The Trinidad and Tobago national football team failed to scale the Belize defensive wall last night at the FFB Stadium in Belmopan as the two 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup-bound nations played to a goalless draw for the second time in three years.
Defence Force striker Devorn Jorsling was ejected late in the match and will be suspended for Tuesday’s friendly away to Peru while Philadelphia Union midfielder Keon Daniel will also be unavailable as, according to TTFF press officer Shaun Fuentes, he must return to Trinidad to renew his United States work visa.
The technical staff has not called up replacements. It is uncertain whether joint coaches Hutson “Barber” Charles and Jamaal Shabazz had the option to send for an additional player anyway since the team did not even travel with sufficient funds to even pay match fees and stipends during the tour.
It means that the “Soca Warriors” travel to Lima with 17 available players and will not even have enough Warrions to fill their bench against the South American nation that defeated them 2-0 on 7 February 2013 in Couva.
If the Peru football authorities look at the shorthanded Trinidad and Tobago squad and scratch their head, locals will merely tally another embarrassment on a tour that now borders on shambolic.
Twice, the Warriors threatened to boycott their engagements as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) failed to raise sufficient match fees and stipends for the tour from the Ministry of Sport while yesterday’s match was only moved to the FFB Stadium after players protested the woeful conditions at the MCC Grounds in Belize City.
Some of the Warriors’ mishaps might be self-inflicted.
Charles and Shabazz declined the chance to use Kazakhstan-based defender Robert Primus as his club, Aktobe FC, only wanted him to be used in one match.
Yet, Daniel, who twice walked out on the national tournament before decisive Gold Cup qualifying rounds last year, was invited back in similar circumstances.
Was the technical staff aware that the United States Major League Soccer (MLS) midfielder would only be available to face Peru? Did Philadelphia Union use the TTFF to fund Daniel’s trip to Trinidad for a work permit? Or did Daniel just decide to take up the opportunity for a game while on club business?
A photograph from last night’s match suggested that Daniel, who was involved in much of Trinidad and Tobago’s best offensive work, took over the captain’s armband in the second half when stand-in captain and 2006 World Cup midfielder Densill Theobald was replaced.
Finland Premier League-bound playmaker Ataullah Guerra was also in the initial squad for the Warriors’ tour until it was discovered that he could not travel since he gave up his passport to arrange his Finnish work permit. His trip home was funded by Neal & Massy Caledonia AIA.
The Warriors left Belize for Peru today and Wired868 was unable to reach the squad for further details.
Yesterday’s fixture was not broadcast live on local television station CNC3, as advertised, while the online feed was poor.
On the positive side, North East Stars captain Cleon John managed a clean sheet on his full international debut for the “Soca Warriors” while two former 2006 World cup players, Port Vale midfielder Chris Birchall and North East Stars striker Cornell Glen, returned to the national fold.
Versatile DIRECTV W Connection player Joevin Jones, arguably Trinidad and Tobago’s best midfielder at present, played at left back but was credited with a fine performance there.
Central FC midfielder Darren Mitchell and Point Fortin Civic Centre midfielder Marcus Joseph, who plays in the Southern Football Association (SFA) league, also made their senior international debuts as substitutes.
In another twist, Mitchell was introduced in the 88th minute while his Central FC teammate Jason Marcano, who joined the squad four days late as a replacement for Guerra, came on 22 minutes earlier.
Belize, whose recent success is based on a solid defensive structure, ensured that the Trinidad and Tobago attackers got little joy as the teams cancelled each other out.
Glen arguably came closest to a goal for Trinidad and Tobago when his improvised volley in the 20th minute was inches wide after the opposing defence failed to clear a Birchall free kick.
Belize striker Deon McCauley also conjured up a clear scoring opportunity after he skilfully eluded Daneil Cyrus but the Central American nation’s record scorer dragged his shot wide at the near post.
Both sides ended with 10 players on the field as Belizean defender Tyrone Pandy was ejected for a late foul on Jorsling while the latter player also saw red for his reaction to the tackle.
The match was officiated by three Belizean referees, Irfan Basdemir, Ricardo Ake and Daniel Catzim.
Trinidad and Tobago: 22.Cleon John; 4.Curtis Gonzales, 6.Daneil Cyrus, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 3.Joevin Jones; 14.Kevon Carter (12.Marcus Joseph 66), 7.Chris Birchall (second vice-captain), 18.Densill Theobald (captain) (16.Keyon Edwards 75), 17.Keon Daniel (vice-captain) (15.Darren Mitchell 88); 9.Kenwyne Jones (8.Jason Marcano 66), 13.Cornell Glen (10.Devorn Jorsling 75 RC).
Unused substitutes: Marvin Phillip, Kareem Moses, Aubrey David.
Next international fixture
(26 March 2013)
Trinidad and Tobago versus Peru in Lima.
Click here for Trinidad and Tobago versus Belize highlights.