Guerra sinks Cuba as Warriors top group

EPL Properties Ltd

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Ataullah Guerra transformed the Dwight Yorke Stadium into a love nest tonight with the decisive goal as the “Soca Warriors” advanced to next month’s 2012 Caribbean Cup finals in style with a 1-0 victory over Cuba in Bacolet, Tobago.

Guerra hopped along the running track, blowing kisses to the crowd. And the patrons screamed back at him with adulation. It was Trinidad and Tobago football’s best moment this year so far.

The Warriors had qualified before the opening whistle thanks to a surprise 1-0 win for Suriname over St Vincent and the Grenadines at the same venue. St Vincent coach Cornelius Huggins did the hard work with his team, which managed successive 1-1 draws with Trinidad and Tobago and Cuba, and then left Tobago to attend a coaching symposium on his own island.

Only Huggins can say whether his decision was based on misplaced optimism or forced by his employers. Either way, the result was dire for “Vincey Heat” and there might be some awkward conversations when Huggins next meets his players.

In contrast, Trinidad and Tobago interim head coach Hutson “Barber” Charles was beaming with pride as he addressed the media after the final whistle.

KFC Munch Pack

“We are very pleased to top the group,” said Charles. “We grew from strength to strength after every game.”

Trinidad and Tobago has now gone six games without a defeat while the win also means that the Warriors will avoid Jamaica in the group phase next month. Instead, captain Jan-Michael Williams and his men will play hosts Antigua and Barbuda, Martinique and the runner-up from another qualifying group that includes Haiti, Grenada and French Guiana.

Williams insisted that his team’s ambition is to regain the Caribbean title for the first time since 2001.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national senior football team has vowed to secure the 2012 Caribbean Cup trophy.
(Courtesy TTFF Media)

“The most important thing for us is to make the country proud,” said Williams, who was placed during the second half with an ankle sprain. “We want to put Trinidad and Tobago back in its rightful place at the top.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s last two Caribbean Cup excursions ended in group stage elimination under veteran coach Francisco Maturana in 2008 and novice Russell Latapy in 2010. It would be a stretch to say that the current squad has distinguished itself from either of the previous teams on the field yet.

But, mentally, the current crop seems primed for achievement. Arguably, they should not even be here.

Previous national teams complained, correctly, about meager match fees. This squad could barely find money for meals and laundry during an earlier qualifying round in St Kitts.

Abandoned financially by the Sport Ministry at one point and marooned by Tropical Storm Rafael, the Warriors decided to fight back rather than down tools. And it was the collective spirit that was evident again today against Cuba.

In a tight match, Cuba had the better scoring chances early on.

Beefy striker Roberto Linares hit the post with a header in the 19th minute and then was denied by a sharp Williams reflex save in the 23rd minute as the Trinidad and Tobago defence reacted sluggish to rapid Cuban attacks.

The Warriors held their own in possession though as the two teams traded blows in what, at times, was an attractive exhibition of football.  Trinidad and Tobago’s best scoring chances came from long distance as midfielder Joevin Jones forced a flying save from Cuban custodian Julio Pichardo while winger Hughton Hector and forward Richard Roy both went close too.

Twenty minutes into the second half, Charles introduced Guerra and the response was immediate in more than one respect.

Tobagonians apparently fall in love quickly. It didn’t take more than few glimpses of Guerra’s long stride and grace in possession to win over the supporters when the Warriors kicked off their campaign with a 1-1 draw against St Vincent on Wednesday. It was Guerra’s 24th birthday.

Charles demoted Guerra to the bench for the remaining two games. But Bacolet did not forget.

Photo: Ataullah Guerra (foreground) torments the Defence Force rearguard during 2012 Digicel Pro League action for Caledonia AIA.
(Courtesy Photos868)

The sign of the “number ten” entering the field of play brought spectators to their feet tonight as Guerra received a rousing ovation in good faith before he had even contributed. Boy, did he repay them.

Within seconds, he was in control and charging at the centre of the Cuban defence. Roy sprinted around his shoulder and into the penalty box and Guerra passed neatly into his stride with a flick of the right boot.

