T&T lose 1-0 in Tehran, Warriors outclassed by Iran but offer grounds for optimism

The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Team were well beaten but far from disgraced in Tehran this morning, as they fell 1-0 to Iran in international friendly action.

Karim Ansarifard got the sole item for the host nation in the 49th minute. In truth, Iran, who competed in three of the last four FIFA World Cup tournaments, might easily have had three or four more goals.

Photo: Iran star attacker Karim Ansarifard (left).

Ansarifard, who plays professionally with Nottingham Forest in the England Championship, was the main culprit as he failed to convert a first half penalty along with a couple other decent opportunities. And, in the closing seconds, Iran substitute Ramin Rezaeian hit the bar.

In contrast, the Soca Warriors registered just one meaningful shot on target for the entire contest—an angled shot from Joevin Jones that rapped the bar in the second minute—and barely troubled the opposing defence.

Yet, there was still grounds for optimism for head coach Dennis Lawrence in the character and poise of his men on hostile territory. Trinidad and Tobago battled gamely throughout and the central midfield pairing of captain Khaleem Hyland and Leston Paul combined good ball movement with aggression.

By now, it is clear that Lawrence’s troops aim to possess the ball, express themselves and compete physically. And there was evidence of such today—even against a team ranked 30th in the world, which is 63 places higher than the Warriors.

But Trinidad and Tobago had too many gaps today to make a serious game of it. On the right flank, Alvin Jones and Nathan Lewis struggled—on and off the ball—while recalled attacker Lester Peltier, who played at centre forward, buzzed about encouragingly although he neither held up the ball nor attacked the channels with any regularity. And Ataulla Guerra and Jones rarely got room to create anything of note.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) roars during Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying action in Guatemala City on 13 November 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

After both teams observed a minute’s silence for former Trinidad and Tobago international defender Jlloyd Samuel—who played professionally in Iran for three years—Ansarifard was gifted a penalty kick in the 31st minute, after midfielder Mehdi Torabi tumbled over a seemingly innocuous challenge from Paul. But veteran Warriors goalkeeper Marvin Phillip dived to his right to block the initial kick while, remarkably, Iran’s number 10 hit the rebound over the bar when it seemed harder to miss.

Trinidad and Tobago might have stunned their hosts in the 44th minute, as Peltier found space down the left flank and sent a teasing cross for the onrushing Nathan Lewis. But Lewis failed to get true contact on the ball and a decent opportunity went a-begging.

Trinidad and Tobago would not get another one.

Seconds after the interval, Phillip was forced into a fine reflex save by Ansarifard after a left side Ehsan Hajsafi cross. And the Nottingham Forest man finally got his goal in the 49th minute, as he stepped inside Jones [A] and Hyland and drilled an unstoppable strike past Phillip from the edge of the area.

Kaveh Rezaei and substitute Ashkan Dejagah were inches wide around the hour mark, as the game opened up.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago and Central FC goalkeeper Marvin Phillip.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Lawrence made three substitutions but none had a positive impact on the game. And, as Rezaeian’s half volley clipped the bar before going over, the Trinidad and Tobago coach had to be grateful for small mercies.

Nine of coach Carlos Quieroz’s 16 players used today—including six from their starting XI—represented Iran at the Russia 2018 World Cup. The average age of his team was 27 while the Iran players had a combined total of 346 caps.

At the other end, Lawrence’s starting team had an average of 28. Only Phillip (34), Guerra (31) and Peltier (30) are above 29 while late substitute Isaiah lee is just 19. And the combined appearances of the Warriors team at kick off was 469.

If Lawrence and his troops get more sparring matches of this calibre, the 2019 Gold Cup should offer an intriguing glimpse of their capabilities.


Trinidad and Tobago (4-2-3-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 16.Alvin Jones, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 4.Sheldon Bateau, 18.Triston Hodge; 23.Leston Paul, 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain); 19.Nathan Lewis, 10.Ataulla Guerra (13.Duane Muckette 61), 3.Joevin Jones (7.Cordell Cato 71); 11.Lester Peltier (17.Isaiah Lee 80).

Unused substitutes: 21.Nicklas Frenderup (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Aubrey David, 6.Keston Julien, 12.Akeem Humphrey, 15.Curtis Gonzales, 21.Jomal Williams.

Coach: Dennis Lawrence

Iran (4-1-4-1): 22.Hossein Hosseini (GK); 2.Vouria Ghafouri (23.Ramin Rezaeian 77), 4.Rouzbeh Cheshmi, 14.Hossein Kanaanizadegan, 3.Ehsan Hajsafi; 26.Ahmad Nourollahi; 16.Mehdi Torabi (28.Sadegh Moharrami 58), 7.Masoud Shojaei (captain) (21.Ashkan Dejagah 58), 10.Karim Ansarifard (24.Ali Gholizadeh 77), 11.Vahid Amiri (9.Omid Ebrahimi 58); 27.Kaveh Rezaei.

Coach: Carlos Quieroz

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  1. After eight years in charge of the Iran national team, Carlos Queiroz has said that he has ended his time as head coach, following a 3-0 defeat by Japan in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 semi-finals.

  2. ..Not if he pummeled you and your achievement is only going the distance. Ask that boxer how it felt. We survived. OK. But that is an achievement only for those with no ambition to do more..

    • As they say everyone sees things differently and I’m sure with a record of 10-5-2 no one will bet on that boxer to last more than half the fight…far less to go the distance…to me he achieved and it will give encouragement for his next bout…just saying.

  3. Kelvin a question…if a boxer who is regarded as a KO artist with a record of 25 & 0 and your record is 10-5-2 and you took him to the distance of 12 rounds and loss on points…Did you did good or not?

  4. Iran vs Trinidad and Tobago.. I looked at this game on the internet through some Arab feed.. I am sorry.. it is beyond me how some can say we did well.. is it because the score was only 1-0? Iran are so far ahead of us it’s embarrassing. They are technically superior by a country mile. In actuality.. Iran are 5 or 6 goals better than us.. those who have watched this game and concluded that we did well should watch it over again. We are way below Iran’s level and that’s a fact.

    • Kelvin Jack ..Patriotism cannot substitute for cold analysis..

    • I was watching the game and thinking, what in the world are our coaches teaching our guys at the youth level. We were grossly technically inferior, our positional play is clueless, the majority of our players are spacially unaware, they wouldnt seem to be able to find or create space even if they had GPS, and simple press and cover seemed like an alien concept to us. These are things that an under 15 team should be struggling with at club level perhaps, but to see it at a senior international level is painful to endure. How can a national coach even begin to do tactical work, when so many basic fundamentals are lacking in the greater core of his player pool. How can players effectively carry out tactical instructions, when they simply don’t have the required tools and capacity to do it consistently. I feel sorry for our International coaches, Stephan Hart overachieved given what he had to work with and we took him for granted, Denis is now sacrificing his coaching credentials because of patriotism perhaps but he isn’t a miracle worker. Better games will not get us any better, more competitive maybe, but better no…better youth development and coaching is what we need to give us a shot maybe in the next decade.

    • Yeah and how can any team play this beautiful game eh and not even take 1 shot to the opponents goal in the first half eh and this is also a serious problem with our youth national teams eh and when I call.your coaches bootleg eh they does be vex with me Them really good yes

    • Listen.. We are a poor side with no real set plan in how we really want to play. Are u trying to dominate the ball? If we are it’s impossible as we are not good enough technicall to do that.. are we a counterattacking team? Are we direct in our approach? How do we plan to win the ball back. All the facets I just mentioned depends on a coaches philosophy and ability to teach it. It’s difficult if the players themselves are not receptive to learning so as a result they are unable to implement the game plan. People are fooled by scorelines.. sometimes it’s a false indicator.. we lack quality as a team. Some individuals may have a sprinkling of some real quality but the majority are not technically there.

    • I’m just bewildered and astounded how some people can say we did well.. I must have been watching a different match.. tri
      I dad and Tobago football need a philosophy.. a way of playing throughout all the age groups.. as a country we are so disorganised.. the people who have the power to develop and effect change has no interest in doing so. We are playing by guess not design.. there will be the odd good result but football fans must get used to the idea we are poor right now. There is no other way to put it I’m afraid. We expect to beat the other top teams in concacaf with our present structure? No chance. Take some of our youth goalkeepers for example.. they’re so technically inferior it’s painful to watch.. Trinidad and Tobago football is just so shambolic right now it defies belief

    • Sport about typos.. big fingers.. small phone

    • Kelvin Jack The folks who said that we played well , will always say so because they are die hard patriotic delusional Trinis and many of them don’t understand how the beautiful game should be played Them really good yes

    • Earl Mango Pierre yuh see why I have never considered returning to the game I love with so much passion in a coaching capacity…our modus from time immemorial we have adopted the philosopy of putting whipped cream on Shit and selling it as Ice cream… anything and anyone who by some miracle that has come along and achieve any measure of success in channeling our game into something has either had their program derailed or has been fired or both and we have been subjected to awarding mediocrity…check for the past 30 year see who have occupied top positions in the Football fraternaty and check their accomplishments over the years and see the story they tell…??????

    • Yeah meh family Brian Pierre for some reason the wrong people is always involved at the top , hence the reason why our football is in the state that it is so I keep on wondering when the right persons will really get involve and fix the football once and for all eh Them really good yes

  5. Stupid spell that should be joking

  6. I living eh Lasana Liburd, all Yuh Arima does tote

  7. Thanks Nigel Myers, I think you should take over wired yes LOL

  8. For those who missed the live broadcast, here is the full game. Watch it and come to your own conclusions. Malik Johnson Travis Mulraine


  9. Post-match comments from Iran Head Coach Carlos Queiroz

  10. Post-match comments from Dennis Lawrence

  11. Nothing wrong in playing quality opposition…it would definitely help us but what do we have to offer or to throw at them to help them develop in return??

  12. Brian Springer Not only the goal keeper some of the players to eh, he always does that same thing like if the game counts it is just s friendly and all the players should play no matter if we get a million goals scored on us and of course which will never happened Them really good yes

  13. Malik Johnson So how come you didn’t mention the most important aspect of the beautiful game and that his taking plenty shots and scoring of the goals eh and this is the on going problem with our football I felt like I watching the U20 team that had the same problem in the tournament Them really good yes

    • Earl how we gonna take shots if we can’t even keep the ball? It looks as though everytime we got the ball we were in a rush to get rid of it to pass the responsibility. We had no interest in winning the ball much less keeping it. We looked like Manchester United ….no offense Lassana ?

    • Malik Johnson So why every game it is the same problem, what kind of drills are these coaches doing at practice a matter of fact these players are all professionals and keeping the ball passing and shooting at the opponents goal shouldn’t be any problem , every time we look at the stats after every game our opponents always takes plenty more shots at the goal than us and this also goes for our youth teams the same eh so something is definitely going wrong with the coaching in our sweet country Them really good yes

    • Earl I would question if tallest watches alot of video (I’d like to think that he does) because to me the deficiencies are glaring. But asking players to track their runners and put immediate pressure on the opposing players with the ball is things U14 players do. I question this teams desire….their application to defending is lazy and amateurish at best.

    • Well I think that I will offer up some up to date football videos eh ah wonder if he will accept them eh Them really good yes

  14. Watched the game and the headline pretty much sums it up…We were competitive in the first half but second half despite numerous substitutions by Iran we were solidly outplayed with only a few chances which we squandered…We also need to work on our set pieces.
    I also have to question when in a FRIENDLY we call a goal-keeper and never use him for even a part of a half…we did it with Ramjitsingh too…waste of money that we supposedly don’t have imho.

  15. Lasana I just watch 8 mins highlights of the game and I’d like to publicly apologize for jumping on your case .
    We DO NOT track second runners. We DO NOT put pressure on the player with the ball at all we run in the vicinity of it.
    We DO NOT keep the ball after we win it. So if I’m being honest apart from the lil tussle and Peltiers’ individual effort C- …still think we have talented players on the team…strong but tactically and discipline wise we all over the place. Tallest yuh get ah failing grade on this game

  16. So this was Tallest’s 20th game in charge: 5 wins, 4 draws, 11 losses. 18 goals scored, 27 goals conceded. 5 clean sheets, 7 games held scoreless.

  17. I know that Isaiah Lee made his senior team debut today, but was it also Duane Muckette’s first cap?

  18. Our arguing with the ref and chucking off opposition players was done with great enthusiasm. We have that down cork. It’s the football we need to sharpen.

  19. Lassana I haven’t watched the game or highlights yet but I have beef with the title of the headline. If the performance was encouraging then why the title “outclassed”? Urghhhh kinda sticks in my teeth let’s not give these teams extra oomph unless thoroughly earned.

  20. It’s very simple, 2 games every international break is bare minimum. If there are 10 games available (March, June, September, October and November x 2) we must play AT LEAST half of those games against the top 50 ranked teams.

  21. Quality opposition would nurture a stronger team game by game. Let’s continue facing international teams across the world, get the experience, learn and build.

  22. ..That I agree with. We cannot look at our teams ‘ performance with the eye of the hopeful patriot. Look at the posted highlights. All red. We have much work to do and TTFA must play its part in so many ways, but importantly, by arranging matches and by holding coaches to account..

  23. And the bestest passer and goal scorer Keron Ballpest Cummings needs to be back on the team and I done talk. Them really good yes.

  24. All I can say is that we did not play badly, we were not embarrassed and the boys battled hard, but there’s not much positive to say footballing-wise. In reality, the result does not mirror the game. That being said, we need more matches against opponents of this caliber. We cyar reach no where playing six matches in a calendar year.

  25. Need more games like this. Decent result. Creditable performance from most reports

    • And I have yet to understand why the top goalscorer of our professional league wasn’t selected Kareem Reemski Freitas that represents my police team and they better don’t tell me nothing about his age because there are players that is the same age or even older on our Soca Worries team and I have always said that many of our players excells at an older age and we must always mix the experience players with the younger players . Them really good yes.

  26. Highlights of Trinidad and Tobago’s 1-0 loss to Iran

  27. Wish we had a 2nd game on Sunday/Monday to continue to give these guys opportunity to improve… (thanks DJW/TTFA )

    Cannot believe Dennis didn’t give the new keeper at least a half. What’s the point? Penny for Julien thoughts as well…

    • Cheyenne Hector As we all know, he is not the first foreign goalkeeper to be called and ignored. What’s the sense?..

    • But the great thing about these games is that the teams that we are playing against are top of the line real professional countries compared to our Caribbean teams so from here I will like the TTFA to continue with games against Brazil, South Africa, Belgium, and some others, and the loosing isn’t really important at the momemt, because I believe that eventually when the right players and a real professional coaches comes on board like Coach Terry Fenwick, with his Asst Derek Terron King, and Angus Eve depending if they can really work together it will be a done deal and Coach Dennis Lawrence should do the same like the Magician Russell Latapy and Kenwhyne Jones continue with the youth national teams. Them really good yes.

    • Yes the idea is courting quality opposition, international teams. We are building with Gold Cup 2019 and WC 2022 qualification in mind…so in that context the scoreline is not all that bad but losing should not become a habit

  28. ..Lasana, I am happy we did not lose by a wider margin. But your headline and content do not support each other. We could hardly make four passes. We could hardly come out of our half in any meaningful way. We could hardly create any scoring opportunity for the second match in a row. The subs had little impact. Mark you, Iran is not Guadeloupe. I get that. But we must look at our teams with a cold eye..

    • I did say we didn’t trouble Iran and pointed to some areas we struggled. But I also thought the team didn’t fold either and there were one or two bright spots like in central midfield.
      You can only say so much in a headline but I did try to support it.
      In my view, there were some reasons for optimism even though we were outclassed.

  29. Especailly when our players isn’t taking plenty shots at the opponents goal. Them really good yes.

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