Home / Volley / Global Football / Soca Warriors Levi-tate! T&T teenager Levi Garcia thrills in 3-2 WCQ win over St Vincent

Soca Warriors Levi-tate! T&T teenager Levi Garcia thrills in 3-2 WCQ win over St Vincent

Eighteen year old wonder boy Levi Garcia marked his senior international Trinidad and Tobago debut with a decisive double, as the “Soca Warriors” came from behind to edge St Vincent and the Grenadines 3-2 in a Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier at Arnos Vale.

Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with "Soca Warriors" fans after his double set a 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates with “Soca Warriors” fans after his double set a 3-2 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

It was a largely stodgy performance from Trinidad and Tobago, as they trailed 1-0 at halftime and always looked vulnerable to St Vincent’s menace on the counter attack.

But it all changed when Garcia stepped on to the field, as a 62nd minute change for right back Daneil Cyrus, and instantly imposed himself on the “Vincey Heat” backline as the game came to a cracking conclusion.

Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart chose to start the contest with an improvised line-up that saw full back Justin Hoyte play in an advanced position on the right flank.

If the pairing of Cyrus and Hoyte was meant to offer solidity to the Warriors’ right side, it did not work.

St Vincent had the first good chance of the match as midfielder Emerald George won the ball near the halfway line and tore into space behind Cyrus to collect a return pass from Myron Samuel. Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip was quick off his line to apply pressure, though, and George stabbed wide.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud (centre) is surrounded by four St Vincent and the Grenadines players during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Boucaud (centre) is surrounded by four St Vincent and the Grenadines players during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

The Warriors were seeing more of the ball and left back Aubrey David, who was a bustling figure in the half, stepped in off the flank and forced a sharp save from opposing goalkeeper Lemus Christopher.

Christopher came up trumps again, in the 33rd minute, with a fine low save to deny Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones, after a threaded pass from Khaleem Hyland.

Christopher, incidentally, was one of an eye-raising eight changes in the Vincentian starting team from their last qualifier as coach Cornelius Huggins opted for fresh legs. The average age of the Vincey Heat team was 24, some three years younger than their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts.

The Warriors might have been thinking about halftime drinks when disaster struck in the 44th minute. Seattle Sounders attacker Oalex “Bounty” Anderson, a genuine rising star at just 20 years old, slipped behind the defence for burly striker David Pitt, who was clattered by Phillip for a cast-iron penalty.

If anything, Phillip was lucky that Panamian referee Jose Kellys did not show a card as well.

Photo: St Vincent and the Grenadines attacker David Pitt (left) holds off Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (centre) while teammate Justin Hoyte looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: St Vincent and the Grenadines attacker David Pitt (left) holds off Trinidad and Tobago defender Daneil Cyrus (centre) while teammate Justin Hoyte looks on during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Samuel, who led the Vincentian offensive line superbly, calmly converted the penalty for a surprise lead to the hosts.

Christopher began his time wasting antics, like delaying picking up the ball in open play, from within seconds of the second half. But the following 45 minutes did not go anything like he planned.

Joevin Jones helped bring the two island republic level in the 51st minute with an inswinging corner kick that was inadvertently headed past Christopher by his own defender, Shemol Trimmingham, for the equaliser.

Hart introduced Garcia for Cyrus, as the Warriors finally got a winger on the pitch with Joevin more prominent in central areas.

Huggins replaced Pitt with Shandel Samuel, a former San Juan Jabloteh striker, to ensure Vincey Heat had fresh legs upfront who were capable of exploiting any Trinidad and Tobago turnover.

Garcia made his mark first.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (left) prepares to glide past St Vincent and the Grenadines right back Akeem Williams en route to his opening goal in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (left) prepares to glide past St Vincent and the Grenadines right back Akeem Williams en route to his opening goal in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Kenwyne jumped high to flick on a pass with his head—in a rare escape from excellent Vincentian defender and captain Roy Richards—and Garcia immediately squared up opposing full back Akeem Williams and danced inside him, before blasting home at Christopher’s near post in the 71st minute.

It was some debut for the whiz kid, who made his first Pro League appearance for T&TEC FC at 15 and signed a pre-contract for Eredivise club, AZ Alkmaar, at just 17 years old.

He is already Trinidad and Tobago’s youngest ever goal scorer in a European top flight competition, which is a mark he poached from ex-Manchester United star and 2006 World Cup captain Dwight Yorke.

