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Panama penalise Warriors; T&T fails to hurdle ‘Canal Men’ in G/Cup 1/4 final

The Panama football team has played four matches in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and is yet to win a single game, four ties in regulation time. Yet, it is “Los Canaleros” who will advance to the Gold Cup semifinal round on July 22.

And the “Soca Warriors” will head home after a heartbreaking 6-5 loss on penalties at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shoot loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago football captain Kenwyne Jones (background) hugs teammate and goalkeeper Marvin Phillip after their penalty shoot loss to Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

“I think at the end of the day the two days extra rest for Panama showed,” Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart told the TTFA Media. “We were completely exhausted. But I have to give credit to my players. They gave me everything. I extracted every drop of juice out of that orange.

“Penalties are a cruel way to decide a game but it’s how the game ends.”

Some people believe that Lady Luck decides the winner of penalty shoot outs. Hart’s own view on the subject is uncertain. But it is surely a dilemma that he ought to grapple with.

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team has faced three penalty shoot-outs during Hart’s tenure. In every one, the Warriors kicked second. And, on every occasion, they lost.

It was 6-7 against the United Arab Emirates on 5 September 2013 at the OCM Cup in Saudi Arabia. Then 3-4 against Jamaica at the 2014 Caribbean Cup final on 18 November 2014 in Montego Bay.

And, this evening, Panama extended their miserable run from the spot. Three successive defeats via the same format is not misfortune. It is a shortcoming.

Yet, at the same time, one cannot overlook the significant transformation in the Warriors, who seemed to be afraid of their own shadows, just a month ago, but became the talk of the region once the business started.

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)

Hart begged for more live-in camps, international practice games and scientific training equipment so as to widen his player pool, improve his team’s fitness, enhance their tactical grasp of the game and properly prepare them for the speed and intensity of top flight competition and tutor them on the art of physical recovery between assignments.

Even as fans despair at Trinidad and Tobago’s inability to keep possession or Daneil Cyrus’ woeful penalty kick, it is worth noting that, if successful teams could be created with a short pre-tournament camp and sporadic international games, then the likes of Real Madrid and Chelsea would not bother to have lengthy and arduous pre-seasons.

The Warriors could have beaten Panama today. Maybe they should have. But we are a long way from being able to expect such results.

You sow, the good book says, as you reap. It is alarming that this lesson appears not to have sunk in with the powers-that-be after so many close defeats by the male and female teams respectively.

Hart insisted before the fixture that ball possession would be vital to the quarterfinal fixture. But it is one thing to diagnose the problem and quite another to address it.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

By the halfway mark, Panama had 58 percent of possession and completed 126 pass to 71 from the Warriors.

A decade or two ago, Trinidad and Tobago had maestros like David Nakhid, Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Arnold Dwarika, Kerwin Jemmott and Aurtis Whitley, who had the talent and presence to dictate the tempo of a match.

These days, the Warriors are more one-dimensional, built for speed and combat. And a team’s DNA cannot be changed with one lecture.

Kenwyne Jones does not just wear the armband. He is the reference point for the squad and the direct tempo suits him.

Panama, like Mexico, Cuba and Guatemala before them, quaked when balls flew towards the giant Cardiff City forward.

And Jones nearly put Trinidad and Tobago ahead in the 25th minute with a powerful header, off a Cyrus long throw, that was inches over the Panamanian bar.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones heads towards goal against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Kenwyne Jones heads towards goal against Panama in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

Panama struck first, though. Radanfah Abu Bakr failed to decisively deal with a diagonal cross in the 36th minute and his central defensive partner Sheldon Bateau’s attempted clearance only made things worse.

The ball ricocheted off Panama striker Blas Perez, ricocheted off Bateau and fell to Luis Tejada inside the penalty area. And Tejada is not the sort to pass up such opportunities.

It was Tejada’s 40th international goal from 86 matches. The entire Trinidad and Tobago starting team only had 30 international goals combined.

The Warriors nearly had their own slice of good fortune, seconds before the halftime interval.

