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T&T U20s bow out after 1-0 W/Cup qualifying loss to the US

We thought it was over. It is now.

The Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 team’s dream of advancing to the New Zealand 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup tournament was finally extinguished in Montego Bay tonight after a 1-0 loss to the United States in their final CONCACAF Under-20 Championship Group A outing.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the CONCACAF Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team poses before kick off against Panama in the CONCACAF Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The young “Soca Warriors” initially thought they were eliminated after Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Panama only to realise that head-to-head rather than goal difference would decide the third qualifier from Group A.

The Warriors still had to match the United States’ seven points, though, and that meant a win this evening was crucial. But they could not muster it.

In four of Trinidad and Tobago’s five outings, the two island republic was either level or ahead after the first hour. Six of the seven goals conceded by the Warriors came in the closing 25 minutes while the only item they let in during the first half was an own goal by defender Martieon Watson against Guatemala.

National Under-20 head coach Derek King was left to rue the thin line between success and failure.

“I believe we were the most unlucky team in the tournament,” said King, “but then preparation had plenty to do with it… We did well and we did compete with these teams but the guys need that international exposure to perform (consistently) at this level…

“The talent is there but preparation is the main issue.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba. He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 striker Kadeem Corbin celebrates his strike against Aruba.
He was booked for the gesture by Bahamian official Randolph Harris.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) might have sent the teenaged team to last November’s CAC Games but did not while a December tour to Mexico was cancelled at the last minute for financial reasons.

It meant the Warriors went to Jamaica without the benefit of a single international game in close to five months. The United States, in contrast, played over a dozen warm-up matches, completed a European tour and arrived with a squad coached by former international star Tab Ramos and stuffed with players with professional senior experience.

It might be stretching it to suggest that Trinidad and Tobago football fans had any reason to expect three points against the United States in such circumstances. But there was hope. And the boys did try.

Star striker Kadeem Corbin and lively midfielder Akeem Humphrey were both missing through suspension while, in the starting line-up, winger Aikim Andrews had taken painkillers to ignore his hurt ankle and midfielder Duane Muckette had a strained hamstring.

For the first 20 minutes, it was the US team that was struggling though as Akeem Garcia, who started upfront for the first time, tormented the opposing defence while playmaker Matthew Woo Ling was involved in most of Trinidad and Tobago’s best work.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Akeem Garcia invites Aruba defender Marcel Kock to dance in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago substitute Akeem Garcia invites Aruba defender Marcel Kock to dance in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Garcia wriggled free in the fourth minute and crossed for Woo Ling who teed up Kishun Seecharan inside the opposing area. Seecharan did well to create his own shooting room but then spliced his effort.

Two minutes later, off a set piece, a brilliant diagonal ball from Muckette found Watson behind the US defence only for the alert American goalkeeper, Zackary Steffen, to save with his legs.

In the 11th minute, Trinidad and Tobago threatened again as Muckette won possession and the ball was quickly shuttled forward between Seecharan, Garcia and Woo Ling to Andrews. But the winger, one of the tournament’s top players, shot wide at the far post from inside the box.

“In international football, you have to take those half chances,” said King, after the match.

At this stage, the United States’ threat was mainly on the counter where lively attacker Bradford Jamieson IV was a constant menace with his ability to uncork fierce shots with little backlift.

There will always be jitters when Trinidad and Tobago US-born goalkeeper Johan Welch is called into action after his costly blunders against Guatemala and Panama. And, in the 24th minute, Welch did not exactly instil confidence when he came out to contest a crossed free kick and missed the ball entirely.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Johan Welch celebrates as the "Soca Warriors" took an early two goal lead against Jamaica in CONCACAF action at Kingston. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Johan Welch celebrates as the “Soca Warriors” took an early two goal lead against Jamaica in CONCACAF action at Kingston.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Welch produced an encore in the 50th minute with another flap at a free kick and, this time, Neveal Hackshaw rescued the Warriors with a goalline clearance from Jamieson. But the fatal error yesterday was not made by the short shot stopper.

By the hour mark, as usual, the Warriors had lost much of their fizz and the Americans were the more proactive outfit. King replaced Woo Ling with Levi Garcia in the 65th minute and then Andrews with Ricardo John in the 69th.

Earlier this afternoon, Dutch football magazine Voetbal International had finally made Levi’s future plans public. The seventeen-year-old rising star is bound for renowned Eridivisie outfit AZ Alkmaar on a three-year deal with the option of a two-year renewal.

Levi caught the eye after a series of sensational showings in last September’s Caribbean Cup and will become a Europe-based professional on his 18th birthday. But, at the CONCACAF competition in Jamaica, there was little of the stardust that thrilled fans last September and will, hopefully, conquer Dutch fans in years to come.

