Trinidad and Tobago’s path to next month’s Caribbean Cup football finals in Antigua and Barbuda became more complicated this evening before the “Soca Warriors” had even taken the field.
A draw between St Vincent and the Grenadines and Cuba means that the Trinidad and Tobago footballers will almost certainly need maximum points tonight against Suriname and on Sunday afternoon against the Cubans to have a realistic chance of advancing past the semifinal group stage, which is being held at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet.
The Vincentians have just two points from successive matches but would be favourites to win against Suriname on Sunday, which would take them to five points. Cuba already has four points but enjoys a goal differential of plus five.
Unless Trinidad and Tobago puts five past Suriname, three points tonight plus a draw against Cuba on Sunday would be useless as the Spanish-speaking islanders would advance by virtue of a better goal difference.
It was the worse result that could have happened for the hosts.
Buoyed by Wednesday’s draw against the Warriors, “Vincey Heat” got off to a flying start. Almost literally. St Vincent and the Grenadines and Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA winger Cornelius Stewart is so fast that match officials should be obliged to check under his hood before kick off.
Seven minutes into the contest, Stewart wheeled away from his markers to run on to a through pass and blasted to the right of veteran goalkeeper Odelin Molina to put St Vincent and the Grenadines ahead.
The Vincentians should have gone two goals clear in the 10th minute as defender Keith James misdirected a free header off an Emerald George corner kick. The Cuban defence could not cope with the pace of the St Vincent attackers and captain and central defender Jorge Clavelo did not win a tackle in the entire first half—and not for want of trying either.
Like against the Warriors, St Vincent defended with its back four defenders within almost touching distance of each other and four midfielders just a few yards ahead of them. Cuban maestro Marcel Hernandez must have felt like he was locked in a closet.
Cuba did muster an equaliser, three minutes into the second half, by using the only route available; the flank.
A quick diagonal ball over the top by Jaine Colome found Ariel Martinez with time and space down the left wing and his cross was expertly dispatched by beefy striker Robert Linares.
Hernandez almost conjured up an unlikely winner in stoppage time with an effort from an acute angle but Vincentian goalkeeper Kenyan Lynch fended the ball away to preserve a precious point for both teams.
Neither outfit did the Warriors any favours.
St Vincent and the Grenadines: 1.Kenyan Lynch; 22.Keith James, 18.Reginald Richardson, 6.Shemol Trimmingham, 3.Roy Richards (16.Jolanshoy McDowald 71); 11.Wendell Cuffy (13.Romano Snagg 81), 8.Darren Hamlet, 21.Theo Gordon, 17.Emerald George; 7.Cornelius Stewart; 9.Myron Samuel (5.Nical Stephen 89).
Unused subs: 20.Dwaine Sandy, 2.Wesley Charles, 10.Nazir McBernette, 15.Azinho Solomon.
Coach: Cornelius Huggins
Cuba: 1.Odelin Molina; 14.Alianni Urgelles, 5.Jorge Clavelo (capt), 15.Renay Malblanche, 3.Jorge Corrales; 20.Alberto Gomez (18.Ruslan Batista 90), 2.Carlos Francisco, 8.Jaine Colome, 11.Ariel Martinez (13.Adonis Ramos 79); 7.Marcel Hernandez; 10.Roberto Linares (17.Alexy Zuazanabal 88).
Unused subs: 12.Julio Pichardo, 6.Yoel Colome, 9.Yaudel Lahera, 22.Jose Cardenas.
Coach: Walter Benitez
2012 Caribbean Cup Semifinal Phase
Friday November 16
Cuba 1 (Roberto Linares 49), St Vincent and the Grenadines 1 (Cornelius Stewart 7) at Bacolet[standings league_id=6 template=extend logo=true]
Editor’s Note: Wired868’s 2012 Caribbean Cup semi-final coverage is sponsored by DirecTV