Panama right back Gabriel Gomez was stretchered off the field with a shoulder injury. And, before coach Hernan Dario Gomez could get a replacement on the field, Cyrus delivered a brilliant cross to the back post where the Panama right back would have been stationed.

Keron Cummings and Joevin Jones were both charging towards the ball with the goal in their sights. But Jones (K) launched himself backwards to make contact and denied his teammates of a clear scoring chance.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup. (Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Keron Cummings (centre) celebrates his goal against Mexico with teammates (from right) Cordell Cato, Joevin Jones, Mekeil Williams and Aubrey David in the 2015 Gold Cup.
(Courtesy MexSport/CONCACAF)

Maybe the captain did not hear them. Perhaps he was trying to take responsibility.

Either way, Jones (K) atoned, nine minutes into the second half, as he ran on to a deep Khaleem Hyland free kick and nodded a header past Panama custodian Jaime Penedo.

Panama defender Harold Cummings was trying to knock the muscular Warriors captain off his course during the set piece. But he had as much chance of success at that task as pint-sized MP Colm Imbert flooring retired boxer Kertson Manswell.

It was Jones’ fourth all-time Gold Cup goal, which brought him level with Dwarika as Trinidad and Tobago’s most prolific scorer in the confederation’s showcase tournament.

It was also Trinidad and Tobago fifth goal off a set piece from four games at the 2015 competition.

Jones did not celebrate with a somersault. Maybe he was conserving energy. Or perhaps it was his way of saying that the job was not finished yet.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Cordell Cato (left) eludes Panama midfielder Miguel Camargo during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Jewel Samad/AFP 2015)

But the Warriors rarely saw the opposing penalty area again.

Keron Cummings had one sniff in the 69th minute, after a counter that involved Jones (K) and Lester Peltier, but his shot was charged down by Panama captain Roman Torres.

Otherwise, it is hard to remember Penedo having much reason for concern between the uprights for Panama.

Trinidad and Tobago defended deeper and deeper as the minutes went by while Peltier was generally not as successful at winning yards down the touchline as the man he replaced, Cordell Cato.

Panama should have won the match in the 90th minute but somehow Perez, another veteran goal poacher with 38 goals from 96 internationals, contrived to screw Alberto Quintero’s cross wide from inside the six yard box.

Neither team seemed to enjoy extra time. For 30 minutes, it looked like 22 men running in quicksand, until Honduran referee Hector Rodriguez blew the whistle and invited the two nations to solve their dispute via kicks from the penalty mark.

Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan has more than the "Soca Warriors" on his mind in New Jersey.
Photo: A Trinidad and Tobago football fan has more than the “Soca Warriors” on his mind at the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal in New Jersey.

“I think fatigue was a big factor,” said Hart. “We could not get up and down the field as a unit like we did against Mexico and as the game went further and further forward we just couldn’t keep possession of the ball.

“We ran out of legs.”

Jones (K) won the toss. For some unfathomable reason, he chose to kick second for the third successive time.

Yet, to be fair, it did not immediately seem an omen of doom.

Torres skied the first kick of the shootout over the bar and Trinidad and Tobago substitute Ataulla Guerra dispatched his effort to put the Warriors ahead.

The advantage did not last as Sheldon Bateau blasted Trinidad and Tobago’s second kick too close to Penedo, who held on to it.

Phillip got Warriors supporters jumping as he pushed away the next attempt from Panama left back Erick Davis. But then Jones (J) hit to the heavens and the scores were tied again at 1-1.

Mekeil Williams, Jones (K) and Abu Bakr converted as the two teams were locked at 4-4 after six kicks each.

Then, Quintero walked up, spat—surely a sign of nerves—and was promptly denied by Phillip.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The thing about shoot-outs is that the first kicker always knows that his goalkeeper can cover for him if he misses. The pressure is always more intense for the team that kicks last.

Cyrus, who could have put the Warriors into the semis, choked and missed the entire frame of the goal.

Perez squeezed the next shot past Phillip before Andre Boucaud, who missed a penalty for T&T in Saudi Arabia, and Valentin Pimental both scored.

As Peltier strode forward, he was the fifth Trinidad and Tobago player who was kicking to pull his team level. And he could not get his attempt past Penedo, who tipped it on to the bar.

