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Trinidad and Tobago's Andre Rampersad (#18) goes past Grenada's Jermaine Francis (#15) during the second half of a 2026 Concacaf World Cup Qualifier at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo on Wednesday, June 5th 2024.
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THE open, roller-coaster football World Cup qualifier that ended in a 2-2 draw between Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada on Wednesday night, might have been perfect entertainment for neutrals but in differing ways, was a nightmare for both coaches.

“Always good not to lose a game. But there’s a lot of stuff to be disappointed in,” T&T coach Angus Eve surmised after the game.

“I thought that the discipline was poor. I thought that the game was very open. There were a lot of chances on both sides. Probably a draw was the best we could have got out of the game, the way we played today.”

On a short stint with his national team and armed with several England-born players, Grenada coach Shalrie Joseph felt his side blew an opportunity to leave Port of Spain with full points.

“To be honest I’m a little bit disappointed. I thought we had the game in hand. We did a really good (job) on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, we gave up two goals from things we talked about all week.”

Joseph thought Grenada let an opportunity slip by not taking a three-goal first half lead through midfielder Darius Johnson. The Holland-based midfielder, who plays for top-flight (Eredivisie) club FC Volendam, bore down on goal menacingly, only to be denied by T&T goalie Denzil Smith. That save kept the Soca Warriors in the match, allowing them to battle back in the second half.

“You gotta give them (T&T) credit. They kept pushing and pushing,” Joseph said. “It was an open, wide game, and we give both countries credit for delivering such an open-wide and fun attacking soccer game.”

Eve admitted giving a more attacking look to his middle by using two attacking midfielders, Noah Powder and Ajani Fortune, with Daniel Phillips as the defensive link. But he wondered afterwards whether the right balance was struck.

“The midfield was too open, if anything,” said Eve. “It was only when we solidified the midfield in the second half by bringing on Andre Rampersad, then it gave us a platform for Nathaniel James and Reon Moore and Telfer (Ryan), and then to go forward and create chances.”

Facing constant criticism about being a defensive-minded coach, Eve explained that his approached has had to be pragmatic, given the players at his disposal.

“I’m realistic about the players that we have, and we are more dangerous on the counter-attack, as opposed to when we try to play open football,” said Eve. “You saw that again tonight.”

He added: “The game could have gone any side. It could have gone to them, it could have gone to us, based on the chances both teams had.”

Physicality and discipline were qualities coach Joseph expected from his Spice Island players. Grenada came with a strategy to shut down the Trinidad and Tobago midfield, and largely did so. Joseph revealed that he had extensively reviewed the Soca Warriors’ last ten matches before formulating his plans.

“I didn’t believe they had the quality in the midfield to play through us,” Joseph deduced. “We did a great job at keeping it tight and not allowing them to play there (in midfield). And once you start doing that, then you know automatically they’re going to look to play (the ball) long.”

Despite several of his footballers only playing in the English lower leagues, Joseph said they brought with them a strong work ethic.

“Physically, I thought we could dominate the ball. It’s about will. It’s about determination,“ Joseph said. “The mentality from the players showed from the very first minute. They were aggressive. They were getting in the tackles, they were winning their duels, they were winning their battles.”

He added: “We wanted to be the aggressors, even though we were on the road. No matter where we are, especially in Trinidad....we need to be the aggressor when we step on the field.”


SOURCE: T&T Express