Trinidad and Tobago’s Under 20 Men’s team secured a point when they played to a 0-0 draw with Cuba in their opening match of the Caribbean Football Union Final Round of qualification at the Ergilio Hato Stadium in Willemstad, Curacao on Saturday night.
The result followed an earlier 5-1 victory for Haiti over St Lucia, with Ronaldo Damus grabbing a hattrick in the earlier contest on the evening as action commenced in Group B of the eight-team championship.
In Friday’s Group A games, Antigua/Barbuda upset hosts Curacao 1-0 while Bermuda defeated St Kitts/Nevis 3-1.
T&T faces St Lucia on Monday at 6pm at Ergilio and will be hoping to achieve a win to boost their chances of advancing to the semi-final stage and the CONCACAF Final round in Costa Rica next year.
T&T had one decent scoring opportunity in the first half and W Connection’s Kori Cupid managed another chance in the second half but his header on goal was deflected out by a Cuban defender. Kathon St Hillaire was introduced later on in the half and added some zest to the T&T attack but there were to be no goals in the stalemate.
Head Coach Brian Williams later described the encounter as an even one and felt the point each was deserving for both teams.
“I think this was a good start for us. It was a difficult game, very physical and well contested by both sides,” Williams told TTFA Media.
“But our boys handled it very well. We knew it was going to be tough heading into the match and I think Cuba also had to put in a decent shift on the evening.
“The first half was pretty balanced. We had one good chance and Cuba also had a chance on goal after a defensive blunder on our part.
“We had three second half substitutes, Jarred Dass, Kathon St Hillaire and Kori Cupid all coming on and making a good contribution. There’s always room for improvement and we are still growing as a unit.
“The boys are in good spirit after the match and now we will be looking to have a strong showing against St Lucia and go all out for the win on Monday,” Williams added.
The former T&T defender also commented on the decision to have twenty- three players in the squad in Curacao despite only 20 players being eligible to play.
“We knew since last month that Jacob Sooklal suffered the concussion and his coach in Canada made a decision to sideline him from training which put him off a bit but he has been a part of this squad from the start and the other two players are also part of this squad. Jacob was back in training with us yesterday but we had to make that decision in advance to avoid the risk and go with another player.
“As a staff we also made a decision to have at least 22 players in camp in order to have numbers to make up two teams for our training for scrimmage sessions and so on. We wanted to maintain a complete squad and to keep everyone involved for the duration of the tournament which is why we brought the 23 players here to Curacao,” Williams stated.
T&T: - Denzil Smith (GK), 5. Taryk Sampson, 6. Noah Powder (8.Jarred Dass), 7. Isaiah Hudson, 9. Nicholas Dillon, 10. Jabari Mitchell (capt), 11. Kareem Riley, 12. Shane Sandy, 13. Isaiah Garcia (3.Kori Cupid), 14. Taofik Lucas-Walker (15.Kathon St Hillaire), 17. Keston Julien.
Subs Not Used: 2. Andrew Rullow, 4. Kierron Mason, 16. Micah Lansiquot, 18. Josh Toussaint, 19. Morgan Bruce De-Rouche, 20. Jabari Brice (GK)
Head Coach: Brian Williams
Referee – Javier Santos (Puerto Rico)