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Soca spanking: Warriors blow Guatemala away in Windy City

The “Soca Warriors” roared to life in emphatic style tonight with a thumping 3-1 win over Guatemala in their opening match of the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Chicago.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland. (Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland.
(Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)

It was only the second time that Trinidad and Tobago started a Gold Cup campaign with a victory, after coach Bertille St Clair’s team started the 1998 edition with a similar 3-1 win over Honduras.

Current coach Stephen Hart demanded a flying start from his Warriors in the build-up to tonight’s affair. And surely he could not have hoped for much better than what they gave him in the “Windy City.”

“I thought in the first half we controlled the game,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “We pressed well and we recovered the ball in good areas of the field. We got the goals and we kept possession of the ball well and made Guatemala chased which they were uncomfortable with.

“We came here looking to get a good start and we did just that.”

To put the fixture into context, the Warriors had not scored a goal in their previous 480 minutes—exclusive of a 1-0 training exercise against Haiti, which was not a FIFA-recognised match. And the three Trinidad and Tobago scorers tonight, Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones, had all failed to score a solitary international goal before from a combined 60 international appearances.

“We needed to come out quickly,” said Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones, in the post-match interview. “We pressed high and pressed hard (and) stopped Guatemala from getting into their rhythm…”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) holds off Guatemala midfielder Jorge Aparicio in 2015 Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) holds off Guatemala midfielder Jorge Aparicio in 2015 Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Back in 1998, the Trinidad and Tobago outfit lost its second outing to Mexico and was eliminated. Since then, the number of teams that advance from their group has risen to two plus two from the three third place teams.

Three points might be good enough for the Warriors to move to the knockout stage for the third time and the second straight tournament under Hart. And Trinidad and Tobago would expect to add to their point tally in their final group match against Cuba.

Still, Hart did not have it all his way in a frenetic and sometimes violent match.

Panama referee Jhon Pitti dished out six yellow cards with Trinidad and Tobago players Daneil Cyrus, Khaleem Hyland, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Andre Boucaud got one apiece. God alone knows how Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz did not see red though.

Ruiz was shown a yellow alone for an elbow into Cyrus’ midriff off the ball and then was not penalised for an even worse infringement as, in the closing seconds of regulation time, he stamped on Warriors custodian Jan-Michael Williams.

Hart might be equally concerned with the way his team wilted in the second half, which allowed Guatemala to pull a goal back and offer some late jitters.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (left) tackles Guatemala attacker Marco Papa in 2015 Gold Cup action. Looking on is teammate Khaleem Hyland (right). (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (left) tackles Guatemala attacker Marco Papa in 2015 Gold Cup action.
Looking on is teammate Khaleem Hyland (right).
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

However, that 15-minute first half goal burst was decisive.

Guatemala, who used a 3-4-3 system that has been recently adopted by all its national teams, started the match at a high tempo but were shocked to discover that the Warriors were more than up to the task.

Hart, who unveiled his new 4-3-3 formation tonight, has repeatedly asked the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) for more live-in camps with his squad. And there was ample evidence of the worth of such get-togethers as the Warriors, in three weeks, were transformed from the sluggish team that crumbled 3-0 away to Jordan to the speedy, steely squad that put Guatemala to the sword.

After 11 minutes, the Warriors struck from their second corner of the match as Bateau beat his marker to convert a Hyland cross, which flew in off an upright.

Rather than retreat, the Warriors continued to press high and doubled their lead, four minutes later, after farcical defending from “La Azul y Blanco.”

A Guatemalan clearance ricocheted off the head of Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones and spun up in the air for opposing defender Moises Hernandez, whose backward header was short of defensive partner, Elias Vasquez. And Vasquez then made it a third error in less than a second as he allowed himself to be outmuscled by the diminutive Cato, who brushed him aside before rounding Ricardo Jerez to score.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players celebrate after another goal against Guatemala. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players celebrate after another goal against Guatemala.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

It was the sort of defending that would have disgraced even a local fete match team.

Trinidad and Tobago again showed more desire than their Central American opponents for the third goal as Jones (J)—who is employed by MLS outfit, Chicago Fire—charged through the centre of the field, won one 50/50 tackle and then reacted quicker to Jerez’s challenge on Cato to fire in the loose ball for their third.

The match was only 25 minutes old at that point.

Trinidad and Tobago might have scored more too as Jones (J) and Cato wreaked havoc on Guatemala’s wing backs and, had Guerra’s offensive play matched the decisiveness of his teammates, they might have had a fourth.

As it were, Jones (K) came closest to a fourth as he pounced on another error off a Cato cross, only for defender Wilson Lalin to make a successful lunging block.

