Two brilliant strikes from Andre Fortune and Brent Sam kept Trinidad and Tobago’s 2013 United Arab Emirates FIFA Under-17 World Cup dreams alive last night as the young “Soca Warriors” whipped Costa Rica 2-0 in CONCACAF qualifying action at the Estadio Agustín Muquita Sánchez in La Chorrera, Panama.
It was the first time that Trinidad and Tobago defeated Costa Rica in a World Cup qualifier at any level and only the two-island republic’s second competitive triumph against the “Ticos” since a 2-1 extra time win in 2000, which came courtesy goals from Arnold Dwarika and the late Mickey Trotman.
The Warriors needed three points to have a realistic chance of advancing from the three-team group to the knock-out stage of the qualifying series after losing their opening fixture 2-0 to Canada on Saturday.
Costa Rica plays a rested Canada outfit tomorrow and only two outcomes could eliminate Trinidad and Tobago. If Costa Rica defeats Canada by more than two goals, then the Warriors would finish behind Canada due to their head-to-head result. And, if the Ticos win 2-0, an unlucky coin toss could also possibly deny Trinidad and Tobago.
In any other scenario, the Warriors will qualify as the second-placed team.
“This is what we worked hard for… to come here and show teams like CONCACAF that we too can win matches,” Trinidad and Tobago national under-17 captain Brendon Creed told the TTFF Media, after the match. “We were disappointed with the loss to Canada but the boys knew that this could be our last game together in the competition if we didn’t pull it off. We came into the game knowing it was all or nothing.”
The Warriors did not get off to the best of starts.
Costa Rica dominated the early exchanges and, in the eighth minute, Honduran referee Armando Castro ruled that Creed tripped opposing striker Arington Torres inside Trinidad and Tobago’s penalty box. It was a controversial decision from the official but Rory Rivera’s spot kick missed the top left hand corner.
And Fortune was truly wearing a Trinidad and Tobago jersey as the aptly named midfielder, who lives in the United States and is the son of football agent Andre Fortune senior, opened the scoring in the 33rd minute with a low, left footer from outside the area that arrowed into the far corner.
Torres came closest to an equaliser for the Central American team in the second half but placed a header off the heel of the post in the 65th minute.
Fourteen minutes later, Sam put the game outside Costa Rica’s reach.
Trinidad and Tobago substitute Aikim Andrews once more provided impetus down the right flank and won a free kick at an improbable angle to the left of Costa Rican goalkeeper Jorge Jara’s penalty box.
But the lanky Sam superbly swung a left footed free kick over the defensive wall and in at the near post to make sure of the result.
“It’s a brilliant result for us and it shows that we can compete with these teams,” said national coach Shawn Cooper. “We worked our legs off coming into this tournament and I still felt we didn’t get the right kind of preparation because we got things going a bit late. But with the bit that we got, in terms of match preparation added to the fight, belief and effort that we gave, brought us to this victory tonight.”
Creed, a Fatima College student, promised that the Warriors’ celebrations would be restrained as they remain committed to becoming the second Trinidad and Tobago team to qualify for an FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
“We still have one more game to win to make it to the World Cup,” said Creed, “and we will stay focused and achieve what we set out to do.”
If Trinidad and Tobago goes through to the CONCACAF quarterfinals, the Warriors will face the winner of Group A, which includes hosts Panama, Jamaica and Barbados.
At present, Jamaica leads Group A after draws with Panama and Barbados. Panama and Barbados play tomorrow night and a win for either team would catapult them to the top of the group.
Trinidad and Tobago, almost certainly, would be lying in wait.
Trinidad and Tobago: 1.Johan Welch; 2.Shannon Gomez, 3.Maurice Ford, 4.Josiah Trimmingham, 5.Leland Archer; 7.Kishun Seecharan (8.Aikim Andrews 73), 6.Brendon Creed (capt), 14.Andre Fortune (11.Jarred Dass 76), 16.Levi Garcia, 9.Akeem Garcia; 15.Brent Sam (17.Martieon Watson 90).
Unused substitutes: 21.Stephon Seepersad (GK), 10.Matthew Woo Ling, 12.Jabari Mitchell, 13.Anderson Toussaint, 18.Sterling Noreiga, 19.Weah Adams.
Coach: Shawn Cooper
CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Results
(Saturday April 6)
Canada 2 (Marco Dominquez Ramirez 42, Jordan Hamilton 59), Trinidad and Tobago 0
(Monday April 8)
Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Andre Fortune 33, Brent Sam 79), Costa Rica 0
Remaining Group B Fixture
(Wednesday April 10)
Canada versus Costa Rica