Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 footballers tried for all their worth but it was all in vain as they bowed out of the race for the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championship despite a 1-0 win over Jamaica in the second leg of a playoff tie at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium on Thursday.
Matthew Bartholomew’s 32nd minute item separated the teams but Jamaica advanced 2-1 on aggregate. And T&T had only themselves for not enough penetration in attack nor better finishing on goal.
Just like they did in the first leg, missing openings in the first half particularly, T&T again left it till too late.
Jamaica actually had the first chance at goal when Ricardo Cousins forced Adrian Foncette into action with a shot from the right inside the second minute. But T&T showed their intentions too, with Silas Spann’s right side cross being plucked out of a crowed box in the 3rd minute.
Playing a 3-4-3 formation as opposed to a 4-4-2 in the first leg, T&T looked more purposeful in attack, dominating play on the left side but they would hardly create any clear cut chances until the midway point of the half. And the Jamaicans enjoyed that, as they too seemed willing to just play a solid defensive game and hope to punish T&T when on the backfoot.
Radanfah Abu Bakr came closest to opening the scoring when his header from a left side corner was headed out on the goal line by Eric Vernan with the goalie in no man’s land.
The 1,200 odd fans who showed up were far from a vocal spurring on type as the 20 or so Jamaicans on hand could easily be heard unless T&T threatened to score as only then the home fans raise their voices. The lone flag swaying in the main stand was also a Jamaican one.
But the T&T faithful then had reason for the loudest chair. A well worked build up on the left of the box saw Aaron Downing slip to Stefan St Louis on the right of the six yard and his chip got a faint touch from goalie Dwayne Kerr but Bartholomew was there to head in almost on the goal line.
Though the conditions were heavy and made worse by a downpour in the latter part of the half, T&T still suffered from improper first touches and occasion concentration lapses and were fortunate to escape punishment for it.
Downing had a near miss before the break when his glancing header went wide from a left side cross by Javed Mohammed.
With the second half on the way, both teams tried to push on in their play but the continuing rain didn’t make the conditions any easier and the physical strain started to show.
Still T&T managed to have a good go in attempt of getting the desperately needed second goal.
Jamaica made three changes inside the first 15 minutes of the half and had to keep their game intact at the back to avoid conceding further.
On 58 minutes, Bartholomew could have moved further inward on the left instead of hurrying a shot off which went straight to the goalie. And then on 71 minutes, Stefan St Louis collected a good diagonal ball into the box and swung his effort inches over bar to bring the fans to their feet.
Jamaican Watford striker Joel Grant was the difference between the two teams in Sunday’s first leg with his double but this time around he never dominated his opposing numbers.
In the 66th minute after being blatantly elbowed in the face by a Jamaican player as he ran towards the loose ball, T&T’s Khaleem Hyland was instead yellow carded by Guyanese referee Roy Douglas McArthur and only because the “Reggae Boy” also fell to the ground clutching his face. Even though McArthur was behind the play which occurred near the half line, the T&T assistant referee Joseph Taylor who had front view of the challenge never raised his flag to alert McArthur.
Kerr then dropped a left side corned only for St Louis’ shot on the loose ball to be blocked by a defender in the 76th and soon after a Downing squared quickly for Bartholomew but he couldn’t connect on the run.
With time running out, Williams pushed Abu Bakr into attack and brought Khaleem Hyland back as T&T pressed for more. But then came the time wasting tricks of the Jamaicans. On 83 minutes, goalie Kerr went down and stayed down for no less than five minutes. There was confirmation after than he didn’t even sustain any blow and it was evident as at no time during the stoppage did sub-keeper Dwayne Miller get off the bench to warm up. Eventually, Guyanese referee Roy Douglas McArthur indicated to his fourth official to put up seven minutes as added on time. But even in that time, nothing would go T&T’s way. After being hacked down, Abu Bakr himself free kick forced a save from Kerr and a scrambled second stop having to hurry over to push the ball out at the left post as it trickled goalwards. Soon after that save, Miller went down for a few more minutes only to be back on his feet to brilliantly tip over another Abu Bakr free kick and then McArthur blew it off as Jamaica scrambled the ball away as appeals followed by T&T for what appeared to be a hand ball inside the penalty box by a Jamaican. T&T team doctor Terrence Babwah later indicated that it appeared that Kerr suffered a panic attack and had to be taken to hospital. Even as players of both teams clashed briefly upon the final whistle in the Jamaican penalty box, goodwill seemed the outcome but only an end result that forces T&T out of the race for Canada 2007.
