Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Men's team played to a 0-0 tie with Oceania’s top outfit New Zealand in a friendly encounter at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
The Soca Warriors are playing in their first home game since its 2-0 defeat to Peru in February at the Ato Boldon Stadium- also the first local international for coach Stephen Hart, who assumed the role in June.
The “All Whites” meantime are preparing for a two-legged play-off against CONCACAF’s fourth placed team, which now looks likely to be Mexico.
Trinidad & Tobago 0 v New Zealand 0
Trinidad & Tobago: - 21.Jan-Michael Williams (1.Marvin Phillips 46th - vice-capt); 3.Justin Hoyte, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 20.Carlyle Mitchell, 8.Khaleem Hyland (5.Kevan George 83rd), 10.Kevin Molino (12.Ataullah Guerra 83rd), 14.Andre Boucaud, 19.Lester Peltier (7.Hughtun Hector 61st), 11.Willis Plaza (16.Marcus Joseph 61st), 9.Kenwyne Jones (capt) (23.Rundell Winchester 87th).
Unused Subs: - 2.Aubrey David, 17.Mekeil Williams, 15.Curtis Gonzales, 18.Densill Theobald, 13.Cordell Cato.
New Zealand: - 1.Glen Moss; 22.Andrew Durante, 3.Tony Lochhead, 2.Winston Reid (capt), 5.Tommy Smith (19.Craig Henderson 68th), 7.Leo Bertos (11.Bill Tuiloma 46th), 9.Aaron Clapham (6.Jake Butler 74th), 8.Michael McGlicnchey, 17.Kosta Barbarouses, 16.Jeremy Brockie, 10.Rory Fallon (Yellow 37).
Unused Subs: - 12.Tamati Williams; 4.Cole Peverley, 13.Dan Keat, 14.Aaron Scott, 20.Kris Bright, 21.Cameron Howieson.
Referee: - Stanley Lancaster (Guyana).
Attendance: - 14,000.
Venue: - Hasley Crawford Stadium, Trinidad.
T&T, New Zealand plays “friendly” stalemate.
Tuesday night’s goalless friendly international between Trinidad and Tobago and visiting New Zealand at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Trinidad, witnessed by some 14,000 spectators, can be described as playing it safe, or as one coach described it, playing with the handbrakes up.
The point is, no one wanted to lose, and it seemed more important than winning, with T&T and its relatively new coach Stephen Hart at a rebuilding stage and its target the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, while New Zealand are preparing for its two-match playoff against a Concacaf opponent, which turned out to be Mexico, in November for a place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
New Zealand were to their typical defensive style, while T&T with four at the back—(left to right) Sheldon Bateau, Carlyle Mitchell, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Justin Hoyte—and Khaleem Hyland and Andre Boucaud serving as holding midfielders, clearly weren’t about attacking at full force.
Instead, Hart suggested attacking from the flanks through natural right-winger, Lester Peltier, and Kevin Molino (usually more efficient in attacking midfield) on the left wing, and the probability over overlapping runs by wing-backs, Hoyte and Bateau.
“They (New Zealand) are away from home, they played with a solid block and just waited for us to make any mistakes and probably try to catch us on a counterattack, or score off a set play,” explained Hart following the match.
The T&T coach continued, “As for us we simply didn’t move the ball quickly enough to isolate our players in the wide areas, and get the penetration from wide.
“It’s really hard to play against a team that really isn’t coming forward. You don’t want to throw yourself out and leave yourself to the counterattack, which you saw they had a couple chances due to our carelessness.
“In terms of [us] managing the ball and moving it around, I think we did ok. But at times it was too slow, especially if you’re going to switch the ball from side to side. The objective of that is to open up the other team and to isolate players into one-on-one situations. When we did get into those situations, the wide players were a bit hesitant to do what was necessary and take players on and make them have to defend.”
Hart, who introduced Vietnam based midfielder Hughtun Hector and Point Fortin Civic winger Marcus Joseph in the 61st minute as wide attacking replacements, added, “I tried to change that by changing both wide players, but at the end of the day, it didn’t happened.”
T&T had its first attempt at goal four minutes into the match, when Stoke City forward Kenwyne Jones dragged an effort wide of the far post from inside the right of the area after meeting a Willis Plaza pass.
And that was it from the strike pair, until in the 42nd minute when T&T had its first attempt on target from a Jones’ freekick which New Zealand goalkeeper Glen Moss was well positioned to equal the strike with a save.
Seconds later Jones’ tap towards goal off a Molino pass was deflected wide, and from the resulting corner swung in by Molino, Abu Bakr couldn’t control his header downwards.
Earlier, T&T had ambitious strikes from distance that failed to trouble Moss, with Boucaud hitting overbar in the 11th minute and Bateau hitting low and wide in the 39th minute.
Even Hyland was forced to try from distance on the hour mark, but the Belgium based midfielder’s curling effort was an easy take for Moss.
T&T threatened New Zealand from another Molino corner in the 69th minute but Mitchell’s header towards goal, was deflected wide.
And in the 87th minute, three minutes after replacing Molino, former San Juan Jabloteh and Caledonia AIA midfielder Ataullah Guerra created T&T’s best scoring opening when he slipped a pass through the New Zealand defense to set Jones one-on-one with Moss.
However Jones’ poor touch towards the area allowed Moss to block-out an attempt on goal, and Guerra was disappointing on the follow up by hitting wide of goal.
Maybe, just maybe, had Guerra been introduced earlier, and the same could be said for debuting striker Rundell Winchester (entering the pitch in the 88th minute) of Central FC, fans would have gotten a lot more.
“You would like to win … you would like to score some goals,” said Hart, over his first match in charge on home soil. “It’s only our second game we haven’t scored any goals. I don’t think we penetrated enough, I don’t think we created enough; I don’t think we got enough shots on goal to end up scoring.
“All in all we can do better because we are going to have to play teams like that at home when we are trying to qualify [for the 2018 World Cup].
Hart dismissed the suggestion that T&T must look for a creative go-to midfielder. He said the talent is present but short of confidence.
“It’s a matter of the players that we have, understanding their qualities and playing to those qualities. [We had] a lot of hesitation and were a little bit predictable. But it’s a confidence thing and it’s an understanding of what I would want from them and it would take some time.”
Following the match, New Zealand head coach Ricki Herbert believed his side should have come away winners but was satisfied not losing.
“Tonight was about being a side that was hard to beat, resolute and take something away from it,” he said. “We had opportunities, we might only get one or two of those in November and we have to be good enough to take them.”
New Zealand’s Aaron Clapham produced the visitors’ best effort in the 31st minute after the T&T defense failed to clear safely a Kasta Barbarouses’ cross, and Clapham’s first time volley produced an excellent diving save out of Central FC goalie Jan-Michael Williams.
Barbarouses, himself, had a try in the 59th minute after winning the ball above the area and working his way inside, but was wide of the target.
Teammate Winston Reid then forced a low save out of T&T substitute goalkeeper Marvin Phillip in the 70th minute from a low 40-yard freekick.
“It’s our first home game since the (Concacaf) Gold Cup (in July) and I know the team didn’t want to disappoint … more or less didn’t want to lose the game,” said Jones.
“Thanks to the people that turned out tonight. It was for a good cause. In all honesty we were hoping for a better crowd because of the situation (with Akeem Adams) and also it’s the first time seeing the team after the Gold Cup,” added the Stoke City forward.
“We probably started a little bit cagey and we took a while to start dominating in the right areas. Hopefully next time we can go out and win the game, but I’m quite pleased with the way we did some things, and hopefully in the future we can build on it and be better.”
Trinidad & Tobago's captain Kenwyn Jones against up agains New Zealand's Captain Winston Reid on a corner kick in the first half during an international friendly at the Hasley Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. T&T hosted the match in honor of fellow team mate Akeem Adams. The game ended 0-0 ... PHOTO: Allan V. Crane — at Hasely Crawford Stadium.