… Honduras down Warriors 2-0
The Trinidad and Tobago national under-23 football team was not short of effort or personality but, in the end, the young “Soca Warriors” lacked the ability to get to the knock out stage of the Concacaf London 2012 Olympic qualifying series.
A goal on either side of the half from strikers Eddie Hernandez and Anthony Lozano gave Honduras a deserved 2-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago as the latter’s Olympic dream ended tonight at the Home Depot Centre in California, United States.
Honduras will now go on to meet El Salvador in Saturday’s semi-finals. El Salvador surprisingly advanced ahead of the host nation after a 3-3 draw with the US yesterday.
Mexico, who plays Panama later tonight, is already assured of the last remaining semi-final berth and “El Tricolor” will tackle Canada in the knock out round.
Coach Angus Eve went with high hopes after a promising 2011 Pan American campaign in Guadelajara, Mexico where his boys pulled off draws against Uruguay, Ecuador and Mexico. But the Warriors struggled to match their Latin American opponents in Olympic competition.
Trinidad and Tobago was mauled 7-1 in its opener against Mexico last Friday. Eve’s team recovered to hold Panama 1-1 on Sunday but there was a slice of fortune about Shahdon Winchester’s stoppage time equaliser against the fellow table proppers.
Honduras ensured there would be no fairytale ending tonight.
“I thought the guys played an excellent game,” said Eve. “We gave away soft goals but saying that, if we took our chances we would ease off the pressure a bit.
“We brought on two faster strikers today and it worked well but we didn’t take our chances. Unfortunately we did not get the required result to move on and it’s back to the drawing board for us.”
Eve made four changes after the opening game and there were two alterations tonight too as strikers Winchester and Trevin Caeser stepped in for Jamal Gay and Micah Lewis.
But the Warriors spent much of the first half chasing the ball and it was to their credit that they resisted for as long as they did before Hernandez opened the score summary with a looping header in the 36th minute.
Crosses have been a glaring shortcoming for Trinidad and Tobago at the Olympic qualifiers and, on this occasion, the Sweden-based Hernandez beat defender Curtis Gonzales to a loose ball after the Warriors failed to clear a right side cross.
And, midway through the second half, the second goal duly arrived from the same route as Hernandez cleverly cushioned a right side cross down for his strike partner Lozano, a lower division player in Spain, to stroke home from close range.
There might have been more for Honduras as Johnny Levaron and Alfredo Mejia both struck the upright while Trinidad and Tobago custodian Andre Marchan escaped with one dropped cross and then atoned, late in the game, with a fine reflex save to keep out a Hernandez header.
Winchester, whose hold up play was a bright spot for T&T, forced a low save from Honduran goalkeeper Jose Mendoza near the end of the first half while midfielder Kevin Molino just missed the top corner with a fierce drive.
Lanky defender Daneil Cyrus seemed omnipresent in the backline and Mekeil Williams and Kevan George tracked, tackled and harassed Honduran attackers constantly.
But it never looked like being enough and, even during Trinidad and Tobago’s spells in possession, Mendoza was rarely stretched.
“I think the determination of the guys and the never say die attitude was good at times,” said Eve. “We did pass the ball well at times. I thought we played very good football at times after we settled down after the first couple of days.
“The biggest problem for me was in the goalscoring in the tournament.”
It meant the end of the road for the young Warriors who must now try to force their way into the senior squad for this year’s Caribbean Cup tournament, which will be held in Antigua and Barbuda this December.
“Hopefully we can rise out of this,” said Eve, “and continue preparing the players to perform at a good level in international football.”
T&T (against Honduras): Andre Marchan, Curtis Gonzales (Jayson Joseph), Kareem Moses, Mekeil Williams (Jomal Williams), Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones, Kevan George, Sheldon Bateau (Capt), Kevin Molino, Trevin Caesar (Jamal Gay), Shahdon Winchester
Unused Subs: Sheldon Clarke (GK), Leslie Russell, Sean De Silva, Jeromie Williams, Micah Lewis, Cordell Cato