Sixteen-year-old Central FC attacker Levi Garcia had a senior debut to remember today as a makeshift Trinidad and Tobago national football team outfit held Guadeloupe 1-1 at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet.
The outing would not go down as an official international cap since Guadeloupe is not a FIFA member while the “Soca Warriors” team was primarily outfitted with under-20 players. But Garcia, who made his Pro League debut with T&TEC at the tender age of 15, gave another glimpse of his precocious talent with a fine opener in the 41st minute, which capped a promising all-round performance.
However, Warriors goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams, who was the only capped senior team player used by national under-20 coach Derek King, could not hold on to his clean sheet as a late defensive error allowed Ludovic Piqueur to equalise in the 82st minute.
King used the outing to prepare for the Under-20 Caribbean Cup tournament, which kicks off in Trinidad from September 12, although three over-aged players were used in the exhibition match.
Williams, who has 57 full international caps, and his Central FC teammate Leston Paul played the full 90 minutes while DIRECTV W Connection attacker Keon Boucher replaced St Ann’s Rangers teenager Kadeem Corbin in the 56th minute.
Defender Mekeil Williams, who is also from Connection, was injured in training and did not feature while United States-based forward Keegan Bacchus was an unused substitute.
Trinidad and Tobago national senior team head coach Stephen Hart, who was there in an advisory capacity, commended the young players for their discipline and attacking verve.
“I was very impressed with the discipline of the under-20s,” Hart told Wired868. “I thought they more or less controlled most of the game and, quite frankly, they let Guadeloupe off the hook. They limited them to Guadeloupe to just two chances and the goal (they conceded) came from a very preventable error.
“The back four and two holding midfielders did a very good job in keeping the balance and, offensively, we looked very good, particularly when the two Garcias ran at them.”
Levi Garcia started on the left flank while his former national under-17 teammate, Akeem Garcia, was employed on the other.
Neveal Hackshaw and Corbin, a holding midfielder and striker respectively, also did themselves justice while Kevon Goddard and Kishun Seecharan made important contributions off the bench.
Trinidad and Tobago will open its Caribbean Cup campaign next Friday from 7.15 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. Fixtures have not yet been released to the media.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 2.Shannon Gomez, 3.Martieon Watson, 4.Jesus Perez, 5.Maurice Ford; 8.Neveal Hackshaw (6.Kevon Goddard 84), 20.Leston Paul; 7.Akeem Garcia (12.Kishun Seecharan 69), 10.Andre Fortune (14.Matthew Woo Ling 46), 11.Levi Garcia (19.Nicholas Dillon 76); 9.Kadeem Corbin (23.Keon Boucher 56),
Unused Substitutes: 1.Javon Sample, 13.Josiah Trimmingham, 15.Aikim Andrews, 16.Keon Joseph, 17.Akeem Humphrey, 18.Jabari Mitchell, 22.Keegan Bacchus.
Coach: Derek King
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Levi Garcia 41), Guadeloupe 1 (Ludovic Piqueur 81) at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet