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T&T edge Panama 2-1; Warriors’ first win in Panama City in 10 years

The “Soca Warriors” sent a signal to their CONCACAF rivals last night with a gritty 2-1 exhibition win away to Panama at the Estadio Romel Fernandez in Panama City.

It was Trinidad and Tobago’s first win away to Panama since 2005 and their first triumph of any kind against the respected Central American team since 18 March 2009.

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)

Captain Kenwyne Jones put the Warriors ahead in the 40th minute with a ferocious blast from the edge of the opposing 18-yard box while central defender Radanfah Abu Bakr doubled the lead in the 52nd minute with a close ranged header off a Keron Cummings corner kick.

But Panama winger Valentin Pimentel pulled a goal back for the hosts in the 59th minute. And it took a tremendous display from overworked central defenders Abu Bakr and substitute Daneil Cyrus to preserve the result as the Warriors were under tremendous pressure for the closing 30 minutes.

There were no points at stake in Panama City but the Warriors, who start their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign away to Guatemala on November 13, were anxious to show their mental toughness.

And, with a home game next Tuesday against Nicaragua, a positive showing was important to get bodies through the turnstiles at the Hasely Crawford Stadium and, hopefully, get a few signed cheques from corporate Trinidad and Tobago.

Once more, the boys in “Red, Black and White” made full use of the opportunity.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (centre) celebrates the opening goal against Guatemala with teammates Radanfah Abu Bakr (left) and Khaleem Hyland during their 3-1 Gold Cup win. (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 during their 3-1 Gold Cup win.
(Copyright Jonathan Daniel/AFP 2015)

Short on experience in the attacking midfield positions—due to injuries to Lester Peltier and Ataulla Guerra and the unavailability of Cordell Cato and Rundell Winchester—coach Stephen Hart improvised by starting two centre forwards, Jones and Jonathan Glenn, in an orthodox 4-4-2 formation, which saw the Warriors defend high up the pitch.

After a sterile start to the affair, Jones had the first opportunity of the match in the 14th minute, as he spun his marker but delayed his shot and was closed down by opposing left back Erick Davis.

It was not until the 27th minute that anyone else managed a sight of goal and, this time, it was the turn of his strike partner, Glenn. Jones played a perceptive through ball to free his namesake, Joevin Jones, down the left flank but Glenn failed to get on the end of the winger’s inviting cross.

There was a scare for Trinidad and Tobago in the 33rd minute, as Panama striker Roberto Nurse headed in from an inswinging free kick. But it was an obvious offside call and the referee did his job.

Then, in the 36th minute, Hart’s two big centre forwards combined to draw first blood.

Panama failed to cut out a simple left side throw in and Glenn teed up Kenwyne, who took one touch before smashing the ball past opposing goalkeeper Jaime Penedo from the edge of the area.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Joevin Jones (right) in action against Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Joevin Jones (right) in action against Panama at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

It should have been 2-0 to T&T, five minutes later, as the Joneses combined again after some fluent interplay. But Kenwyne muffed a simple headed chance off another brilliant left side Joevin cross.

Hart swapped Glenn for the bustling, diminutive attacker Trevin Caesar at halftime and the Warriors immediately looked more comfortable as they reverted to their customary 4-2-3-1 formation.

Hyland released Caesar with a lofted diagonal pass in the 49th minute but Joevin squandered the winger’s cut back with an ugly effort with his right foot.

Remarkably, the chances kept coming and Trinidad and Tobago finally got their second in the 52nd minute, as Panama’s substitute custodian Luis Mejia failed to read a Cummings corner and Abu Bakr finished with a cushioned header.

It was Abu Bakr’s second senior international goal. His first strike was six years ago in a 3-2 win away to St Kitts and Nevis under then coach Russell Latapy.

In theory, Trinidad and Tobago’s 4-2-3-1 system should have offered more protection for goalkeeper Marvin Phillip’s backline in the second half. But it did not pan out that way, in part because the host team seemed to have identified a lack of cover for the Warriors’ full backs.

Photo: North East Stars striker Trevin Caesar (left) tries to burst past Defence Force attacker Balondemu Julius. Caesar now plays with lower division US team, Austin Aztex. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars striker Trevin Caesar (left) tries to burst past Defence Force attacker Balondemu Julius.
Caesar now plays with lower division US team, Austin Aztex.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

England-based right back Gavin Hoyte was overworked in the first half and, after the interval, it was the turn of Trinidad and Tobago left back Mekeil Williams to be left exposed, as Panama began to tear down either flank.

The host team’s lone goal came on one of the rare occasions that the Panama winger stepped inside rather than sprinted down the flank.

In the 59th minute, Pimentel cut in from the left and delivered what was surely meant to be a far post cross. Panama striker Luis Tejada dived unsuccessfully at the cross and his movement distracted Phillip, who lost the flight of the ball.

And Pimentel’s cross-cum-shot crept into the far corner to halve the visitors’ lead.

Panama zipped the ball around at pace for the final half hour and whipped a stream of crosses into the opposing box. But the Warriors, led by the towering Abu Bakr, gave little away and the host team had few scoring opportunities.

Trinidad and Tobago next face the Nicaragua team that gave Jamaica a fright before being eliminated from the 2018 qualifying campaign in a two-legged contest.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (right) wins a header against Cuba forward Maikel Reyes during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Radanfah Abu Bakr (right) wins a header against Cuba forward Maikel Reyes during the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

The game kicks off at 7 pm and tickets—priced at TT$200 (covered) and TT$100 (uncovered) can be purchased online at www.islandetickets.com or at all Sports & Games outlets, Kenny’s Sport Shop in Port of Spain, Ramsingh’s in Couva and Fan Club in Movietowne, Gulf City and Trincity Mall.

After a defiant showing in Panama City, the Trinidad and Tobago players must now demonstrate their ability to dictate proceedings in front of a often fickle home crowd in Port of Spain.

So far, so good.

(Teams)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-4-2): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 16.Gavin Hoyte (2.Aubrey David 79), 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 4.Sheldon Bateau (23.Daneil Cyrus 55), 17.Mekeil Williams; 20.Keron Cummings, 8.Khaleem Hyland, 14.Andre Boucaud (19.Kevan George 64), 3.Joevin Jones (15.Neveal Hackshaw 77); 7.Jonathan Glenn (11.Trevin Caesar 46), 9.Kenwyne Jones (10.Willis Plaza 81).

Unused substitutes: 21.Jan-Michael Williams (GK), 13.Aikim Andrews, 18.Yohance Marshall.

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

Panama (4-4-2): 1.Jaime Penedo (GK) (12.Luis Mejia (GK) 46); 6.Gabriel Gomez, 13.Adolfo Machado, 23.Felipe Baloy (captain), 15.Erick Davis (17.Luis Henriquez 62); 14.Valentin Pimentel (8.Gabriel Torres 79), 11.Armando Cooper (2.Leonel Parris 46), 20.Anibal Godoy (7.Renan Addles 62), 19.Alberto Quintero; 9.Roberto Nurse, 10.Luis Tejada (16.Rolando Blackburn 62).

Unused substitutes: 22.Jose Calderon (GK), 3.Roderick Miller, 4.Abdiel Macea, 18.Darwin Pinzon, 21.Ricardo Buitrago.

Coach: Hernan Gomez

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and forward Kenwyne Jones (left) accelerates past Cuba midfielder Daniel Luis during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain and forward Kenwyne Jones (left) accelerates past Cuba midfielder Daniel Luis during 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup action.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

International friendly

(Thursday October 8)

Panama 1 (Valentin Pimentel 59), Trinidad and Tobago 2 (Kenwyne Jones 40, Radanfah Abu Bakr 52) at Panama City;

 

Upcoming friendly

(Tuesday October 13)

Trinidad and Tobago v Nicaragua, 7 pm, Hasely Crawford Stadium.

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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54 comments

  1. God win! was that a world cup qualifier?

  2. Great going TnT. Didn’t get to see the match in Tobago. Some things will have to change fast over here.

  3. What is so significant about Hart is that he does not have Brand name players at his disposal like previous coaches….eg latapy,nakid yorke, nixon, dwarika, shaka, etc….and he doing terrific with the raw talent

    • Trini Don – point observed. Hart has shown to have covered the three “foundational” bases very well – 1. he brought the players to his table of respect and love; 2. he kept the media at his side and for those in the lurk, at least bound and tentative because of good and timely results but also because of players acceptance of him; and 3. the public has sat back and giving him a chance – this too because of the immediately preceding justification for the media’s acceptance of him – the players “voice”. The team needs to press on with the same spirit, but the big games are still to come and to better deal with them, we must focus on team shape with but especially, without the ball. The transition game must be where we train over the next few days and weeks – this gives the right signals for the next decision and action that players are to make “knowing what’s new, what’s next, and getting there first”. We must also remember that the last three games where we came away with “great” results, the 4-4 and 3-3 ties with Mexico, and this long-awaited victory over Panama, there was not the intimidating pressure of points to gain and QC Qualification looming. With the 4-4 tie, we had already qualified for the 1/4s, and the other two… friendlies. The great thing however, apart from the results, is, they were all away games. Now, one more game with Nicaragua, a near-upset horse of Jamaica (3-4 in aggregate goals), is a good last warm-up test at home – an expected win, but, one that we will be wise to see the transition game put to work.

