The Trinidad and Tobago national men’s football team made only its third international appearance of 2012 this evening and was no match for an experimental Canada team as the “Soca Warriors” fell 2-0 in south Florida.
Canada, who is coached by Trinidadian Stephen Hart, is in second place of its CONCACAF 2014 World Cup qualifying group and preparing to face group leaders, Panama, next month. Group C also includes Honduras and Cuba and the top two teams advance to the final CONCACAF qualifying round.
Panama, incidentally, secured an international fixture away to Portugal today, which they lost 2-0 with Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo contributing a goal.
The Warriors are a long way from such glamorous outings at the moment. Instead, Trinidad and Tobago lined up against an experimental Canadian outfit at Fort Lauderdale’s Central Broward Regional Complex, which is more used to hosting cricket games.
Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones and Racing Genk midfielder Khaleem Hyland were among several high-profiled Trinidad and Tobago players who opted to skip the fixture while interim head coach Hutson Charles is not aided by the fact that the local Pro League is still in its pre-season. Not that the cash strapped Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) can afford to pass up the chance to play, particularly when the opponent is picking up the bill.
Trinidad and Tobago started well enough and Slovak-based winger Lester Peltier gave promising glimpses in attack. But Canada was unfortunate not to be ahead before the interval as 25-year-old striker Tousaint Ricketts danced through the Trinidad and Tobago defence but blasted his eventual effort off the near upright.
Ricketts, who was a substitute in Canada’s World Cup qualifying draw against Honduras in June and already has three senior goals, further enhanced his credentials by volleying home the opener in the 58th minute although there was an arguably decisive deflection from Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell.
Mitchell, a former Joe Public utility player, now plays professionally in Canada with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Trinidad and Tobago custodian and captain Jan-Michael Williams was beaten again from the penalty spot in the 86th minute as Will Johnson’s spot kick but failed to keep it out as it squirmed under his arm after he dived to his right. The penalty was awarded after substitute Kareem Moses blocked a Canadian effort with his hands.
Charles bemoaned Trinidad and Tobago’s tame finish to the game.
“I thought we started well but we withered as the game went on and that was evident because of some of the players not being in full season and still preparing for the star of the Pro League back home,” Charles told TTFF Media. “But in saying that I was hoping that we would have capitalized on the chances that we got and put the pressure on Canada. But instead they got their goals and the game got easier for them.
“But we’ve only just come together a couple days before this game and hopefully with a couple more games under our belt, we will get that cohesiveness in time for the Digicel Cup.”
The Warriors fell 3-2 to Finland at Port of Spain in January and then thrashed Antigua and Barbuda 4-0 at St John’s in February before this evening’s loss to Canada.
Trinidad and Tobago is preparing for next month’s Caribbean Cup tournament in Puerto Rico.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1 Jan-Michael Williams (capt); 14.Curtis Gonzales, 5.Seon Power (6.Kareem Moses 77), 19. Carlyle Mitchell, (3.Rodell Elcock 70), 15.Joevin Jones; 7.Lester Peltier (11.Darryl Roberts 46), 2. Clyde Leon, 10. Kevin Molino, 16. Keon Daniel; 9.Devorn Jorsling (4.Daneil Cyrus 53’),12.Richard Roy.
Unused sub: Cleon John.