The Trinidad and Tobago national senior football needed a second half winner from United States-based attacking midfielder Kevin Molino this evening to edge Curaçao 3-2 in its opening 2014 Caribbean Cup finals assignment at Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Senior team coach Stephen Hart predicted a tough assignment this evening due to Curaçao’s recent influx of eight Netherlands-based professionals such as 23-year-old Willem II winger Charlton Vicento, who was a Netherlands national under-19 player during the 2010 European Championships. And Curaçao lived up to the billing in the Caribbean Cup opener as the Dutch-speaking islanders got the first goal of the tournament through Rihario Meulens in the 18th minute who banged home after running on to a ball over the top of the Trinidad and Tobago defence.
Meulens, a striker, is employed by Netherlands’ top flight Eredivisie club, FC Dordrecht.
Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones, an England Championship Division forward with Cardiff City, equalised from the penalty spot in the 25th minute after the giant forward was tugged down by Curaçao defender Shelton Martis during a right side corner kick. And Jones then gave the “Soca Warriors” the lead in the 38th minute with a simple finish after the opposing defence made a mess of a low, left side Molino cross.
But, three minutes into the second half, Curaçao levelled the scores again through a third Netherlands-based player, Gianluca Maria, who was once on PSV Eidhoven’s books but now represents MVV Maastricht in the second division. Maria made an immediate impact off the substitutes’ bench to convert a right side cross from the edge of the six yard box.
Molino, who was the eventual man of the match, responded swiftly to regain the Warriors’ lead in the 50th minute as he turned a Curaçao defender inside out before whipping a curling finish into the far corner from the edge of the area. The Russell Latapy-esque strike proved to be the winner in the Group A contest.
It was Molino’s seventh goal in his last three outings for Hart and his tenth career international goal from 27 matches.
Jones’ overall tally of 18 international goals from 66 appearances is less stellar. But no one could complain about the giant forward’s efficiency of late as the Warriors captain now has 11 goals in 15 matches under Hart.
Trinidad and Tobago’s next group outing is on Thursday evening when the Warriors face French Guiana from 6.30 pm at the same venue. French Guiana pulled off a shock 1-1 draw against defending Caribbean champs, Cuba, after a stoppage time goal from striker Mickael Solvi in the second Group A match tonight.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 21.Jan Michael Williams (GK); 6.Daneil Cyrus (2.Justin Hoyte 56), 18.Yohance Marshall, 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 26.Aubrey David; 14.Andre Boucaud, 17.Leston Paul; 13.Cordell Cato, 10.Kevin Molino, 7.Hughtun Hector (23.Lester Peltier 63); 9.Kenwyne Jones (captain) (27.Jonathan Glenn 75).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 5.Kevan George, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 11.Ataulla Guerra, 12.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 15.Jamal Gay, 16.Shahdon Winchester, 24.Adrian Foncette.
Unavailable: Joevin Jones missed out due to a fever.
Coach: Stephen Hart
2014 Caribbean Cup
(Tue Nov 11)
Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Kenwyne Jones 25 pen, 38, Kevin Molino 50), Curaçao 2 (Rihario Meulens 18, Gianluca Maria 48) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
French Guiana 1 (Mickael Solvi 90+4), Cuba 1 (Ariel Martinez 57) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
(Wed Nov 12)
Haiti v Antigua and Barbuda at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
Jamaica v Martinique at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
(Thu Nov 13)
Trinidad and Tobago v French Guiana at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
Cuba v Curaçao at the Montego Bay Sport Complex