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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.

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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.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief 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. Place getting crowded all of a sudden Lasana Liburd “here comes the wagonist singing I’m a warrior” ??

  2. For once I disagree with you a bit Lasana, the women’s game is way slower Hence Maylee is able to play that way successfully however I was very impressed at the speed at which we moved the ball in the middle of the park against Cuba a flaw which I pointed out in the first game, that is how modern football is played Kevan George has much to do with that he reminds me alot of Sergio Busquets in the role he’s playing don’t worry we’re still taking baby steps more penetration will come with better movement off the ball however we are able to utilise our strength (athleticism and speed) much better the faster we move the ball which has worked well for us so far, and our high pressure allows us to win the ball back in good areas of the pitch enabling us to attack in greater numbers very similar to the tactics employed by real Madrid. I am very impressed by Harts thinking so far he knew after that spanking from Mexico, Cuba would sit back a bit so he used Peltier who is much better at running at defenders than Cato who feasts on the space behind defenders’ who push forward to use his pace, also we weren’t tackling well in midfield against Guatemala so he used Boucaud who is much more aggressive player than Hyland and also gets caught in possession less than Hyland hence enabling the team to play quicker and defend better in midfield, the Mikheal Williams change was just to stabilize the defence especially in the air where David looked a little suspect to taller opposition against Guatemala I’m loving the progress I’m seeing, remember one step at a time.

  3. Britto has been representing the national teams from childhood, what’s the problem now? He’s still a prolific scorer.

  4. I know that Kevin Molino would’ve made a big difference on the pitch. I’m somewhat disappointed in K. Jones. I’m seeing him not taking the ball cleanly. He taking it for he and others and at this level, that shouldn’t be. I love to see strikers who can take on two, three defenders and beat them all and score. I think he’s a bit lazy. But all in all, I’m happy with the scores so far.

  5. I think Britto deserves a call up. But we really need wide players who can cross. Like Ahkeela Mollon!

  6. They were better tonight, but still need more concentration. What we need is a midfielder who can really control the game, make something out of nothing and create more chances to score. Also, we need to see more from Kenwyn Jones as a striker, more penetration, to be more lethal and super skillful.How come the young Britto is not on the team, after being the leading scorer at WC?

  7. Anything is possible in this game,I am not happy about our style of play but it got the results and Guatemala played I don’t even know what and got a good result⚽️

  8. I know Prince Borde. Ah doh mince words. My poor Husband was cringing because he know he wife when she rile up. Lol.

  9. Debbie Espinal you are something else

  10. By the way i ended up going to a sporting establishment to watch the game. I didn’t see Sancho but Sheldon Phillips came over after the game to offer congratulations on my Cousin’s behalf. Of course i didn’t miss the opportunity to give him a piece of my mind.

  11. Coach Hart is working with what he has Lasana Liburd. At least he’s getting the desired results. Can you imagine what he could have accomplished if he had the team in camp for a month?

  12. Lasana Liburd true but let we leave the women on their thread nah!! You like trouble eh?

  13. My sentiments exactly Gordon Pierre. If we beat Mexico in our head to head we’ll remain on top. I’ll take that position anytime.

  14. This might sound like a diss but the Warriors would do so much better with a male equivalent of a Maylee Attin-Johnson and Ahkeela Mollon in the team.
    I think Mollon is the best crosser in the Trinidad and Tobago game right now, regardless os sex. And Maylee can get on the ball and dictate from deep, which is also missing.
    But I won’t take away from the spirit and athleticism of our Gold Cup team.

  15. Dion Sosa we through thats all and if mexico can not beat guatemala then we have a good chance

  16. Dion Sosa Mexico dfrew 0-0 with Guatemala that means they have a win and a draw and we have two wins. Does that clarify for you?

  17. How they doing that debbie if mexico win they win group

  18. Tell him tell him auntie Debbie Espinal!! I told him him my coach hart is a boss!! vibes it up!!

  19. A draw and we can Top the group! 🙂

  20. Prince Borde goals win games not ball possession. Yeah to TnT we topping the group.

  21. Ah wonder what Uncle Earl Mango Pierre have to say about this result seeing as he was unimpressed with TnT’s result against Guatemala which is supposed to be a walk over side. Ah wonder if he knows the Soca Warriors are currently topping the group?