And, after a few overhit passes and unsuccessful dribbles, Levi charged at four US defenders in the 77th minute with most of his teammates ahead of him waiting for a pass. The North Americans countered immediately and substitute Paul Arriola squared for Jamieson to bury the game’s only item.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) prepares to create the opening goal of the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup final against Haiti at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Looking on are Haiti defenders Stephane Lambese (centre) and Jean Jean-Baptiste. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) prepares to create the opening goal of the 2014 Under-20 Caribbean Cup final against Haiti at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
Looking on are Haiti defenders Stephane Lambese (centre) and Jean Jean-Baptiste.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It capped off a chastening tournament for the talented young man whose impending professional move bears comparison to Dwight Yorke’s transfer to Aston Villa in 1989. Perhaps, in retrospect, Levi might have benefited by turning out for duty with Central FC over the past month and a half, especially since the club had already made an about-turn and agreed to not stop his move.

“I was a bit disappointed with (Levi’s) performance,” said King. “In today’s game, we thought he would have added something when he came on… But, at the end of the day, he is one of the youngest (players) in the team and, again, international games will help these players a lot.”

Jabari Mitchell, another 17-year-old with a bright future, was on the field by then too. But he also made little impact while John, who did provide pace and intensity, could not take a half-chance off his head.

King credited Welch and his back four for their performances today and praised the effort from his squad. But it was not enough to keep their World Cup dreams alive and, in the end, he was pleading with the TTFA to help keep the guys together for, presumably, the Rio 2016 Olympic charge.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Jabari Mitchell (left) tangles with Guatemala attacker Mario Hernandez during CONCACAF action in Jamaica. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Jabari Mitchell (left) tangles with Guatemala attacker Mario Hernandez during CONCACAF action in Jamaica.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“The majority of these players are the future of Trinidad and Tobago’s football so we hope the association can keep the team together and add one or two players,” said King. “(But) we need international games. We need to carry them out there to (understand) the pace of the game and the level of (international) football.

“It is a good team and we hope they can stay together.”

It is the United States who join Guatemala into the CONCACAF Play Off round on Saturday though while Panama joined Mexico today as the two first 2015 Under-20 World Cup qualifiers from this confederation.

“We matched all the teams (in Group A) and we were always in it,” said King. “We played some good football but we couldn’t take our chances. I will go back and analyse the whole tournament and take it from there…

“We are disappointed that we didn’t qualify but we just have to go back to the drawing board.”

Fitness is an obvious issue as is the shortage of quality goalkeepers to take up the mantle left behind by the likes of Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips, Earl “Spiderman” Carter, Michael Maurice, Ross Russell, Shaka Hislop, Clayton Ince, Kelvin Jack and, more recently, Jan-Michael Williams and Marvin Phillip.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 players celebrate a goal against Aruba in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national under-20 players celebrate a goal against Aruba in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

It is possible too that meticulous, long-term planning and preparation aids in team performance, which might be why every outfit from DIRECTV W Connection to Real Madrid tends to pay quite a bit of attention to pre-competition activity.

Hopefully, the TTFA will give that a try at the next possible opportunity.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Johan Welch (GK); 2.Shannon Gomez, 3.Martieon Watson, 5.Leland Archer, 4.Jesus Perez; 8.Neveal Hackshaw, 6.Duane Muckette (10.Jabari Mitchell 76); 15.Aikim Andrews (16.Ricardo John 69), 14.Matthew Woo Ling (11.Levi Garcia 65), 12.Kishun Seecharan; 7.Akeem Garcia.

Unused substitutes: 21.Javon Sample (GK), 13.Brendon Creed, 18.Kevon Goddard, 19.Maurice Ford.

Suspended: 9.Kadeem Corbin, 17.Akeem Humphrey.

Coach: Derek King

 

United States (4-2-3-1): 1.Zackary Steffen (GK); 2.Shaquell Moore, 4.Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5.Matthew Miazga, 3.John Requejo Jr; 16.Russell Canouse (captain), 8.Emerson Hyndman; 19.Bradford Jamieson IV, 11.Thomas Thompson (14.Conor Donovan 82), 9.Romain Gall (10.Herbert Mejia Flores 69), 20.Ben Spencer (7.Paul Arriola 70).

Unused substitutes: 12.Ethan Horvath (GK), 13.Tyler Turner, 15.Fernando Arce, 17.Amando Moreno, 18.Lynden Gooch.

Unavailable: 6.Kellyn Perry-Acosta.