    • Thanks Hannibal Najjar for sharing your knowledge and expertise in the game….

    • @trini don i dont think they have average players i think for a long time these players havent had the the right key to unlock their potential and coach hart has been able to do it. But when you watch joevin jones , pest , cato , caesar , boucaud and hyland you can understand how well they play their roles in attack. The pace and guile of the wingers , the simple play of the two defensive midfielders and the depth that we have in these positions as well as the competition for places have added to the potency of our attack . I dont think we give credence to how well pest has filled the attacking midfielder role as well sometimes even better than the brilliant kevin molino. I believe we will see more of the talent of these players as the games progress but this team can easily turn out to be our “golden generation”.

    • I agree about the transition game Hannibal it is my main concern

  4. Panama’s chances came late. But Trinidad was better for a long time. And they only had about two good chances whole game I think.
    I thought our full backs were not getting proper cover from the midfield. That was the problem to me.

  5. Both teams would like to forget how the game was played, Panama more than T&T. The game lacked fluidity and cohesion, team shape especially in defense. Great result nonetheless and lends to a positive and continued momentum that we could only relish.

  6. Once the spirits are high in that unit then they can achieve any result that is realistic,well done guys??

  7. about bloody time….shiiiiid

  8. Hanging on is an understatement, it was like luck was on their side last night the Panamanians just could not finish. I have no finger nails left this morning!

  9. Great Heart, Coach keep it in the uprights.

  10. Williams at left back was exposed but good result. We need to take our chances the score could easily have been 4-1. Stadium should be full next week

  11. They edge them or they beat them Lasana Liburd . ????

  12. I hope wired868 has some Red jerseys for sale, in support of TnT national team

  13. Was a gr8 performance for an away game still taught we cud of at least score 2 more. But well done to d staff for giving us a team to have hope in for d furture

  14. I hope everyone comes out and support the players and coaching staff on Tuesday. They have been putting the work in and getting results on the pitch while under tough situations off the pitch. The least the people of Trinidad and Tobago can do is return the love. Come out and support the team please.

  15. We could’ve actually scored about 5 with better finishing. Some guilt edged chances went a begging. I loved how they pressed high up the field in the first half. Not perfect by any means, but great intent, and things ALWAYS HAPPEN when this team does that.

    Consistency, concentration and composure, still needs to be worked on more…but we seem to be on the right track. We need to keep getting more of these games, every international window.

    IMO the left wing back, Williams, had an awful game. It seemed like everything and everyone beat him, and he always seemed to be jogging. Poor game on his part. Hope he improves for the next one, or gets dropped until he shows some better awareness and industriousness.

    • I think our two full backs were badly exposed defensively because they were often defending against two players. That was the real problem to me.

    • Yeah and I think part of the problem imo is that for that half hour or so after the Panama goal we stopped pressing. Maybe it was better ball movement by Panama or our guys ran out of gas. Can’t say, but we brought pressure on ourselves by sitting too deep, too often, towards the end of the game.

      Still didn’t like Williams in particular

    • The ball moves really fast on turf and they used that better in the second half. Also we changed formation at the break and stopped pressing as high.
      Fitness has been an issue so I wouldn’t be surprised if it was last night.
      But we hung on well and remember Panama had very few scoring opportunities. We definitely had more.

  16. Not to be the proverbial wet blanket here, but the team seems to be performing better without Molino….maybe the present balance/chemistry is different?

  17. I fell asleep, but I share your sentiments Lasana… Cant wait for Molino… I felt that they could have been a bit more direct in the middle… Like take on the defenders more… I thought Pest would have served better in the middle than on the flank… Even the first goal Jones collected behind the winger and Glenn… Maybe that was because he was slow in advancing or maybe that was the plan… I guess coachman knows what he wants from Pest and Jones… Glenn was a bit out of the game at times…

  18. Great game I think TT is on to something with this team. We had another two missed chances in the first half.

  19. Nice Nice! Also good to see another formation being implemented

  20. Scotty Ranking

    Tell me, Lasana: is the team gelling nicely now? For the first time in a looooooong while it seems that scoring opportunities aren’t a problem. Just that leaky defence worries me; when last have we shut out opponents consistently?

  21. Yes. It was as good as I could expect. Solid and plenty character. I can’t wait to have Molino and Hector ready to join this squad.