Kevin Molino continued his impressive international form on Sunday by scoring Trinidad and Tobago’s lone item to defeat Antigua and Barbuda 1-0 in their final Group 7 match of the 2014 Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Cup semifinals round.
The 24-year-old Molino, scorer of a hattrick against Dominican Republic in Wednesday’s 6-1 win and was rested out of Friday’s 2-0 win against St Lucia, returned to coach Stephen Hart’s line-up to score his fourth goal of the campaign.
Following the match Molino said he was simply happy to contribute but “scoring goals don’t mean much if we don’t win.”
Molino, who broke the US second tier league scoring record this season with MLS-bound Orlando City and was named the USL Pro MVP, held his composure in the area in the 45th minute to drive the ball past Antigua and Barbuda goalie Brentton Muhammad after latching onto a flick by T&T captain and forward Kenwyne Jones.
“He (Molino) has shown his quality,” said Hart during the post-game press conference. “He is certainly going to improve as a number 10. He just has to pick his moments better especially when he meets bigger opponents.”
The “Soca Warriors”, already qualified for the next round before kick-off, finished atop Group 7 with maximum 9 points to advance into Group A of the Caribbean Finals to be contested in Montego Bay, Jamaica from November 10 – 17.
T&T are pooled against defending Caribbean champions Cuba, Group 8 runner-up and Group 9 runner-up.
Meanwhile Antigua and Barbuda (4 points) finished Group 7 runners-up and will join hosts Jamaica, Group 9 winners and Group 8 winners in Group B of the Finals.
Dominican Republic managed maximum points against St Lucia with a 3-2 win in the earlier game at the Couva venue on Sunday to finish with 4 points but the “Los Quisqueyanos”’ terrible goal deficit against T&T kept them at the bottom of Antigua and Barbuda.
Former W Connection standout Johnathan Fana Frias fired Dominican Republic 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the first period.
And although St Lucia midfielder Zaeehaeus Polius scored a double in the second half the “Los Quisqueyanos” never surrendered the lead with Kerbi Rafael Rodriguez Pichardo, who won the penalty, and substitute Inoel Navarro Gonzalez also getting on the score-sheet.
In Jamaica the top teams of Groups A and B will contest the Final while the runners-up of each group will compete in the third and fourth place play-off.
The top four teams from the Caribbean will advance into the Concacaf Gold Cup while there is also the added incentive that the Caribbean champions will compete at the 2016 Copa America, which features some of the best teams in South America.
“We have a lot to worry about before the Copa America,” said (K) Jones. “(Yes) the Copa America is an added prize. (But) it’s about time Trinidad and Tobago wins the Caribbean Cup again.”
Jones said that there is still the Caribbean Finals to think of, the Gold Cup, and a lot more before the 2016 Copa America arrives.
Ten minutes into Sunday’s match Molino, with options inside the area, had T&T’s first attempt but his effort towards the near post deflected wide.
And on the 32nd minute England-based Andre Boucaud tried his luck from distance but failed to trouble goalkeeper Muhammad.
Khaleem Hyland was also off target, five minutes from the break, but his crack from distance off a heeled pass by (K) Jones earned the Racing Genk midfielder an applause from the T&T supporters who had little too thrilled by before that.
However seconds before the half time the home supporters erupted as the “Soca Warriors” celebrated a 1-0 lead courtesy former San Juan Jabloteh footballer Molino.
The “Benna Boys” had just one try in the first half when captain and right-back Quinton Griffith’s 25-yard free-kick was comfortably gathered by Jan-Michael Williams 11 minutes into the contest.
But in the second period the Antiguans, equipped with former Jabloteh star Peter Byers, had a little more to offer.
In the 53rd minute Calaum Martin curled a left-footed attempt wide, and two minutes later, at the end of a play orchestrated by Byers, the midfielder forced a block-out by Williams.
Martin was at it again in the 58th minute but couldn’t beat Williams who made a low stop against his free-kick directed towards the low corner.
