The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team stumbled at the first CONCACAF hurdle today, as they were held 1-1 by Bermuda in 2017 Under-20 World Cup qualifying action at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Juan de Tibás in Costa Rica.
Kathon St Hillaire, a St Ann’s Rangers winger and St Anthony’s College student, opened the scoring for Trinidad and Tobago in the 23rd minute, after a clever assist by striker Nicholas Dillon.
But the teenaged Soca Warriors failed to build on that platform and paid the price in the 69th minute when giant goalkeeper Montel Joseph was second to a long ball and Bermudan substitute Jaz Smith rounded him and squeezed the ball past opposing defender Shane Sandy for Oneko Lowe to tap home.
It was Bermuda’s only shot on target for the game.
Warriors captain Jabari Mitchell muffed one attempted volley from inside the area and then clipped the bar with a delicious free kick that dipped and swerved in the 81st minute. But Trinidad and Tobago could not get the three points at stake.
Coach Brian Williams’ troops now need at least one win from their remaining two fixtures against hosts Costa Rica and El Salvador—on 22 and 25 February respectively—to have any chance of advancing to the final qualifying round.
El Salvador stunned Costa Rica 1-0 in this evening’s second Group C affair, as the hosts ended with 10 players following the late ejection of defender Esteban Gonzales in a fiery contest.
Trinidad and Tobago’s outing against with Bermuda was much more tranquil. It was the second meeting of the two Caribbean nations in the past four months, after they squared off in the CFU third place contest in Curaçao.
The boys from the two island republic lost 2-1 then, although Williams had rested Dillon and then first choice goalkeeper Denzil Smith.
There was more at stake today and Williams’ troops were marginally better. But not by enough against a nation long considered Caribbean minnows.
Although Trinidad and Tobago had five shots on target to one from Bermuda, the possession was almost dead even with the Warriors shading it with 51 percent.
And, despite a wicked late Mitchell free kick that struck the intersection of the bar and post, T&T could not pull off a win.
For the second successive competition, Williams might be worried too about the health of his star striker, Dillon, who hobbled off in the 62nd minute and was replaced by Josh Toussaint. Dillon was signed by Belgium second division team, K.Patro Maasmechelen, just before he joined his national teammates in Costa Rica.
Trinidad and Tobago’s next outing should be a searching examination of their World Cup ambitions as they face Costa Rica from 9pm at the Estadio Nacional on Wednesday 22 February.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 20.Montel Joseph; 2.Isaiah Garcia, 5.Taryk Sampson, 4.Shane Sandy, 8.Kierron Mason; 3.Kori Cupid, 11.Noah Powder; 13.Micah Lansiquot (19.Taofik Lucas Walker 81), 10.Jabari Mitchell (captain), 15.Kathon St Hillaire; 9.Nicholas Dillon (14.Josh Toussaint 62).
Unused substitutes: 1.Denzil Smith (GK), 6.Simeon Bailey, 7.Morgan Bruce De Rouche, 12.Joshua Sitney, 16.Rushawn Murphy, 17.Stephon Marcano, 18.Joshua Leach.
Coach: Brian Williams
2017 Under-20 World Cup qualifiers
(Sunday 19 February)
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Kathon St Hillaire 23), Bermuda 1 (Oneko Lowe 69) at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, Costa Rica;
Costa Rica 0, El Salvador 1 (Roberto Dominguez 65) at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa, Costa Rica;
(Wednesday 22 February)
El Salvador v Bermuda, 6.30pm, Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica;
Costa Rica v Trinidad and Tobago, 9pm, Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica;
(Saturday 25 February)
Trinidad and Tobago v El Salvador, 3.30pm, Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica;
Costa Rica v Bermuda, 6pm, Estadio Nacional, Costa Rica.