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Lawrence: T&T “showed character” to level with Grenada; Molino: “It’s a learning process”

Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team coach Dennis Lawrence lauded the character of his team after they overturned a two-goal deficit to hold Grenada 2-2 in last night’s international friendly at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.

Several times prior to yesterday’s game, Lawrence had warned the media that no Caribbean opponents will be pushovers for his charges, even though the Soca Warriors were the only regional team to make it to the final round of CONCACAF’s qualification series for the 2018 World Cup and are ranked 74 places higher than the 157th-placed Grenada.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Akeem Roach (centre) tries to hold off Grenada midfielder Shandon Baptiste (second from left) during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

And with only two minutes of regular time remaining in the encounter, it looked as though the “Spice Islanders,” then leading the Warriors 2-0, were the ones coming off an upset victory over the USA in World Cup Qualifying last month.

However, the hosts contrived to spare themselves the blushes in the dying moments of the game, earning a 2-2 draw on the back of neatly taken goals by substitute Jamille Boatswain and stand-in captain Kevin Molino. It was a sweet end to what could have been a bitter night for Trinidad and Tobago supporters.

“I want to compliment the players for the character they showed to get back into the game,” Lawrence told the assembled media. “I thought Grenada were very well organised and they made it extremely difficult for us and they worked extremely hard.”

“I think we had to dig deep tonight because these games are never easy. Grenada is one of the countries in the Caribbean where you can see the progress they are trying to make,” Lawrence continued. “They are trying to build on something so I think it was a very good test for us tonight.”

Lawrence felt that, despite being erratic with their passes at times, his team had had control of the contest before Shandon Baptiste’s opener.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Dennis Lawrence gestures to his players from the sidelines during international friendly action against Grenada at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“In the first half, I thought we did that quite well,” said the former World Cup 2006 defender, who was always mindful of Grenada’s pace on the counter-attack. “We were trying to manage the game and take control of the game and be patient with the ball.

“What I think we did in the second half was that we allowed ourselves to be exposed. […] At half-time, we spoke about the counter-attack by Grenada, which we had to be very careful of. Obviously, we conceded from it so that means the information didn’t stick.”

In retrospect, Lawrence may not have had the best midfield duo to implement his would-be possession-based game because central midfielders Kevan George and Jared London never looked convincing on the ball. George, a disrupter in midfield, was perhaps guilty of taking too long in possession while London made quite a few errant passes.

“As I said before, it’s not an easy thing when you’ve got eleven bodies behind the ball,” Lawrence said. “A perfect example is what happened to us in Mexico because that’s what top teams do. They keep possession, they keep probing until they find the avenue they are looking for.”

The Warriors may have been looking for an inspirational figure to galvanise them with some incisiveness, though. And while there was no net-bursting thunderbolt from W Connection defender Alvin Jones last night, fellow defender Curtis “Boyo” Gonzales provided the much-needed lift with two lovely passes from deep to set up both of the Warriors’ eleventh-hour items.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Jamille Boatswain (right) chases the ball during international friendly action against Grenada at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“Just give the ball to Boyo, nah, man!” one spectator shouted, his voice piercing the airwaves like a bullet.

After Boatswain’s clinical finish from a tight angle in the 88th minute, stand-in skipper Molino was certainly gleeful to pounce on Boyo’s stoppage time through-ball. The Minnesota United playmaker displayed some aplomb in guiding his left-footer past opposing captain Jason Belfon.

For a team which had flown into Piarco mere hours before the start of the clash, Belfon’s side packed a better-than-decent punch. Grenada coach Anthony Modeste told Wired868 that his squad was supposed to be in Trinidad by Friday night. However, a strike by LIAT workers had forced them to overnight in Grenada and they subsequently arrived in Trinidad around 4pm yesterday.

By midday today, Modeste expects his contingent to be flying back to their homeland. And the return home could have been a whole lot merrier for T&T neighbours to the North if substitute Kwazim Theodore had been able to steer his 84th minute right-footed shot on target after springing the hosts’ offside trap from a set piece.

“We had a difficult two days and I must give high marks to the team. I thought we did extremely well, given the situation,” Modeste said. “We are disappointed with the draw. But, with that said, we are extremely happy with the performance and display of the team.”

Photo: Grenada winger Ricky Modeste (left) holds off Trinidad and Tobago right back Alvin Jones during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Modeste explained that his team had roughly an hour to eat and to prepare themselves once they had arrived at their Trinidad hotel. However, during the forced delay in Grenada, he revealed, the Spice Men were already sharpening their chops for a Trinidad and Tobago meal.

“For some reason, whenever Grenada plays Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago, our wings go up,” Modeste said.  “We are always confident we can get a result. […] I told the players whenever we go to play Jamaica or T&T, we have a different vibe, a different team.

“Although we had our problems, the players were very focused because they were all saying that we are going to win this game.”

The Grenadians now want to use this result as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things.