  22. Debbie Espinal Mexico had 82 % possession

  23. And Guatemala play the last 20 or so with 10 men

  24. Anyone knows the result of the Mexico/ Guatemala game ?

  25. Good game, great results but we could do with a Latas in the middle. I thought that is one thing we were lacking a good playmaker. Other than that well done Soca Warriors. Now deal with Mexico and top the group.

  26. Trinidad and Tobago can top the group now. That would be a “Wow” moment if we pull that off…

  27. Mexico needs Hernandez! Wow Mexico hit the post

  28. Yes. Mekeil Williams announced himself with a big performance tonight. Well done Splash!

  29. Was indeed particularly impressed with Mekeil Williams at left-back – never knew he could play that position so well.

  30. Yeah. Our midfield kept it simple and I can’t fault that. But our attacking game is so basic. Wish he had the players so we could mix it up more and build through the midfield.
    But I can’t fault Hart much. We just don’t have those type of players right now.

  31. I understand wht your saying with the runners..,,Cummings looked good for the time he got and i am loving how K.George is playing he is keeping it simple playing to his strength and keeping the ball moving with his 1&2 touch haven’t seen Paul much so i can’t comment on him

  32. Well, we can’t play with two runners alone on top which is what Peltier and Cato are. So we need some craft. He has to do a job for us.
    Keron Cummings got some minutes today. But I would honestly have liked to see Kadeem Corbin or Rundell Winchester get a run out.
    A Corbin type player is exactly what we need, although I know this is probably too early in his development.
    What we need most of all is an on-song Leston Paul. Maybe Paul didn’t do enough to make the squad. I wouldn’t argue. But it would be great to have a midfielder in there who can really play in the classical sense.

  33. I think he can’t show it from there because he like play facing the goal making tht final pass up top he has to battle alot and tht not him

  34. I now remember I was supposed to make that smoking Cubans joke earlier 🙁

  35. Clearly they don’t trust Guerra enough to give him the Molino role.
    I agree that isn’t his best position but I would still like to see him show more of his quality.

    • Please recognise that Molino is much better than Neymar. Guerra cannot fill that role as he has a different skillset. He has the endurance to press high to disrupt defences and looks good as a false nine. Perhaps a better version of Messi on a national team.

  36. Right now Guatemala 0 Mexico 0! Maybe we can be in first place after tonight. Your headlines crack me up. We smoke them boy? The result never looked in doubt.

  37. …great news..winning is a habit..hopefully..

  38. OK maybe now one of the bandwagonist corporate bodies will all if a sudden find it profitable to bring/sponsor live coverage.

  39. Both games we started very well but i find after the half we sat back a lil but 3points is 3points and we moving forward my only question is y are they using Ataulla up top and not in his fav position off behind the strike they making him look bad

  40. I don’t think that this team would need a Mollon because her game is pretty much one dimensional as she is effective with that one thing in the women’s version. So what if coach Hart plays Guerra as a false 9. We see three to four players attacking the box now. It makes no sense to employ more crossing when one striker is the target man. Then the women can say that they need a Kenwyne. They don’t, play to strengths and win!

  41. The defence completed 82% passes and bakr 96%. They produced one goal too. the cb channel is suspect at defending. 2 goals could have been scored. the midfield did not complete almost 1/4 passes. Next game Bakr in the middle with George; Winchester for Joevin, Plaza upfront with Jonathan. Cato in the right. This will make nice even quicker counterattacking team against El Tri. They will have no answer and be demolished. To answer calls for playmakers; we have many but they are in different positions. Kenwyne is our biggest playmaker but a confident team helps. This team could have beaten Argentina and I repeat IS a top ten team in the world.

  42. I learn my lesson with West Indies cricket; allyuh could get excited if allyuh want but I staying hopeful rather than optimistic or expectant. If we get less than three against Mexico, I jumping in true Trini fashion on the bandwagon.