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Phillip spares Warriors blushes, as weakened T&T team lose 2-0 to youthful Mexican side

A weakened Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team were no match for a youthful Mexico outfit last night as the Soca Warriors fell 2-0 in international friendly action at the Nemesio Diez Stadium in Toluca, Mexico.

Mexico, who played an under-23 team with three overage players, scored both goals in the first half but were denied the chance of an eye-watering scoreline thanks to an inspired performance by Trinidad and Tobago custodian Marvin Phillip.

Photo: Mexico midfielder Jose de Jesus Navarro (left) tries to blast his shot past Trinidad and Tobago full back Ross Russell Jr during an international friendly at Nemesio Diez Stadium in Toluca, Mexico on 2 October 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo/Wired868)

Phillip, who recently took up a contract with Neroca FC in India, picked up where he left off at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup with a show of defiance and agility in what was effectively a shooting gallery. At the final whistle, the Mexican team—which struck the frame of the goal twice in the second half—had 27 shots to two with 75 per cent ball possession.

The result stretches Trinidad and Tobago’s winless run under head coach Dennis Lawrence to 12 matches, which is the joint worst sequence by a national football coach since the late Roderick Warner in 1985. The Warriors will have another chance to stop the rut at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 10 October when they host Honduras in Concacaf Nations League action. But it was one way traffic in Toluca.

Phillip was busy almost from the kick off as he had to sprawl to his left to keep out an Erick Aguirre header in just the seventh minute. Mexico’s first goal owed much to dozy Trinidad and Tobago defending though.

Warriors defender Daneil Cyrus, Trinidad and Tobago’s most experienced player who made his 86th cap in Toluca, was careless in possession and stripped near the halfway line by opposing attacker José Macías in the 23rd minute. Macías, a 20-year-old debutant, then sprinted half the length of the pitch before driving home for his first international goal.

Mexico doubled their lead in the 31st minute through a deflected effort by 22-year-old midfielder Jesús Angulo, as the visiting defence failed to close down the shot.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago forward Jameel Perry (front) tries to keep the ball from Mexico defender Cristian Calderon during an international friendly at Nemesio Diez Stadium in Toluca, Mexico on 2 October 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo/Wired868)

Lawrence has trumpeted his desire to play a possession-styled game while his choice of full backs—Terminix La Horquetta Rangers attacking right side midfielder Aikim Andrews and Rangers’ roving, free scoring left back Ross Russell Jr—suggested more than a hint of adventure from the six foot seven coach.

But the Warriors never seriously tested Mexico goalkeeper Raúl Gudiño, who, at 23, was one of coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino’s three overage players. Trinidad and Tobago managed 193 passes to 561 from Mexico while the visitors pass completion rate was 63 per cent compared to 91 per cent by the host team.

Andrews, who is 23, was the youngest player in Lawrence’s starting team while Police FC winger Christian Thomas, a lifeguard by profession, made his international debut for the Warriors last night at 28.

Former Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 captain and midfielder Judah Garcia, still just 19, saw action over the bench last night as did his cousin, 21-year-old full back Isaiah Garcia.

Another Police flanker, Adriel Kerr, also debuted at 22 although he was replaced after 29 minutes with a hamstring strain and so, technically, would not be credited with a cap.

Lawrence would hope that the tough trip to Toluca offers experience they can use next Thursday, when the Warriors host Honduras.

(Team)

Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-2-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 13.Aikim Andrews, 5.Daneil Cyrus, 12.Carlyle Mitchell, 17.Ross Russell Jr; 14.Dwane James (6.Curtis Gonzales 79), 19.Duane Muckette, 23.Leston Paul; 9.Christian Thomas (16.Adriel Kerr 46 [10.Judah Garcia 75]), 27.Nathan Lewis (8.Aaron Lester 46); 15.Jameel Perry,

Unused substitutes: 21.Glenroy Samuel (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 3.Isaiah Garcia, 2.Nicoholas Thomas, 18.Josiah Trimmingham.

Standby: Nion Lammy.

Head coach: Dennis Lawrence

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