A new-look Trinidad and Tobago national football team did well enough to earn plaudits but not a result as the “Soca Warriors” fell 3-2 to the visiting Finland outfit last night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
The Warriors led twice and matched their guests for long spells but occasional mental lapses proved costly. The Finnish squad made the most of its chances as second half finishes from Toni Kolehmainen and Kasper Hamalainen header meant the Scandinavians ended with bragging rights.
Interim local coach Hutson “Barber” Charles, a former national stand-out, preferred to see the cup as half full in the post-game press conference, though.
“I’m satisfied with the performance (last night) given the little time we had,” said Charles. “I’m encouraged by the heart and the pride that they showed.”
Both teams were well below full strength. Half of Charles’ 20-man squad was drafted in from the under-23 squad and there were three debutantes in the starting line-up and five more who were introduced off the substitutes’ bench.
Finland also began with three rookies while only one starting player, midfielder Daniel Sjolund, had more than ten international appearances to his name.
Not surprisingly then, the two teams were tentative in their set-up and preferred to sit deep without possession rather than press for the ball.
Kevin Molino, in particular, took a liking to the space afforded to him in central midfield and his measured use of the ball was an early bright spot for the Warriors. The opening goal was deserved although the players involved were a surprise.
The Finnish backline responded slowly to a lofted pass from right back Curtis Gonzales and Seon Power, who had not yet retreated from a Trinidad and Tobago set piece, ran on to the ball and crossed accurately for his fellow central defender, Mekeil Williams, to tuck home from close range. It was a dream senior debut for Williams and Gonzales