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Defence Force FC’s Nathaniel Garcia, left, gets past Moca FC’s Michel Cardenas during the Concacaf Caribbean Cup at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Wednesday, October 4th 2023 in Mucurapo, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: Daniel Prentice

Defence Force campaign in the 2023 CONCACAF Club Caribbean Cup has ended after going down 2-0 against Moca FC of the Dominican Republic at the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Wednesday night.

The mission was simple for the Defence Force, to win and secure a spot in the semifinals of the tournament but the team stumbled at the critical stage needing all three points to advance, while the visitors needed only a draw to stay alive and secure the second spot in the group.

The 2023 T&T Premier Football League (TTPFL) champions saw their supporters come out in their numbers in what they hoped would be a regiment performance identical to teams of the past, the 1978 and 1987 who were crowned champions.

From the start, head coach Lloyd Andrews’ game plan was clear to take the game to the opponents.

In doing so, the visitors soaked up all the pressure in the early exchanges as they too had a plan and the host’s poor finishing was playing right into their hands.

After 45 minutes of steady pressure Moca’s defence didn’t budge, and the teams went into the dressing room evenly match at 0-0.

In the second period, the visitors noticed they could make it more difficult for the soldiers if they scored a goal and they amended their game plan to seek the desired result.

They found success in the 64th minute and what a crucial opening goal it was, a deep cross from Juan Angeles was initially deflected out by the host team’s defence and Moca’s Gustavo Ascona was first to react to the loose ball, poking home the finish for an invaluable 1-0 lead while silenced the thousand-plus fans cheering the Army/Coast guard combination team.

The goals also ignited the urgency level of the Teteron unit which was not in the hunt for two goals.

Coach Andrews made five substitutions trying to inject some form of life and finishing with results in the final third into his squad but all he got was half chances and wasted opportunities as the Moca defence stood resoloute despite the constant attack on their goal.

As the time ticked away and reality began to set it was Moca, who extended its lead injury added on time when Ronaldo de Pena finished off a counterattack after a defensive slip-up to complete the 2-0 scoreline cementing their second-place finish in the group on 9 points.

In response to his team’s performance coach Andrews said that he was disappointed that his guys didn’t get the victory and that scoring numerous goals in a single match has been plaguing them for the entire tournament. He continued, that the one-all draw against Cavaliers FC of Jamaica in their opening encounter came back to haunt them for not taking full points in that fixture.

He also dispelled claims that the similar result to local rivals AC Port-of-Spain was the reason they are now out of the competition.

Defence Force finished third in group A with five points while Golden Lions lies fourth with three, and AC Port-of-Spain finished fifth with just one point. Moca FC progressed in second spot with nine points and Jamaica’s Cavaliers FC topped the group with 10 points after hammering Lions 5-2 in their final group game.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian