A 48th minute item by versatile midfielder Jarred Dass ensured that Trinidad and Tobago got off to a winning start in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Under-20 Championships at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva last night.
Dass, who played an integral part in Naparima College’s all-conquering 2015 SSFL season, dedicated his winning item to his mother, who celebrated her birthday on Tuesday.
“It’s a very special goal for me as it was the goal that brought us our first victory and also my mom celebrated her birthday (Tuesday),” Dass told the TTFA Media, “so I was happy to score this goal for her as well.”
Prior to the start of the tournament, T&T coach Brian Williams indicated that his team was ready to put away the chatter and get down to business. But last night the visiting Guadeloupe team made it very difficult for the young “Soca Warriors” to carry on their affairs, as they afforded the hosts little time on the ball, particularly in the defensive third.
Guadeloupe’s constant pressing gifted them with a glorious chance in the ninth minute, after an awful back pass by centre-back Kierron Mason. Luckily for Trinidad and Tobago, Guadeloupe attacker Teddy Nabab was unable to make the most of Mason’s generous pass as he skimmed his effort off the upright.
“There definitely were some jitters at the beginning of the game,” Williams said at the post-game briefing. “I think it may have been a bit of complacency because our team maintains possession and tries to build up the ball from the back. But the Guadeloupe team was pressing us so we had to play a bit more direct.”
Guadeloupe were having some issues of their own at the back, as towering T&T striker Nicholas Dillon twice found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Davy Rouyard inside the first 20 minutes.
However, the Central FC striker was unable to capitalise as Rouyard smartly saved with his feet on both occasions, much to the disdain of the 3,000-strong Couva crowd.
The physical Guadeloupe midfield pair of Dimitri Bolivar and Anthony Tafna Danavin then sought to impose themselves on the game, as they outmuscled their opponents off the ball; both legally and illegally.
The French-speaking visitors even had some joy down the right flank as they caught left-back Noah Powder high up the pitch on a few occasions. Midfielder Thomas Pracin nearly profited on one such right side raid in the 40th minute, but his curling left-footed shot was well saved by teenaged Warriors goalkeeper Jadel Poon-Lewis.
“Not knowing much about Guadeloupe other than that they had four players playing in France, I thought we were a little bit hesitant in going forward which I was a bit concerned about,” Williams said. “But when I saw the high pressing I know we had to play a little more direct in the second half.”
Williams’ halftime chat seemed to have worked wonders as the hosts jumped in front, just three minutes after the resumption.
A flick on by attacker Isaiah Hudson off a right side throw-in caused the world of problems for the hesitant Guadeloupe defence. And by the time the clearing tackle was made, Dass was jolly on the spot to apply a clinical, low finish.
Dass’ goal lifted the spirit of his teammates and the crowd, and the young Warriors finally started to move the ball around with some confidence and vigour. Fifteen year-old Hudson then forced Rouyard into two fine saves in quick succession as the Naparima College sharpshooter looked to be sharpening his chops.
A second T&T item looked like a formality as the game wore on, but Rouyard was in great form between the uprights. The Guadeloupe custodian kept his team in the contest with a remarkable double save in the 74th minute to deny rasping efforts by both Kareem Riley and Warriors captain Jabari Mitchell.
And, in the 77th minute, Guadeloupe coach Moise Castry was nearly jumping for joy as Nabab raced into the T&T box, only to be denied by a great last-ditch Taryk Sampson tackle.
But Castry and company were left pondering their missed opportunities in the end as the hosts came away with a 1-nil result.
“We weren’t able to score maybe six times during the game (…) because we had a lack of confidence and patience,” said Castry, via his interpreter. “So the score could have been drawn or we could have won the game.
“We conceded a goal due to an error in our defence. But we are satisfied with what we did.”
A relieved Williams was happy to overcome the first game jitters that his team faced.
“We definitely know that Guadeloupe is going to be one of our toughest opposition,” said Williams. “So we paid a bit more attention to our opening game because we knew how tough it would have been.
“I must say congrats to our team and the way they applied themselves to the strategies.”
In the opening match of yesterday’s double header, St Lucia came away with a 2-nil victory against Turks and Caicos courtesy second half goals by Antoine Wilfred and Nyrone Winter.
Trinidad and Tobago will expect to add to Turks and Caicos’ problems when they clash from 7.30 pm tomorrow at the same venue while St Lucia and Guadeloupe clash from 5 pm in the opening match of the double header.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Jadel Poon-Lewis (GK); 3.Kori Cupid, 5.Taryk Sampson, 4.Kierron Mason, 6.Noah Powder; 11.Kareem Riley (14.Yohannes Richardson 82), 12.Shane Sandy; 8.Jarred Dass (19.Morgan Bruce-De Rouche 67), 10.Jabari Mitchell (captain) (17.Rushawn Murphy 87), 7.Isaiah Hudson; 9.Nicholas Dillon.
Unused Substitutes: 20.Jabari Brice (GK), 2.Andrew Rullow, 13.Isaiah Garica, 15.Kathon St Hillaire, 16.Micah Lansiquot, 18.Jacob Sooklal.
Standbys: Denzil Smith (GK), Josh Toussaint, Quinn Rodney.
Coach: Brian Williams
Guadeloupe (4-1-4-1): 1.Davy Rouyard (GK); 2.Robby Jason, 4.Hanane Nebot, 5.Loic Nuiro (captain), 19.Kevin Moeson; 15.Joris Santenac; 7.Teddy Nabab, 6.Anthony Tafna Danavin (9.Lucas Larochelle 78), 8.Dimitri Bolivar, 14.Thomas Pracin (11.Morgan Saint-Maximin 88); 10.Yvann Macon (Meddy Viardot 73).
Unused Substitutes: 16.Sebastein Trocador (GK), 3.Gabriel Vainqueur, 12.Giovanni Dupalan, 13.Arthur Cadin, 17.Sebastien Manijean, 18.Luca Ramoutar-Badal.
Coach: Moise Castry
Referee: Johannes Dolaini (Suriname)
Man of the Match: Davy Rouyard (Guadeloupe)
CFU Under-20 Qualifiers
(Wednesday 15 June)
Turks and Caicos 0, St Lucia 2 (Antoine Wilfred 58, Nyrone Winter 70) at the Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Jarred Dass 48), Guadeloupe 0 at the Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Friday June 17)
St Lucia vs Guadeloupe, 5 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago vs Turks and Caicos, 7.30 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
(Sunday June 19)
Guadeloupe vs Turks and Caicos, 4 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium;
Trinidad and Tobago vs St Lucia, 6.30 pm, Ato Boldon Stadium.