The 33 year old Samuel (S) had no intention of conceding the spotlight to a kid barely old enough to drive, though.

In the 76th minute, just five minutes after Garcia’s strike, Vincentian enforcer Jarrel McMaster, who is built like a bouncer and hits like one, showed his ability on the ball as he exploited space to thread a diagonal ball to Anderson, who had slipped behind Hoyte.

And Anderson cleverly played the ball across the opposing defence for Samuel (S) to tap past an exposed Phillip.

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

Trinidad and Tobago had thrown away a hard-fought advantage and Hart might have looked sadly in the direction of England-born midfielder John Bostock, who missed the affair after an administrative error by the Warriors technical staff.

Boucaud was out of sorts on the dry, treacherous Vincentian pitch while Hyland and playmaker Kevin Molino, who was making his first appearance of the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, toiled without much end product.

But little Levi made it all look so easy.

Hart, suitably encouraged by Garcia’s progress, sent on the teenager’s former National Under-20 teammate, Neveal Hackshaw, and they quickly combined to devastating effect.

Hackshaw had space to pick out Garcia with a lofted diagonal pass behind the opposing defence and the Netherlands-based winger finished decisively below Christopher’s body for a 3-2 lead.

There might have even been a hattrick for Garcia but the angle was too tight, as he volleyed another effort across the face of goal.

Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates his second goal with teammate Khaleem Hyland against St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Eighteen year old Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) celebrates his second goal with teammate Khaleem Hyland against St Vincent and the Grenadines at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

And there was even an effective yet flashy dribbling exhibition, as Garcia executed a perfect “spanner” by pushing the ball on the outside of his left boot then flicking it the opposite way, in one fluent movement, to beat Shawn Benjamin out of his shoes.

It was enough for three points and a fresh breath of air in the Warriors’ push towards Russia.

Trinidad and Tobago can virtually seal their place in CONCACAF’s final qualifying round on Tuesday evening, when they host the Vincey Heat from 7 pm at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.

The side plot, though, is that it would be Garcia’s first home international as a senior player. At this rate, it is worth being a part of that story.

(Team)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 5.Daneil Cyrus (16.Levi Garcia 62), 4.Sheldon Bateau, 18.Yohance Marshall, 2.Aubrey David; 8.Khaleem Hyland, 14.Andre Boucaud (6.Neveal Hackshaw 80); 13.Justin Hoyte, 10.Kevin Molino, 3.Joevin Jones; 9.Kenwyne Jones (captain) (11.Willis Plaza 90).

Unused substitutes: 24.Adrian Foncette (GK), 7.Hughtun Hector, 12.Sean De Silva, 17.Mekeil Williams, 19.Shahdon Winchester, 20.Trevin Caear, 23.Jomal Williams.

Coach: Stephen Hart

 

St Vincent and the Grenadines: 1.Lemus Christopher (GK); 14.Akeem Williams, 5.Shawn Benjamin, 3.Roy Richards (captain), 16.Jolanshoy McDowall, 4.Jarrel McMaster, 6.Shemol Trimmingham, 10.Oalex Anderson, 17.Emerald George (7.Kyle Edwards 83), 21.David Pitt (19.Shandel Samuel 66), 9.Myron Samuel.

Unused substitutes: 22.Kevan Henry (GK), 8.Darren Hamlett, 15.Kevin Francis, 20.Durwin Ross.

Coach: Cornelius Huggins

 

Referee: Jose Kellys (Panama)

Man of the Match: Levi Garcia (Trinidad and Tobago)

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) tussles with St Vincent and the Grenadines captain Roy Richards during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016. Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (left) tussles with St Vincent and the Grenadines captain Roy Richards during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action at Arnos Vale on 25 March 2016.
Trinidad and Tobago won 3-2.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-images/Wired868)

Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers

(25 March 2016)

St Vincent and the Grenadines 2 (Myron Samuel 49 pen, Shandel Samuel), Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Shemol Trimmingham OG 51, Levi Garcia 71, 81) at Arnos Vale.

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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129 comments

  1. Usa hit em 6 Guatemala hit em 4 …pretty descent might be stretching it a bit …

  2. Cheryl Pierre not against St. Vincent what will happen when we play stronger opposition eg France, Brazil etc…

  3. Truly a breath of fresh air. So cool, confident and decisive. A better debut cannot be imagined even if he wrote the script himself.

  4. Great article Lasana Liburd – though I’m not sure about that “perfect spanner” comment. Cyah be a perfect spanner if you don’t recover the ball. ?