Byers, the ox-built and powerful forward, linked an exchange with substitute Randolph Burton, but lifted his effort inches away from Williams’ upper corner.
“One mistake and it cost us,” said Antigua and Barbuda coach Rolston Williams during the post-game press conference. “We did our best (against T&T) and had a few opportunities but they didn’t happen our way.”
Williams said he remains proud of his players and believes that the “Benna Boys” will improve in the future. He also said that his side will surprise in the Jamaica leg of the Caribbean tournament.
Earlier T&T’s Vietnam-based midfielder Hughtun Hector had finally got the better of Griffith in the 64th minute but only managed to sail his effort high and wide.
Hector, who turns 30 on October 16, had a crack on target in the 77th minute but Muhammad was equal to the strike with a one-handed save putting it over the bar.
Despite the score-line T&T and Cardiff City forward (K) Jones said, “It was an almost perfect game tonight (Sunday).”
He said T&T did everything right; attacked when they needed to and were patient when they needed to.
Hart commend Antigua and Barbuda during the post-game interview saying that he was impressed with the Antiguans and believes they would go on to qualify for the Gold Cup.
But the T&T coach trumped the performance of his team.
Hart said, “(I am) very very proud of (our) players today (Sunday). They (Antigua and Barbuda) played just how we thought they would.”
He said that Antiguans wanted a point and played defensive and on the counterattack but on another day T&T would have scored more.
Caribbean Semifinals Round Full Results
Wednesday 8 October 2014
Trinidad and Tobago 6 (Kevin Molino 2’, 4’, 24’, Kenwyne Jones 40’, 55’, Trevin Caesar 77’) vs Dominican Republic 1 (Johnathan Fana Frias 88’)
Antigua & Barbuda 2 (Keiran Mutajh 66’, Joshua Parker 92’) vs St Lucia 1 (Kurt Frederick 42’)
Friday 10 October 2014
T&T 2 (Ataullah Guerra 6’, Kenwyne Jones 67’) vs St Lucia 0
Antigua & Barbuda 0 vs Dominican Republic 0
Sunday 12 October 2014
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Kevin Molino 45’) vs Antigua & Barbuda 0
Dominican Republic 3 (Johnathan Fana Frias, Kerbi Rafael Rodriguez Pichardo, Inoel Navarro Gonzalez) vs St Lucia 2 (Zaeehaeus Polius (2))
Trinidad and Tobago: 21. Jan-Michael Williams, 3. Joevin Jones, 4. Sheldon Bateau, 6. Daneil Cyrus, 7. Hughtun Hector, 8. Khaleem Hyland, 9. Kenwyne Jones (C) (13. Cordell Cato 68th), 10. Kevin Molino, 14. Andre Boucaud (17. Leston Paul 89th), 19. Carlyle Mitchell, 23. Lester Peltier (11. Ataullah Guerra 81st).
Unused substitutes: 1. Marvin Phillip (GK), 5. Kevan George, 18. Yohance Marshall, 20. Trevin Caesar.
Coach: Stephen Hart.
Antigua and Barbuda: 1. Brentton Muhammad, 2. Joshua Parker, 5. Connor Peters, 6. Zaine Francis-Angol (4. Karanja Mack 88th), 8. Keiran Murtagh, 10. Calaum Martin (15. Mervyn Hazlewood 90th), 11. Quinton Griffith (C), 12. Nathaniel Jarvis (22. Randolph Burton 72nd), 13. Tamorley Thomas, 16. Peter Byers, 20. Akeem Thomas.
Unused substitutes: 3. Okeem Challenger, 7. Tevaughn Harriette, 9, Gason Gregory, 18. Molvin James (GK).
Coach: Rolston Williams.
Referee: Trevor Taylor (Barbados).
Venue: - Ato Boldon Stadium.
Game Type: - 2014 Caribbean Cup.
P W D L F A Pts
Trinidad and Tobago 3 3 0 0 9 1 9
Antigua & Barbuda 3 1 1 1 2 2 4
Dominican Republic 3 1 1 1 4 8 4
St Lucia 3 0 0 3 3 7 0
Eyes on the title.. T&T tops semi-final group.