At the half, Guatemala’s Argentine coach Ivan Sopegno tried to revive his team’s fortunes by dropping playmaker Jose Contreras into his midfield two, as they opted to fight back rather than go for damage limitation.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Aubrey David (right) tackles Guatemala midfielder Jorge Aparicio in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Aubrey David (right) tackles Guatemala midfielder Jorge Aparicio in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The Warriors’ press was not as energetic after the interval and, as gaps began to emerge, Williams was forced into his first full stretch save in the 58th minute.

Hart was already giving Willis Plaza his instructions to enter the field when Guatemala struck through Ruiz, who beat Abu Bakr to a flicked header by substitute Minor Lopez before slamming a stunning volley past Williams.

It was Ruiz’s 58 international goal, which made the 35-year-old the most prolific goal scorer in Central American history.

He had two sharp opportunities to increase his tally as Contreras and Papa both drove balls across the face of the Trinidad and Tobago goal while Bateau was lucky not to have conceded a penalty with a clumsy late change on another substitute Edgar Chinchilla.

There was no sympathy from the Warriors though who kept their cool in the face of Ruiz’s violent, provocative antics to secure an impressive 3-1 win.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (right) tackles Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (right) tackles Guatemala captain Carlos Ruiz in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“It’s a good first win but we still have two games to go in this group and we must take care of business first against Cuba on Sunday before we could feel satisfied,” said Hart. “Overall though, we were able to get the three points which was our objective coming into this match,” he added.

“Hopefully we can play more consistently like we played the first half. Guatemala didn’t handle the press from us very well in the first fifteen to twenty  minutes. They panicked a little bit.

“But they (Guatemala) have good quality, good footballers with some experience upfront and the second half showed that they could be a completely different team.”

On Sunday at 6.30 pm, the Warriors face a shell shocked Cuban team that lost 6-0 to Mexico tonight.

Cuba went into the match with 16 men as six players were out due to visa issues while there was one defection. Head coach Raul Gonzalez also failed to show due to visa issues.

Trinidad and Tobago would expect to add to Cuba’s woes when they meet in Phoenix.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau celebrates his maiden international goal against Guatemala at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau celebrates his maiden international goal against Guatemala at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-3): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 2.Aubrey David, 8.Khaleem Hyland (14.Andre Boucaud 75), 19.Kevan George, 3.Joevin Jones (23.Lester Peltier 79), 11.Ataulla Guerra (10.Willis Plaza 62), 9.Kenwyne Jones, 13.Cordell Cato,

Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 7.Jonathan Glenn, 12.Kadeem Corbin, 15.Dwane James, 16.Rundell Winchester, 17.Mekeil Williams, 18.Yohance Marshall, 20.Keron Cummings,

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

Guatemala (3-4-3): 21.Ricardo Jerez (GK); 4.Wilson Lalin, 3.Elias Vasquez, 5.Moises Hernandez; 14.Kendel Herrarte (9.Edgar Chinchilla 69), 23.Jorge Aparicio, 8.Jonathan Marquez (22.Minor Lopez 46), 18.Stefano Cincotta (6.Carlos Mejia 46); 16.Marco Papa, 20.Carlos Ruiz (captain), 10.Jose Contreras.

Unused substitutes: 1.Victor Ayala (GK), 12.Paulo Motta (GK), 2.Ruben Morales, 7.Jairo Arreola, 11.Gerardo Arias, 13.Carlos Castrillo, 15.Denis Lopez, 17.Brandon De Leon, 19.Carlos Figueroa.

Coach: Ivan Sopegno

 

Referee: Jhon Pitti (Panama)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ataulla Guerra (centre) tries to hold off Guatemala defender Wilson Lalin during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Ataulla Guerra (centre) tries to hold off Guatemala defender Wilson Lalin during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

CONCACAF Gold Cup

Group C

(The July 9)

Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Sheldon Bateau 11, Cordell Cato 15, Joevin Jones 25), Guatemala 1 (Carlos Ruiz 61) at Chicago;

Mexico 6 (Oribe Peralta 16, 36, 61, Carlos Vela 22, Andrés Guardado 43, Giovani Dos Santos 74), Cuba 0 at Chicago.

