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Hero Sean DeSilvaTrinidad and Tobago opened their 2009 CONCACAF Men's Under-20 Championship on Saturday with a hard fought 1-0 victory over Canada at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Trinidad.

 The score was a in a deadlock until the 82nd minute when Sean De Silva scored the decisive goal. The first half started with the young Warriors applying early pressure. The first minute of the game saw a low pass to Trent Lougheed only for the striker to control the ball instead of shooting which gave Canada the chance to recover and win the ball back.

Speedy Vancouver Whitecaps striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu had a shot on goal in the 12th minute for Canada that went wide. Two minutes later the host got it's turn on goal a good chance after a shot rebounded off a Canadian defender. The follow-up shot, however, was sent wide of goal.

Canada's Marcus Haber was booked in the 17th minute which resulted for a free kick for T&T but the host could only get it's resulting free kick as far as the Canadian wall. As the first half progressed, both sides made some good attacking runs but it would be T&T who came closest to scoring again as Trent Loughleed had Canadian goalkeeper Adam Street of English Premiership club West Ham United out of his area to make a diving stop to deny the T&T marksman. Another English based player in Shaun Saiko of Middlesbrough had a long free kick that sailed over bar in the 34th minute for Canada.

The second booking of the game came in the 30th minute this time San Juan Jabloteh's Robert Primus was on the receiving end. Canada had a sequence of attack but could not get on the score sheet. Late in the half, Trinidad & Tobago had its turn to get the home crowd on their feet. Canada could only count themselves lucky as Qian Grosvenor could only direct his shot wide of the goal post. Trinidad & Tobago broke through the Canadian defence again after skipper Leston Paul made some in-roads, Paul got the final pass to Qian Grosvenor but once again the striker fired his shot wide.

In the second half, it was much of the same with neither side taking full control of the match. Both sides had their chances, though, starting with Trinidad & Tobago in the 55th minute as the hosts danced into the Canadian box. German based defender Eddy Sidra of Energie Cottbus FC was beat for a moment, but he recaptured his feet and had the help of goalkeeper Adam Street who deflected the ball to a sweeping Adam Straith.

In the 56th minute, Trinidad & Tobago had another good run, but again the delivery was wide. A few minutes later, Edwini-Bonsu had a great run down the right side and into the box. He managed to get a centering shot from the line, but the ball snaked through to the opposing defender who cleared it well.

In the 67th minute, Canada took a quick throw in after a quick Edwini-Bonsu run down the left side. Canada turned the throw into a centering pass that Haber headed on net. The header was directed on goal, but the T&T goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel just managed to tip the ball over the net. On the ensuing corner kick, some defensive confusion nearly led to a Canadian goal, but the ball was cleared out of danger.

In the 72nd minute, Trinidad & Tobago tried to create some danger with a free kick around the wall, but goalkeeper Adam Street was there to take away the chance from T&T danger-man and captain Leston Paul. A minute later Canada had a free kick, but it still did nothing to change the score.

Finally in the 82nd minute, Trinidad & Tobago found the net after a Philippe Davies caution one minute earlier. Sean De Silva blasted the shot to the right of the Canadian wall and into the top corner of the net, leaving goalkeeper Street with no chance on the play.

Canada went right back at the Trinidad & Tobago goal and nearly scored in the following minute. Unfortunately, the team would have less than 10 minutes to find an equalising goal, a goal that just wasn't to come on the opening night of the competition. The final whistle blew and the young Warriors walked off the field with their heads held high.

Canada's coach Tony Fonseca told (canadasoccer.com) "'We move on'. 'There is a game in two days and then another one after that. We are still in the game. So for us, we forget about this 1-0 loss and we move on.'

T&T got it's revenge. The last time both teams met at this level Canada walked away winners after defeating T&T (2-0) in a 2001 U-21 Olympic Qualifier at the Marvin Lee Stadium on March 28, 2000.

Anton Corneal was the man in-charged of that unit which field talents such as Brent Sancho, Keyeno Thomas, Travis Mulraine, Jason Scotland, Richard Goddard, Brent Rahim, Anton Pierre, Stephan David, Carlos Edwards, Hector Sam and Errol McFarlane to name a few.

This time though, T&T will walk away victorious and all credit to head coach Zoran Vranes and his troops, even with star striker Jamal Gay being absent. The German based and T&T's only foreign based player on the squad pulled up with an hamstring strain in training last Wednesday.

