The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team closed off their preparation for next week’s Concacaf Nations League assignments with a creditable goalless draw against Jamaica in Kingston tonight.
The Reggae Boyz had most of the ball but, again, rarely threatened while the Soca Warriors often looked the more dangerous side on the break.
The game had few thrills and was not one that supporters from either team would enjoy seeing again. But there was plenty for Trinidad and Tobago coach Angus Eve to be pleased about.
The Warriors have not conceded in their last three games now and there was nothing fortuitous about that statistic either.
Jamaica, to be blunt, were poor. The Boyz could not move the ball quickly and accurately enough to stretch the Trinidad and Tobago defence, lacked dynamism down either flank and were so disjointed when they “pressed” to regain possession that one might have mistaken the defensive pair of Josiah Trimmingham and Justin Garcia for deep-lying playmakers.
So, Jamaica coach Heimir Hallgrimsson’s outfit are unimaginative on the ball and ineffective off of it. They travel to the Azteca Stadium next for a do-or-die Concacaf Nations League clash with Mexico. Good luck with that—although the Boyz will no doubt lean heavily on seasoned overseas-based pros like Leon Bailey and Michail Antonio.
Eve has enough on his own plate to worry about. His brief is to get the Warriors back in the top tier of the Concacaf Nations League and, as a bonus, that comes with qualification for the 2023 Gold Cup and a shot at a place in the 2023 Copa América tournament.
He needs successive wins over The Bahamas and Nicaragua to achieve the former and remain in the running for the latter. With his contract due to expire this year, Eve is two wins away from making an irresistible case for a renewal.
His future would not look nearly as rosy if he falls short of that six point target.
However, the signs have been encouraging in the past week as Trinidad and Tobago again frustrated a Jamaican team with at least two gifted prospects: the teenaged Chelsea FC pair of London-born attacking midfielder Omari Hutchinson and homegrown forward Dujuan “Whisper” Richards.
Their names were the ones that were up in lights. But the duo that really distinguished itself was the double act of Trimmingham and Garcia.
Focused, strong and decisive, the Trinidad and Tobago defenders were virtually flawless over 180 minutes—both on and off the ball—as the two-island republic recorded their best returns against Jamaica in 10 years.
Full backs Alvin Jones and Jameel Neptune did little wrong either, with efficient ball movement and positive use of space in joining Trinidad and Tobago’s attacks whenever the chance presented itself.
Kareem “Enzo” Riley, a former national youth captain, gave a promising showing too on his first international start while Jomal Williams, whose career in red, white and black strip has never really taken off, was tidy and used the ball well.
And Reon Moore? The Defence Force speedster looked capable of hurting the opposition whenever he took possession and, with question marks over star Levi Garcia’s present physical condition, the soldier is more important than ever to Trinidad and Tobago’s upcoming charge.
The timing of Terminix La Horquetta Rangers mini-Caribbean tour means that Defence Force are on a bye this weekend—when Moore could have benefited from a TT Premier League fixture.
It is a rare piece of misfortune for Eve.
There were 10 minutes left on the clock when Jamaicans started heading for the exits at The Office in Kingston. An angled first half effort by Richards apart, the home team might as well have been trying to pierce concrete with a plastic fork.
The Bahamas are up next and Trinidad and Tobago should be in good spirits. On the Warriors’ last trip to Nassau, the problem was in getting goals themselves though—not keeping them out.
Challenges like that are why Eve is paid well in USD. It is crunch time and Trinidad and Tobago should be in good spirits, after three positive friendly results.
In Montego Bay and Kingston, the Carenage old boy outfoxed Hallgrimsson, a former Iceland international coach. Now, he must reproduce when points are at stake.
Trinidad and Tobago are just two wins from reversing the decline of Dennis Lawrence and Terry Fenwick.
Trinidad and Tobago (4-3-3): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK) (captain); 16.Alvin Jones, 4.Josiah Trimmingham, 17.Justin García, 12.Jameel Neptune; 6.Kareem Riley (8.Michel Poon-Angeron 72), 18.Matthew Woo Ling (3.Joevin Jones 72), 7.Noah Powder (24.Justin Sadoo 72); 20.Jomal Williams (15.Kaile Auvray 64), 10.Kadeem Corbin (19.Quesi Weston 64), 13.Reon Moore.
Unused substitutes: 21.Denzil Smith (GK), 22.Adrian Foncette (GK), 2.Jelani Felix, 5.Andre Raymond, 9.Nathaniel James, 11.Jomoul Francois, 14.John-Paul Rochford, 23.Jesse Williams.
Coach: Angus Eve
Jamaica (4-3-3): 13.Jahmali Waite (GK) (1.Kemar Foster (GK) 57); 20.Dexter Lembikisa, 24.Jamoi Topey, 19.Adrian Mariappa (captain) (6.Richard King 46), 5.Ricardo Thomas; 17.Jahshaun Anglin (10.Ravel Morrison 46), 7.Lamar Walker (4.Tyler Roberts 67), 8.Demario Phillips; 18.Omari Hutchinson, 25.Collin Anderson (11.Jourdaine Fletcher 67), 12.Dujuan Richards (9.Trivante Stewart 82).
Unused substitutes: 23.Asher Hutchinson (GK), 2.Alwayne Harvey, 3.Dwayne Atkinson, 14.Sue-Lae McCalla, 15.Oshana Staple, 21.Delano McCoy-Splatt, 22.Fitzroy Cummings.
Coach: Heimir Hallgrimsson