Tropical Storm Rafael was arguably not the most awesome sight at Warner Park in St Kitts and Nevis yesterday evening as the Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team thumped Anguilla 10-0 to seal its place in the Caribbean Cup semifinal round.
The “Soca Warriors” only needed to avoid a heavy defeat to advance from the four-team group. But interim coach Hutson Charles’ men had other ideas as they raced to a seven-goal lead by the interval in the pouring rain before notching three more items in the second half.
“I think the results here meant a lot for us, especially the players and everyone back home who would like to see the football go forward,” Charles told the TTFF Media, “especially in light of everything that occurred before we got to St Kitts.
“Hopefully we are sending the right signals and we can continue to progress towards the Finals and onward to the Gold Cup next year.”
The national senior team programme is under threat due to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation’s (TTFF) perilous financial situation.
The TTFF has not received its US$250,000 annual subvention from FIFA since its former special advisor and present National Security Minister Jack Warner failed to convince the governing body that relief funds meant for Haiti was properly dispersed.
And the Ministry of Sport is yet to fund an international tour since Warner asked Sport Minister Anil Roberts financially starve the local body in a letter on 20 April 2012.
The TTFF has also had its fixed assets seized by members of its 2006 World Cup, on 8 February 2012, after it failed to honour a bonus agreement with the Warriors.
The bonus agreement was negotiated by Warner on the TTFF’s behalf while general secretary Richard Groden and ex-president Oliver Camps swore to High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad that only the Chaguanas West MP knows the whereabouts of the World Cup income.
Even 16 months after Warner’s hasty exit from football in the midst of bribery allegations, his immense shadow continues to loom over the local game.
Yesterday, the Warriors took out their frustration on a hapless Anguillan team in the most lopsided result enjoyed by a Trinidad and Tobago senior team since the “Strike Squad” mauled Aruba 11-0 in a Caribbean Cup fixture back in 1989. Charles, a classy former Defence Force midfielder, was in the line-up against Aruba and he had the best seat at Warner Park for another outrageous goal feast on Sunday.
According to FIFA, which placed Anguilla at 204th in its latest rankings, there are only five nations in the world that are worse at football than the Caribbean minnows.
The tiny island, whose population of 15,000 could fit into La Horquetta, might have felt reasonably satisfied with its first two outings in this group phase after a 2-0 loss to St Kitts and Nevis and a still digestible 4-1 defeat to French Guiana.
But lanky Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA striker Jamal Gay and Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel offered a humiliating end to Anguilla’s 2012 Caribbean Cup campaign within the first 40 minutes.
Gay scored four times while Daniel grabbed a hattrick.
Jason Scotland was the last Trinidad and Tobago player to notch a beavertrick after he managed four goals in a 9-0 romp over the Dominican Republic in a friendly international on 8 October 2008 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
Charles responded by replacing Gay and Daniel at the interval but the goals continued to flow.
Substitute Willis Plaza, who is employed by Sai Gon FC in Vietnam, chipped in with a double while T&TEC winger Sylvester Teesdale, who made his international debut against Anguilla, also got a goal to go along with five assists.
The Warriors’ most testing moment of the affair came when strong winds blew over the substitutes’ bench in the first half to remind spectators that Tropical Storm Rafael was pretty mean too.
It was a rough day for the host nation as St Kitts and Nevis was eliminated too after a surprise 3-0 loss to French Guiana at the same venue.
Trinidad and Tobago and French Guiana both advance to the semifinal round, next month, in which 12 teams will be split into three groups of four. The winners and runner-ups will go on to the December 2012 Caribbean Cup finals in Antigua and Barbuda while the top three nations there qualify for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Trinidad and Tobago has not played in a Gold Cup tournament since 2007 while the two-island republic has not won a Caribbean Cup since 2001.
Charles believes the Warriors still need to strengthen its player pool to achieve either target.
“We did exactly what we came here to do which was to get nine points. We achieved that but the mission is far from over,” Charles told TTFF Media.
“The next round will be tough and we definitely have to get some reinforcements,” said Charles. “We have already started planning. We had a meeting earlier today and we have already been communicating with the others back home about the preparations for the next stage.
“We will be looking at some of the possible additions to the team for the next phase.”
The overseas-based quartet of defender Julius James, attacker Darryl Roberts and midfielders Khaleem Hyland and Kevin Molino were ruled out of the preliminary Caribbean Cup phase for various reasons and might be requested again.
Local Pro League talent like North East Stars striker Cornell Glen, DirecTV W Connection winger Rennie Britto and Caledonia AIA right back Kareem “Tiny” Joseph might also hope to catch Charles’ attention by then.
Trinidad and Tobago hosts Cuba, Suriname and the runners up from the final preliminary round qualifying group, which comprises of Guyana, St Lucia, Curacao and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
The semifinal round kicks off on November 14.
The Warriors are due to leave St Kitts today in two trips at 1 pm and 10 pm respectively, once the weather permits.
TT (4-2-3-1 system): 1.Jan-Michael Williams (Capt); 17.Daneil Cyrus, 5.Carlyle Mitchell (6.Kareem Moses 54), 20.Seon Power, 3.Joevin Jones; 2.Clyde Leon, 7.Hughton Hector; 11.Kevon Carter, 19.Keon Daniel (14.Willis Plaza 46), 8.Sylvester Teasdale; 14.Jamal Gay (9.Devorn Jorsling 46).
Unused Subs: Marvin Phillip, Kevon Neaves, Richard Roy, Curtis Gonzales.
2012 Caribbean Cup preliminary round
T&T 10 (Jamal Gay 7, 14, 25, 38, Keon Daniel 11, 37, 40, Willis Plaza 53, 63, Sylvester Teesdale 71), Anguilla 0 in St Kitts
French Guiana 3, St Kitts 0 in St Kitts
Standings (Tabulated as Played-Won-Drawn-Lost-Goals For-Goals Against-Points)
Trinidad and Tobago 3-3-0-0-16-1-9
French Guiana 3-2-0-1-8-5-6
St Kitts and Nevis 3-1-0-2-2-4-3