The Trinidad and Tobago Boys National Under-15 Team will leave the 2019 Concacaf Championship without a win to their names, after they blew a 2-0 goal lead today to finish 4-2 losers to Guatemala in a play off to decide eighth and ninth place.
A ninth place finish from 16 Concacaf tier one nations is an improvement on two years ago, when the National Under-15s—then coached by Russell Latapy—finished dead last. Although it is debatable as to whether the results reflect a fair turn on investment since then.
Latapy had a matter of months to prepare his team and four practice games in a week—with his final squad—against Manchester City, Houston Dynamo, DC United and the Cayman Islands.
In contrast, current National Under-15 head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier had two and a half years, a sponsorship pool with a guaranteed TT$8 million cash pot from the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) (supposedly split with the girls team) and international warm-up games against Guyana, Bonaire, Aruba and Curaçao in 2018 and Panama, Venezuela and Mexico in 2019 before they faced Costa Rica, Barbados, Portugal and Guatemala at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Last year, the Under-15s romped to big wins over Guyana (8-0), Bonaire (11-1), Aruba (3-1) and Curaçao (2-0). But the fizz had left the squad by 2019 when they could only draw with Barbados—ironically coached by Latapy—and lost their other six matches.
In their seven matches in 2019, the Under-15s scored eight goals and conceded 24 times.
Today, the young Soca Warriors again showed their ability on the offensive end. The match was just one second old when the Guatemala defence failed to deal with a long ball and Trinidad and Tobago forward Ja-Shawn Thomas pushed the ball between the legs of an opposing defender before stroking into the far corner from just inside the box.
Fevrier was forced to replace his first choice goalkeeper Kanye Lazarus with deputy Triston Edwards, after the former suffered an injury near the end of the first half. But the Warriors went on to double their lead, just four minutes into the second half, as Guatemala captain Rodrigo Villalobos headed into his own net off an inswinging Josiah Wilson corner kick.
It should have been 3-0 not long after as Trinidad and Tobago carved open the opposing defence with an exchange of passes from Molik Khan, Nathaniel James and Wilson, only for Thomas to lean back and slice wide from an excellent scoring position.
Guatemala got a lifeline in the 59th minute, as Anderson Molina crossed for attacker Chrisphian Estrada who controlled in the Trinidad and Tobago penalty area before burying his effort.
Yesterday, Fevrier spoke about the need for more strength and conditioning work for his players. It was curious that he waited two and a half years to make that point publicly; but there was no doubting the evidence of his concern as Guatemala scored three times in the closing 10 minutes.
Joshua Trigueno headed home the equaliser from close range off a right side cross in the 61st minute. And Estrada and Molina banged in a goal each in the 64th and 69th minutes, as Guatemala turned around a seemingly lost cause to finish the match in cruise control.
Fevrier again took responsibility for his team’s showing.
“As coach of the team, I accept full responsibility for the results of the team,” Fevrier told the TTFA Media. “I will not run away from it or hide from it. The players gave everything that they had, they played well.
“Like I said early, it’s a process, it’s development and they could only learn from this. I just hope going forward we will be able to continue playing at that level [of competition].”
At present, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) does not have a functioning technical committee. But, presumably, Fevrier will offer a report on their showing at the Concacaf tournament to either technical director Anton Corneal or board member Richard Quan Chan.
Trinidad and Tobago U-15s: 1.Kanye Lazarus (GK) (18.Tristan Edwards 35 [GK]), 2.Christian Bailey, 4.Jeron Pascall, 6.Jaheim Marshall (captain) 7.Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (8.Molik Khan 36), 9.Ja-Shawn Thomas, 11.Josiah Wilson 12.Triston Stafford, 13.Kassidy Davidson (10.Nathaniel James 36), 15.Dantaye Gilbert (16.Isaiah Thompson 36), 17.Jaheim Faustin.
Unused substitutes: 3.Dawn St Rose, 5.Tyrik Trotman, 14.Deshawn Brown.
Head coach: Stuart Charles-Fevrier
Guatemala U-15s: 12.Fausto Delgado (GK), 2.Eli Rodríguez (17.Jarod Martínez 50), 3.Diego Betancourt, 4.Juan Mancilla, 6.Jorge Gordillo (11.Joshua Trigueño 62), 7.Daniel Asturias, 8.Rodrigo Villalobos (captain), 10.Chrisphian Estrada, 14.Hugo Castellanos (18.Anderson Molina 36), 9.Manolo Juárez (15.Emilio Korich 42), 16.Santiago Sánchez.
Unused substitutes: 1.Javier Mejicano (GK), 5.Diego Villatoro, 13.Gianluca Faillace.
Head coach: Rigoberto Gómez