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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59 comments

  1. nice…they look like they fightin in that pic tho

  2. I’m just sitting and watching because I ain’t know a thing about football lol

  3. I don’t kno whose hand that is …….but I think they are joking abu bakr

  4. excellent performance by the boys….however Kenwyne Jones role in the team needs some re-evaluation…..he is not winning the balls up front like he is supposed to and it is putting pressure on the back line. In a 90mins game against Mexico we will need to keep pressure off our defense for extended periods #GuerraAndPlaza

  5. big win ..never had any expectation n was blown away , great win guys, keep me happy

  6. Many of us have been calling for more imagination (4-3-3) and more youth in the squad. I am happy that the score was a win. However there is much work to be done. Bakr’s quality will be best shown in the midfield. He sucks as a cb. too slow and not aware. could have gifted another goal. maybe play him as a wing back if he should start. kenwyne and khalem should exchange positions. Bakr should play in kenwyne’s spot after he is subbed after 65-70 mins and 2-0 up to preserve his health. khaleem would score where kenwyne always miss sitters. kenwyne playing closer to cbs would help organise them better as he is experienced. Bakr playing as a wb would give an attaking option as a philip lahm and not make T&T vulnerable at the back from his shortcomings as a cb. These changes will allow leadership across the lines and make for better substitution options to hold out 90mins. This is how we should face el tri and eventually win the Gold Cup.

  7. Great game vibes it up!! The puzzle coming together go warriors!!

  8. Kurtwyn Baird i could only coach with my mouth. I’m a great pretender. But Hart is my first Cousin so i guess i can be a bit biased. But truth be told he’s very dedicated and a true Son of the soil and gives 100% and i’m damn proud of him.

  9. Kurtwyn Baird i think once the players and Coach/Technical Staff on the same page we can go far and i think they will get there. They just need to focus on the end result and remember a game is 90 minutes plus and aspire to play the second half with the same gusto they played the first. Go Warriors!!

  10. Go T&T Love u SOCA WARRIORS i like i like!!!

  11. What did you think about the game the boss Kurtwyn Baird?

  12. ..great opener..have to be careful with the balls feeding across the goal..

  13. I still say that my prolific goalscorer Joevin Jones belongs in the middle of the field as the mid field play maker general.

  14. I must say though… Ataulla Guerra was the only Pro League outfield player in the starting line-up. And he think he struggled with the high tempo.

  15. Can someone tell me what formation was played?

  16. For now I am taking all those imperfections, all of which are valid. We have not had a positive result in such a long time that I want to enjoy this one for a while. Come Sunday when we meet Cuba, I am hoping we take another step forward in our progress. We need to watch film between now and Sunday and clean up the imperfections.

  17. Saw the game. Good result, but we’d definitely have to play better against the stronger teams. There needs to be more cohesiveness and consistency in their play. At this level, we need to have more fluent passes and be more penetrative in and around the 18 yards box.

  18. I watched the game, I felt so proud of T&T. Next stop Cuba on Sunday at 6:30pm EST.

  19. And dey just get shout out on BBC

  20. wait, where you all got to see it? Steups, cannot believe Brent Sancho could not arrange to BUY the rights for us to see it being a former Soca Warrior… instead we get to see cut-tail in cricket. Sigggh.

  21. Taking points any way it come…credit to the team

  22. RIP to Joevin Jones the left back

  23. Well is rain and more rain tomorrow

  24. By the way, that Carlos Ruiz is a real stinker. Hope he gets what’s coming to him.

  25. Congrats .Way to go fellas keep it up.

  26. Credit where it is due Earl Mango Pierre. After a poor six months, the Warriors came out firing tonight.

  27. The team played well…I was a bit worried about the frenetic pace of the 1st half and wondered if we could maintain it over 90 mins…imagine what this team could do if Hart is given proper resources? They better keep their feet on the ground tho, Mexico is hammering Cuba 4-0 and that game aint over yet!

  28. i cant remember the last time i saw TnT play as fluently as that first half..great half..let down a bit in the second but great result

  29. Earl Mango Pierre ……U good yes !!!

  30. Midfield still need work , holding on to the ball too long , needs too be quick one touch passes

  31. We have to work on the ball watching at the back though. All in all it was good to see us put away chances!!

  32. Good job guys saw the game on fox keep your winning ways

  33. what is negative about that eh, I am just saying that the Guatermala team wasn’t ready for us.

  34. Give them a break nah Earl Mango Pierre. Gosh! Why you have to be so negative? What would you have said if they lost?

  35. Happy for the young men! Something to celebrate

  36. All I want is that my teams score goals win matches!!

  37. We always have the Guatermalians number , dem eh good et all Steeuupss.

    • I saw the game and felt the guys deserved the win. They played well in the first half and capitalize on their opponents errors on the pitch. Mango the guys was good admit it! Yuh really good yes lol

  38. A good start. A very good start. Keep it up Warriors.

  39. Good going Warriors. Keep at it.

  40. Joevin played in midfielder Ataulla Guerra and Cordell Cato played higher. Systems fluctuate according to what team is doing but Hart previously explained his line-up as 4-3-3.

  41. I thought we looked more like a 4-4-2. Jones and Cato looked
    More like midfielders.