In the earlier game Costa Rica beat Mexico by the same scoreline (1-0), a 38th minute goal by Josue Martinez  was enough for Costa Rica. Table toppers T&T and Costa Rica will clash with each other next (19:00) while Canada will entertain the Mexicans (17:00) at the same venue.

Tomorrow's games will see Jamaica take on El Salvador (16:00) and Group A leaders USA tackle Honduras (18:00) at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Tobago.

The Soca Warriors are seeking their second trip to the U-20 World Cup and first since 1991 when both Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago went through. The top two teams will advance to the semifinals and earn berths in the U-20 World Cup in Egypt September 24-October 16.

T&T Line-Up: - 1.Glenroy Samuel, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 3.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Nicholas Walker, 12.Robert Primus, 5.Akeem Adams, 19.Daneil Cyrus (16.Marcus Joseph 83rd), 6.Leston Paul (capt), 8.Sean De Silva, 20.Qian Grosvenor (10.Daniel Joseph 61st), 11.Trent Lougheed (15.Uriah Bentick 87th).

 

Canada Line-Up: - 1.Adam Street, 2.Eddie Sidra, 3.Alex Surprenant (19.Teal Bunbury 84th), 5.Adam Straith, 6.Phillipe Davies, 7.Shaun Saiko (12.Brando Bonifacio 46th), 9.Marcus Haber, 10.Kennedy Owushu-Ansah (16.Kyle Porter 62nd), 14.Derek Gaudet, 17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu.

 

GROUP A

P  W  L  D  F  A  P

USA - 1  1  0  0  3  0  3
SLV - 1  0  0  1  2  2  1
HON - 1  0  0  1  2  2  1
JAM - 1  0  1  0  0  3  0

GROUP B

P  W  L  D  F  A  P

TRI - 1  1  0  0  1  0  3
CRC - 1  1  0  0  1  0  3
CAN - 1  0  1  0  0  1  0
MEX - 1  0  1  0  0  1  0


Sean starts home team on right foot
By Lasana Liburd (T&T Express)


A touch of quality from 19-year-old Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Sean de Silva capped a performance brimming with initiative and endeavour for the national youth team as they edged Canada 1-0 on Saturday in CONCACAF Under-20 Championship action at the Marvin Lee Stadium, Macoya.

The hosts tackle a more formidable Costa Rican outfit today at the same venue-Canada play Mexico in the preceding fixture-but can at least be grateful for the morale-boosting opening win.

De Silva was the hero on the weekend as he beat Canadian goalkeeper Adam Street with an accurate, close-range free kick in the 82nd minute to send a packed, appreciative audience into delirium.

"The original idea was to whip it (towards the) far post," said de Silva, in the post-game press conference. "But I saw where the goalkeeper was standing up and realised I had an opportunity (to go to goal)."

Graeme Souness, former Liverpool and Scotland star, once suggested that, when play is stopped, bad players switch off while good players look for the "dope". And De Silva certainly found one.

Street, in retrospect, might have demanded more cover than a three-man wall while he was drawn like a magnet to the mass of bodies at his far post and failed to spot the danger posed by a direct shot until too late. In the end, he could not even muster a consolation dive at De Silva's goalbound effort.

More analytical spectators on Saturday might ask themselves whether the late triumph off a set piece was the inevitable conclusion of a dominant performance or a reprieve after a blunt offensive showing. There was more evidence to suggest that the former submission held true.

"You never win a game unless you beat the guy in front of you," said late American football coach Vince Lombardi, who is regularly quoted by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson. "The score on the board doesn't mean a thing. That's for the fans."

The Young Warriors won individual battles all over the turf on Saturday and they eventually added up. De Silva, apart from his free kick, stood out through his probing delivery from either foot and clever movement on and off the ball. But he was not the only success story.

Team captain and De Silva's creative midfield partner, Leston Paul, gave an encouraging display of thought and energy. The senior "Soca Warriors" are allegedly short on midfield maestros at present but it will surely not be the case for the 2014 World Cup campaign.

At left wing back, Akeem Adams' assured performance-in attack and defence-showed why senior coach Francisco Maturana was so excited by his discovery before a few untimely injuries saw him disappear from the radar.

Utility player Sheldon Bateau was solid at right wing back, while goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel did everything required.

The villains of the piece for much of the evening were further upfield where Trinidad and Tobago's strikers were as indecisive as ladies in a shoe store.

They tried walking the ball into the back of the net, shooting early, using the inside of their boots and then the outside, but nothing went in for Trent Lougheed and Qian Grosvenor.