T&T: – 1.Adrian Foncette, 4.Corneal Thomas (3.Marvin James 62nd), 13.Larry Bacchus, 5.Radanfah Abu Bakr (capt), 6.Silas Spann, 7.Khaleem Hyland, 8.Keon Daniel, 9.Stefan St Louis (18.Carlyle Mitchell 80th), 10.Matthew Bartholomew, 11.Aaron Downing, 15.Javed Mohammed (19.Christon Thomas 70th).
Subs not played – 21.Kareem Gray, 16.Stefan DeLas, 12.Atulla Guerra, 14.Elton John.
Jamaica: – 1.Dwayne Kerr, 4.Joel Senior, 7.Ricardo Cousins (18.Draion McNain 49th), 8.Nicholas Beckett, 9.Eric Vernan, 10.James Thomas, 12.Keammar Daley (3.Andre Fagan 60th), 16.Edward Campbell (11.Dwayne Smith 65th), 17.Troy Smith, 19.Joel Grant, 20.Montrose Phinns.
Subs not used – 5.Normal Bailey, 22.Tremaine Stewart, 23.Michael Binns, 1.Dwayne Miller.
T&T lose Jamaican 'war'.
U-20s win Manny Ramjohn battle.
By: Lasana Liburd (Trinidad Express).
Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team captain Radanfah Abu Bakr strained his neck to look around Jamaica's defensive wall and almost willed his stoppage time free kick into the back of the opposing net.
The ball squirmed from the grasp of Jamaica goalkeeper Dwayne Kerr and rolled goalward before the tall custodian regained his bearings and dove backwards to turn the sphere around the post for a corner kick.
On Thursday night, Kerr's recovery may have been the difference between the English-speaking Caribbean's most dominant football teams as Jamaica held on for a 2-1 goal aggregate win over the young "Soca Warriors" at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella. "I thought (my free kick) was in and we were back on level terms," said Abu Bakr, after the match. "I was sure we would go on to win from that point."
Trinidad and Tobago won the match 1-0 but lost the war. Jamaica , who managed a 2-0 triumph in the first leg meeting at Harbour View, now advance to next January's CONCACAF Under-20 finals in Mexico.
The fate of the home team is less certain.
Coach Brian Williams recommended that the core of the squad be kept together to form a base for next year's 2008 Olympic qualifying tournament and the 2010 World Cup campaign.
Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) general secretary Richard Groden might see that as a reasonable request considering his threat to replace disgruntled senior players with youth for the South Africa campaign. But the local organising body has not been in sync with its coaches in recent times.
Williams felt the desperation of Thursday's playoff battle against Jamaica might have been avoided with better preparation and, yesterday, team captain Abu Bakr agreed.
"We are a better bunch of players than our performances showed," said the business management student at London 's Kingston University. "We should have surely gone further but I don't think it is the fault of the players or the coaches. It was the time we had."
If Abu Bakr and Williams were merely seeking to excuse their inadequacies, the T&TFF left a door open by selecting coaches with barely six weeks to spare before the opening qualifying round.
The entire technical staff comprised of Williams (head coach), Frank Rodriguez (manager), Hutson Charles (assistant coach), Ross Russell (goalkeeper coach), Wayne Lawson (physio/ trainer) and Osmond O'Brien (equipment manager). None, a T&TFF source alleged, received a letter of appointment or reimbursement for time or travel over the past three months.
On Thursday, the young Warriors spent two hours in traffic en route to the Marabella ground from camp at Woodbrook's Caribbean Villas-one of several inconveniences faced in their short time together. But it did not seem to inhibit the teenaged squad at kick off. Earlier in the campaign, Williams was obligated to use the 4-4-2 system favoured by the senior national team coaches so as to ensure the smooth transition of players through the ranks.
Desperate times require appropriate measures and Williams convinced his superiors to back the 3-4-3 formation that he prefers at his Pro League club, United Petrotrin. Thirty-two minutes into the contest, it reaped is first dividend as Matthews Bartholomew put the hosts ahead after Kerr failed to gather a Stefan St Louis effort.
Bartholomew scored twice in October when Trinidad and Tobago successfully chased a three-goal win over St Vincent and the Grenadines and the 1,200 supporters who showed up pleaded for an encore.
