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Warriors smoke Cubans; T&T into knockout round with game to spare

The Trinidad and Tobago Senior National Team shrugged off another potential minefield this evening to ease past Cuba 2-0 in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action at the University Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud volleys home the second goal in their 2-0 win over Cuba in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright Christian Peterson/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud volleys home the second goal in their 2-0 win over Cuba in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright Christian Peterson/AFP 2015)

A stinging press release by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee and general secretary Sheldon Phillip which targeted the perceived behaviour of Sport Minister Brent Sancho might have sent shudders through the “Soca Warriors” squad.

The Sport Ministry does pay the salaries and match fees of the entire squad, after all.

It was fairly straightforward on the field of play, though, as the Warriors focused on their day job to whip Cuba, after another storming first half.

Central defender Sheldon Bateau opened the scoring in the 16th minute with his second item of the competition while Andre Boucaud doubled Trinidad and Tobago’s advantage in the 42nd minute.

The result means the Warriors are into the quarterfinal round with a game to spare in Group C, which they lead at present. They play their final group match on Wednesday against Mexico, who played to a goalless draw with Guatemala tonight.

And, if the Warriors hold Mexico to a draw, they will top Group C and face either El Salvador, Haiti or Honduras in the quarterfinal round on Sunday July 19 in New Jersey.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (right) tackles Cuba attacker Ariel Martinez (left) while teammate Andre Boucaud looks on. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (right) tackles Cuba attacker Ariel Martinez (left) while teammate Andre Boucaud looks on.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

“Everyone wrote this team off back at home,” Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart told the TTFA Media. “No one gave us any chance back home… to even win a game. That’s what they were saying.”

Should the Warriors lose and finish second to Mexico, they are likely to meet either Costa Rica or El Salvador in the knockout round. Trinidad and Tobago beat Costa Rica 2-1 in the 2000 Gold Cup for its best ever finish in the prestigious tournament.

Cuba still has a mathematical chance of advancing with a win over Guatemala in the final Group C round on Wednesday. But it will be a brave man who bets on the Spanish-speaking islanders extending their stay in the competition.

Visa issues and one defection meant that Cuba had just 16 available players for the opening 6-0 loss to Mexico on Thursday.

Today, Cuba’s ranks had swollen to 21 members of their registered 23-man squad as goalkeeper Arael Arguellez, like striker Keiler Garcia before him, chose to run off to seek his fortune in the United States.

They did have their moments on the field and striker Maikel Reyes, who missed the opening game, was a handful. But it was not nearly enough to trouble Trinidad and Tobago.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (right) reacts to block a shot from Cuba striker Maikel Reyes in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. Williams was injured in the sequence. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams (right) reacts to block a shot from Cuba striker Maikel Reyes in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
Williams was injured in the sequence.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The Warriors went ahead with their first good scoring opportunity as Cuba’s defence was slow to push out after a woeful Ataulla Guerra free kick and a long ball from Mekeil Williams into the opposing area found Lester Peltier with room to spare.

Cuba goalkeeper Diosvelis Guerra denied Peltier but Bateau pounced on the loose ball to spank past retreating defenders for his second goal of the competition.

Bateau, who plays professionally in Belgium, had not scored an international goal in his first 12 outings before the 2015 tournament kicked off. Now, he has two goals in as many matches.

There was a scare in the 40th minute as Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams failed to gather an Ariel Martinez free kick and needed to be bailed out by teammate Radanfah Abu Bakr.

But, three minutes before the interval, Andre Boucaud calmed any nerves with a sweet half volley into the far corner after Cuba failed to clear a Daneil Cyrus long throw.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Arnold Dwarika (top) drives home his country's opening goal in the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Arnold Dwarika (top) drives home his country’s opening goal in the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-final against Costa Rica.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

It was only Boucaud’s second international goal after 26 appearances, although, to his credit, both of his strikes were unforgettable. The England-born midfielder’s last item was a delightful solo effort in a 3-1 win over Saudi Arabia on 9 September 2013.

Boucaud will miss Trinidad and Tobago’s next fixture against Mexico after collecting a second yellow card this evening. While Williams (J) is also a serious doubt after he went down clutching his hamstring and was replaced by Marvin Phillip in the 44th minute.

But there were more positives than negatives for the Warriors, who should have gotten a third as Bateau missed a free header off a second half corner kick.

It is an impressive return for the Warriors, considering their financial struggles for much of the last two years. But, undoubtedly, theirs is a triumph of attitude rather than art.