Harassed by an attending Cuba defender, Roy could not take cleanly and the ball rolled obligingly back to Guerra who reacted quickly. The Caledonia player smashed it with such conviction that Pichardo probably didn’t see it until it was past him.

It was Guerra’s second international goal and his first on home soil and in a competitive game to boot. After a few seconds when he looked on the verge of spontaneous combustion, the John John resident rushed to share his moment with the Tobago crowd.

“I love them,” Guerra told Wired868, after the match. “They treated me so well here.”

Charles and Williams were united in their praise of the audience on the sister-isle.

“I think the fans in Tobago were tremendous,” said Charles. “They were real fans.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team interim coach Hutson “Barber” Charles.

Antigua and Barbuda is the next destination for the Warriors and Williams and Guerra insisted that today was just the beginning.

“As a player, you never settle for what you have already,” said Guerra. “There are plenty more special things to come.”

The belief is coming back. Just ask Tobago.


Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Jan-Michael Williams (capt) (21.Marvin Phillip 53); 4.Kern Cupid, 6.Kareem Moses, 20.Seon Power, 8.Aubrey David; 18.Densill Theobald (vice-captain), 3.Joevin Jones; 14.Hashim Arcia (10.Ataullah Guerra 66), 16.Keyon Edwards, 7.Hughtun Hector; 13.Richard Roy (12.Curtis Gonzales 75).

Unused subs: 2.Clyde Leon, 9.Devorn Jorsling, 11.Kevon Carter.

Coach: Hutson Charles


Cuba: 12.Julio Pichardo; 14.Alianni Urgelles, 5.Jorge Clavelo (capt), 15.Renay Malblanche, 3.Jorge Corrales; 20.Alberto Gomez, 2.Carlos Francisco, 18.Ruslan Batista (13.Adonis Ramos 43), 11.Ariel Martinez; 7.Marcel Hernandez; 10.Roberto Linares (17.Alexy Zuazanabal 76).

Unused subs: 1.Odelin Molina, 6.Yoel Colome, 8.Jaine Colome, 9.Yaudel Lahera, 22.Jose Cardenas.

Coach: Walter Benitez

2012 Caribbean Cup semifinal phase 

Sunday November 18

Suriname 1 (Ronny Aloema 42 pen), St Vincent and the Grenadines 0 in Bacolet

Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Ataullah Guerra 67), Cuba 0 in Bacolet

[standings league_id=6 template=extend logo=true]


Editor’s Note: Wired868’s 2012 Caribbean Cup semi-final coverage is sponsored by DirecTV

More from Wired868
Intercol 2022: “It’s been in South for too long!” Fatima punish St Benedict’s goalkeeping error in final

“Back in the North at last!” Those were the sentiments of Fatima College coach Hutson “Baba” Charles as his team Read more

Intercol 2022: Tristan steals Prince’s crowning moment, as Fatima and St Benedict’s book appetizing National Final

The final of the 2022 Secondary Schools Football League’s (SSFL) National Intercol tournament is set and Fatima College and St Read more

Orin: The good, bad and the ugly of the 2022 World Cup

“[…] I told someone who knows Radanfah Abu Bakr that I liked the former T&T defender’s analysis. He replied: ‘Radanfah Read more

Intercol 2022: Chaves stars as Fatima cruise past QRC for first North title since 2013

Fatima College dusted off the disappointment of their Big 4 Premier Division Final loss to St Benedict’s College with a Read more

Early Bird’s W/C recall: T&T dresses up—Jack Warner, Caligiuri combine to cancel our date…

“1990?” asks Bobby, a rueful look distorting his facial features, “What I remember best about that campaign is Philbert Jones Read more

Dear Editor: Where is National Elite League? What exactly is TTFA doing for domestic football?

“[…] Coming out of the Covid pandemic shutdown, there were a few tournaments that allowed for a return to play, Read more

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

Check Also

Intercol 2022: “It’s been in South for too long!” Fatima punish St Benedict’s goalkeeping error in final

“Back in the North at last!” Those were the sentiments of Fatima College coach Hutson …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.