PARAGUAY are on the schedule of the Soca Warriors in the coming months, and Trinidad and Tobago men´s footballers will also have another engagement in Europe soon. Unfortunately no big home matches are on the calendar just yet.
“This is just the kick off of our international matches for 2014,” Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee disclosed in Buenos Aires, following a 3-0 defeat to World Cup-bound Argentina on Wednesday night at the Estadio Monumental.
“When we come up here we don’t waste time. We have already begun discussions with the president of some other Associations,” the Port of Spain Mayor added. “In September, we have an invitation from some European teams and Paraguay in August.”
“We have to try and play some games outside,” the president added. “Number one, the market at home is not yet right and number two, you know where we are financially. We have to go places where we talking about euros or US dollars.”
Wednesday’s match was actually the first time both teams had met in an international match fielding full senior national teams. Calling the meeting “historic” Tim Kee was one of those satisfied by a competitive showing by the Soca Warriors against a better, world class opponents.
An English Premiership player for 10 years, Cardiff City striker Kenwyne Jones captained a starting team consisting of Central FC goalie Jan-Michael Williams; the England-born duo of right-back Justin Hoyte and central midfielder Andre Boucaud; locally-based midfielders Joevin Jones, Atuallah Guerra, and defender Yohance Marshall; Belgium-based duo Khaleem Hyland and Sheldon Bateau, Slovenia-based Lester Peltier and USA-based central defender Carlyle Mitchell. Kevin Molino, Kevan George, Willis Plaza and Rundell Winchester all got second half runs, while former Arsenal and England Under20 defender Gavin Hoyte made his T&T debut at age 23.
There was a full house at the 67,000 capacity Monumental stadium where the great Barcelona midfielder Lionel Messi captained an Argentina team containing Real Madrid´s Angel de Maria, goalkeeper Sergio Romer, Javier Mascherano and Fernando Gago among others.
On a night cold enough to naturally freeze dead fish, it must have been a shocker that the Soca Warriors were not just defending, but stringing a few good passes at times.
Boucaud was brave, and sometimes tried to do too much, while Bateau and Marshall stood out at the back. It actually took 37 minutes before Williams had to make a save from Gago in the box. Argentina went close a couple times, particularly through striker Ezequiel Lavezzi, who might have done his World Cup chances little good by missing a couple of expected goals.
The Soca Warriors rode their luck at times, for instance when Mitchell´s long lunge averted danger, but came perilously close to turning into an own goal. And Messi proved he was human when twice turning the ball wide from point-blank range. Yes, Messi. Of Barcelona.
But the Warrriors also had their moments. Gago almost turned Bateau´s cross into his own net, Atuallah Guerra had the Argentine keeper scrambling from long range, and Jones looked the favourite to meet a pass into the box, but was tackled at the last second.
“It was one of those things where you either get the touch or the tackle comes in,” Jones said afterwards. “This time the defender got in the tackle.” Then a lack of concentration saw Rodrigo Palacios heading in a corner despite Williams getting a touch, a minute into injury time and just before the half ended.
After the break, a piece of Messi magic saw a free-kick put onto the woodwork with Williams well-beaten. But was Mascherano off-side when he put in the rebound in the 51st minute? No one in a T&T shirt complained. And finally, substitute Maxi Rodríguez got Argentina´s third in the 64th, although the ball should never have gotten to Rodríguez after its deliverer fell near the goal-line.
Trinidad and Tobago´s next assignment is on June 8 in Sao Paulo, Brazil against another 2014 World Cup team, Iran, while Argentina play a final warm-up against Slovenia.
Argentina: 1. Sergio Romero, 3. Hugo Armando Campagnaro, 15. Martín Demichelis (23. José María Basanta 46th), 16. Marcos Rojo, 17. Federico Fernández, 5. Fernando Gago (6. Lucas Biglia 46th), 7. Ángel Di María (8. Enzo Pérez 63rd - Yellow 72), 14. Javier Mascherano (19. Ricardo Álvarez Puig 70th), 10. Lionel Messi (capt), 18. Rodrigo Palacio (13. Augusto Fernandez 76th), 22. Ezequiel Lavezzi (11. Maxi Rodríguez 56th).
Trinidad and Tobago: 21. Jan-Michael Williams, 2. Justin Hoyte, 4. Sheldon Bateau, 12. Yohance Marshall, 19. Carlyle Mitchell (Yellow 49) (17. Gavin Hoyte 71st), 3. Joevin Jones (13. Rundell Winchester 86th), 8. Khaleem Hyland (Yellow 37), 14.A ndre Boucaud (Yellow 26) (5. Kevan George 71st), 23. Lester Peltier, 7. Ataullah Guerra (10. Kevin Molino 60th), 9. Kenwyne Jones (capt) (11. Willis Plaza 77th).