The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team suffered their largest defeat under current coach Stephen Hart last night as an understrength team was swatted aside 4-0 by Peru in an international friendly fixture in Lima.
It was the most lopsided loss for the “Soca Warriors” in three years, after a 4-0 defeat away to Romania on 4 June 2013.
Trinidad and Tobago, who were without team captain Kenwyne Jones and started with just five players from their last 2018 World Cup qualifying win over St Vincent and the Grenadines, were outclassed throughout by the slick host team, who are preparing for next month’s Copa America Centenario competition in the United States.
Hart lost winger Nathan Lewis and central defender Yohance Marshall to injuries in the build-up to the encounter. And right back Daneil Cyrus came off with a groin strain, midfielder Hughtun Hector had a heel contusion and stopper Radanfah Abu Bakr was sent off in stoppage time.
“We were losing the first and second balls and physically we looked outmatched,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “But at the end of the day these games are an evaluation of individuals. In the first half, far too many individuals were not performing up to the standard but the second half saw a better performance.
“Unfortunately we could (be missing) five players out of the next game with injury and suspension. But we will regroup and prepare for the next one.”
Nine of Trinidad and Tobago’s players had less than 10 senior international caps while El Salvador-based central defender Weslie John made his debut at this level.
Peru, who also started a second string team, went ahead in the 36th minute after a period of sustained pressure, as attacker Christian Cueva beat Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip with a downward header off a right side Oscar Vilchez cross.
Four minutes later, “Los Incas” doubled their advantage as 19 year old Luiz Da Silva danced around Abu Bakr to stroke past Phillip.
Da Silva, who plays for PSV in the Netherlands Eredivisie, was making his first senior international appearance while Peru used three other debutantes plus another seven players with less than 10 international caps.
It goes without saying, though, that the Peruvian domestic league is a better incubator for international footballers than the TT Pro League.
“I think in the first half we were naive defensively,” said Hart, “and even when we did win the ball, we were giving it away cheaply and putting ourselves in a situation where we were constantly defending which was tiring.
“Overall we struggled to deal with their passing and their movement. All of their goals with the exception of the penalty were preventable and we need to be better in all aspects of the game to improve as we move on.”
Edison Flores stretched Peru’s lead in the 49th minute, as he drove between Phillip’s legs after a clever pass from Vilchez. And Cristian Benavente got the fourth from the penalty spot in stoppage time after a challenge from behind by Abu Bakr, who was ejected for the infringement.
The Warriors did threaten sporadically, as 18 year old winger Levi Garcia missed a chipped effort on a counter attack in the 18th minute while full back Aubrey David struck the post after Peru failed to clear a Sean De Silva free kick in the 46th minute.
Stand-in captain Khaleem Hyland gave a typically combative showing in central midfield while David bustled, De Silva threatened from set pieces, Andre Boucaud was tidy off the bench and Shahdon Winchester gave a lively cameo upfront.
But it was not enough to put any real sustained pressure on the hosts.
“In the second half with the substitutions, we put the ball on the ground and we played a more possession game with shorter passing,” said Hart. “With a bit of luck we could have had a goal. But we were still out of the game physically and consequently mentally and technically.
“We really struggled at times to contain Peru and we will need to focus better in our other matches to improve this aspect.”
The Warriors, ranked 53rd in the world by FIFA, face an even tougher challenge on Friday away to Uruguay, who are ranked ninth while Peru is 46th.
Uruguay will not field star striker Luis Suarez, who is trying to shake off a hamstring injury, after helping Barcelona to the Copa Del Rey crown on the weekend. It will not mean they are short of the necessary firepower against a makeshift Trinidad and Tobago team.
Hector and Lewis are expected to be ready for that outing. But Abu Bakr is out through suspension and Marshall and Cyrus are injury doubts.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 5.Daneil Cyrus (3.Triston Hodge 48), 17.Weslie John, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr [Red card 90], 2.Aubrey David; 13.Leston Paul (23.Jomal Williams 74), 8.Khaleem Hyland; 12.Sean De Silva (14.Andre Boucaud 56), 7.Hughtun Hector (9.Marcus Joseph 67), 16.Levi Garcia (19.Curtis Gonzales 86); 11.Willis Plaza (10.Shahdon Winchester 48).
Unused substitutes: 22.Adrian Foncette, 4.Andre Ettienne, 20.Makesi Lewis, 25.Alvin Jones.
Coach: Stephen Hart
Peru (4-2-3-1): 1.Pedro Gallese (GK); 4.Renzo Revoredo, 15.Christian Ramos (captain), 2.Alberto Rodriguez (17.Luis Abram 69), 6.Miguel Trauco (22.Jair Cespedes 82); 16.Oscar Vilchez (19.Yoshimar Yorun 56), 5.Adan Balbin (13.Renato Tapia 55); 10.Christian Cueva, 7.Luiz Da Silva, 20.Edison Flores (18.Cristian Benavente 57); 21.Alejandro Hohberg (14.Armando Alfageme 70).
Coach: Ricard Gareco
International friendly result
(Monday May 23)
Peru 4 (Christian Cueva 36, Luiz Da Silva 40, Edison Flores 49, Cristian Benavente 90 pen), Trinidad and Tobago 0 in Lima.