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Saintfiet opens account: Glen and Mitchell star as T&T bounce back to whip Nicaragua

Cornell Glen and Carlyle Mitchell grabbed a goal each in their first starts under new Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Tom Saintfiet, as the Belgian tasted his first triumph at the helm of the Soca Warriors with a 3-1 win away to Nicaragua.

And winger Aikim Andrews, who missed the first game of the two match tour, came off the bench to volley in the third as the Warriors got their new era underway.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen collects his thoughts after striking the bar against Sweden during the Germany 2006 World Cup. (Courtesy www.bbc.co.uk)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen collects his thoughts after striking the bar against Sweden during the Germany 2006 World Cup.
(Courtesy www.bbc.co.uk)

“As a coach, you want to win every match and I was very disappointed after the first match that we lost 2-1,” Saintfiet told the TTFA Media. “I felt the players deserve more for the effort. So it was very important I think in my mind and in the players mind to get a good result before we travel back.

“It was the last game of 2016 and if we could win this match we would be in a stronger psychological mood to start the competition against Suriname and Haiti.”

Trinidad and Tobago lost 2-1 in Managua on Tuesday—their first loss ever against Nicaragua—and trailed again tonight. But the visitors displayed character to claw their way back in the game and there was only going to be one winner once Mitchell put the two island republic ahead in the 52nd minute.

Mitchell, a striker-cum-central defender, had a hand in both goals up to that point. But it would be hard to deny Glen the headlines, as the 35-year-old former World Cup 2006 attacker proved his worth after three years in international exile.

Remarkably, Glen’s last international goal was seven years ago when he scored the winner in a 1-0 World Cup 2010 qualifier against El Salvador. He barely managed 10 caps since as he was used sparingly by Russell Latapy, discarded early by co-coaches Hutson Charles and Jamaal Shabazz as well as Stephen Hart and ignored completely by Otto Pfister.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (front) jumps for the ball with United States defender Oguchi Onyewu during 2010 World Cup qualifying action. (Copyright AFP 2015)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago striker Cornell Glen (front) jumps for the ball with United States defender Oguchi Onyewu during 2010 World Cup qualifying action.
(Copyright AFP 2015)

Blunt and outspoken, Glen has never been a coach’s pet. But, with Trinidad and Tobago’s youthful frontmen still incapable of taking the torch, Glen remains a useful asset—particularly once Saintfiet snubbed former captain Kenwyne Jones, who led the Warriors in goals over the last three years.

Glen and Mitchell were two of four changes in Saintfiet’s starting team tonight with Kevan George coming into central midfield while Tyrone Charles started on the left flank.

George, as usual, will not get the headlines but his tenacious presence was key to strengthening Trinidad and Tobago’s defensive resolve and creating a platform to launch those counter attacks that Saintfiet favours.

“Today the guys who came in like Kevan George, Carlyle Mitchell, Tyrone Charles and Cornell Glen did fantastic,” said Saintfiet, “but it’s not only them, it’s a whole team performance. Even after the changes I have to think of players like Aikim Andrews and other players who performed well…

“Sure today some players showed that they deserved to be on the national team. I think some were a little bit out of selection for a long period and they wanted to prove something and I hope in the coming weeks they can continue that.”

Yet, it was Nicaragua who struck first.

Photo: W Connection defender Maurice Ford (left) keeps a close eye on Deportivo Saprissa star Daniel Colindres (centre) during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection defender Maurice Ford (left) keeps a close eye on Deportivo Saprissa star Daniel Colindres (centre) during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

An ankle injury kept first choice left back Aubrey David out of the squad and Saintfiet rejigged the line-up by pushing Maurice Ford to the left side of the defence while Mitchell slotted in alongside Radanfah Abu Bakr.

Ford can take heart from the fact that other Trinidad and Tobago internationals also struggled at full back before going on to have solid careers. But this was reminiscent of Cyd Gray in Costa Rica (2001) and Brent Sancho in Panama (2005), as the former National Under-20 defender was repeatedly tied in knots by the Nicaraguan attackers.

Jaime Moreno, Nicaragua’s 21-year-old Venezuela-born attacker who debuted tonight, was Ford’s main torturer and, in the 24th minute, he slipped past the W Connection defender for at least the fourth time before squaring for Daniel Cadena to bury past opposing goalkeeper Adrian Foncette for the opener.

It was Cadena’s second goal for Nicaragua and both came against Trinidad and Tobago, as the Iceland-based attacker lashed home a wonder goal on Tuesday.

But any notion that the hosts were easing towards another comfortable victory was dashed in the 37th minute, as Mitchell, who stayed up after a set piece, flicked a diagonal ball over the top for Glen to equalise.

Glen, who now plays professionally in India, appeared to lose his balance but his finish was clever as he volleyed downwards with the ball hitting the earth and looping over the comprehensively beaten Nicaraguan custodian.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell struts his stuff during the inaugural 2013 Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC. (Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Carlyle Mitchell struts his stuff during the inaugural 2013 Wired868 Football Festival at UWI SPEC.
(Courtesy Allan V. Crane/ Wired868)

Glen and Mitchell combined again in the 52nd minute as the Warriors went ahead. The former player, who was a handful for the Nicaraguan defence whole night, won a free kick midway in opposing territory and Mitchell, who now earns his living in the Republic of Korea, superbly headed in Hughtun Hector’s cross. It was Mitchell’s second international goal in 33 matches.

Mitchell played his part in Trinidad and Tobago’s third as well, as he grappled with three opposing defenders in the opposing penalty area and went over appealing for a penalty kick.

A hooked clearance from a Nicaraguan defender only made it as far as the edge of the area when Andrews controlled on his chest before blasting a brilliant volley into the far corner.

Incidentally, Andrews debuted against Nicaragua in October 2015 but failed to keep his place in the senior squad. He would hope tonight was the start of a new beginning.

It certainly was for Saintfiet who might ensure that his Wikipedia page is updated soon.

The story could have been sweeter still as Jomal Williams and Daniel Cyrus—the latter again used in central midfield—both had excellent late scoring opportunities but failed to hit the target.

Photo: Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet watches from the sidelines as his Malawi team tackles Nigeria in 2014 World Cup qualifying action on 7 September 2013.  (Copyright AFP 2016/Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Photo: Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet watches from the sidelines as his Malawi team tackles Nigeria in 2014 World Cup qualifying action on 7 September 2013.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Pius Utomi Ekpei)

“It think it was a very clear good performance not only tactically but also physically and mentally where we proved today that we could win this match and the result will help us naturally in the near future,” said Saintfiet. “I think [the Nicaragua friendlies were] very important and I am very happy that the association could organise these matches in a short period of time.

“People sometimes people forget that I am only two and half, three weeks in Trinidad and that I saw only a few league matches and I had not a lot of time to select and to find the right players for the coming weeks. So this two-week training camp plus these two friendly matches helped me a lot to know which players are ready, which system is best and how we can be prepared for Suriname and Haiti.

“I am a very happy coach that we use these days between Christmas and New Years to prepare our team because we have made a lot of steps forward.”

At the final whistle, Trinidad and Tobago snapped a four game losing streak that stretched back to Hart’s last three outings as coach. The Warriors will resume training tomorrow in preparation for next week’s 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff fixtures against Suriname and Haiti on 4 and 8 January respectively.

(Team)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 22.Adrian Foncette (GK); 11.Carlos Edwards (captain) (4.Curtis Gonzales 70), 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 17.Maurice Ford; 19.Kevan George, 15.Hughtun Hector (16.Alvin Jones 73); 8.Nathan Lewis (18.Aikim Andrews 54), 14.Hashim Arcia (5.Daneil Cyrus 81), 7.Tyrone Charles (23.Jomal Williams 81); 13.Cornell Glen (10.Shahdon Winchester 75).

Unused substitutes: Glenroy Samuel (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 9.Akeem Roach, 20.Trevin Caesar.

Coach: Tom Saintfiet

Photo: W Connection utility player Aikim Andrews (right) prepares to unleash a shot while Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr looks on during the Digicel Pro Bowl final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 27 May 2016. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection utility player Aikim Andrews (right) prepares to unleash a shot while Defence Force winger Ross Russell Jr looks on during the Digicel Pro Bowl final at the Ato Boldon Stadium on 27 May 2016.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Friendly international

(Fri 30 December)

Nicaragua 1 (Daniel Cadena 25), Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Cornell Glen 37, Carlyle Mitchell 52, Aikim Andrews 69) at Managua.

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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84 comments

  1. I believe this was Saintfiet’s first and solitary win for 2016.

    • Wow. Will try to cross check that.

    • As far as I know, these are Saintfiet’s results for 2016 (1 W, 4 L, 2 D):

      2016-12-30 (Friendly): Nicaragua 1-3 Trinidad and Tobago
      2016-12-27 (Friendly): Nicaragua 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago
      2016-09-01 (Friendly): Maldives 5-0 Bangladesh
      2016-09-06 (Asian Cup Qualifier): Bangladesh 0-0 Bhutan
      2016-10-10 (Asian Cup Qualifier): Bhutan 3-1 Bangladesh
      2016-03-29 (Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier): Togo 0-0 Tunisia
      2016-03-25 (Africa Cup of Nations Qualifier): Tunisia 1-0 Togo

    • Hmmm… Just the one goal from those five matches too. Thanks

  2. I will not hold my breath. If we are honest to ourselves, we will admit that Nicaragua is way weaker than the opposition we are soon to meet.

  3. Still waiting to see more from them not one not not more we want more ppl

  4. Dats wet we talking bout we shopping in y de Lima anton goldrush an maraj jewellers goalllllllll in dey rukun Ku tun tun

  5. My brother is the BEST ????

  6. Long awaited boost, hope this signals the first stepping stone to continued success. Congratulations.

  7. Finally they called back Glenn and Edwards. …all the best t&t

  8. Congrats to the team and their coach.Well done !!!

  9. Since 2006 Cornell Glen and even before was easily our best striker. God alone knows that 10 years has passed since Germany qualification and he has never had a regular place on our national team.Glad he still has it and showing that Trinidad football will always be backward. Anyway, add Jervaine, molino, Hyland coupled with good experience with Edwards and Glen and no kenwyne ? let us hope we can salvage some sort of pride and have a a resurgence in the campaign like 2006.Go warriors. PS please bring back jan Michael he is easily our best keeper ?

  10. Let’s keep the victories and celebrations for when we playing qualifiers.

  11. Glenn adds punch to the set up…he has presence on the field, no Jones or Molino this time around…looks promising for 2017..

  12. Well done Warriors…positive way to end 2016 lovely momentum for the next year and the Gold Cup qualifiers. I am seeing Saintfiet utilising previously discarded players and he gleaned positive output in this encounter. Let’s hope this is the platform for more positive growth as we look towards late March

  13. Haiti is already training in Trinidad. Can anyone tell if they are at full strength?
    I have always been a fan of Cornell and I like Cyrus’s new roll.
    From the highlights clip, it does not look like we are ready for a professional Haitian team. Coach you got plenty home work to do in 4 days.

  14. When I first saw Shahdon Winchester play at 16 or 17, I thought he could be another Premiership player. He is still young and I hope he can sharpen his skills and get the mental toughness needed.
    Cornell Glen is a class act. But the young brigade are making it too easy for him.

  15. T&T beat somebody?
    What d’ ass …. ?

  16. congrats to the team, but i must give a huge shout out to Cornell Glen from my area Cocorite for giving the area some positivity.Thank you Glen.

  17. ..We happy we win. A win is a win. Even against Nicaragua. Now let’s see what we do next week against Haiti..

  18. That’s a great step in the right direction on the road to victory .

  19. This is the minimum required result when number 78 plays 124 but nothing to cherish or view with pride.

  20. I told them so this is better coach well done lads

  21. Great news! Especially as it was not expected.

  22. Congrats to the team and glad for the coach

  23. Let 2017 be not a year of doom and Gloom for a change.

  24. Lasana Liburd..is Muckette still in Portugal ??.. are we keeping tabs ??..i like the player.

  25. Well done to the lads..keep it in perspective though, it’s Nicaragua.

    Should really have been five, if Jomal had scored and if Cyrus had any kinda poise:(

  26. Would be nice to see more of his former under-20 teammates push themselves into contention. Like Muckette, Ricardo John, Neveal, Martieon Watson, Dre, Creed…
    hope Akeem Garcia recovers from his injury problems too.

  27. Good for Aikim. Maybe this is what he needs

  28. No joevin, molino, hyland, levi…and we still won ☺

  29. Congrats T&T! Seems like a fair result. The real test, however, is on January 04. Happy New Year!

  30. Long way to go. But it was a good result and a better showing. The spine of the team did well.

  31. I really think the boys needed this for their morale. Shiiii I think the country needed this! Lol….Really hope it continues!

  32. Very good performance. Different tactics tonight. They can gel together with more time.

  33. It will be licks like peas for Suriname and Haiti next week eh Alyuh just watch and see we ready now………BOOM.

  34. Glad for Cornell, has been too long sitting on sidelines..

  35. That is what I am talking about, and like they listened to me when I said that no way my prolific goal scorer Cornell Glen should be coming of any bench to score any goals, he should always be a starter on the Soca Warriors team the same like Willis Plaza, and the fella who plays for San Juan Jabolteh the one who had taken the free in the first game that hit the cross bar, well if it was my other prolific goal scorer Devon Cool Droggy Jorsling he wudda surely scored that free kick , because he is a free kick specialist and he should also be on the team and the fella should return to the futsal team that I heard that he also plays for. Anyway Soca Worries good win and I feel that Coach Tom was going to get his throat buss one time if he didn’t win this return game tonight eh. Them really good yes hahahahaha

  36. DJW and his minions must be fetein after this victory. Relax its Nicaragua…

  37. It’s not 10 points to Slytherin yet tho….