The Trinidad and Tobago Boys National Under-15 Team closed off their Group D fixtures at the Concacaf Championship this morning with a 3-0 loss to Portugal at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Portugal, a European powerhouse, are competing in the Concacaf tournament as a guest team.
Today’s result meant the young Soca Warriors ended their group fixtures with one point from their three outings, as their 1-1 draw with Barbados was sandwiched by 3-0 defeats to Costa Rica and Portugal respectively.
Trinidad and Tobago finished above Barbados on goal difference and will face the third placed team from another group to determine their final rank in Concacaf’s 16 team top tier.
Barbados, whose technical staff is led by Trinidad and Tobago football icon and former national senior and youth team coach Russell Latapy, fell 2-1 to Costa Rica today after both teams went into the halftime break at 1-1. The final result saw Barbados end with a goal difference of minus seven while T&T’s goal difference was minus six.
After a testing July/August period in which the Warriors conceded 17 goals in five games—with four losses and one draw—against Panama, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica and Barbados respectively, captain Jaheim Marshall responded positively to today’s challenge against arguably the best team of the lot. Only a brilliant save by Portugal custodian Diogo Pinto denied Trinidad and Tobago the opening goal, as the flying goalkeeper pushed a swerving Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite free kick off his right upright in the 16th minute.
It was not an isolated moment of menace from T&T either as forward Ja-shawn Thomas and flanker Josiah Wilson, in particular, held their own for large portions of the affair.
However Portugal, who had two items ruled out for offside in the first half and another effort off the bar in the 45th minute, would not be denied and eventually went ahead with a close range header by Herculano Nabian from a short corner in the 47th minute. The Europeans then struck twice in the last three minutes, through Marcos Cruz and Ricardo Marques, to end with a comfortable scoreline.
The win saw Portugal top the Group D standings followed by Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados respectively. The top two nations advance to the knockout stage of the Concacaf Under-15 Championship.
National Under-15 coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier said he was pleased with his team’s performance today and suggested that strength and conditioning work could lead to improvement going forward.
“I am hoping that we could continue the work we have started,” Fevrier told the TTFA Media. “We obviously need a continuous strength and conditioning program for these boys and we also need to continue playing international games similar to the level we played today.
“[…] In the last five minutes of the game I could see they were getting tired and they lost concentration and conceded two goals. But generally speaking I was quite pleased with the performance given the quality and level of the opponents.”
Trinidad and Tobago U-15 Team: 1.Kanye Lazarus (GK); 2.Christian Bailey, 4.Jeron Pascall, 6.Jaheim Marshall (captain), 7.Abdul Quddoos Hypolite (10.Nathaniel James 42), 9.Ja-Shawn Thomas, 11.Josiah Wilson (16.Isaiah Thompson 48), 12.Triston Stafford, 13.Kassidy Davison, 15.Dantaye Gilbert, 17.Jaheim Faustin (8.Molik Khan 48).
Unused substitutes: 18.Triston Edwards (GK), 3.Dawn St. Rose, 5.Tyrik Trotman, 14.Deshawn Brown.
Portugal U-15 Team: 12.Diogo Pinto (GK); 3.Antonio Teixeira, 4.Gabriel Costa (captain), 6.Joao Faria (10.Marco Cruz 67) 11.Lucas Rodriguez (7.Ricardo Marques 35), 13.Dario Essugo, 14.Diogo Monteiro, 15.Tiargo Octavio (8. Diogo Priosts 63), 16.Goncaio Esteves (5.Francisco Silva 35), 17.Diego Moreira, 18.Youssaf Chermiti (9. Herculano Nabian 47).
Unused substitutes: 1.Andre Gomes (GK), 2.David Monteiro.