  5. Saw the goals and our defence was asleep ….. but I’m pretty sure if we saw it then Coach Hart saw it too ….think he’ll make some adjustments for the next game.

  6. Watched the highlights Lasana. Too much space in midfield for the opposition from both teams. That is poor. Against better teams you cannot concede so much space. But I will take the win. Serious improvement needed. Wingback’s need to track the runners so that they don’t get in behind so easily.

  7. He can’t be cleared by Tuesday Lasana Liburd?

  8. I’d give Mekeil and Hackshaw a shot. And of course Levi. Too bad Bostock isn’t available. 🙁

  9. He told me he would consider all his players for both games. I’d think he will give some of the older heads a rest for more energy. Because St Vincent have plenty of that.
    So I’d rest Hoyte and either Hyland or Boucaud.

  10. That football field reminded me of when I played colleges football way back in the seventies. I trust that on Tuesday next the assignment for the soca warriors would be much easier!

  11. But Hart did say that Molino was unlikely to start two games so close to each other. So does he start again Tuesday?

  12. Levi was my MoM too Jerron Abasali. But he had little competition in T&T line-up. I thought the St Vincent captain was outstanding.

  13. There were times I thought we were really stretched too. Our back line seemed to be miles away from our attacking players at times.
    I guess they asked Daneil Cyrus to stay at home because of St Vincent’s pace. But it was still a disjointed performance.
    But I know Kevin Molino will get better and Boucaud and Joevin usually are more impactful than that.

  14. Lol if you see Hoyte and Cyrus start on the same flank again I guarantee there won’t be any joga bonito.

  15. ..Not even jogo bonito. Just an overall good performance. When I look at Costa Rica and Jamaica I say good job we got Guate and Vincy. Our level is not nearly what will be required against the best in the hex..

  16. To my esteemed football panel and my fellow couch potatoes… Are we due a slick performance by now though?
    I know we can’t quarrel with the points we keep picking up. But will we finally get some panache on Tuesday? Will there be any excuse if we don’t get it?
    We were away in Guatemala, so it was just about the points. Against the USA… well, it was the USA.
    In St Vincent? Anyone could see the field was poor.
    Oh gorm. Let’s see some joga bonito nah. Lol.

  17. A win is a win. It wouldn’t always be pretty.

  18. Guatemala leading 2-0 after 24…could complicate things if it remains this way

  19. I hear you Lasana. That is unacceptable.

  20. I missed the game Lasana Liburd was it a good 3-2 win or a scrappy win?

  21. St Vincent and the Grenadines had players wearing different numbers to what was on team sheet. I’ve never seen anything so shambolic in a World Cup qualifier before.
    Talk to your match commissioner buddies Norris Ferguson! Lol.

  22. 3-2? Against St. Vincent???SMFH!!

  23. Today was mixed for me. Happiness and grey hair. TWICE!!

  24. Glad for the win, disappointing performance for us viewers. But difficult conditions to play under.

  25. Well done guys but 3-2 vs St. Vincent?? Need to do better than that.

  26. Lol what ah ting ….helluva debut son!!

  27. big debut I am so happy and proud of this young man he deserves it

  28. A lot of potential in Levi. Very bright future ahead. TnT got lively as soon as he came on.

  29. We didn’t play well but we won! WI didn’t play well and they won. I guess that’s important. A lot of factors involved. The pitch, strong ocean breeze. I don’t think we had a discipline approach. Especially after taking the lead. We always look like scoring. At the other end they also look like they would score. Mental and tactical discipline is key. Lasana Liburd the article not pulling up man. Saying some kind of error

  30. I like all wins.. call me easily pleased.

  31. Didn’t understand the starting of hoyte and Cyrus on the right because they are the same type of players and I think we came out complacent feeling it would of bin a walk in the park… well I guess the coach got wht he wanted a player to run at the other teams defense… Levi came on and showed that him playing outside is a big difference his touches were great and he made penetrating runs to ask something of the Vincy defense if he can build a understanding with Molino we can have something for the next round

  32. ..Nah. Was a win and we happy to take it. But it wasn’t a good win. That was a looong way of hexagonal standard..

  33. Thought Boucaud had a decent first half and a more than decent case for a penalty.. Good win.

  34. Check the Abasali brothers! Those guys are awesome!

  35. Dodgy, yes but we scored and won! I am taking it

  36. Levi Garcia..?..who is this guy..?..

  37. like the pic Levi and Despers ….WINNERS