By Shaun Fuentes (TTFA).
Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones is focused on the Soca Warriors ending a 13-year title drought when the 18th Caribbean Football Union Cup Finals comes off in Montego Bay, Jamaica from Novermber 10-17.
In the eight-team finals, the Soca Warriors, record eight-time champions with the last being in 2001, will do battle in Pool A along defending champion Cuba, Curacao and French Guiana while Pool A will feature three former winners in Haiti (2007), Jamaica (1991, 1998, 2005, 2008, 2010), Martinique (1993) and current top ranked CFU team, Antigua & Barbuda.
In Jamaica the top teams of Groups A and B will contest the final while the runners-up of each group will compete in the third and fourth place playoff.
All four teams competing on the final day will also qualify for next year’s Concacaf Gold Cup while there is also the added incentive that the CFU champions will compete at the 2016 Copa America, against the best of South America.
The best third-place team from CFU (according to group stage results) will also have a chance to qualify for the Concacaf Gold Cup via a qualification playoff, against Honduras, the 2014 Copa Centroamericana fifth-placed team.
And speaking after setting up striker partner Kevin Molino to net the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Antigua & Barbuda in their CFU Cup semifinal round Group Seven decider at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva on Sunday night, Jones when quizzed about the possibility of facing South American opposition responded, “We have a lot to worry about before the Copa America.”
“Yes the Copa America is an added prize but it’s about time T&T win the Caribbean Cup again.”
The last time T&T captured the title was on May 25, 2001 on home via 3-0 win over Haiti at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo with goals from Dale Saunders, Brent Rahim and Arnold Dwarika.
At Couva on Sunday, 24-year-old Orlando City striker netted his fourth goal in three matches to make certain the Stephen Hart-coached Soca Warriors ended as group winners with maximum nine points, five more than its opponent who took second ahead of Dominican Republic due to a better goal-difference.
Scorer of a hat-trick against Dominican Republic in Wednesday’s 6-1 win before missing Friday’s 2-0 win against St Lucia with a slight knock, Molino held his composure in the area in the 45th minute to drive the ball past Antigua and Barbuda goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad after latching onto a flick-on by fellow forward, Kenwyne Jones.
Commenting after the match, Molino, who broke the US Pro Soccer league scoring record this season with his US Major League Soccer-bound club and was named the USL Pro “Most Valuable Player” said he was simply happy to contribute but “scoring goals don’t mean much if we don’t win.”
Ten minutes into the match, Molino also had a chance to put T&T ahead but he fired into the side netting with teammates Jones and Hector unmarked in the penalty-area while England-based Andre Boucaud and Belgium-based Khaleem Hyland had long range efforts that failed to hit the mark.
At the other end of the field, T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was mostly a spectator as the defensive quartet of Sheldon Bateau, Carlyle Mitchell, Joevin Jones and Daneil Cyrus together with defensive midfield duo, Hyland and Boucaud protected the T&T goal by smothering any counter attack from their opponents.
But on the resumption, the visitors came alive with Calaum Martin curling a left-footed attempt wide, in the 53rd, and two minutes later, he forced Williams into a block after being put through by Peter Byers.
Antigua & Barbuda was now enjoying a brief moment of dominance and in the 58th minute Martin tested Williams with a free-kick while Byers fired wide of the mark after a one-two with substitute Randolph Burton.
This forced Hart off his seat on the touchline as he signalled for his players to up the team, and his demand was almost met by another goal for T&T, when Vietnam-based midfielder Hughton Hector cut inside right-back Quinto Griffith in the 64th minute, only to scoop his right footer overbar.
The nippy Hector had a crack on target in the 77th minute but Muhammad was equal to the strike with a one-handed save putting it over the bar while substitutes Cordell Cato and Ataullah Guerra also tried their best to stamp their name on the game, but to no avail.
Despite the score-line captain Jones said, “It was an almost perfect game tonight (Sunday).”