After finishing runners up last year Trinidad and Tobago bowed out of the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Championships first round as they mustered only a 1-1 draw with Jamaica at the Trelawny Complex on Sunday. It was the third draw in three outings between the two countries this year.
Needing to win after Grenada defeated Barbados 4-2 in the first game, T&T had to depend on an Errol McFarlane equalizer in the 80th minute after Eric Vernan had put the hosts ahead a minute into the second half.
Those results mean that Jamaica top the group and Grenada join them as the second place finishers to the semi-finals and next year's Concacaf Gold Cup.
Sunday's performance was the strongest from the TT team in the tournament but it was not enough to keep them alive.
Francisco Maturana brought Seon Power, Makan Hislop, Clyde Leon and Aklie Edwards back into the start team with McFarlane again being the lone striker. TT looked a more composed side in the opening stages and had a first crack at goal from a play which begun from the kick off in the opening minute when Leon's shot was deflected for a corner.
Goalie Jan Michael Williams had little to do for the opening twenty minutes and it was Leon again who forced Donovon Ricketts to save low on his left post after being picked out by Keon Daniel. Moments later McFarlane got up well to powerfully head over bar.
Jamaica were steady and solid at the back and the middle of the park. They also used their regular starters with Stoke City striker Demar Phillips and Luton Shelton leading their attack. Skipper Tyrone Marshall and Andy Williams also added depth to the home team's play.
Dane Richards and Phillips had Jamaica's attempts as the half hour approached. On 36 minutes, Phillips left out Power on the left of the box before hitting inches wide. Neither team could break the deadlock but the "Reggae Boyz" didn't wait too long after the resumption.
Moments after the kick off after a break down the right side, Vernan appeared to have taken the ball down with his hand and the T&T defenders protested but the play continued and the player was able to direct the ball into the goal from a tight angle to put Jamaica one up.
Rudolph Austin and Jason Morrison had a couple other close tries, forcing Williams into action. On sixty six minutes Williams also did well to push over a rocket of a free kick by Marshall.
Andre Toussaint and Cornell Glen were introduced into the attack as T&T went in search of an equalizer and they got it in the 79th minute. Some good work by Toussaint which saw his effort partially pushed out by the ‘keeper led to McFarlane meeting the rebound and hammering home from close range to bring the Soca Warriors back into it. It was all too late though as only a couple further attacks followed for Maturana’s men as Jamaica held on for the draw and topped the group in the process.
Maturana: Too little for comfort
Speaking after the result, head coach Maturana felt T&T were unfortunate to go out this early.
“The performance today was a much improved one but unfortunately it was not what we wanted in terms of the result,” Maturana told TTFF Media.
“To say we are pleased would not be the right thing because we are going home early and we need to accept that our performances were not at best in the first two games. But today we showed that we could have good games. We need to go over this tournament because I think it is beneficial for us in the preparations for the World Cup Qualification next year. We are disappointed to be out of the tournament and the Gold Cup but I think this group of players will come out stronger and better from here, "he added.
Jamaica (Team List): Jamaica (Team List): 1.Donovan Ricketts, 3.Demar Stewart, 7.Dane Richards, 8.Eric Vernan, 9.Andrew Williams, 11.Luton Shelton (2.Omar Cummings 57th) 12.Demar Phillips (19.Rafe Wolfe 35th), 14.Tyrone Marshall, 17.Rudolph Austin (6.Keniel Moodie 73rd), 18.Jason Morrison, 20.Oneil Thompson.
Subs: 10. Sean Fraser, 13.Dwayne Miller, 15.Obrien Woodbine, 16.Roland Dean.
Trinidad & Tobago (Team List): 1.Jan-Michael Williams, 2.Clyde Leon, 4.Makan Hislop, 5.Keyeno Thomas, 6.Khaleem Hyland (10.Andre Toussaint 73rd), 7.Anthony Wolfe, 9.Aurtis Whitley (capt), 11.Errol McFarlane, 16.Seon Power (12.Osei Telesford 85th), 17.Aklie Edwards, 19.Keon Daniel (13.Cornell Glen 62nd).
Subs: 3.Avery John, 8.Cyd Gray, 14.Julius James, 15.Arnold Dwarika, 21.Marvin Phillip.
Referee: Roberto Moreno (PAN)