"The support was fantastic," said Abu Bakr. "It still was not the (big) numbers we wanted but it was a high intensity match and they really give us the extra push."
The Jamaicans fought back with appreciable build-up play, which combined pace and patience. But key Boyz midfielder Joel Senior had too many defensive duties to venture forward while star striker Joel Grant, who scored twice in the first leg, was contained although not completely shackled.
Twice, in regulation time, it seemed that the Jamaicans were forced into potentially catastrophic errors. Substitute Dwayne Smith flung an elbow at Warriors midfielder Khaleem Hyland in the 66th minute but although Guyanese referee Roy Douglas McArthur spotted the infringement, he deemed a yellow card sufficient punishment while the hosts screamed for red.
Four minutes later, Senior knocked Silas Spann over in the Jamaican box and his nervous glance at McArthur spoke volumes. The referee put the whistle to his lips but could not summon the nerve to blow.
McArthur's popularity decreased further still in stoppage time as Kerr took a liking to lying on his back and counting stars while Jamaica's medical staff attended to him and Trinidad and Tobago players hopped around in frustration.
Abu Bakr was convinced that the Jamaican goalkeeper was faking injury and begged McArthur to force a substitution without success. Worse, the official told the Warriors that they would get no extra time despite Kerr's antics.
"I asked him if we could get additional time to make up (for the time lost to Kerr's treatment)," said the six foot two defender. "But he said that there could be no additional time to additional time. I asked him if the goalkeeper just stayed on his back for the entire seven minutes (of stoppage) would he just blow off the game after." Abu Bakr almost beat Kerr from a 22-yard free kick while there was a hopeful penalty shout as well but Jamaica held on for an aggregate win.
At the final whistle, the T&T players seemed keen to offer Kerr some therapy as coaches and officials rushed to separate the feuding youths. Still, the home team received warm applause for their efforts while Williams cooed over a fine performance.
" Jamaica was our toughest opponent," said the coach, an ex-national standout. "I think we put on a good team effort and really showed grit and understanding of the situation." It was not enough to sustain their Under-20 World Cup aspirations, though. "We are a World Cup team now and (opposing) teams are going to be coming for us," said Abu Bakr. "No matter how talented we are as individuals, preparation is so important." The T&TFF have been warned.
T&T robbed of stoppage time.
Ex-W/Cup ref backs Warriors chief.
By: Lasana Liburd (Trinidad Express).
Trinidad and Tobago national football team captain Radanfah Abu Bakr and coach Brian Williams felt that Guyanese referee Roy Douglas McArthur should have given the hosts additional time because of time wasting in Thursday's 2007 Under-20 World Cup qualifier against Jamaica.
Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Kerr spent large portions of the second half on his back receiving treatment and ate away much of the awarded seven minutes of stoppage time in the same manner at the Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
The young "Soca Warriors" won 1-0 but lost 2-1 on goal aggregate and were eliminated for the Under-20 World Cup qualifying tournament.
Kerr's antics incensed the young "Soca Warriors" and almost sparked a full-scale brawl between the teams after the final whistle when the hosts threatened to exact revenge. McArthur might have defused the situation when Abu Bakr pleaded for justice during stoppage time but allegedly informed the 19-year-old defender that additional time could not be increased under any circumstance.
"I asked him if we could get additional time to make up (for the time lost to Kerr's treatment)," Abu Bakr told the Trinidad Express. "But he said that there could be no additional time to additional time. I asked him if the goalkeeper just stayed on his back for the entire seven minutes (of stoppage) would he just blow off the game after."
Trinidad and Tobago referee Ramesh Ramdhan, who officiated at the 2002 World Cup co-hosted by Japan and Korea, said that, if Abu Bakr was correct in his recollection, the Concacaf official committed a grave error.
"He was very, very wrong," said Ramdhan, who was not present in Marabella but offered advice based on the team captain's interpretation. "If you felt that you needed to add seven minutes to the game and anything happens that causes more time to be lost, you have to add it on.
"You must give back to the game the time that it was deprived. That is the law of the game."
Coach Brian Williams was disappointed to go out and unhappy with Jamaica's tactics but still offered best wishes to the Caribbean rival.
"It was not the best (approach) for the game but the result was the most important thing," said Williams. "Jamaica has a good team I hope they give a good account of themselves in the Concacaf Under-20 finals."
Video Highlights of T&T v JAM (courtesy of schoolsoccernet.com).