Coach Stephen Hart’s troops play fast, hard and direct with long balls out of the defence towards giant captain Kenwyne Jones or into the channels for pacy wingers to chase.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) harasses Cuba captain Yenier Marquez during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup clash. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) harasses Cuba captain Yenier Marquez during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup clash.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

But midfielder Joevin Jones, the 23-year-old son of former “Strike Squad” substitute Kelvin Jones, was a rarity for his poise and creativity on the ball.

Without a deep-lying playmaker of the calibre of David Nakhid, Reynold Carrington, Aurtis Whitley or the latter-day Dwight Yorke, the pragmatic Hart rarely asks his midfielders to try and dictate the tempo of the match.

However, their athletic and combative style has served the Warriors well so far while Trinidad and Tobago arguably possesses its best backline since the 2006 World Cup.

Williams (M), who replaced Aubrey David at left back today, was flawless while Abu Bakr had one of his better showings in central defence.

Boucaud and Peltier were Hart’s other two changes in his starting team and both were involved in the goals and contributed fresh legs to the cause, although the latter’s contribution in the final third was often indecisive.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (right) and Andre Boucaud (centre) try to close down Cuba midfielder Alberto Gomez during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup clash. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (right) and Andre Boucaud (centre) try to close down Cuba midfielder Alberto Gomez during their 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup clash.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Upfront, captain Kenwyne Jones’ goal drought stretched to six matches. But he used his physical attributes effectively and is well suited to Hart’s direct approach.

Hart congratulated his squad last night for their gift to Trinidad and Tobago.

“I think it was important for us to qualify,” said Hart “It’s important for the people, for the young players back at home, it’s important for our football. I cannot tell you how important it is for us to get to the quarter final.

“And I am very happy for these young players because they believed in me. I showed faith in them and they were rewarded tonight.”

Mexico will know they are in for a game on Wednesday as “El Tricolour” tries to overcome a mean Warriors outfit.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (left) tackles Cuba midfielder Alberto Gomez in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (left) tackles Cuba midfielder Alberto Gomez in 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-3): 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK) (1.Marvin Phillip (GK) 44); 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams, 14.Andre Boucaud, 19.Kevan George, 3.Joevin Jones, 11.Ataulla Guerra (20.Keron Cummings 67), 9.Kenwyne Jones, 23.Lester Peltier (13.Cordell Cato 90).

Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 7.Jonathan Glenn, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 10.Willis Plaza, 12.Kadeem Corbin, 15.Dwane James, 16.Rundell Winchester, 18.Yohance Marshall,

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

Cuba (4-2-2-2): 21.Diosvelis Guerra (GK), 2.Andy Vaquero, 15.Adrian Diz Pe, 6.Yaisnier Napoles, 5.Jorge Luis Clavelo; 3.Yenier Marquez (captain), 18.Daniel Luis (16.Hanier Dranguet 79); 22.Alain Cervantes (7.Dario Suarez 61), 8.Alberto Gomez (17.Liban Dairon Perez 68); 9.Maikel Reyes, 10.Ariel Martinez.

Unused substitutes: 1.Sandy Sanchez (GK), 14.Aricheel Hernandez, 4.Angel Horta, 13.Jorge Luis Corrales, 19.Yasmany Lopez, 23.Felix Guerra, 20.Armando Coroneaux.

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)

2015 Gold Cup results

Group C

(Sun July 12)

Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Sheldon Bateau 16, Andre Boucaud 42), Cuba 0 in Phoenix;

Mexico 0, Guatemala 0 in Phoenix;

(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.

AboutLasana 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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77 comments

  1. Well that sounds promising. Hope they’re introduced to senior football soon.

  2. Don’t fret too much. We have a few coming with youth team who can take on players… Kadeem Corbin, Keeshun Seecharan, Levi Garcia, Nathaniel Garcia, Aikim Andrews…

  3. Unfortunately I don’t see these guys play other than with the national team, when they’re showing them, that’s because I’m based in Tobago. But I remember how much we used to boast about or “skills” and “flair”, but I’m not seeing that anymore. We had so many good dribblers in the past…

  4. The only forward we have that qualifies as a skillful dribbler is Cornell Glen. We don’t make them anymore I’m afraid.
    We lack players who can take on men. These days people think Lester Peltier is a dribbler. He isn’t. He just does stopovers.

  5. Yes even him. They’re exciting players and that’s what you want too.

  6. I understand what Garvin is saying. I would like to see Shanon (Shandon) Winchester former Wconnection striker in the team as well.

  7. I’m not about them trying to do anything with the team now, but following the tournament. I’ll will like to see Britto introduced to the team. If he’s the leading scorer for WC, then how come he didn’t fit in, especially when he’s has been playing national football from youth level. Kenwyn Jones is not what I call a “dangerous” striker, with lethal force. His name is what’s helping him now. I see too many flaws in his game, that shouldn’t be at this level. As a striker he’s not even a skillful dribbler. His strength is in the air. That’s about it.

