Trinidad and Tobago head coach Russell Latapy will be without the pace of Kevon Carter for upcoming friendly internationals at home on Wednesday and next Sunday in Jamaica after the speedy Defence Force right-winger broke his leg in a First Citizens Cup quarter-final match on Friday night against St Ann's Rangers at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
Defender Elijah Belgrave was sent off after just over half-hour by referee Neil Brizan for the tackle which left Carter injured and soon after Rangers were down to just nine players when striker Adrian Narine was also ejected in the 45th.
Narine was first given a yellow card after a tackle which Brizan ruled illegal and was then red-carded after showing obvious disdain to the ref.
Even so, Rangers played very well and managed a 0-0 draw after regulation time, before defending champions Defence Force won a very dramatic penalty shootout by a 2-1 margin.
Between Army keeper Kevin "Barthez" Graham and Rangers custodian Daurance Williams, seven of ten penalties were either saved or hit the post. For Defence Force, only left-back Aklie Edwards and Dexter Thornhill scored, while midfielder Devon Modeste was the lone scorer for Rangers.
By contrast, it was a quiet affair in the second game which saw six-time champions W Connection get by Caledonia AIA of Morvant-Laventille 2-0 to book a semi-final spot.
Both teams played well, midfielder Densill Theobald and striker Keyon Edwards showing up prominently for "Cali", while Hughtun Hector, Andrei Pacheco and defender Elijah Joseph did the same for the former holders.
W Connection led through 21-year-old Colombian midfielder Christian Viveros, who was on spot to bang in the ball after a corner-kick bounced off a defender in the 48th minute. And Hector got the second in the 85th, cutting in on his marker and scoring with a low shot down the centre of the penalty area and past AIA'S Jamaican keeper Kevin Graham.
The match also saw the second half return of striker Conrad Smith to the Caledonia ranks after a stint with Joe Public.
Thirty-one minutes were on the clock in the troubled opening match when Carter received a crunching tackle from Belgrave, which left his right leg broken.
Immediately, anger spilled from the Army players, particularly Carter's strike partner Devon Jorsling, who had to be ushered away from the Rangers bench by Brizan and subsequently looked unsettled for the rest of the night.
The incident also sparked debate in several circles. W Connection goalkeeper coach Trevor Nottingham's position was in defence of the Rangers defender.
"That was a very good tackle," Nothingham argued. "It's just unfortunate that it ended in a break foot."
Jorsling's take was: "I never see ah man foot break from a clean tackle. How could that be a clean tackle."
On the restart, indiscipline further threatened to sour the match, Defence Force's Richard Roy showing obvious dissent towards the referee and receiving a yellow card, just before Narine was dismissed.
Referee Brizan did not always look in control.
Rangers had the first chance at a goal when Devon Modeste cut in from the left in the 38th and hit a powerful shot which keeper Graham fended off. Jorsling then took a pass in the penalty box and hit a powerful low shot which goalie Williams kept out with his left foot.
Rangers also went close early in the second half, with a low free-kick that the Army keeper only kept out with his legs.
Defence Force had multiple chances to win the match, but Jorsling had one of his worst nights in front of goal, missing chances from all angles, including when he nonchalantly chipped his 43rd minute penalty kick over the bar.
Army midfielder Sean Narcis also hit the ball wide from the centre of goal and when Jorsling finally got the ball in from close-up in the 86th minute, his effort was ruled offside.
Carter meanwhile will be operated on tomorrow to correct injuries to his right leg which was broken during a First Citizens Cup quarter-final match against St Ann's Rangers on Friday night at Mannie Ramjohn Stadium.
Carter is resting at Augustus Long Hospital in Pointe-a-Pierre and is expected to be out of the game for at least six months after the operation.
The break is said to be extensive and screws will also have to be put in the bone before it mends.
Defence Force coach Ross Russell said Carter's injury is a major blow to his team who have won the first round of the Digicel Pro League, winning all ten of their league matches.
"Well, we still have the same players except for Carter, so I expect the team to continue to play well. But, Carter is also a player who can change a game at any moment and he has a different speed level to all the other players in the Pro League, so in that aspect we may struggle a bit without what he brings to the team," said Russell.
