Corneal assisted), Siegfried Haltman leveled three minutes later for Suriname.
In the 28th minute, Corneal scored to the delight of a home crowd in excess of 32,000.
"I had been on the national team for the last 10 years so this was a special moment for me in front of such a large crowd of spectators to watch a football match at the Queen's Park Oval, which is normally a cricket stadium," remembered Corneal, an active FIFA Instructor and member of the FIFA, CONCACAF Technical Committees."Along with scoring the second goal for us, I assisted on the first and fourth."
After Andrew Aleong increased home-side's lead in the 38th minute, Corneal assisted on Aleong's second tally early in the second half, ensuring a Soca Warriors' victory.
Trinidad & Tobago's quest to reach the 1966 World Cup ended as it was eliminated from group play after losing its remaining three encounters.
"We didn't except to qualify or want to over shadow anyone," Corneal commented."We had a great experience competing and were fortunate win the first match, however, we had never been at a World Cup Qualifying match away from home and there were many different situations.
"As our coach (British Native - Conrad Brathwaite) at the time said 'away encounters are another cup of tea.'"
The Soca Warriors lost twice to Costa Rica (4-0 in San José; 1-0 in Port of Spain) and then were beaten in the return match against Suriname (6-1).
Corneal continued: "We had very difficult crowds and we especially learned a hard lesson of the usage of substitutions as we paid the penalty for it in both Costa Rica and Surinam, but we took the most positive from the experience out of them.
"In the return encounter against Costa Rica, we had another full house at the Queen's Park Oval as we controlled the game and I even missed a goal (just before Ticos scored the game-winner).Costa Rica was smart and maintained possession, while they took advantage of their opportunities as we didn't."
Two years later, Corneal joined eight other World Cup Qualifying teammates (Goalkeeper - Lincoln Phillips; DF - Tyrone De La Bastide; MD - Victor Gamaldo, Sedley Joseph; AT - Andrew Aleong, Gerry Browne, Jeff Gellineau, Pat Small) as the Soca Warriors competed in their first Pan American Games Men's Tournament in Winnipeg, Canada, where they won the bronze medal.
"The team took the learning experience from World Cup Qualifying and in our first appearance at the Pan American Games where we defeated Argentina (1-0) and Colombia (5-2) and later captured the bronze (defeated Canada 4-1), which to this day is the only medal Trinidad & Tobago has won in the Pan American Games."
Trinidad & Tobago would finally realize its FIFA World Cup dream, when it became the smallest nation to qualify for the event (Germany 2006) after winning a two-game playoff against Bahrain.
Trinidad & Tobago Roster - 1966 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying
GOALKEEPER: Lincoln Phillips
DEFENDERS: Clement Clarke, Tyrone De La Bastide, Aldwyn Fergusson
MIDFIELDERS: Ken Furlonge, Victor Gamaldo, Doyle Griffith, Sedley Joseph
FORWARDS: Andrew Aleong, Gerry Browne, Alvin Corneal, Jeff Gellineau, Pat Small, Bobby Sookram.
TD: Conrad BRATHWAITE
07.02.1965: Port of Spain, TRINIDAD & TOBAGO; Queen's Park Oval (A: 32072)
TRINIDAD & TOBAGO - SURINAME 4:1 (3:1)
Jeff GELLINEAU 1'; Alvin CORNEAL 28'; Andrew ALEONG 38', 46' - Siegfried HALTMAN 4'
TRI: Lincoln Phillips - Aldwyn Ferguson, Tyrone De La Bastide, Clement Clarke, Doyle Griffith, Sedley Joseph, Ken Furlonge, Andrew Aleong, Jeff Gellineau, Pat Small, Alvin Corneal.
TD: Conrad BRATHWAITE
SUR: Henk Scotsborg - Frederik Pique, Armand Sahadewsing, Ewald Sion, Raimundo Elliot, Stanley Krenten, Augustino Plein, Jules Lagadeau, Gerrit Otwald Niekoop, Siegfried Haltman, Harold Reumel.
TD: A. KADORVEEN
Ref: Theodorus KOETSIER (ANT)