  8. What’s your alternative? I am just curious. Like to hear opinions

  9. Well leh we hope so. But just remember that Jones has been slipping in the English also. I’m not pleased with the man’s work-rate. But that’s my opinion.

  10. Garvin Walters why is that? He may not be playing the way we want him playing. Right now he’s helping us get results. Results is what matters. With KJ hart has formulated a system and he has done well. Those smaller Hispanic countries find it hard to deal with him. He’s not scoring but he’s an handful. At times they have 2 guys around him. We will see what happens. 3 tournaments hart has done well with Trinidad. I hope his form rolls over to World Cup qualifying

  11. Point taken, But they’d have to review his position, pick, following the tournament.

  12. Ofcoruse we want to play like that. use to have players that could do that. It’s reading the game 2 or 3 plays in advance. It takes time to train a group to do it. Or you just have to have the players. In the Concacaf on the Spanish speaking counties seem to have it down in a sense. Even the Americans struggle. So you win playing other ways

  13. That’s essentially it there in a nutshell Prince. No one is capable of finding space in midfield to play at all. Our midfield got on the ball only in the periods where the opposing team dropped off.
    So I certainly see no equivalent of Busquets in our side. Not even a pale imitation of one.
    Credit for what they do well. But I have to report what I see.

  14. James Saunders and Lasana Liburd ah trying to analyze both arguments. Their approach is different. James the game might be slower but it’s the same execution being used. I don’t get to see Maylee play much but the men’s team do not have someone that can come get the balls from the backs like a Xavi does and dictate things going forward. So you can hear hart yelling on the sidelines from the TV- to look forward. They skip the midfield a lot. If not the ball is played left to right across the back with no penetration. That also shows the lack of movement from the forwards and attacking mids. There are hardly any combinations in the midfield. Maybe it’s the level of our guys but playing this way takes time and better preparation.

  15. Lol. Well that is a huge difference of opinion there James Saunders. We on different planets there.

  16. Sorry bro not with you on this one except the last line lol

  17. Sorry Technocratix Tobago. You need FoxSports 2. James Saunders, I think it has nothing to do with speed of the game. It is speed of thought, the angle at which you receive the ball and the quality of your first touch.
    Maylee has all three. Your are selling her way short. There are many players who do not understand where you need to be facing when you receive the ball.
    I won’t respond to the Kevan George/Sergio Busquets comparison. There is nothing similar about their game other than they both play as deep midfielders.
    What I will say is Kevan appreciates what he can and cannot do and is rarely caught in possession and he works hard for the team.
    Peltier is fast and likes to take on players. But that isn’t to say that he is good at getting past them.
    I support the Soca Warriors as much as anyone else. But don’t expect me to say things that just are not true.
    The most impressive thing about Trinidad and Tobago is the back four who are mostly all good one-on-one defenders with good physical attributes. And the fact that the team on a whole works hard and follows tactical instructions.
    I commend them for that. And they can maybe even emulate St Clair’s 2000 team which is a tremendous accomplishment considering their problems.
    But let’s not start writing songs for them yet.

  18. Trinidad and Tobago’s football is built around direct balls out of the back for Kenwyne Jones. If they replaced him, they would have to create a new strategy in mid-tournament.
    Would that make sense when they are actually winning games?

  19. where can we watch these games? i drove around looking for a bar showing it in Tobago and people was watching me like wot chu talkin bout willis.

  20. Great team effort.hope this is d turning point in our fball

  21. I agree with Saunders saying that the female game is what it is. I agree with Lasana saying that some players awareness isn’t all there. I disagree with both you guys as I know this team is much better than the st. clair team; I disagree that the back four is good at defending and more penetration will take place with movement off the ball. There are loads of movement off the ball. Sometimes players leave their lines too many times and follow the ball. I know that with confidence teammates will help each other out and execute different strategies during the course of games. The coach is managing his resources wisely. Abu Bakr is the man to play in the defensive midfield to kill off attacks. he will win headers, tackles and his passing accuracy is incredible. Kenwyne is the man to also play in the attacking midfield to make the penetration possible. Kenwyne plays not 2 not 1 but 1/2 touch football most times. The little that people think he does is enough to unlock and expose any and I repeat any defence.

  22. Clap! Clap! Clap! James Saunders. Very well said and i agree with you totally. One step at a time.

  23. KJones needs to be replaced. He is at times way too slow in the position that he is playing. If anything, I would bring him in late in the second half.

  24. There will always be room for improvement but the bottom line in football is that goals win games. Ask Argentina.