The Trinidad and Tobago National Under-23 Men’s football team was effectively eliminated from the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games last night after ending on the wrong side of a 5-1 spanking from Paraguay at the Hamilton Pan American Soccer Stadium.
The young “Soca Warriors”, who were crushed 4-0 by Uruguay in their opener on Saturday July 11, have no chance of finishing in the top two group spots to advance to the semifinal round.
It represents a sorry end for a team that was credited with raw potential but lacked the resources to prepare properly for international action and had a manager, David Muhammad, incapable of getting his best players registered.
Coach Zoran Vranes made two changes to his starting team as suspended defender Alvin Jones was replaced by forward Shackiel Henry and winger Neil Benjamin gave way for Aikim Andrews.
In their opener, the Warriors trailed Uruguay 3-0 at the interval. But, last night, both teams remained goalless after the first half.
And, against the run of play, Trinidad and Tobago bagged the opening goal of the match as versatile Central FC midfielder Nathaniel Garcia put the two island republic ahead in the 53rd minute.
The Warriors’ joy lasted until the 63rd minute when substitute Carlos Ferreira pulled the Paraguayans level. And the South Americans went on rampage after that with four more goals in just 16 minutes.
It completed a chastening experience for an Under-23 squad that boasted of three players, Shannon Gomez, Neveal Hackshaw and Jomal Williams, with senior international experience.
The young Warriors will end their Pan Am competition on Tuesday July 21 against Mexico.
The Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Senior Team plays its last Pan Am group game from 5.35 pm today against Mexico. The “Women Soca Warrior” are unbeaten in the competition so far but needs a win over “El Tricolour” to get to the Pan American semifinals.
Their task will be made harder by the fact that star attacker Kennya “Yaya” Cordner was reportedly diagnosed with a grade two strained MCL in her left knee. Cordner sustained the injury while scoring Trinidad and Tobago’s equaliser against Colombia.
The three-time TTFA Player of the Year still hopes to be ruled fit to play against Mexico.
Trinidad and Tobago U-23: 18.Jovan Sample (GK); 2.Shannon Gomez, 3.Maurice Ford, 4.Jesus Perez, 8.Tristan Hodge, 17.Aikim Andrews, 10.Duane Muckette (7.Jomal Williams 35), 9.Nathaniel Garcia, 6.Neveal Hackshaw, 13.Ricardo John, 11.Shackiel Henry (14.Jelani Felix 50 [5.Dario Holmes 74]).
Unused substitutes: 1.Montell Joseph (GK), 12.Xavier Rajpaul, 15.Neil Benjamin.
Suspended: 16.Alvin Jones.
Coach: Zoran Vranes
Pan American Games
Under-23 football result
(Fri July 17)
Paraguay 5 (Carlos Ferreira 63, 71, Ivan Ramirez 65, Derlis Alegre 76, Arturo Aranda 79), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Nathaniel Garcia 53);
(Sat July 18)
Trinidad and Tobago v Mexico, 5.35 pm.