The Trinidad and Tobago national football team will compete for its first Caribbean Cup title in 13 years on Tuesday after the “Soca Warriors” finished their Group A assignments tonight with a goalless draw against Cuba in Montego Bay.
If coach Stephen Hart is looking forward to Tuesday, he might want to forget Saturday.
The Warriors, who rested in-form attacker Kevin Molino, did not manage a single shot on the Cuban goal over 90 minutes while goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams was forced into three sharp first half saves to preserve the clean sheet. It was the first goalless match of the 2014 Caribbean Cup tournament.
Cuba was unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty too as Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell escaped censor for bundling opposing striker Armando Coroneaux to the ground in the 23rd minute.
Mitchell and Yohance Marshall did not distinguish themselves in central defence; but then few players did in the red, white and black outfits.
Perhaps a disjointed performance was not entirely unexpected considering Hart made nine changes to the team that downed French Guiana 4-2 in a bid to keep his players fresh, even though team captain Kenwyne Jones played over 80 minutes.
Cuba, who travelled with a smaller squad than its opponents and might have been struggling with the rigours of the competition, needed at least a draw to qualify for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. And the final 10 minutes were a farce as the Warriors stroked the ball around in defence while the Spanish-speaking islanders retreated to their own half.
The result meant that French Guiana, who needed a Trinidad and Tobago triumph to advance to the Gold Cup for the first time, was eliminated.
The Trinidad and Tobago squad, which has not been paid match fees in six months, will now face either Jamaica or Haiti in the Caribbean Cup final as the two top Group B teams meet in a showdown tomorrow evening. And Hart might have the last laugh as the majority of his squad, including Molino, will have almost five days rest before the final while the Jamaican and Haitian players might just have a day and a half off.
The Caribbean Cup winner will also qualify automatically for the 2016 Copa America tournament, which will be hosted by the United States.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK); 2.Justin Hoyte, 18.Yohance Marshall (6.Daneil Cyrus 65), 19.Carlyle Mitchell, 3.Joevin Jones; 5.Kevan George, 17.Leston Paul (14.Andre Boucaud 78); 13.Cordell Cato, 11.Ataulla Guerra, 16.Shahdon Winchester; 9.Kenwyne Jones (captain) (27.Jonathan Glenn 82).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 24.Adrian Foncette (GK), 7.Hughtun Hector, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 10.Kevin Molino, 12.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 15.Jamal Gay, 23.Lester Peltier, 26.Aubrey David.
Coach: Stephen Hart
2014 Caribbean Cup
(Sat Nov 15)
French Guiana 4, Curaçao 1 at Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
Cuba 0, Trinidad and Tobago 0 at Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica.
(Thu Nov 13)
Trinidad and Tobago 4 (Kevin Molino 17, 58, Lester Peltier 60 pen, Ataulla Guerra 90+4), French Guiana 2 (Brian Saint-Clair 64, Jean David Legrand 83) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
Cuba 3 (Jorge Luis Corrales 15, Yasmany Lopez 51, Orisbel Leiza 90+5), Curaçao 2 (Prince Rajcomar 45, Gevaro Nepomuceno 69) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
(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), Cuba 1 (Ariel Martinez 57) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
(Wed Nov 12)
Haiti 2 (Jean Sony Alcenat 23, Kervens Belfort 36), Antigua and Barbuda 2 (Myles Weston 58, Peter Byers 60) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
Jamaica 1 (Darren Mattocks 13), Martinique 1 (Yoann Arquin 29) at the Montego Bay Sport Complex
(Fri Nov 14)
Martinique 0, Haiti 3 (Wilde Guerrier 52, Kervens Belfort 63, 90) at Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
Jamaica 3 (Kemar Lawrence 29, Darren Mattocks 44, Rodolph Austin 85), Antigua and Barbuda 0 at Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
(Sun Nov 16)
Antigua and Barbuda v Martinique, 6.30 pm, Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
Jamaica v Haiti, 9 pm, Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
Third Place Play Off
(Tue Nov 18)
Cuba v Group B runner-up, 6 pm (TT time), Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica;
(Tue Nov 18)
Trinidad and Tobago v Group B winner, 9 pm (TT time), Montego Bay Sport Complex, Jamaica.