Coach: Tab Ramos

 

Referee: John Pitti (Panama)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 midfielder Duane Muckette (left) tries to take the ball under pressure from Guatemala midfielder Andy Ruiz.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

CONCACAF Under-20 Championship results

Group A

(Wed Jan 21)

Panama 1 (Ismael Diaz 66), Guatemala 0 at Montego Bay;

United States 1 (Bradford Jamieson IV 77), Trinidad and Tobago 0 at Montego Bay;

Jamaica 0, Aruba 0 at Montego Bay;

 

(Sunday January 18)

Trinidad and Tobago 0, Panama 1 (Michael Murillo 77) at Montego Bay;

Guatemala 2, Aruba 0 at Montego Bay;

Jamaica 0, United States 2 at Montego Bay.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Brendon Creed (right) plays the ball away from Guatemala attacker Mario Hernandez. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Brendon Creed (right) plays the ball away from Guatemala attacker Mario Hernandez.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Wednesday January 14)

Guatemala 2 (Martieon Watson OG 24, Hugo Portillo 87), Trinidad & Tobago 0 at National Stadium, Kingston;

United States 8 (Romain Gall 16, 23, 32, Bradford Jamieson IV 18, 48, Thomas Thompson 26, Emerson Hyndman 30, Amando Moreno 84),  Aruba 0 at National Stadium, Kingston;

Jamaica 0Panama 2 (Edson Samms 56, Ismael Diaz 86) at National Stadium, Kingston.

 

(Sunday Jan 11)

Trinidad and Tobago 5 (Jabari Mitchell 3, 78 pen, Aikim Andrews 15, Kadeem Corbin 28 pen, Duane Muckette 58), Aruba 1 (Duncan Homoet 90) at Kingston;

Panama 1 (Carlos Small 78), United States 0 at Kingston;

Jamaica 0Guatemala 1 (Steven Robles 27) at Kingston;

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin (left) hustles Jamaica defender Malcolm Stewart during their CONCACAF Under-20 group opener. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Kadeem Corbin (left) hustles Jamaica defender Malcolm Stewart during their CONCACAF Under-20 group opener.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Friday January 9)

Jamaica 2 (Donja Smith 67, Junior Flemmings 90+3), Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Aikim Andrews 6, Kadeem Corbin 15)

United States 1 (Cameron Carter-Vickers), Guatemala 1 (Jose Ruiz)

Panama 4 (Ismael Diaz 19, 50, Ervin Zorilla 30, Edson Samms 36), Aruba 0

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com 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.

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34 comments

  1. There were several people who played a role. Jack Warner was one. He was not the most important one in my opinion. But he was one all the same.
    If a man breaks into my house and rob me blind, I might be grateful he did not shoot me too. But I won’t write him a thank you card.
    If you want to write a “thank you” card Kenroy Ambris, go right ahead. I won’t stop you.

  2. If no Jack warner we probably reached the finals 3 times..the damn tief who stole all and therefore we had no real development to this day! Ask yourself where is the over 200 million the TTFF got under that damn CROOK!

  3. The fact is that even a broken watch is right twice in a day my friend…That is no reason to praise Jack Warner. The fact is we made it inspite of Jack warner

  4. Lasana, you are avoiding the main point. Dont matter if you think he is de biggest thief or conman or what ever name you want to attach to him, the point still valid that because of this “smartman” we qualified for Germany.
    What or how much he thief can be another discussion on another day. Do you understand me now or you are still confused?

  5. Our football and reputation is a joke all over the world. If you want to wear your Jack Warner jersey go right ahead.
    I’ve never tried to talk you out of it.
    I bet Haiti is thrilled at the bottles of water they got too.
    Why quibble over details like the US$750,000 they were due.

  6. OHH COME ON LASANA, give credit where it is due. despite what you might think of Mr. Warner you have to admit that if he wasnt involved in Trinidad football we wudda never put foot in Germany. Can you be man enough to admit that?

  7. I suppose when Brazil won the World Cup in 1970, it was only because Havelange was the association president. They should have picked him up and carried him for a lap of honour… Not Pele.

  8. We have qualified for four FIFA tournaments between 1991 and 2009. We need to consistently apply what we learned from those trips.

  9. It’s sounds like poor planning, team development and game preparation .. Who is accountable for that .. Ain’t that a Trini saying .. When last we won something no literally when last we qualify for anything .. I agree we could have get some games against them South American countries ..football seems to be growing with those teams the Costa Rica etc etc .. You may have all the qualification in the world but that don’t make you successful .. Success comes by how you apply that knowledge and the experiences you had ..

  10. Is it that we are blight or we just cant get it right? Everytime we try to qualify for a WC we always failing. WHY!!!