"It is not a bad player who misses chances," said national youth coach Zoran Vranes, "but (the bad player is) the player who is not getting chances."

Yet, for all his positive spin, Vranes could not help but mourn the absence of Germany-based striker Jamal Gay who watched on from the stands after being ruled out with a hamstring injury.

"We miss (Gay) very badly," said Vranes. "He is our main scorer and he can also (hold up) the ball and bring players into the game and make us more comfortable."

Without Gay, Vranes was left with a handful of attackers with similar attributes. Lougheed and Grosvenor are fast, industrious and skillful but on Saturday-as in their warm-up matches in Tobago-they lacked the necessary polish and nerve to finish plays at the business end of the field.

If Vranes' strikers failed to put a mediocre pre-tournament showing behind them, it was not contagious. Fast, aggressive and direct, the Young Warriors, as their coach promised, were a touch more patient and fluid in their approach play at Macoya than was the case in Bacolet and Plymouth. There was more cunning from the hosts, too. Just ask De Silva.


Young Warriors sniff World Cup spot.
By: Ian Prescott (Express).


Trinidad and Tobago's Under-20 team can book a World Cup spot with victory over Costa Rica tonight (7 p.m.) at the Marvin Lee Stadium (MLS), Macoya.

The Young Warriors opened the CONCACAF U-20 Championship with a 1-0 triumph over Canada and now face Saturday's other winners, Costa Rica, who defeated Mexico by a similar 1-0 margin.

A victory will ensure either team a place at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup, to be played in Egypt from September 25-October 16.

Two nights ago, Trinidad and Tobago looked capable of putting half-dozen goals past a Canadian team for the first time in many years, but in the end got just one.

Midfielder Sean De Silva brought relief rather than elation to the MLS in the 82nd minute, when he swerved a near-post free-kick around Canada's three-man wall, fooling goalkeeper Adam Street, who was anticipating a cross to the far corner.

Before that, the Young Warriors had carved Canada apart without showing the one characteristic of great teams--the ability to finish clinically.

But that is hardly new to T&T football. As far back as the 1983 U17 CONCACAF Final, Russell "The Little Magician" Latapy, Clint Marcelle and "Marvellous" Marvin Faustin ran rings around the USA , but still ended up losing the final 5-3 on penalties and missing out on the lone World Cup spot available back then.

One of just two T&T youth teams to reach a CONCACAF final match, the other being Dwight Yorke's 1990 squad, the 1983 line-up is probably still the most talented age-group team produced by this country.

On Saturday, coach Zoran Vranes' hard-running squad, drawn mostly from the 2007 U-17 World Cup team, showed great character to grind out a result despite the many misses. But how he would have loved to have the accuracy of German-based striker Jamal Gay, who is out of the series with a hamstring injury.

T&T's poor night in front of goal began as early as the first minute when striker Trent Lougheed wanted a touch too many from just four yards out and allowed Street the chance to smother the shot.

The Canadian keeper was a sitting duck when Sheldon Bateau's through ball found Lougheed deep in the penalty area, but he recovered quickly once the striker failed to guide the ball past him with his first touch.

Before the half ended, Lougheed again slipped the ball wide from close up between two defenders after a terrific run from captain Leston Paul up the flank. And within a minute, the other striker, Qian Grosvenor, left the Canadian defenders behind, poked the ball past the advancing keeper, and then saw it roll agonisingly wide. What frustration.

Like coach Vranes, T&T fans at the packed venue were holding their heads in disbelief.

Canada had two half-chances throughout the match. Adam Straith turned the ball wide with a glancing header from Shaun Saiko's 35th minute free-kick and, in the 60th, Derek Gaudet gave T&T a scare when arriving menacingly at the back post, but his shot was blocked.

Early in the second half, Grosvenor had two more quick misses. The St Anthony's College striker appeared to have won a penalty in the 55th minute when he left two defenders up the left flank and appeared to be cut down from behind. Even as the referee was dismissing his claim, Grosvenor sprung up and still got off a tame shot which was cleared off the line.

A minute later, Daneil Cyrus picked out Grosvenor with a through ball. Almost with too much time to think, the pacy striker slowed, turned the ball onto his right foot and still guided his low shot marginally wide.

De Silva eventually won the game with his well-taken free-kick, but there was still time for substitute striker Daniel Joseph to take the ball into the penalty area and miss the far post. It was that kind of night. But, hopefully, the Young Warriors will do better in front of goal against Costa Rica tonight.