Trinidad and Tobago put themselves in an all too familiar position of late, having to score an outright victory in their final round encounter to ensure any chance of advancing in a World qualifying tournament.
This was the scenario after T&T’s Under 20 Men’s team suffered a 3-0 beating to Suriname in their second Caribbean Football Union Group 4 qualifier at Victoria Park on Friday night.
The result, coupled with St Vincent/Grenadines 3-1 defeat of Guyana on the same evening means that both teams still have a realistic chance of advancing to the CFU final round in November and will both come out with all guns blazing when they meet in Sunday’s final match from 7:30pm in Kingstown.
Suriname currently tops the group with six points and are almost certain to advance as group winners while St Vincent (three points) are ahead of third placed T&T (three points) on goal difference and Guyana holds the cellar spot.
A victory for either T&T or St Vincent will push them to six points and a place in the finals as one of the three best second placed teams in the four CFU groups. Same time a draw for St Vincent will see them finish the group in second spot ahead of T&T on goal difference.
Puerto Rico is already guaranteed one of the runners up places with seven points while Dominican Republic is next in the running with five points. The other group in Antigua is currently being contested.
T&T’s display was lethargic for much of the 90 minutes and a far cry from their showing in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Guyana. Suriname were a better organized team but certainly not superior to T&T which is going after a third Under 20 World Cup qualification after reaching the Finals in 1991 and 2009.
The win though could be seen by the Dutch-speaking men as some form of avenging their humiliating 9-1 defeat to T&T's Under 23s in Olympic qualifying last year.
On Friday night Suriname got their opening goal in the 33rd minute when Eduard Rahi headed home on the far post from close range after his captain Nibte Mervill swung the ball over from the left edge of the six yard box.
T&T would then fall behind 2-0 when goalkeeper Quesi Weston was adjudged to have pulled down Rahi as both players chased after a ball played in from the left by Blatz Terrence. Apai Yekini stepped up to convert the penalty with ease to Weston’s left.
That goal led to T&T dropping their shoulders as they struggled to mount decent attacks on the opposition goal. The Surinamese defence stood their ground and kept T&T at bay throughout.
And as T&T tried desperately to find a way through, Yekini found open space and notched his second goal to put the game beyond T&T. He struck a right footer into the top left corner of the net past a hapless Weston in the 76th minute.
T&T’s pace of play remained at one level for much of the affair, lacking any kind of urgency until they conceded their third goal. Only then they seemed to realize that a positive result was slipping away from their reach. Suriname knew at that stage that they just needed to keep their cool and the three points would be theirs.
Midfielder Jomal Williams had T&T’s best try at goal moments before Suriname got their third item, seeing his shot come off the top of the cross bar after substitute Shackiel Henry laid the ball on.
Williams who scored the opening goal against Guyana was however a shadow of himself and Duane Muckette was unable to stamp his authority on T&T’s midfield play as Suriname maintained their discipline and gave T&T little room to play.
Akeem Garcia replaced Williams eight minutes from the end and Kye West also got a run, coming on for Marcus Gomez who also struggled to find his footing in the middle of the park for the 57 minutes he was on for. Lone starting forward Dwight Quintero didn’t manage a good sniff at goal and was also replaced by Henry in the second half.
Muckette helped guide the previous Under 17 through the Caribbean stage with ease last time around but he knows that anything other than an outright win on Sunday will send his Under 20 team packing long before they get to Mexico next year for the CONCACAF final round.
T&T: – 20.Quesi Weston; 2.Anthony Charles, 3.Alvin Jones, 5.Damani Richards, 6.Adan Noel, 7.Neil Benjamin, 8.Duane Muckette (capt), 9.Dwight Quintero (17.Shackiel Henry 68th), socawarriors.net, 10.Jomal Williams (14.Akeem Garcia 82nd), 11.Xavier Rajpaul, 19.Marcus Gomez (18.Kye West 57th).
Coach: - Ross Russell.
Suriname: - Delano Stella; Purcy de Baas, Albert Nibte, Miquel Darson, Ivanildo Misidjan, Raynel Gambier (Celten Olt 61st), Sergino Rahi Eduard, Bruce Diporedjo, Viola Bodji (Saverio Gazon 78th), Giovanni Terrence Blatz (Arzinio Poina 68th), Dimitrie Yekini Apai.
Coach: - Imro Sleur.
Referee: - Leon Clarke (St Lucia).
Attendance: - 300.
GP W T L GF GA GD Pts
Suriname 2 2 0 0 4 0 +4 6
St. Vincent 2 1 0 1 3 2 +1 3
Trinidad & Tobago 2 1 0 1 2 4 -2 3
Guyana 2 0 0 2 2 5 -3 0