Game over.

“Yesterday nobody missed (in practice) and today we had three chances to take it and we missed,” said Hart. “A lot of what we have to work on comes with experience and playing matches.

“A tournament like this would have done a lot for our young players and hopefully with the right preparation, we can continue to grow and improve as a team.”

Maybe the Warriors’ encouraging performances at the Gold Cup would inspire the football community and the public and private sector to provide them with the necessary tools—both in terms of financial resources and managerial expertise—to take a more measured approach to their next tournament.

Or maybe Trinidad and Tobago will continue to improvise on the fly and hope for the best.

What do you think?

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national senior team coach Stephen Hart studies his options during a 3-0 friendly defeat against Argentina in June 2014.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 5.Daneil Cyrus, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 17.Mekeil Williams; 8.Khaleem Hyland (11.Ataulla Guerra 91), 19.Kevan George; 13.Cordell Cato (23.Lester Peltier 65), 20.Keron Cummings (14.Andre Boucaud 80), 3.Joevin Jones; 9.Kenwyne Jones.

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

Injured: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK).

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

Panama (4-2-2-2): 1.Jaime Penedo (GK); 6.Gabriel Gomez (13.Adolfo Machado 45), 5.Roman Torres (captain), 3.Harold Cummings, 15.Erick Davis; 2.Valentin Pimentel, 14.Miguel Camargo (22.Abdiel Arroyo 90); 11.Armando Cooper, 19.Alberto Quintero; 7.Blas Perez, 10.Luis Tejada (8.Gabriel Torres 82).

Unused substitutes: 12.Luis Mejia (GK), 21.Jose Calderon (GK), 4.Alfredo Stephens, 9.Roberto Nurse, 16.Rolando Blackburn, 17.Luis Henriquez, 18.Darwin Pinzon, 23.Angel Patrick,

Suspended: 20.Anibal Godoy.

Coach: Hernan Dario Gomez

 

Referee: Hector Rodriguez (Honduras)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones celebrates his goal against Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal result

(Sun July 19)

Panama 1 (Luis Tejada 36), Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Kenwyne Jones 54)

*—Panama won 6-5 on kicks from the penalty mark

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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88 comments

  1. Yep yep, The Spark has already said that it does not matter what happened in this game. T&T has already flexed its muscles as a CONCACAF giant. The deciding factor with this team was and always will be whether Abu Bakr continues to play in the middle of defence and if Kenwyne continues to play alone up front. The styles of a 70s Brazilian formation vs a contemporary 4-2-3-1 system went to a stalemate. It would always be difficult for Trinidad to win and maintain possession when Panama used individual roaming play. Needless to say Panama was excellent but awful in finishing. T&T were awful as a result. If they play that amount of shite and it went to penalties, what does that tell you. This team is top ten. The fact that you guys saw an anti-climactic game was because of this and nothing else. I hope that Lasana provides me with the information so I can present the cash to the player with the most assists. I hope that he matches the amount. I also hope that the lessons learnt by the coach is that playing skillsets out of positions in systems would produce drabby football. He should also know that there are persons in this country who are interested in providing analytics and other services for free. If the TTFA provideth not, he nor players asketh not so they receiveth not. So they should complaineth not.

  2. And there are many top players abroad who identify with the land of their parents. The main reason they don’t represent us is because we have nothing to offer them.
    Raheem Sterling visits Jamaica about twice a year. And he actually asked Jamaica to represent them and got overlooked as a teenager.
    Theodore Whitmore will probably never live down being the coach who could have picked Sterling and said no. I believe he had just moved to Liverpool although he was only in their youth set-up at the time.

  3. …But I hasten to add this: the technicians at the Gold Cup, and non-technicians as well, are agreed that the Caribbean has surpassed Central America in the quality of its players and the level of their performance. There is no doubt about that. Think of what could hbe acfhieved with proper planning and delivery of the domestic programmes that produce these players, instead of the current chaotic approach…

  4. …Amen. Amen. And amen. The heartache will continue until…

  5. Some people not following that fact at all Keith Look Loy or simply don’t care. In any case, the major issue isn’t Cyrus’ missed penalty.
    The state of our football goes well beyond our penalty kicks.