“It’s a great result going forward,” Modeste explained. “We are in the rebuilding stage more or less and we have been feeling out players in the national games we have played and we are looking for the right blend.”

Photo: Grenada midfielder Kennedy Hinkson (right) tries to evade a challenge from Trinidad and Tobago winger Kathon St Hillaire (left) while Jared London looks on during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Back in April, the Warriors’ last meeting with Grenada had ended with a similar 2-2 scoreline and Lawrence suggested that his team had to play the patience game yesterday because, as he saw it, Grenada were solid at the back.

Definitely, Grenada midfielder Shandon Baptiste did a good job of shielding the backline too, and his opening item was reward for the bullish and on the whole excellent work he did in the midfield to try and contain the fleet-footed, skilful Molino.

At the start of the CONCACAF Hex campaign, the talented midfielder had divided public opinion after being given an internal suspension by then coach Stephen Hart for breaking camp to party. Now, bygones seem to be bygones.

“Me [sic] and the coach talked and he thinks I’m one of the more senior players on the team and I should lead by example,” said Molino, who showed a decent understanding with striker Akeem Roach and even pinged a close-range effort off the bar near the hour mark before getting the eventual game leveller.

“So I took up the opportunity to captain the team and I think I led well but I’m disappointed we didn’t get a win.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kevin Molino (centre) weighs up his options during international friendly action against Grenada at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“I think you can’t fault the effort we had together as a team. I’m disappointed we didn’t get the result but it’s a learning process.”

Both skipper and coach are intent on righting the wrongs that surfaced in last night’s performance and Lawrence suggested that the starting team to face Guyana on Tuesday will see wholesale changes.

“The idea is to use the entire squad for the two games, which we are going to do,” Lawrence said. “We also wanted to leave players on the pitch for as long as possible because mentally I had to push the players as well.”

The Grenadian performance last night may have encouraged the Warriors’ next opponents, Guyana. With Morvant Caledonia United’s Sheldon Holder and former Joe Public stand-out Gregory “Jackie Chan” Richardson in their ranks, the “Golden Jaguars” will look to spring another surprise.

Local fans will not have forgotten how, under the astute management of current Trinidad and Tobago Women’s team coach Jamaal Shabazz, famously knocked the Soca Warriors out of contention for the 2014 World Cup in 2011.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago winger Levi Garcia (right) tries to escape from Grenada full back Ethan Francois-Ravalier during international friendly action at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 11 November 2017.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Lawrence and the Trinidad and Tobago public, however, are unlikely to be too interested in any stunts from Richardson and company once action commences at the Ato Boldon Stadium venue from 7.30pm on Tuesday.

“I think it’s a great place to start [following the Hex],” Lawrence offered, as a final judgement on yesterday’s game. “So now, we move on to Guyana. And hopefully we can improve, not only with the performance but also the result.”

About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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57 comments

  1. Bullshit the football not going no where.

  2. Yea right! Grenada is a stronger team than the USA! We drew with them. I wonder lby how much our world rankings would improve with that fantastic draw!

  3. And ah waiting for meh friend Mr. Live Wire to ask Coach Dennis what happen to the clinical win against Guyana when they themselves will also buss up our nets eh, especially when Coach Dennis continues playing his soldier that he believes in steeuuppss eh. Them really good yes.

  4. I doh know why somebody didn’t clone our bomb squad back in the real football days team nah. steeeuuppss. Them really good yes.

  5. We on jokes yes…. real jokes. First, we celebrate ‘revenge’ over the USA forgetting that we were last in the group with 6 points and a -12 goal difference. Second, we can’t even control and win decisively a game against a team ranked 157. What’s up with that? Third, we talking about a clinical win over Guyana (165). I’ll say this seriously… it’s great to be patriotic.

  6. Hannibal Najjar

    Last I commented leading up to these 2 games, I concurred with another contributor, I believe Keith Lookloy, that we were not going to win both games. I believe that we would and should win against Guyana. Two things additionally 1. I believe that in our last 3 outings with Grenada the games resulted in all ties; 2. We did finish our last 2 HEX games with our better performances but I continue to state that we show to do better and best (above our usual expectations) if there is nothing to lose. When we have something to lose, we, lose! I say these things with the hope that we come to terms with and fully understand all the parts that are needed to make a nation’s program become a regional, and later, international force.

  7. How come countries like Haiti and Jamaica could play countries that rank even higher than them and our resources much higher than theirs, when will they come to their senses, that these countries can’t help us improve our game, ah really vex this morning eh and hence the reason why I won’t be going back to Ato Boldin to watch no ta ta football eh Them really good yes

  8. And he continues to play his army player who always causing the goals scoring on meh top of the line police goal keeper Adrian Foncette or the other goal keepers because I was told that he have a weakness for the Army players, oh well I guess it is because he was a soldier himself steeuuppss eh. Them really good yes

  9. If u lost to a better team than u, we all will understand that, but a team that rank 165 almost beat u steeuuppss I say it is time to fire these two bootleg Coaches Dennis and Stern John eh and re-hire the real professional Coach Hart and if not him another real professional foreign base Coach eh,. Them really good yes

  10. Dennis’ abysmal coaching record during the hex showed me all I needed to know to tell me what the future holds for our national team. I wasn’t fooled by the chance victory against the US. A change is needed now. I don’t understand why people want to wait until the CFU championships to decide on his fate.

