Despite not having their inspirational captain Kenwyne Jones, Trinidad and Tobago men's national football senior team pulled off a remarkable 4-2 victory over French Guiana at the Montego Bay Sports Complex in Jamaica this afternoon.
Head coach Stephen Hart made six changes to his side from the one that faced Curaçao in the opening game and the gamble paid off. It may-not have been the pretties of wins though but T&T still managed to pedal-on and got the job done, and, at the least, most of their players getting the required match fitness they will need for the road ahead.
Once again Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino came through for the Soca Warriors notching a double and putting on a performance that has won him successive Man of the Match awards for some find display of football tonight.
Molino got items in the 17th and 58th minutes respectively while Lester Peltier scored a 62nd minute penalty to give T&T a 3 goal cushion.
French Guiana however, did not gave up and mounted a series of attack on T&T goal that unsettled the Soca Warriors side as they were finding it hard to maintain its 3-goal lead and contain their oppositions as one could sense that it was only a matter of time the South Americans would score.
The pressure paid off and French Guiana scored two quick goals from Brian St. Clair (64th) and Trélissac FC's defender Jean-David Legrand (84th) that brought them back into the game and life to the French Guiana side that fielded many players who were born in France and ply their trade there as well.
But for all their troubles, they just couldn't score another, they were denied twice by T&T's goal post and to make matters worst, they had their captain Marvin Torvic sent off for is second bookable offence.
Then Central FC's midfielder Ataullah Guerra made sure there were no way back for the French speaking South Americans as he gave the pan-men some relief and breathing space when scored a fierce free-kick in the 91st minute that sinked the hearts of French Guiana who, now faces a must win situation against Curaçao on Saturday if they are to have the slightest chance of staying alive in the tournament.
The French side were definately no push-overs and has scored the most goals in qualifying with 22 and are the only team to advance to the final round after opening the competition in the preliminary round. Striker Gabriel Pigree is the 2014 Caribbean Cup’s top overall scorer thus far with eight goals, all in qualifying.
As for T&T, they face Cuba next on Saturday at the same venue from 8:00pm needing only a draw to top the group. It remains a mystery however, whether head coach Stephen Hart will unleash his captain or save him for the next all important semi-final round.
The victory was well received as Trinidad and Tobago became the first Caribbean team to have booked its place at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup which will be played from 7–26 July, 2015. United States (Hosts & Title holders), Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Panama and El Salvador are the other teams that are already through to CONCACAF's most prestigious tournament, while 4 spots are still up for grabs.
Speaking to TTFA Media man Shaun Fuentes both Hart and Molino had the following to say.
Kevin Molino: "It's great to go to the Gold Cup again. That was our first aim in this tournament. We came here tonight and had to grind out another result. These teams are no push overs but we kept it good for 90 plus minutes. I'm very excited about our chances and of course scoring goals for my country is always a great feeling"
Stephen Hart: "We had to work hard again tonight. I thought we played a really good first half and we should scored more chances. But French Guiana kept playing and credit to them. They scored a really good free kick and they kept coming at us. But I'm happy for the team and getting the win tonight."
"We didn't play much games this year and so these matches are important and of course getting to the Gold Cup is out of the way now. And now we can focus on trying to get to the final and winning the tournament"
Trinidad & Tobago 4 v French Guiana 2
Molino 17 Saint-Clair 64
Molino 58 Legrand 83
Cuba 3 v Curaçao 2
Corrales 15 Rajcomar 45
Lopez 51 Nepomuceno 69
Trinidad & Tobago: - 1. Marvin Phillip (vice-capt); 2. Justin Hoyte, 6. Daneil Cyrus, 12. Radanfah Abu Bakr, 26. Aubrey David, 7. Hughtun Hector, 10. Kevin Molino, 8. Khaleem Hyland (capt) (5. Kevan George 52nd), 11. Ataullah Guerra, 14. Andre Boucaud (15. Jamal Gay 60th), 23. Lester Peltier (13. Cordell Cato 85th).
Unused Substitutes: - 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 3.Joevin Jones, 18.Yohance Marshall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 17.Leston Paul; 9.Kenwyne Jones, 27.Jonathan Glenn, 16.Shahdon Winchester, 24.Adrian Foncette.
Coach: - Stephan Hart.
French Guiana: - 1. Donovan Léon; 3. Marvin Torvic (capt) (YELLOW, RED 61), 4. Rudy Evens, 8. Brian St Clair, 11. Roy Contout, 14. Grégory Lescot, 15. Alain Moges, 19. Kévin Rimane, 20. Marc Edwige, 23. Jean-David Legrand, 9. Gabriel Pigrée.
Subs From: - 1. Rudy Merille, 24. Simon Lugier; 2. Johann Appolinaire, 5. Serge Lespérance, 7. Sylvio Breleur, 6. Albert Ajaisso, 10. Mickaël Solvi, 12. Niki Adipi, 13. Marc-Arnaud Mona, 16. Marvin Desmangles, 21. Gilles Fabien, 22. Gary Pigrée.
Coach: - Jaïr Karam.
P W D L F A Pts
T&T 2 2 0 0 7 4 6
Cuba 2 1 1 0 4 3 4
French Guiana 2 0 1 1 3 5 1
Curacao 2 0 0 2 4 6 0
T&T qualify for 2015 Gold Cup.
T&T Express Reports.
Molino on the mark
Red hot Kevin Molino won his second straight Man-of-the-Match award and scored twice as Trinidad and Tobago won their second match at the 2014 Men’s Caribbean Cup after defeating 10-man French Guiana 4-2 yesterday in Montego Bay to put them selves in pole position for a place in the final.
The win also guaranteed T&T a spot in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Once again, T&T coach Stephen Hart rotated his players, resting Cardiff City striker and captain Kenwyne Jones. He was not missed as Molino got goals in the 17th & 58th minutes, while Lester Peltier converted a 68th minute penalty, after Molino was taken down by red-carded defender Marvin Torvic.
Late on, Peltier twice missed after out-racing the defenders. First he put a low shot off the far upright, then chipped the goalkeeper and barely cleared the upright as well. And after surviving a nerve-wrecking late period of French Guiana pressure, Ataullah Guerra made the game safe with a rocket free-kick two minutes into added-on time.
The worry for coach Hart was that T&T failed to kill off the match and conceded twice with French Guiana a man short. Down a player, French Guiana still managed a consolation, through Brian St Clair, who put a low shot past T&T keeper Marvin Phillip following a cutback from a teammate.
And poor positioning from keeper Phillip allowed Jean David Legrand to curl in a right side free-kick. There was also a heart-stopping moment when Suriname’s best player Mickael Solvi struck the T&T crossbar with four minutes remaining in the regulation period. An inch closer and the match would have been level.
However, the Soca Warriors were always in the drivers’ seat, although the first half yielded just one goal, with Molino kissing a low shot off the far upright, following an inside pass from wide midfielder Peltier. Molino earlier flashed a free header past the post, as French Guiana were put on the back foot for most of the half.
After surviving some early second half pressure, T&T doubled their lead when Molino flashed Ataullah Guerra’s free-kick past French Guiana goalie Rudy Merille. And about to pounce on a rebound from Hughtun Hector’s shot, Molino was pulled down. Peltier converted with a low shot.
But, even against 10 players, T&T went ultra defensive and allowed French Guiana to attack them. There was no pressure outlet for the T&T team as all the players were usually in the penalty box, allowing their opponents to come forward in waves. But they again survived.