  6. …Panama had two more days rest, being part of Group A along with USA, Haiti and Honduras…

  7. And I en buying the “dead tired” talk. The last game was three days before, how “dead tired” could they’ve been?

  8. Dude it doesn’t matter what you do when yuh team dead tired. Concentration shot to hell men couldn’t even make 4 passes simple case of fatigue …. Legs go so does the concentration fortunately the heart didn’t go …. I saw two tackles by Cyrus that were
    sure penalties …. I held my breath …. You can’t go far without fitness ……. The U.S. Team to me is shit but there are few teams in the world close to their level of fitness …if you think I’m lying look them up on YouTube

  9. Lasana Liburd thank you so much for the clarification.

  10. That last game was the worst performance from the team and I was really disappointed in what I saw. They had me fretting, because I was seeing some simple mistakes that players at that level SHOULD NOT be making. At one time, I saw an attacker running towards our defenders, (3 of them) and they ALL were backtracking, instead of them closing him down. You should not even see that at Intercol level.
    We were making too many simple mistakes. We seemed to be lost for ideas when they swarm our players when they have the ball and we eventually lost it, without making 5-6 passes. I’v noticed that whenever our players have the ball, the Panamanians close in on them and limiting their spaces and options. Do they practice “in and out”, where they knock passes around in tight spaces, with two- three players trying to win it? Panama is a team we used to beat easily once upon a time, now their football is looking so much more superior to ours.

  11. Kicking first has a slight advantage over kicking second. But when it reaches ‘sudden death’, as it did in that game there is equal pressure for both kickers. Finance and preparation can take this team to the next level.

  12. Man get so vex he took it out of the ball! Up up and away!

  13. Who knows… It got him a bit heated as you could have seen in the images. But he has to be stronger mentally than that

  14. You think that messed him up Lasana Liburd

  15. Kenrick Ramirez, as I suspected, it was a case of mistaken identity. The official thought Cyrus had kicked already. They confused him with Ataulla Guerra.

  16. They read Malik Johnson. Many stakeholders including coaches and players read Wired868. And comments on the stories are linked to the website.
    You can click on any story on the site and scroll down and read comments drawn from different forum. Many people go to just to read those.

  17. Jah boy Cyrus you had one Job one Job smh!! Good effort by the team though?

  18. Somehow i feel they all read these comments when they get the chance if not then i agree they should Malik Johnson.

  19. Lassana is there a place a forum where we can have direct contact with the ttfa or the technical staff?? We’re discussing all this amongst ourselves and the people who need to be hearing this directly ….hide and creep ….they need to hear our point of views directly ….how can we arrange to make this happen?

  20. …Good question. Some believe in the wondrous powers of the sports psychologist. Others believe he/she is more of a hindrance to team development than an aid. What gives, grows, and guarantees confidence – no matter the situation? Adversity. And success at a task. Is it simply a matter, therefoire, of facing adversity and accumulatiing successes (which process you can’t short circuit or buy, btw)? Not so simple. How many penalty “shoot outs” have the much-vaunted English pros lost at the very highest level? Too many for them to forget! So how do you improve an intangible like mentality. I believe some people are born with the “balls” for the job. As they say, “they born ready”. Others, maybe, could develop them but in the end this matter of mentality is highly individual and personal. It depends on the person. The task of the selector is to select those with “Mentality”. Let me also hasten to add, that I believe it is also intimately connected to national personality and culture, at least to some degree. If the Germans in a “penalty shoot out”, you going to bet against them?…

  21. How do you improve mentality Keith Look Loy? I’m basing my pieces primarily on what the coaching staff say they need to improve the squad. But I always like to hear your tactical opinions.