  11. Ok Performance to achieve a draw…Bateaux said He wanted a win at the start, so he did not achieve what he wanted..Also .Molineau turned up..to give tnt the draw..I noticed in Big matches..that the teams that eventually win tournaments..there are sometimes many different scorers..

  12. Goals win matches. The future of T&T’s football does not look good.

  13. Dennis Lawrence Trini’s exercise a lot of patience wether is politics or sports but there comes a time when you may over stay your welcome and if you honestly feel you have nothing more to add to football at this level . Please don’t over stay your welcome as Head Coach remember goals win matches not talk.

  14. I remembered we was one of the best team in the Caribbean but now is like everybody stepping up or is either we deteriorated.

  15. is it that we should call a spade a spade..?
    is it that our football needs some real planning and not the vaille qui vaille thing that we are doing?
    if a place like Grenada can stretch our team so much can we really expect to come close to real first class competition?
    congrats to Grenada …they have done very well and probably werea bit unlucky to go away with a draw.
    maybe…perhaps the leaders of football in T&T have to start with a plan?
    there does not seem to be much of a plan in evidence..

  16. Presentation College , Shiva Boys , St Anthony’s etc … play a higher level of soccer than the so called national team …they’re #SHITTY

  17. so Grenada learning too…more goals win matches and that’s how we’ll get to play teams up the ladder so that they’ll want to play us we haven’t much time to learn

  18. That result alone should show us that most of what we are doing both on and off the field is wrong

  19. That’s like a West Indies test team from the 80’s fighting to draw with Bangladesh

  20. This is the reason we not going and getting any better because sides like grenada we can’t beat and our coach still have a job fire him right now.

  21. We know the team doesn’t need negatives but it is just these games that will tell us about CONSISTENCY. FIFA rates you on consistency otherwise you are all over the place. The top teams are tops due to consistency, they perform well because of consistency. They fire coaches etc for the same reason. We have to love winning…this just confuses that at least you know the strengths and weaknesses of the team. Are local players a good ‘go to’ reliable group or are we heavily reliant on foreign based players? Any coach will be struggling to find the SWOT for this team. Football is now a science won in labs and strategies. What is the science for T&T???

  22. This engagement with Grenada call it what you may should most certainly be an eye opener for local Football Administrators and fans alike. I must offer congratulations to the Grenada Football Association, which over the years has demonstrated that it has a plan for uplifting the standards of the neighboring island. This has been quite evident for some time now, as this is not the first time that a Trinidad and Tobago Team has had difficulty with a Grenada National Team. Not so long ago a Trinidad and Tobago National Team coached by Russell Latapy, was kicked out of a CFU Cup competition by GRENADA. Gone are the days when TnT and Jamaica totally dominated all inter-regional competition in the English speaking Caribbean. In those days Trinidad and Tobago would send teams of budding National players coming from our local competitions including the then Colleges League, to play against the likes of Barbados, St.Vincent, Grenada etc, leading to many of these future stars cementing places on our National Team. In the intervening years all of the Island associations apparently embarked upon developmental plans which in recent years, have been paying dividends. This is how it should be with all National Associations of course with the apparent exception of a succession of TnT Football Administrations. A close look at the standard of Football displayed in every Football competition in existence in our twin island Republic, easily explains the glaring deficiencies of so many of our young players when promoted to the National Team. As the madness continues by way of doing things the same way for decades and expecting different results, the Islands once regarded as minnows, are more than quickly catching up with us, THEY ARE ABOUT TO PASS AND REPLACE US as a Caribbean powerhouse. Our country is blessed with NATURAL TALENT in all sporting disciplines both on and off the field. In respect of our Football however there appears to be a great inability to uncover and develop such talent on the field, but over the years, has conversely excelled in producing super ambitious and highly successful (personal) administrators in the higher echelons of the game.

  23. what is the obsession with K George

  24. Lasana Liburd, did I not tell you that it would have been more cost effective for The TTFA to organize matches with Guya United and North East Stars? So after all the bragging about beating The USA we come and “SHOW CHARACTER” to level a match against Grenada? You think Dennis could have talked that kind of nonsense when he was at Goodison Park after salvaging a draw with a lower tier conference team?

  25. More “character” needs to be shown with a clinical and improved victory over Guyana. The scraped draw against Grenada should not be the place this team should be in coming off the heels of that US victory. Lawrence and co. need to shape up or they may have to ship out as we seek to rebuild

  26. Natty the team don’t need negatives it was a friendly for building process.

  27. That USA victory was a fluke…Make America great again