|Panama||Trinidad & Tobago|
|Dwayne Jack (45')|
|2007-01-31||Estadío Rommel Fernandez||Panama City, Panama||5000|
Panama upset warriors
|PANAMA got their first victory over Trinidad and Tobago, but T&T's young footballers proved to be real warriors before 8,000 opposing fans on Wednesday night at the Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City.|
Marea Roja, "The Red Tide", as Panama are known, swept to a 2-1 victory over the Soca Warriors, winning the match on a powerful 83rd minute header from substitute forward Edwin Aguilar.
A minute earlier, Defence Force midfielder Christian Baptiste was celebrating giving Trinidad and Tobago a 2-1 lead on his international debut, until Panamanian referee Rolando Vital disallowed the goal, as Baptiste's powerful left-footer was said to have opened a hole in the side-netting of the Panama goal.
Wim Rijsbergen, Trinidad and Tobago's head coach, stood stone-faced with both hands on his waist and appeared totally perplexed by the decision of the official.
While the Soca Warriors were still arguing about the disallowed goal, Panama capitalised on the confusion a minute later, when Aguilar headed a free-kick from Victor Piggot past T&T keeper Marvin Phillip.
The Panama Football Federation reported that "a curse had been lifted" by their victory over Trinidad and Tobago and they felt that although the Soca Warriors controlled the middle of the field, they did not have enough menace up front. It was a true reflection of the match.
Three headed goals decided the game. Striker Anel Canales gave Panama a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute; stopper Dwayne Jack restored parity at 1-1 for the visitors on the stroke of half-time; while Aguilar won the game for Panama with his own header seven minutes from the end of regulation time.
The press conference after the match was attended only by Brazilian Alexandre Guimaraes, who is now Panama's coach, after leading Costa Rica at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Guimaraes was widely congratulated by a room overflowing with Spanish-speaking journalists, after coaching Panama to a first victory in nine tries against T&T, who had won five and drawn three before Wednesday's match.
Guimaraes said it was most important that Panama won on the night against a team that played as well as they did at the 2006 World Cup. He immediately named a squad which will depart today for Panama's CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifier against Honduras on February 8 in El Salvador.
He named all of the stars in the victory over T&T, including striker Luis Tejada, Ricardo Phillips, Canales, Aguilar and youth striker Gabriel Torres, but there was no place for sugar-haired playmaker Julio Medina.
There is hardly likely to be a more entertaining match anytime soon in Panama than the one played on Wednesday night.
The Soca Warriors met a sharp-looking and pacy Panama squad which hardly held the ball two seconds, before swinging it towards the flanks. With T&T also forced to play quickly, the match swung end to end. However, the menacing moments belonged to the home team.
Rijsbergen made a change to his line-up, playing Kerry Baptiste at a defensive central midfield position and completely leaving out Kerwin Jemmott. Kwayne Wiltshire (Tobago United) came in at Baptiste's usual right-midfield position and did a good job. There were also senior debuts for Baptiste, cousin of Kerry Baptiste. Kevon Carter (Defence Force) also had his senior debut, while Scott Sealy and Joel Bailey came on as substitutes.
But, Trinidad and Tobago's heroes were their defenders. Seon Power had a tremendous game at right back and looked an international player; Tobago's Dwayne Jack didn't look too good in the Digicel Caribbean Cup, but for the most part was solid against Panama; while Osei Telesford, the other central defender, played so confidently as to have Tejada chasing and ultimately fouling him, when confidently playing the ball out of T&T's penalty area, after keeper Phillip hesitated in taking it.
However, Jabloteh's left back Nigel Daniel was targeted by the Panamanians and had his hands full with crafty dribbler Phillips, who turned him all directions and left him for dead a couple times. Phillips also had the audacity to collect the ball on his chest, flick it over Daniel's head, and left the T&T player standing.
There were cheers of "ole" from the Panamanian fans in the second half and Daniel must have said a prayer when Phillips was eventually substituted.
Trinidad and Tobago had settled into some neat, sweet passing in the first ten minutes, until Panama started to turn up the pace and both Tejada and Canales just missed getting a touch when sliding onto cross balls.
Goalkeeper Phillip was busy for the Soca Warriors and also smothered a couple of shots at his near post after Daniel was left by Phillips.
Panama took the lead when Canales met a free-kick with a flicked header that beat keeper Phillip, who was still airborne when the ball nestled inside his near post.
Trinidad and Tobago matched Panama in the middle, where captain Densill Theobald was knocking passes around, but the Panama defence gave T&T strikers Darryl Roberts and Gary Glasgow nothing without a few hard knocks.
A one-goal lead to the home team at the half would have been a just result, but in the 45th minute, lanky Jack met a free-kick with a downward header past Panama keeper Oscar McFarlane and T&T were level at 1-1.
Trinidad and Tobago tightened up at the back and Panama did not look quite as menacing in the second half, although Canales, showing plenty pace and skill, ran at the defence a few times and had to be mobbed by up to four players before being stopped.
Guimaraes slightly tilted the balance in his team's favour by introducing a few substitutes who looked just as menacing as their starters. Late on, midfielder Rolando Escobar was running at the T&T goal, until pushed wide by the challenges of first Jack and then Daniel, and put a low shot into the side netting.
Just when a draw looked a likely result, Baptiste's goal was first disallowed and Aguilar scored soon after and Panama were running hard at T&T again in the closing minutes.
|46' Christian Baptiste|
|18.||Densill Theobald (capt.)|
|65' Kevon Carter|
|65' Scott Sealy|
|73' Joel Bailey|
|46'||Christian Baptiste for Leslie Fitzpatrick|
|65'||Scott Sealy for Gary Glasgow|
|65'||Kevon Carter for Kwame Wiltshire|
|73'||Joel Bailey for Darryl Roberts|