A 45th minute goal by Kenwyne Jones led Trinidad and Tobago to a 1-0 victory in their opening match of the Second round of World Cup qualification for Brazil 2014.
The goal came just at the right time to boost the “Soca Warriors” before their home fans at the Hasely Crawford Stadium as the visitors once again proved to be less than difficult but yet hard to break opponents for the Otto Pfister’s men in a World Cup qualifier. Guyana defeated Barbados 2-0 in Georgetown in the other Group encounter on Friday night.
In what was not exactly a polished performance, T&T went close to scoring on a number of occasions, with an effort by defender Seon Power crashing off the crossbar and another by Darryl Roberts which hit the underside of the crossbar and appeared to have gone over the line but was not given as T&T tried to gain momentum in the first half under sweltering mid afternoon heat in Port of Spain.
Acting President Mr Timothy Hamel Smith, Prime Minister Mrs Kamla Persad Bissessar and Sports Minister Mr Anil Roberts braved the blistering sun to meet both teams before kick off of a match where T&T set out to reverse the result of a 2008 World Cup qualifier
Pfister went with Stern John and Jones up front with Roberts on the left and Hayden Tinto on the right, Chris Birchall and Khaleem Hyland in the centre of the park and Seon Power, Julius James, Carlos Edwards and Anthony Wolfe as the back four.
He subsequently replaced Hyland with Keon Daniel before half time and introduced Lester Peltier in place of John and Clyde Leon for Jones in the second half.
From as the early as the second minute Jones combined with John and the former Birmingham City man saw his shot go over bar from atop the box and as the tassa drumming rolled off a minute later, T&T looked like a team eager to break the deadlock from early.
Birchall had a harmless effort wide and Roberts had a crack blocked by the defender in the space of a minute. Then on eleven minutes, from a Tinto right side corner, Power went sliding in only to see his effort come back off the woodwork.
Warner made his first stop in the 27th when Hyland lost possession and Tyrell Burgess decided to have a go at goal.
The humidity appeared to be working against some of T&T’s players and the hosts were unable to take control of proceedings as there was an evident lack of chemistry as the half progressed.
Goalkeeper Anthony Warner also had a couple nervous moments but T&T still kept the Bermudan attack at bay and labored on in search of the opening item.
Roberts went for power from close range and saw his attempt crash off the underside of the bar and back into play and soon after Jones’ glancing header from an Edwards cross forced a superb save from Frederick Hall, pushing away to his left.
Roberts then turned provider with a left side delivery that Jones coolly headed down past ‘keeper for a 1-0 T&T lead.
Bermuda’s Nahki Wells had a header saved by Warner in the 50th but T&T held off most of Bermuda’s attempts to mount threatening attacks. Jones had a surging run on the right flank before his cross was claimed by Hall before Roberts could connect.
John too went close when he collected and tried to lob the ‘keeper only to see the ball ended going up and over the goal. The game was also a relatively clean one with Panamanian referee Jafeth Perea Amador not having to issue any cards.
Three points on what promises to be an arduous Road To Brazil for T&T but certainly one the ‘Warriors’ are capable of completing. Next up, Barbados in Bridgetown on Tuesday.
Trinidad and Tobago: - 21.Anthony Warner, 6.Julius James, 7.Christopher Birchall, 8.Khaleem Hyland (19.Keon Daniel 36th), 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (2.Clyde Leon 82nd), 10.Hayden Tinto, 11.Carlos Edwards, 12.Darryl Roberts, 14.Stern John (13.Lester Peltier 52nd), 17.Anthony Wolfe, 20.Seon Power.
Subs: - 1.Marvin Phillip, 3.Jake Thomson, 4.Akeem Adams, 5.Andre Boucaud.
Coach: - Otto Pfister.
Bermuda: - 1.Frederick Hall, 2.Seion Darrell, 3.Kamen Tucker, 4.Roger Lee, 5.Devrae Tankard (16.Damon King 62nd), 6.Reginald Thompson-Lambe (Yellow), 7.Taurean Manders, 8.Deavaun Degrapp, 9.Nahki Wells (18.Zeiko Lewis 77th), 10.Khano Smith (capt), 11.Tyrell Burgess (23.Lashon Dill 62nd).
Subs: - 12.Tahj-Michael Bell, 14.Quadir Maynard, 15.Angelo Simmons, 17.Jason Davis.
Coach: - Devarr Boyles.
Attendance: - 5,000
Referee: - Jafeth Perea (Panama).
Skipper Khano: We must build on our performance.
By Derek Dechabert (The Royal Gazette).
He believed Bermuda were unfortunate not come away a point against a Trinidad team packed with professional experience.
He was particularly impressed with Bermuda’s defending for managing to frustrate the hosts for long periods.
“The team played very well, obviously Trinidad have more experienced players in the international arena than us, but I couldn’t be more proud to captain a side,” said the 30-year-old.
“The guys showed the right attitude and mind-frame to be competitive.
“We played well, covered well for each other, and overall played for each other. It was a good performance and we can look to get a result in the next match.
“They couldn’t break us down and resorted to the long ball and playing Kenwyne Jones in over the top because our shape was good. They tried that the last time we played them, but this time they managed to nick a goal after we lost concentration just before the half.
“Going into the second half we didn’t know what to expect because we were using different tactics to try and get the second goal, but we stuck to our guns and in the end it’s okay to go into the next match off the back of this, although it’s a loss.”
The side assembled by head coach Devarr Boyles yesterday was one of the youngest Smith has played in, with the former New England Revolution man pleasantly surprised with how well the newcomers acquitted themselves. “We have a talented group so we will only get better as we go on,” he said. “When you look at this side we have 17-year-olds as well as experienced international players.
“We are all familiar with Trinidad, especially me, but this time around we had a bunch of younger new guys in the side as well as a few guys that were here a few years back, so we knew what to expect from them and we made it difficult for them again.”
Other than a few games for the Bermuda Hogges this summer, Smith hasn’t played regular football since being released by the Revolution at the end of last season. And he admitted towards the end of the game his lack of match action showed.
“I started cramping up with about 20 minutes to go, so for precautionary measures I played in defence so I didn’t have to do that much running in the final moments,” Smith said.
Smith has urged his team-mates to build on yesterday’s encouraging performance and claim all three points when they take on Guyana in their second Group B qualifier on Tuesday.
“Playing the favourites (Trinidad) on the road in the first game is good because it’s the hardest game.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t get the right result, but we can move on from and hopefully get the job done against Guyana.”