THE big guns of Caribbean football — Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica — shot their way into Sunday's Shell Caribbean Cup final with sweet semi-final victories at the National Stadium last night.
Trinidad and Tobago, the defending champions, benefitted from goals by midfield genius Russell Latapy (two), and Philbert Jones to awake Guyana from their sweet dreams with a 3-1 win; while Paul "Tegat" Davis and Roderick Reid netted again for Jamaica to beat
Both teams have now qualified for the eight-nation CONCACAF Gold Cup competition, set for next month in Los Angeles, California.
Davis, who joined Latapy at the top of the goalscoring list with five, gave the 10,000 spectators a lot to cheer about by curling a ball over goalkeeper Kevin Abernaty's head in the 16th minute.
Midfielder Winston Anglin sent a long ball to the prolific striker and he made no mistake from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Davis failed to show for the second half because of a thigh injury, but substitute striker Walter Boyd, in tandem with Reid, kept the St. Lucia defence busy.
Two two were to figure in Jamaica's second goal, with Boyd heading a bouncing ball on to Reid who braced himself and chipped over Abernaty's head in the 88th minute. The custodian got a hand to it, but the ball had enough power to carry on into the goal.
Shell Caribbean Cup
Hector Wright and Wayne Palmer were outstanding in the Jamaican midfield, Anglin lifted his game in that position and the return of captain Anthony Corbett seemingly solved some of the team's defensive problems.
In the first game, Latapy struck in the 4th and 82nd minutes, and Jones in the 2nd minute, for the champions, who were reaching their third straight final, while Linden Laing got Guyana's goal in the 20th minute.
Jones opened the scoring by bringing off a spectacular header from a left-side cross by Marvin Faustin, while Latapy followed up by ramming a hard left-footer past goalie Phillip Carrington to make things look easy for the twin-island republic.
Guyana fought back strongly despite the early setbacks and grabbed a goal when Nigel Massiah raced down the left wing and crossed for Laing to do the rest. Trinidad however bounced back strongly and set things straight when Jones darted away on the right wing, pushed in the center to Latapy who beat Carrington with a low shot to his right.
The Trinidad and Tobago attack still lacked power up front and top striker Leonson Lewis failed again to take the field because of his ankle injury.