The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team suffered their second defeat of the invitational King’s Cup tournament this morning, as they lost 2-1 to hosts Thailand in the third place playoff at the Chiang Mai Stadium.
Tajikistan won the tournament via kicks from the penalty mark, after a regulation time tie with Malaysia in the final.
Soca Warriors head coach Angus Eve said his team competed well—despite the two defeats—while he suggested that the King’s Cup also afforded him the opportunity to see “new players”.
“We saw this tournament as a good opportunity for us to bring in some new players who we haven’t seen—who have been playing abroad in some different leagues,” said Eve, in the post-match press conference. “So this tournament worked for us. The results didn’t go our way but at least we saw the tenacity of the team, the fight of the team, that we could create chances.
“Defensively we are still a little bit frail and we are still a work in progress.”
In truth, Eve used only one new player in the competition: Finland-based defender Anthony Herbert, who is a former national youth team player. And Herbert played just eight minutes plus stoppage time.
Otherwise, the only player with limited time under Eve might be Atlanta United II midfielder Ajani Fortune, whose only prior trip with the current national setup came in a 5-0 friendly loss away to Bolivia on 21 January.
Ironically, five of Thailand’s starting team today had less than five international caps under their belt while goal scorer Channarong Promsrikaew and defender Chatmongkol Reuangthanarot—21 and 20 years old respectively—made their debuts against the Warriors.
Eve would have enjoyed reintegrating Columbus Crew attacking midfielder Kevin Molino into his squad, though. Molino, who has 23 goals from 56 senior international appearances, is Trinidad and Tobago’s most prolific active marksman and was involved in the Warriors’ only goal today—although just as the creator.
A halftime replacement for right back Alvin Jones, Molino swung a corner kick at the near post which defender Kareem Moses appeared to miss before it went in off Thailand defender Kritsada Kaman in the 61st minute. The TTFA Media credited the goal to Moses, although Soccerway chalked it down as an own goal.
The Warriors started the match with a five man defence, although Eve switched to his more customary 4-2-3-1 formation at the interval.
“In this trip we wanted to try two formations,” said Eve. “[…] Unfortunately I think it didn’t stick to them as quick as we wanted [it] to. So we reverted to what we normally know in the second half and we probably did much better.”
Veteran Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip would have been relieved, after his heavy touch gifted the host nation the opening goal in the 21st minute.
Phillip, under pressure by opposing attacker Suphanat Mueanta and an uneven playing surface, failed to control a back-pass by teammate Sheldon Bateau and Promsrikaew was on spot to convert the loose ball.
Trinidad and Tobago’s offensive output improved noticeably in the second half, but it was not enough to secure the result. After a sweeping move through the middle involving Pathompol Charoenrattanapirom and Promsrikaew, midfielder Supachok Sarachat stepped in off the left flank to curl a superb effort into the far corner for the winner.
Sarachat, who plays professionally in Japan, has 20 caps at the age of 24 and his goal against the Warriors was the sixth of his international career and the first of 2022.
Molino came close to a second equaliser for the visitors, as his low shot was turned away from the far corner by alert custodian Kittipong Phoothawchuek, who made just his second international appearance today at the age of 32.
It was the third straight win for Thailand over Trinidad and Tobago, although the latter—with a Fifa ranking of 101—are 10 places higher up the Fifa ladder. Although Eve said he does not pay too much attention to rankings.
“Football has nothing to do with ranking,” said Eve. “Football is on the day and the team that performs best will win the game. North Macedonia threw European champions Italy out of the World Cup.
“I think we could definitely see the standard of play in Asia is pretty good.”
Trinidad and Tobago’s overseas-based players are due to leave Thailand on Monday while, according to the TTFA Media, the local-based contingent should return to Trinidad and Wednesday. Phillip is the sole Trinidad and Tobago-based player in the current squad.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 16.Alvin Jones (10.Kevin Molino 46), 12.Kareem Moses, 2.Aubrey David, 4.Sheldon Bateau (3.Jesse Williams 46), 19.Keston Julien; 23.Leston Paul (6.Anthony Herbert 82), 15.Neveal Hackshaw, 8.Andre Fortune II (9.Ajani Fortune 46); 13.Reon Moore (14.John-Paul Rochford 73), 11.Levi Garcia.
Unused substitutes: 21.Nicklas Frenderup (GK), 7.Judah Garcia, 17.Noah Powder.
Coach: Angus Eve