  11. As far as I understand Kester Lendor, they were supposed to get international games against the US and Canada in Florida. There was a 70-minute scrimmage against a US XI but things didn’t go as planned.
    Remember they got to Florida about four or five days late.
    I agree in terms of the ground conditions and so on. But remember that on the occasions we did qualify for World Cups, it was not after practice games against local clubs. That isn’t nearly good enough.
    They are better than nothing. But not really what is required.
    Remember the CAC Games? Well, they could have been sent there, for instance. But they were not.

  12. Brent & Carlos from what i remember post tournament reviews are done by the technical committee after a report is submitted by the team manager. I am unsure as to how detail this is as compared to what you (Carlos) is asking for but it seems like something the TTFA should migrate to. I am not sure why Cornell Glen described the coach in the way he did. This is the same person that in a previous article by Lasana was said to have been working on the UEFA A license having already completed the B, In addition to having a Dutch coaching badge. This i believe makes him as qualified as Russell Latapy who coaches in the Scottish and more qualified than Dwight Yorke who works with Man U’s reserves. I hold no brief for the man and i haven’t gone out to any of his sessions so i’m not sure how good or bad he prepared. I do think that the decision to have a pre-tournament camp in Florida was strange especially as we were going to play in Jamaica. Florida fields would have been perfectly prepared Bermuda grass surfaces. Why not a camp right here in T&T where the conditions and almost identical to Jamaica. Play warm-ups vs W connection and Central FC while half of the TSTT money could have been used to go to Venezuela for games against latin american teams and fly in a North American team for 2 games.

  13. When will we ever learn that despite the natural talent international exposure must play a key role in our preparation?

  14. It appears the coach was not up to the task… With the talent we have we supposed to do better…when u are losing to unprofessional teams in the states something wrong

  15. Would this article now underscore David Nakhad’s expose? Not that many of us didn’t suspect the truth, eh.

    http://wired868.com/2015/01/19/bertille-braithwaite-and-i-nakhid-recalls-two-memorable-gold-cups/

  16. These are my thoughts, We used a team and won, why all the drastic changes? all of a sudden they were not good enough and we needed to change the squad. Now they have lost we want to keep them together, why did we not keep the winning group together? These local young brothers were preparing together for some time we used a tournament as preparation for the main draw. I will say no more getting emotional.

  17. Seems we will never be prepared so it’s really about using natural individual talent and hoping by some miracle we get great “team” performance and balance…Hopefully the players learn from this experience but the discipline of some players leaves a lot to be desired as well

  18. Ah hear yuh Brent. Carnival in the air, so is pure madness everywhere. No accountability in TNT. Smh.

  19. Who doing that Carlos Lee? Have we ever? We won’t and like Sherwood say we’ll keep doing the same things but expect a different result… insanity perhaps?

  20. Wait nah – we failed miserably to qualify through what was to me an easy path to the WC and King wants to automatically keep the team together? We need a formal assessment/postmortem on this tournament. The performance of every player must be critically reviewed, as well as the performance of the coach and his back room staff. The review must also look at the preparation of the team for this tournament. I don’t understand how a smart fella like King could ask to keep this team together. It’s not like they almost qualified, they actually fell quite short of expectations.

  21. My question your #1 striker gets suspended and you don’t start Ricardo John its a must win and you don’t start your best player Levi and. Then you play woo ling for 65 plus mins geez

  22. A bunch of good players with a shit coach what do you expect???

  23. We talk allot about the lack of international exposure of the players but I think the coaches themselves would benefit from some international exposure as well…yuh can’t know how to set ur team up if you don’t know how the opposition prepares – the things they emphasize, the characteristics of the players they utilize…we seem to be doing the same thing year in year out and somehow expect a different outcome. This group experienced football at this level as a U17 team, so allot of the players should have some sense of what is to be expected – the coach has not. Why not utilize the same coach who had them at the U17 level so that there is some continuity to their approach? Anyway, hope the guys keep their heads up and learn from the experience…

  24. Here we go again. No preparation, no plan, no World Cup. No surprise here

  25. Plenty individual talent but not enough team talent though out the tournament. Great experience however for the boys. I hope the TTFA and the coach does everything in their power to build on this

  26. How can they keep playing games on these surfaces in Montego? I am not sure who approves these tournament venues, but the surfaces in Montego after 2 matches are completely unacceptable for final WC Qualifying…..

  27. I’ve lost hope since after the first draw against Jamaica sorry to say, especially with the upsetting 6 yard miss which would have build TnT mental putting us 3-0 up and possibly break down Jamaica before they could have even equalized.

  28. Sure those young Soca Warriors put their heart and souls into these matches. Good experience which they should have gotten pre the tournament. Hope they keep this team together as they are our future stars.