|Trinidad & Tobago||Cuba|
|Aurtis Whitley (12')|
|2003-11-19||Hasely Crawford Stadium||Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago||8000|
Fast start does trick for Warriors
|Trinidad and Tobagos national senior football team took advantage of a
fast start and held off a late surge by Cuba to win their friendly
encounter 2-1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium yeterday.Heavy showers had subsided leaving a wet field that the Cubans had
trouble adjusting to in a match that was curtailed to 80 minutes after
a slightly late start.|
In the first game of a doubleheader- the preface to the Olympic second leg qualifing match between the T&T and Grenada Under-23s, a sharp-starting T&T outfit benefitted from breakdowns in the Cuban play, while managing some crisp passing to open up the visitors backline.
T&Ts five man midfield, part of an attacking formation that featured Aurtis Whitley, Nigel Pierre and Cornell Glen up front, effectively pressured their Cuban counterparts in the middle of the park. This unsettled the visitors first half game.
That T&T trio of forwards, with their strength on the ball and speed off it, gave the Spanish-speaking Caribbean oiutfit lots of work when the red-white-and-blacks chose the right flank as their preferred choice of advancing the ball goalward.
But their opening item came from some incisive passing down the centre after 12 minutes.
After the Cuban defence bungled possession ten metres in their half, linkman Trent Noel threaded a pass to Pierre, five metres outside the D. With his back to the goal, the stocky striker flicked on a back heel into the path of Whitley, who first beat the Cuban rearguard with his well-timed run, before side-footing to the left of goalkeeper Odelin Molina.
It was a well-worked move by coach Stuart Charles-Fevriers team that caught the Cubans off guard.
The Cubans could not muster a response, their influential midfielder Yulier Escalona being effectively clamped down by the crowd of active T&T midfielders.
And when the visitors failed to come successfully out of defence near the quarter hour mark, Glen was found wide on the right flank and cureld a cross into the centre that the opponents defender Alexander Cruzata headed inadvertently home with Pierre inches away from making contact himself: 2-0.
The Cubans began hanging their shoulders and bickering with each other.
But their Lester More, one part of a three-pronged attack that included Hector Ramirez and the skilful Alain Cervants, should have pulled one back in the dying minutes of the first half when Yulier Oliveras well-weighted curling free-kick picked him out. More managed to get minimal contact with his head before the ball trickled safely past the far post and the byline.
But a stern talking to by coach Humberto Martinez during the interval and a substitution that introduced talented frontman Maikel Galindo, gave them a goal back, when Galino deftly glanced a header from a left-side cross two minutes after the break.
Through their improved play, featuring well-worked interchanging passes and hard, diagonal running, Galindo came the close to an equaliser after an Escalona through ball produced a swinging kick by Galindo in the six-metre box which saw goalkeeper Kelvin Jack parry onto the post.
Frustrated by their impotence in the second half, the Cubans tried to bait the T&T players. Whitley fell prey to one of their taunts and received a caution for his reaction. But the Soca Warriors held their nerve to secure the win.
|Keyeno Thomas (capt.)|
|0'||Jerren Nixon for Cornell Glen|
|0'||Kevin Jeffrey for Aurtis Whitley|
|0'||Bevon Lewis for Nigel Pierre|