Young Warriors face Haiti today
Trinidad and Tobago's junior national footballers will be looking for a second victory when they take on Haiti in their second Group A match of the Caribbean Final Round Under-20 Championships, at the Waterhouse Mini-Stadium, in Kingston, Jamaica, today. The teams meet at six p.m. (T&T time), while Curacao face Puerto Rico in the opening game, two hours earlier.
T&T opened the tournament with a 2-0 victory over Puerto Rico on Monday, while Haiti edged Curacao 2-1. But head coach Ross Russell knows that T&T will have to improve on their finishing after wasting numerous chances against the Puerto Ricans.
A win today will qualify T&T as one of the five Caribbean teams for next year' s CONCACAF Final Round, in Puebla, Mexico. Four CONCACAF nations will qualify for the 2013 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Turkey.
"It's quite obvious that this game against Haiti could decide the group, and we know that if we can get a victory then it will put us through to the next round. But we would like to win all three games, and we've started on the right note with the win today," Russell told T&T Football Federation (TTFF) Media Officer Shaun Fuentes, following Monday's victory over Puerto Rico. "The win was important, but I don't think we played as well as we should have. We missed too many chances to put the game out of their reach, and a better team may not allow us to get through."
On Monday, an 89th minute goal from Central FC winger Shaquille Nesbitt sealed the win over Puerto Rico. Nesbitt's goal came after a series of second half misses by T&T which kept Puerto Rico in the game until the final minute. The win left T&T atop the Group A table, ahead of Haiti on goal difference.
Lone forward Shackiel Henry, who missed Presentation College's Big Four Final on the same day, opened the scoring for T&T in the 34th minute. The former T&T Under 17 forward placed a low right-footer past goalkeeper Matthew Sanchez, after Adan Noel did the bulk of the build-up. Noel skipped past four challenges before playing the ball into Henry's path. Noel suffered a hamstring strain in the process and had to be replaced by 16-year-old Akeem Garcia, who later turned provider for Nesbitt's goal.
Puerto Rico came into the final round after defeating Barbados and Bermuda and holding Haiti in preliminary round qualifying. They appeared confident of posing a stiff challenge to Russell's men, but should have found themselves trailing in as early as the first minute when Henry dragged a right-footer wide of the far post.
Skipper Duane Muckette had a 22nd minute penalty saved after defender Alvin Jones was pulled down inside the box. And soon after, T&T got a scare when Deniz Bozkurt forced keeper Quesi Weston to make his first save of the match. Eventually, T&T broke the deadlock through Henry thanks to Noel's charge towards the box from near the half line.
Puerto Rico faded in the second half as T&T took control of proceedings but squandered many chances. Jomal Williams and Henry missed a couple sitters, while Garcia, Shaquille Holder and Nesbitt also had chances to score.
"I'm happy for the three points," said Russell, "but it was a bit disturbing to see how poor we were in the finishing department. We will definitely need to work on that. I don't think the guys followed some of the instructions, but a win is a win and we have to move on from here and try to get it right for the remainder of the tournament."
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: 20. Quesi Weston, 2. Anthony Charles, 3. Alvin Jones, 5. Damani Richards, 6. Adan Noel (14. Akeem Garcia 38th), 7. Neil Benjamin, 8. Duane Muckette, 10. Jomal Williams, 11. Xavier Rajpaul (19.Marcus Gomez 83rd), 15. Shaquille Nesbitt, 17. Shackiel Henry (12. Shaquille Holder 63rd). Unused Subs: Kevin Dodds, Shannon Gomez, Keane McIvor, Garvin Samaroo. Coach: Ross Russell
P W T L GF GA GD PTS
Trinidad & Tobago 1 1 0 0 2 0 +2 3
Haiti 1 1 0 0 2 1 +1 3
Curaçao 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0
Puerto Rico 1 0 0 1 0 2 -2 0