Tomorrow will mark five years since T&T played its first senior World Cup match against Sweden in Dortmund, Germany at the 2006 World Cup finals.
The Soca Warriors shocked the globe and won admirers worldwide with their passion-filled and courageous showing against the much fancied Swedes. Thousands waved T&T flags and danced in the streets, both in Dortmund and in T&T, while several nationals around the world joined in the euphoria.
ESPN described the result as one of the biggest shockers in World Cup history and after the opening set of matches, rated T&T’s performance as the best among all teams with 28 per cent, ahead of Germany (23 per cent), Ivory Coast (18 per cent) and Argentina and Ecuador each on 15 per cent rounding off the top five.
“Nothing can compare to that feeling after making our debut in a World Cup. Even more thrilling was the result,” said Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones recently.
Cornell Glen’s bullet rocked the crossbar shortly after he was introduced by Leo Beenhakker following the early second half ejection of Avery John. “I can still see the ball coming off the bar like if it was only yesterday. Who knows how crazy things would have gotten if that ball went in,” Glen said.
“It was definitely a point of a lifetime for us,” added striker Stern John. Prior to the match, Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic said: “We’re looking forward to the match against Trinidad and Tobago. Leo Beenhakker was a past coach of mine so I’m really looking forward to the match.
The most important thing for us when we meet Trinidad and Tobago is to get our game together and play how we usually play. We need to do what we are best at, that is good defending and good attacking play."
In the end, 62,959 fans witnessed T&T spoil the Swedes’ party and causing a Carnival-like fete in Dortmund like never before. Shaka Hislop and company were truly outstanding and captain Dwight Yorke won the Man of the Match award.
“We know we should have lost to Sweden, on paper. But football is not played on paper; it’s played on a pitch with grass in the real world, and anything can happen out there,” Beenhakker said afterwards. “Isn’t it great when something crazy works?
We’re trying to hold on, so I should bring on a defender, but I bring on a speedy striker instead and let the other team chase him around. I just love it when things like that work!” added the Dutch mastermind.
Since then there have been calls for Beenhakker to be inducted into the T&T Hall of Fame by those who worked closely with him during his time in T&T.
It took T&T 16 years to get to within one point in 1989, following the 1973 campaign and then another 16 to arrive in Germany via Bahrain in 2005. It’s surely should be everyone’s hope that the number of years will be cut by half before T&T’s next World Cup qualification—this time in 2013 ahead of Brazil the following year.