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WAITING GAME

Soca Warriors beat Dominican Republic, hope for Haiti win

By Ian Prescott

The Dominican Republic still have not beaten Trinidad and Tobago in a competitive football match.

Yesterday, the "Soca Warriors" kept alive hopes of advancing to the final four of the 2012 Caribbean Cup by winning 2-1 at the Antigua Recreation Ground. Whether the Soca Warriors deserve to move further in competition is another question. Now on four points, after drawing 1-1 with Haiti and losing 2-0 to host Antigua and Barbuda, T&T still had to await the result of last night's late match between the Haiti (four points) and hosts Antigua and Barbuda (three points) to know their faith.

The Dominican Republic finished Group A with (three points) from three matches. According to the official competition rules distributed yesterday, goal-difference is the first option used to separate teams if they are tied on point after last night's matches.

Who would have thought that the Caribbean's most dominant football teams T&T and Jamaica would be bottom of the Caribbean Cup standings after two rounds of matches?

The Soca Warriors began yesterday evening's match having to beat a vastly improved and skilful Dominican Republic team containing several players who passed through the USA collegiate circuit, along with Puerto Rico Islander striker Jonathan Frias. Erick Ozuna, Domingo Peralta and midfield creator Inoel Navarra all play in Haiti, while Cesar Ledesma plys his trade in Switzerland. They also had Carlos Martinez, who plays in Spain for Barcelona's youth team.

T&T began without Slovakia-based Lester Peltier, out of the tournament with a hamstring injury, and Vietnam-based Hughton Hector, who is also out of the tournament with an ankle injury. It took goals from Kevon Carter (13th) and Kevin Molino (70th) to give Trinidad and Tobago its first win of the tournament, while the Dominican Republic scored through Kerbi Gonzales (52nd).

Carter was one of three additional substitutes Trinidad and Tobago made, Army footballers Carter, defender Curtis Gonzalves and Devorn Jorsling to replace the injured Hector, Jamaal Gay, and also talented, but careless playmaker Kevin Molino.

But, it was not an assured performance. The Soca Warriors began well enough and were in the lead as early as the 14th minute; Dominican Republic 'keeper Miguel Lloyd helped by bundling Carter's effort over the goal-line. But T&T played with fear, played far too deep, and allowed the Dominican Republic to take control. It was a disjointed, edgy performance most of the way.

Something must be wrong when a national footballer cannot score a goal from six yards. Jorsling was clear down the middle, but had the ball on his weaker right foot and not the conviction to shoot. There was also a moment of madness from Densill Theobald in the 39th when the experienced central midfielder tried to control the ball under pressure atop the six-yard box, only to provide Jonathan Frias with a free shot at goal. Fortunately, T&T goalie Jan Michael Williams was alert, and his long hand forced the ball overbar.

Eventually, the Dominican Republic were level at 1-1 in the 52nd when Rodriguez had all the time he needed to settle and hit a shot off the underside of the crossbar. And only the alert work of goalie Williams kept the Dominican Republic from going further ahead when carrying Gonzales wide and taking away the angle from another shot.

Just when nothing seemed to be happening, Lloyd spilled Curtis Gonzalez's hard, low shot from outside the penalty area, and running in, Molino forced home the rebound to give the Soca Warriors a 2-1 lead. The Dominican Republic were almost finished off in the 78th when first Molino's low shot was parried by Lloyd, and when Ataullah Guerra fired the rebound hard to goal, it hit the upright.

Lloyd then kept his team in the game with a series of late saves. First he stopped Daneil Cyrus' bullet, and also a weak header from Aubrey David in the centre of goal.

Substitute Keyon Edwards also turned a shot wide from a good position, while at the other end, Williams also a last effort from his former W Connection teammate Frias into the side netting, before handing him a consoling pat on the head.

Still, T&T were left waiting after the match for the late encounter that began at 7 p.m. and finished after press time last night.

T&T will be hoping the teams don't draw to ensure they finish in the top two in Group A.

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