Trinidad and Tobago Senior Men's national football team opened it's 2014 Caribbean Cup final round campaign with a hard fought 3-2 victory over Curaçao at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Jamaica today.
The T&T line-up we're a bit off a surprise as head coach Stephen Hart decided to mix things up a little by giving rare starting roles to Cordell Cato and Leston Paul and a first start for Aubrey David in 12 months, the left-back hasn't suited up for T&T since November 2013.
Experience players such as; Justin Hoyte, Khaleem Hyland, Ataullah Guerra, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Lester Peltier were all relegated to the bench. While Joevin Jones is out due to a high fever.
As a result, T&T almost paid the price, but once again Hart proved that his rotation system is starting to fall into place as he looks to build depth for the journey ahead and give some of his none starters a chance to make their mark.
The T&T team, as usual, went into the tournament without any preparatory games and most of the foreign based players only joined the team days before kick-off. It was evident that T&T were a bit rusty in some areas but quickly shook it off and got the job done none-the-less, not bad for a team playing it's first game together in a month- minus a few starters.
Curaçao, drew first blood with an 18-minute goal from Rihario Meulens but, the lead lasted only 7 minutes as Kenwyne Jones scored a 25th minute penalty to level the score. From a right-sided corner kick, Jones was pulled down in the box by Shelton Martis and referee Trevor Taylor did not hesitate to point to the spot.
Then 7 minutes from half-time the T&T captain came up big again when he scored a close range tap-in from a left-side Kevin Molino cross to send T&T into the break with a 2-1 lead.
Like the first half, the second started off in similar fashion, Curaçao were again quick off the blocks and got a 48 minute equaliser from Gianluca Maria.
T&T responded almost instantly through Kevin Molino in the 50th minute as the talented midfielder restored T&T lead 3-2 and ended up being the game winner. Its was reported that T&T played well despite the score-line and missed a few goal-scoring opportunities with Hector and Molino being the culprits.
Kevin Molino, the 2014 USL-PRO league’s Most Valuable Player, now has five goals in 2014 Caribbean Cup play (four in qualifying).
Curacao meanwhile, has scored one goal or fewer in its last four Caribbean Cup matches, while conceding one goal or fewer in five of its six qualifiers. While Trinidad & Tobago went a perfect 3-0-0 in qualifying, conceding one goal or fewer in each game, including shutouts in its last two matches. Curacao is also the lowest ranked team of all 8 teams currently competing in the CFU final.
T&T Head Coach Stephen Hart told the TTFA Media: "Good win to start the tournament off but we had to work hard for it in the second half. We had a good first half and I felt had we been more composed in front of goal we could have had a bigger lead at the break."
"Then they equalized in the second half before we regained the lead through a very good goal by Molino. But we allowed them back in the game and we allowed them to grow in confidence. That made it hard for us but we were able to hold it together and come away with the win which is what we wanted overall."
The Soca Warriors will face French Guiana next on Thursday at the same venue from 5:30 EST.
Trinidad and Tobago 3 v Curaçao 2
Jones 25-Pen Meulens 18
Jones 38 Maria 48
French Guiana 1 v Cuba 1
Mickael Solvi 93 Ariel Martinez 57
T&T: - 21. Jan-Michael Williams; 18. Yohance Marshall, 19. Carlyle Mitchell (YELLOW), 26. Aubrey David, 6. Daneil Cyrus (2. Justin Hoyte 56th), 7. Hughtun Hector (23. Lester Peltier 63rd), 10. Kevin Molino, 13. Cordell Cato, 14. Andre Boucaud, 17. Leston Paul, 9. Kenwyne Jones (capt) (27. Jonathan Glenn 75th).
Unused Subs: - 24. Adrian Foncette (GK), 1. Marvin Phillip (GK), 5. Kevan George, 8. Khaleem Hyland, 11. Ataullah Guerra, 12. Radanfah Abu Bakr, 15. Jamal Gay, 16. Shahdon Winchester.
Coach: - Stephen Hart.
Curacao: Jarzinho Pieter; Rhuently Martina, Jason Wall, Michael Fecunda (Gianluca Maria 46th), Roberto Wall (Vidarrell Merencia 56th), Rihairo Meulens, Gevaro Nepomuceno, Shelton Martis, Hartleyson Dometilia (Luidjino Hojer 39th), Charlton Vicento, Shannon Carmelia.
Head Coach: - Etienne Sillie.
Referee: - Trevor Taylor (Barbados).
P W D L F A Pts
T&T 1 1 0 0 3 2 3
Cuba 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
French Guiana 1 0 1 0 1 1 1
Curacao 1 0 0 1 2 3 0
Curacao fall to Warriors.
By Ian Prescott (Express).
Trinidad and Tobago senior men’s national football team won 3-2 over Curacao yesterday, as the 2014 Caribbean Cup Championship kicked off at Catherine Hall Sporting Complex, a picturesque and new multi-purpose stadium facilitating football and track & field, in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Captain Kenwyne Jones scored twice and official Man of the Match Kevin Molino got another as the Soca Warriors overcame a skilled, difficult and resilient Dutch Caribbean side, that scored early in both halves of the match.
Trinidad and Tobago began brisk and powerfully.
Vietnam-based midfielder Hughton Hector carved out the first chance, a header which flash wide in the first ten minutes, before Curacao keeper Rowendy Sumter dropped quickly to Molino’s feet to stop the T&T attacker.
Curacao loved the long ball early on and took a lead against the run of play via that route, when striker Rihairo Meulens put a quickly played in ball past keeper Jan-Michael Williams in the 18th minute. It never got easy for the Soca Warriors after that.
Jones won and converted a penalty to pull T&T level at 1-1 on the half hour, after defender Shelton Martis grabbed him, preventing the Cardiff City man reach Hughtun Hector’s corner kick.
Jones then capitalised on mishandling from the Curacao goalie and scored from close up to put T&T 2-1 up in the 38th minute.
The Dutch Caribbean team’s keeper also saved with his legs as Molino attempted to guide in Cordell Cato’s low pass from atop the six yard box.
Leading 2-1 at the half, the Soca Warriors would have been expected to shoot clear. But with lots of Dutch-based players in their team, Curacao showed no fear.
Gianluca Maria beat Williams from close up to level the score at 2-2 in the 48th minute.
However, Molino had T&T back ahead just four minutes later with an angled shot which found the back post from outside the left edged of the penalty box.
Curacao mounted a series of raids on the T&T goal in the final 20 minutes, forcing goalie Williams into a series of saves, and also had a dangerous penalty appeal turned down.
Having seen his team completely lost momentum, T&T coach Stephen Hart took off captain Jones for young striker Jonathan Glenn and also replaced defender Daneil Cyrus, and midfielder Hector, who faded in the second half.
The Soca Warriors just held on.