Facing the music: T&T joint head coach Jamaal Shabazz in the hot seat following the Soca Warriors 2-0 defeat to Antigua Barbuda at the 2012 Caribbean Cup at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Sunday night. –Photo: Ian Prescott

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Desperation time for misfiring Warriors

T&T under pressure following 2-0 loss to Antigua

By Ian Prescott

T&T's Soca Warriors can still have a chance of reaching the last four of the 2012 Caribbean Cup with a handsome victory this evening over the Dominic Republic at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

But, there is no doubting the walloping suffered by T&T when they were defeated 2-0 by hosts Antigua and Barbuda at the Antigua Recreation Ground on Sunday night. It was just the second-ever win for Antigua-Barbuda over T&T in 12 meetings, the first being a 2-1 win coming in 2005 in St John's as well.

The tightly-contested Group A gives all four teams a qualifying chance on the final day. Haiti take on Antigua-Barbuda at 7 p.m., while earlier (5 p.m.) T&T face the Dominican Republic. The mainly young, but skilled DR team is led by tricky and dangerous ex-W Connection assassin Jonathan Frias. The Republicans are a close-knit bunch that share everything–even a 20-ounce soft drink and a few cookies–as they looked on at T&T's demise.

"It a huge challenge coming up against the Dominican Republic in the last match. But we still in with a chance, and we believe and we believe," T&T joint head-coach Jamaal Shabazz said. "Its going to be a game in which we have to put them under a lot of pressure and take the attack to them. But it's certainly a challenge our team is up to."

"We must be able to face the reality that our back is against the wall and we got to come out fighting. It is not a great situation that we in, but great teams become great because they are able to come out of tight and difficult situations."

Antigua and Barbuda were in a party mood after Sunday's victory.

Quinton Griffith gave the "Benna Boys" a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute, the defender not giving T&T goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams a hope when reacting first and "bulleting" the rebound off his own free-kick home. A special goal indeed.

Captain Randolph Burton later missed a sitter when he found the underside of the crossbar, when most of the Soca Warriors were caught upfield by a quick counter-attack, but eventually, ex-San Juan Jabloteh striker Peter Byers–not pressured quickly enough in the penalty area–got the second goal to make it 2-0 in the 73rd with a speculative, low shot between players.

For the first hour though, Antigua-Barbuda looked as if they would be destroyed. The Soca Warriors controlled the ball, were pushing them back, and locals were loudly cursing Benna Boys head coach Rolston "Debu" Williams.

There were chances for created for T&T'S Kevin Molino and Jamaal Gay, who both turned the ball wide, while Hughton Hector, disappointed by blasting overbars at the first post in the 38 minute. Then T&T went flat.

"They outscored us in the game. We created our chances, they created their chances. They score theirs, we didn't...and I think that sums up the game," Shabazz said.

"We kept the ball, we moved it. We found space behind them, but they scored the chances."

The Soca Warriors always seem vulnerable to physical teams like Jamaica, Grenada and Antigua-Barbuda, who are far more committed to working hard over 90 minutes. The exception is the sometimes erratic, but always totally committed central defender Seon Power.

Antigua and Barbuda only got going in the in the final 10 minutes of the first half when Kemio Alexander forced a low save from the T&T keeper Williams, who later also turned Byers' angled shot away for a corner.

But Antigua-Barbuda came out resilient in the second half. T&T were lethargic, and indisciplined and lost the midfield. Meanwhile, Griffith scored before T&T brought on another striker, Devorn Jorsling, who cannoned Ataullah Guerra's pass off the Antigua-Barbuda crossbar in the 70th minute.

Molino also had two chances, first breaking through but hitting poorly to keeper Molvin James. Later the ex-Mucurapo Senior Comprehensive midfielder was clear through the defence, but lacked speed and was overhauled by a defender. T&T became desperate at the end, and by then

"Debu" was king in Antigua, and complimenting his players for aggressively sticking to the game plan.

Teams:

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: 1.Jan-Michael Williams (Capt/goalkeeper); 17.Daneil Cyrus, 20.Seon Power, 5.Carlyle Mitchell, 2.Aubrey David; 18.Densill Theobald; 7.Hughtun Hector (13.Richard Roy -79th), 10.Kevin Molino (11.Kevon Carter -68th), 8.Ataullah Guerra, 3.Joevin Jones; 15.Jamal Gay, (9.Devorn Jorsling – 65th).

Unused Substitutes: 21.Marvin Phillip, 4.Curtis Gonzales, 6.Kareem Moses, 12.Lester Peltier, 14.Willis Plaza, 16.Keyon Edwards.

Coaches: Hutson Charles/Jamaal Shabazz. Assiant-coach:Derek King.

ANTIGUA & BARBUDA:

18. Molvin James (Goalkeeper), 4.Karinja Mack, 9.Stefan Smith, 10. Kemoi Alexander, 11. Quinton Griffith, 12.Gason Gregory, 13.Tamorley Thomas, 14.Randolph Burton, 16. Peter Byers 17. George Dublin, 20. Akeem Thomas.

Subs: 1.Olson Forde. 3. Roy Gregory, 5.Troy Dublin, 6. Ranja Christian, 7. Eugine Kirwin, 8. Lloyde Jeremy, 15. Taran Williams,19. Luke George. Coach: Rolston Williams.

UPCOMING MATCHES:

Today:

(Group A)

5 p.m. - Trinidad & Tobago v Dominican Republic, ARG

7 p.m. - Antigua & Barbuda v Haiti, ARG

Tomorrow:

(Group B)

5 p.m. - French Guiana v Martinique, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound

7 p.m. - Jamaica v Cuba, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound

CARIBBEAN CUP STANDINGS

GROUP A

P W D L F A Pts

Haiti 2 1 1 0 2 1 4

Antigua & Barbuda 1 1 0 1 3 2 3

Dominican Republic 2 1 0 1 3 3 3

Trinidad & Tobago 2 0 1 1 0 2 1

GROUP B

French Guiana 1 1 0 0 2 1 3

Martinique 1 1 0 0 1 0 3

Cuba 1 0 0 1 0 1 0

Jamaica 1 0 0 1 1 2 0

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