Fifteen months after his unveiling, Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick can finally point to tangible progress under his watch as the Soca Warriors started their Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign tonight with a thumping 3-0 win over Guyana at the Estadio Panamericano in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Trinidad and Tobago came from behind to hold Guyana 1-1 at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup while the two nations also finished even in a friendly in 2017. But the Golden Jaguars were comprehensively second best tonight in a lopsided affair.
Has Fenwick so improved the Warriors? Did Guyana coach Márcio Máximo take the Jaguars in the opposite direction? Or is the answer somewhere in between?
Football fans from both nations would surely have their answer by June. But, for now, it is the twin island republic with plenty to celebrate as Guyana had no answer to Trinidad and Tobago’s attacking trident of Joevin Jones, Ryan Telfer and, in particular, Levi Garcia.
There were just 27 seconds on the clock when Garcia darted past Guyana left back Kadell Daniel for the first time, although his squared pass failed to pick out a teammate.
Guyana had their moments with Trayon Bobb, a former Morvant Caledonia United winger, looking lively down either flank. But Garcia sank Jaguar hearts in the eighth minute with a goal from nothing—which would be the best way to describe the contribution from the Guyanese left back.
Daniel alone would know what he was attempting to do near his own byline but Garcia made him pay for it, as he nicked possession before beating Akel Clarke at his near post for the opening goal.
It was Garcia’s first international goal since his double against St Vincent and the Grenadines, on his debut, on 25 March 2016.
Garcia was incisive again in the 16th minute, as his deep swerving free kick needed only a faint touch off Bateau’s midsection to double Trinidad and Tobago’s lead.
The Warriors’ third item was softer still, as Clarke treated a straightforward ball like a million dollar question on Jeopardy. The Guyana custodian was just outside his box and could have booted clear; instead, under pressure from Telfer, he tried to backpedal until he could catch the ball in his area—and failed to accomplish the most important part of that plan.
The ball rolled through his legs to give Telfer his easiest goal at this level. And, to put that into context, the Canada-based forward once played against Anguilla.
At least Clarke kept the deficit at three with a remarkable triple save against Jones, following a penalty kick. Telfer won the decision off Bobb but Jones’ first kick was saved low to Clarke’s right, his attempted scooped finish was repelled as well while the goalie got a leg to the flanker’s follow-up.
Telfer, mind you, won a penalty against the United States in January and saw Jones’ younger brother, Alvin Jones, waste that effort.
It is not exactly a family legacy to treasure.
There was more joy for the Garcia household, as Levi’s baby brother, 20-year-old Judah Garcia, came on in the second half—although Levi had already been substituted, so they missed their first opportunity to play together at senior international level.
Guyana never seriously looked like mounting a recovery, although they had their moments.
Striker Emery Welshman struck the heel of the Trinidad and Tobago upright in the 27th minute, when the deficit stood at two goals while goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup also made two fine saves off Keanu Marsh-Brown and Bobb after errors by Bateau.
Bateau looked to have tweaked his groin in the first half and did not return after the interval.
In the second half, Máximo sent on two teenagers while the oldest of his five changes was just 21-years-old. It was hard not to interpret his substitutions as a white flag.
Perhaps sportingly, Trinidad and Tobago did not threaten again as Fenwick opted to give his entire front three a rest.
The combative English coach might feel he got more resistance from his press officer, Shaun Fuentes, than the Guyanese head coach.
On now to Puerto Rico, who are desperate to recover after a 1-0 loss to St Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday.
Another Trinidad and Tobago triumph and maybe Fenwick will be all smiles at press conferences again.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-1-2-3): 21.Nicklas Frenderup (GK); 2.Aubrey David, 12.Robert Primus, 4.Sheldon Bateau (17.Justin Garcia 46), 15.Neveal Hackshaw; 18.Michel Poon-Angeron; 8.Khaleem Hyland (captain), 19.Daniel Phillips; 11.Levi Garcia (20.Noah Powder 68), 7.Ryan Telfer (13.Brent Sam 75), 3.Joevin Jones (10.Judah Garcia 75).
Unused substitutes: 1.Marvin Phillip (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 5.Leland Archer, 6.Radanfah Abu Bakr, 9.Willis Plaza, 14.Andre Boucaud, 16.Marcus Joseph Jr, 23.Jabari Mitchell.
Standbys: Denzil Smith (GK), Sean Bonval, Duane Muckette.
Coach: Terry Fenwick
Guyana (4-2-3-1): 22.Akel Clarke (GK); 5.Miquel Scarlett (2.Bayli Spencer-Adams 64), 15.Terence Vancooten, 3.Matthew Briggs, 23.Kadell Daniel; 8.Sam Cox (captain), 14.Daniel Wilson (12.Pernell Schultz 70); 11.Callum Harriott (9.Kelsey Benjamin 75), 7.Keanu Marsh-Brown (6.Jobe Caesar 64), 20.Trayon Bobb (17.Omari Glasgow 64); 10.Emery Welshman.
Unused substitutes: 1.Kai McKenzie-Lyle (GK), 18.Shawn Adonis (GK), 4.Jeremy Garrett, 13.Nicolai Andrews, 16.Ryan Hackett, 19.Nicholas Mc Arthur, 21.Nathan Moria-Welsh.
Coach: Márcio Máximo
2022 World Cup qualifying
(Wed 24 March)
St Kitts and Nevis 1 (Vinceroy Nelson 42), Puerto Rico 0 at Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo;
(Thu 25 March)
Trinidad and Tobago 3 (Levi Garcia 8, Sheldon Bateau 16, Ryan Telfer 43), Guyana 0 at Estadio Panamericano, Santo Domingo.
(Sat 27 March)
Bahamas vs St Kitts and Nevis, 7pm/ET, Thomas Robinson Stadium, Nassau;
(Sun 28 March)
Puerto Rico vs Trinidad and Tobago, 5pm/ET, Estadio Centroamericano, Mayaguez;
(Tue 30 March)
Guyana vs Bahamas, 8pm/ET, National Track & Field Centre, Leonara.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read Sean Powder’s report from the Dominican Republic.