"At the moment there is a lot of emotion in the team because of the incident, and there is the possibility that some players may want to go out there and be a lot more aggressive than I want.
"But, it is my job to control that, and make sure that the players go back to playing their normal game."
Defence Force: Kevin Graham, Keston Williams, Devin Jordan, Aklie Edwards, Corey Rivers (capt); Dexter Pacheco, Sean Narcis, Kerry Joseph (Marvin Jones 65th), Kevon Carter (Dexter Thornhill 36th), Richard Roy (Akil Pierre 75th); Devon Jorsling.
St Ann’s Rangers: Daurance Williams; Aaron Stewart, Akil Clarke, Elijah Belgrave, Clevon McFee; Javon Wilson, Hans Pierre, Devon Modeste (capt) (Ronald Musgrave 81st), Beville Joseph, Adrian Narine; Kwame Wiltshire (Josimar Belgrave 71st).
W Connection: Murilo Da Costa; Elijah Joseph (capt), Eder Gilmar Arias, Jovin Jones, Nickcolson Thomas; Gerard Williams, Christian Viveros, Hashim Arcia (Matthew Bartholomew 46th), Andrei Pacheco (Kern Cupid 81st), Hughtun Hector; Paulo Santana (Clyde Leon 57th).
Caledonia AIA: Kevin Graham; Daneil Cyrus, Nuru Muhammad, Walter Moore (Akim Armstrong 74th), Kareem Joseph; Travis Mulraine (Ishmael Daniel 56th), Stephan David (capt), Densill Theobald, Ryan Stewart, Jean-Luc Rochford (Conrad Smith 74th); Keyon Edwards.
Defence Force 0 v St Ann's Rangers 0, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
After Penalties; Defence Force 2 v St Ann's Rangers 1
W Connection 2 (Christian Viveros 47, Hughtun Hector 85) v Caledonia AIA 0, Mannie Ramjohn Stadium
Carter rules out of Digicel Caribbean Cup.
By: Shaun Fuentes (TTFF).
In-form National Team striker Devon Jorsling is certainly not a pleased man regarding the broken leg injury to teammate and longtime friend Kevon Carter but has vowed to work doubly hard in the absence of the Defence Force winger.
Carter suffered a fractured tibia fibula from a tackle by St Ann’s Rangers’ Elijah Belgrave at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium on Friday.
Carter, who has started in all of T&T’s last eight international matches, could be out for up to six months following surgery on Monday. He will certainly miss the Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals later this year.
Jorsling, moments after visiting the player at the Augustus Long Hospital on Saturday, expressed his dismay.
“It’s a difficult one to accept but these things happen in football. It could happen to any player but sometimes we have to be mindful of what is happening out there.
The tackle maybe wasn’t called for but it’s a contact sport and the injury is most unfortunate at this time especially just before the Digicel Cup because he was really looking forward to playing in it,” Jorsling told TTFF Media.
“We have been playing together since the age of 12 and we have just been starting all the matches for Defence Force and the National team so this injury is disappointing but it will motivate me to do even better now. Hopefully my success will also add some comfort to him over the next few months.”
Jorsling realizes the importance of a winning performance at the regional tournament in Martinique in December.
“For any of us to progress as players we have to do well in the tournament and come out on top. Getting to the Gold Cup is a must at this stage.
I believe it is all about preparation and while the public might be saying we are not ready, I think the coach is trying to get the team playing a certain brand and level of football and we don’t have a stable starting eleven right now but we will be ready in time for the Digicel Cup so I feel the people should judge us when that time comes around,” Jorsling added.
T&T is scheduled to play a yet to be determined opponent on Wednesday at the Hasely Crawford Stadium before traveling to meet Jamaica on October 10 in Kingston.
“Most of the recognized teams in South America and Concacaf are all booked up for October 6 or around there while others are engaged in Digicel Cup matches and so at this time we are awaiting final confirmation from a couple of the Federations in the region with regards to Wednesday’s match,” T&T team manager David Muhammad explained.