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Trinidad and Tobago's Michael Chaves on the ball during a Concacaf U-20 Qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Friday, February 23rd 2024.
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Fatima College striker Michael Chaves scored five minutes into second half added-on time, as Trinidad and Tobago fought back from a nervous start to dramatically win their opening CONCACAF U-20 Men Group D qualifying match over St Vincent and the Grenadines last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The junior Soca Warriors were two goals down and trailed 2-1 at the halfway stage, before second half sub Chaves lifted a medium range left-footer past goalkeeper Tristan John for a dramatic and late 3-2 victory.

Concacaf’s Group D qualifiers commenced with a predictably one-sided 8-0 victory for Canada over Dominica, the North Americans leading as early as the eighth minute through a header from Myles Morgan, who, along with Sergei Kozlovskiy, scored a hattrick. Canada were up four goals at halftime, with Dominica also having Fabio Grido sent off in the 43rd minute.

Trinidad and Tobago took the field in the second match of Group D against St Vincent and the Grenadines, with both home support and history behind them. The Vincy Heat had lost all five previous encounters against the Soca Warriors, but last night there were early signs that the trend could end when the Soca Warriors found themselves trailing their Caribbean neighbours by two goals within the first half hour.

It was an absolute shocker when Kirtney Franklyn scored from the penalty spot to put the Vincy Heat ahead in the third minute. T&T goalkeeper Ailan Panton gave away the spot kick with a wild rush out that saw him take down striker Steven Pierre in just the opening minute.

Trinidad and Tobago went about energetically eager, trying to repair the early damage. Too energetic perhaps, and sometimes looking as if trying to play beyond their talent level. In doing so, they concentrated on playing quickly, but were highly inaccurate with their passes and often gave away the ball.

Except for brief glimpses by striker Larry Noel and Crystal Palace winger Rio Cardines, the Under-20 Soca Warriors created few clear scoring chances despite having the Lion’s share of possession. Indecision in the middle and defence also gave a dangerous looking SVG plenty space to break on the transition.

It all got worse when, in just their second attack, Pierre had the Vincy Heat ahead 2-0 in the 28th minute. He beat Panton to a corner kick and headed the ball onto the woodwork and into the goal.

There was huge relief when in the 36th minute, T&T captain and Presentation College defender Cody Cooper got his team back in the match, powerfully striking from the edge of the penalty area, following a corner kick.

SVG had another close penalty shout early in the second half, Cody being indecisive with the ball, and Panton rushing out at Pierre and not getting the ball. But in the 64th T&T were level at 2-2, striker Noel poking the ball past goalkeeper Tristan John, after overpowering his marker and getting to the ball.

T&T could have won it when Cardines fed the ball past the goalkeeper and across to substitute Malachi Webb, who got his feet tangled and failed to score from close up. Cardines then went close with a free-kick in added-on time, before Chaves came good at the end.

Group D action resumes tomorrow with T&T and Canada both looking for a second win before clashing on Tuesday. Canada will face St Vincent and the Grenadines from 4 O’clock, while the Soca Warriors tackle Dominica at 7 p.m.

TEAMS

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1. Ailan Panton (GK); 5. Lyshaun Morris, 4. Cody Cooper (captain), 3. Russel Francois, 2. Duhrell Young; 8. Abayomi George (12. Jeremiah Cateau 69'), 6. Levi Jones (15. Josiah Ochoa 52'); 7. Rio Cardines, 10. Lindell Sween (13. Michael Chaves 45'), 11. Derrel Garcia (19. Malachi Webb 69'); 9. Larry Noel (14. Tyrell Moore 69')

Unused substitutes: 18. Bryan Gafiuk (GK), 21. Makaya Taylor (GK), 16. Akil Henry, 17. Jaden Williams, 20. J’lon Matthews

Coach: Brian Haynes

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (4-2-1-3): 1. Tristan John (GK); 19. Dimitri Thomas, 2. Tyrique Stephens, 3. Lerence Benjamin, 4. Joenaldo Payne; 5. Sebastian Alexander, 18. Mackellie Ferdinand (8. Juemar Luke 72'); 17. Frankroy Cain (16. Aj Delpeshe 59'); 9. Isiah Charles, 10. Kirtney Franklyn (captain) (6. Logan Cozier 63'), 11. Steven Pierre

Unused substitutes: 20. Devon Morgan (GK), 21. Jermaine Jarvis (GK), 7. J’quan Glasgow, 12. Lazaro Lynch, 13. Kentre Gordan, 14. Amaro Charles, 15. Emroy Edwards

Coach: Wade Jackson

Referee: Ignacio Fuentes (Guatemala)

SCORES

Group A: Cuba 13 Anguilla 0

Group B: Antigua & Barbuda 4 Guyana 0; El Salvador 7 Turks & Caicos 0

Group C: Curacao 1 Saint Martin 0

Group D: Canada 8 Dominica 0; Trinidad & Tobago 3 St Vincent & the Grenadines 2

Group E: Haiti 4 Cayman Islands 1; Puerto Rico 3 St Kitts & Nevis 0


SOURCE: T&T Express