  22. 3 times a week my college team work on pks. Thank God we haven’t gone to it yet. We see whose the strongest. We also work on it to train the keeper and so these kids can have the muscle memory of striking the ball from the spot. There are rewards and penalties for winners and losers. We even walk down the path to take it. I prepare these kids. And put enormous pressure on them. Of course nothing can match the pressure of a pk shoot out. But they are so use to doing it every day that it becomes part of a routine for them. I also teach my keepers to stand slightly on one side. And in the run up move back to the center. Even at our level if we see a kicker take a pk in a game we take notes as to where they kick. When I get scouting reports I ask who kicks their pks. And what direction. Same with any set piece. Does the ball go to the far post near post. How do they line up. You have to do your homework. Now in saying that. I still think pks are the worse way to decide a game. But you have to decide the game some how. I think they should say if it’s tied the higher seed advance. Then this causes the lower seed to chase the match. Or have some kind of tie-breaker. Causing a team to go for it. That might be silly. Anyways it’s part of the game and you have to do it. I think there are some luck to it Lasana Liburd. There is also some science. Like how do you kick after playing 120 with tired legs. Ruud thinks you should smack it because if you try to place it your tired legs will fail you. Coaches say go low and hard. Then who do you pick! I think you pick the guys that don’t have a care in the world. Like nothing much phases them. A guy or girl with less emotion. So it is a science in a way at the same time there is a lot of chance involve.

  23. Lassana it’s encouraging tho that after all the shit that has gone down …team was able to top their group and battle to penalties in the quarters. ….. ….suffice to say the elections is vital ….love for some kind of continuity.

  24. …What is preparation? Plenty friendly matches? Brasil had plenty ahead of the Copa America. Beat everyone laughing and then flopped. We had few ahead of the Gold Cup, lowered everyone’s expectations, and then suprised them all by playing resasonably well in the circumstances to get this far. By comparison, Haiti had ONE friendly (2:2 away to China), drew their team from THIRTEEN different countries and STILL played some of the best football in the tournament, losing to a team they dominated – Jamaica. Meantime, USA was beating top European opposition before the tournament. Then they struggled to get through the group phase. They lucky they got Cuba. We give too much importance to friendly matches. What is preparation? Taking penalties after training? That is supposed to prepare you for that long, lonely, walk from half line, in front of 70’000 people, to take a kick on which your team’s life depends? You and you alone? Please. What is preparation? The daily challenge of elite football that toughens your mentality. MENTALITY. And too often we lack it. Ecuador. Panama. Nothing to prepare you to jump that final hurdle other than mentality. And we should look at that shortcoming square in the face and not let the national pride cloud our vision. Still, they boys did better than any of us expected. Let’s be honest – no credit to TTFA. Let’s see if the politicians, corporate and party, will climb on board now…

  25. The point Malik is we won the coin toss and made that call to put ourselves under more pressure.
    But I certainly agree that it isn’t the most important thing. Not even close.
    The most important thing is our poor preparation.

  26. they took penalty shots in practice before this game, last person on video to take it was Cyrus, he scored easily, but managed to kick over bars this time.. inexcusable …

  27. I feel the idea of us kicking second is irrelevant because a team can be chosen to kick on the flip of a coin its seldom ever really in your hand. ….some teams prefer to go first to put pressure on a team some prefer second to see what kind of response is needed … tomaaatos tomahhhhtos despite our choice …we had the chance to win and Cyrus just choked. In fact there seemed to be a hesitation as to whether he should have taken it or not. Fact is the better team went through based on performance on the day. ….we were dead on our legs and could not consistently put three passes together. We needed to get fitter to go further ….. the tournament showed alot and if we use this as a platform to get serious we can maintain something. The upcoming elections is important.

  28. I remember there was confusion Kenrick Ramirez. I will see what I find out about it. I thought they were querying whether Cyrus had kicked earlier. But I will ask.

  29. Lasana Liburd maybe you can investigate and find out – it seems there was confusion and Boucaud was supposed or they wanted him to kick but the line up the ref Assitant had (which is official and given prior to sudden death kicks “2nd 5”) had Cyrus before before Boucaud.

    I’m not sure just seem that way watching on TV

  30. Penalties are less than 10% physical with 90% being mental in my opinion and could be less in a shoot out… thought we should have pulled it off especially as Marvin did so well… Experience is key as well because the lesser experienced players missed theirs